Laugavegur Hiking Trail: Iceland’s Highlands
Updated: Jan 14
Thanks to Iceland's geographical location, its landscapes are unique and offer many outdoor attractions. The interior of the island, the Highlands, are hiding the most exciting hiking trails. The Laugavegur hiking trail is the most impressive of Iceland's trails. Laugavegur is the most famous long-distance trail, not only in Iceland but also around the world.
This trail is located in south Iceland and is combined with Fimmvorduhals; it is over 80 kilometers of trekking and hiking. This route will take you through all typical Icelandic landscapes. Soft moss on lava fields, kilometers of ash and sand, glacier rivers, volcanic craters, and waterfalls. All of this you will be able to see on your Laugavegur hiking trail in Iceland.
The Laugavegur hiking trail is located in the south part of Iceland's highlands region, its very heart. The course begins in Landmannalaugar, where you will be able to see the well-known rainbow mountains. You can combine two routes in one, the Laugavegur trail, which is 54 kilometers, and Fimmvorduhals, with 27 kilometers of hiking. As both routes run through the Highlands, you will see every kind and type of Icelandic landscape. The trail is located far from any towns and villages, so, be sure there will be only you and nature, and other tourists. It is one of the most famous hiking trails, so it gets very crowded in the peak season. This has a positive side, too, the excellent infrastructure all around the route. You are only allowed to sleep in designated places, and thus the way is clean with no rubbish around.
The Laugavegur hiking trail in Iceland connects Landmannalaugar with Thorsmork valley. The Fimmvorduhals starts in Thorsmork and ends in Skogar, right by the Atlantic coast. You do not need to combine them, you can finish your hiking in Thorsmork, but the second route is equally picturesque as the Laugavegur route.
Getting to Laugavegur Hiking Trail
Getting to Landmannalaugar is only possible with a 4x4 vehicle, as there are only F-roads. The F-roads remain closed during winter time due to harsh weather and road conditions in the interior. The best way to get there is by 4x4 bus which you can take from Reykjavik, the capital. The bus has other stops on its way to Landmannalaugar, and you can join the trip in well-known towns like Hella, Selfoss, or Leirubakki.
According to the bus schedules, you will probably get to Landmannalaugar around midday, which does not give you much time for trekking. Ideally, you would start your Laugavegur hike the next day. If that is your plan, make sure you book your camping or hut space to sleep in advance.
Trekking the Laugavegur Trail
The Laugavegur route is well signposted, so do not worry that you might get lost. You will find signs and boards with maps and descriptions of the different sections. The illustrations are both in Icelandic and English and even in German. Doing the Laugavegur route usually takes four days.
More experienced hikers can manage to do it in less time, but why would you want to do it so quickly? You will have four days to enjoy the beauty of the Icelandic Highlands, and you should use them to the full!
The route is usually divided into these sections below:
1.Landmannalaugar - Hrafntinnusker - 12 kilometers
2.Hrafntinnusker - Alftavatn - 12 kilometers
3.Alftavatn - Emstrur/ Botnar - 16 kilometers
4.4. Botnar- Thorsmork valley - 15 kilometers
What to pack and wear for the Laugavegur trail
The right equipment and clothes are the key to enjoy the trip as much as possible. As the journey will take around four days, you will need to pack the camping equipment apart from clothes.
You will definitely need a tent with acceptable water resistance parameters. Icelandic weather is very unpredictable so you must be prepared for some rain and wind too. A warm sleeping bag is the second most crucial stuff you will need. Expect to sleep in around 5-6 degrees Celsius or lower. Make sure your sleeping bag has the right temperature range.
The type of clothes you will need during your Laugavegur route trip is essential too. A pair of good trekking shoes is a must. You will need one with a thick sole and a thread which gives you stability on every terrain. Expect snow, sand, and rocks, which you may have to climb.
You will also need another pair of shoes which you will need for crossing rivers. There is a particular type of shoes called Crocs or Aquashoes. The bottom of the is rocky and sharp, so do not even think that you will do it on bare feet.
The hiking poles can be handy too. On such a long-distance trail, every kilogram makes a difference. Make sure your stakes are of the lowest weight possible. You can find many rental equipment companies offering good, light poles that are foldable with the option to attach them to a backpack.
For packing the right clothes, make sure you use the layer rule. The weather, especially in the Highlands, is unpredictable and can change drastically. Even though you travel in summer, it does not mean that you will get the nice, warm weather all the time. Rains, drizzle, downpours, and wind storms are quite common in Iceland. Therefore, an essential element of your hiking equipment will be a hat, scarf, and gloves, and above all, an excellent hooded waterproof jacket. Make sure your coat has adequate protection against the wind too.
While you might experience a temperature of approximately 15 Celcius degrees during the day, during the night, it can drop to 4 degrees only. Pack some thermal pants and long sleeve top for the cold night too. Due to frequent rains, make sure your backpack has a rainproof cover to avoid getting all wet and humid from the very start of your trekking day.
The right equipment for the Laugavegur Trek
We must mention sunscreen and sunglasses as well, given that the sun in the mountains can be powerful from some less obvious equipment. Remember that you will not find any place to charge your devices like phones or cameras. Stock up with a power bank and spare batteries for your cameras. You will pass through the wildest and the most beautiful landscapes of Iceland. You will take hundreds of photos and videos during your Laugavegur trail in Iceland.
There are no bins or containers on the route. That does not mean that you are allowed to toss the trash whenever you want. Make sure you leave the trail in the same condition you encountered it so other hikers can equally enjoy the interior's pristine nature. Pack some foil bags which you can attach to your backpack and stock the rubbish until you get to the nearest bin.
What to eat while trekking the Laugavegur trail
Remember that you will not find any restaurants on the route, do make sure you take some food with you. Make sure you get a gas stove and a thermal bottle. We do recommend to stock up with frozen or dried food. The only thing you will need to prepare an easy meal is boiling water and cutlery. Those elements are quite handy when preparing food while camping. And please, do not believe what they say about professional trekkers. Do eat properly so you can keep the stamina. Portions can be light in weight but not in nutrients. Always think about the food that is easy to prepare.
Laugavegur: The impressive Iceland Hiking Trail
Make sure you do the right preparation before your Laugavegur hiking trail. Try to think of all the possible weather scenarios when packing the clothes fr your trip. I hope we helped a bit in making the list of gear you will need during your 4-day hiking, and you will thoroughly enjoy the route!