The Laugavegur Trail is the most popular multi-day hike in Iceland, and for good reason! The scenery is spectacular and changes dramatically over the 4 days that most hikers take to complete the trek. The Laugavegur Trail is not a difficult hike and is clearly marked, making it a great introduction to multi-day hiking in Iceland or for your first solo hike.
Fimmvörðuháls is a 2-day extension of the Laugavegur trail that adds even more variety into the mix. It is slightly more challenging than Laugavegur but still suitable for beginners, and ends at the famous Skógafoss waterfall on Iceland’s southern coast with good bus connections back to Reykjavik.
THE BASICS ON ICELANDS LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL
Closest Major City: Reykjavik, Iceland. You catch a bus from the BSI terminal in Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar. Buses run from Þórsmörk or Skógar back to Reykjavik at the end of the trek.
Start: Landmannalaugar. If you are hiking independently, you need to purchase all food and gas for your hike in Reykjavik as there are only snacks available at Landmannalaugar.
Accommodations: Huts or self-supported camping.
Costs: The cost of this trek depends on how you plan to undertake it. Guided tours where you stay in huts and only carry a day pack (the rest of your luggage is transported for you) typically cost around USD$2,300. This includes transportation and more delicious food than you can possibly eat.
If you plan to trek independently, you can expect to pay at least USD$500 if staying in huts, USD$250 if you are camping. These prices also include the bus from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar and from Skógar back to Reykjavik.
Length: 6 days.
When to Go: July – mid-September should be fine in most years. However, the exact timing depends on weather and snow conditions, and is dependent on the road to Landmannalaugar being open.
Recommended Company: Icelandic Mountain Guides. I have done several treks with this company in both Iceland and Greenland. There is a reason they are the premier outdoor adventure company in Iceland.
If you are new to multi-day hiking or keen to do your first solo hike, the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trek is the perfect place to start in Iceland. The trail is very obvious and there are plenty of people to help you if you require assistance.
There is little to worry about from a health perspective when hiking Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls. Obviously, it helps enormously if you are fit and accustomed to walking for several days (including with a full backpack if you are hiking independently), but that is true for any hike.
Water from streams and at the huts is safe to drink and the highest elevation is around 900m. However, if you don’t enjoy heights, there may be a few places – particularly heading to the Fimmvörðuháls pass – that may be a little challenging. There is one very short section with ropes and chains to assist you.
One thing to watch out for is Iceland’s notoriously changeable weather! Even in the Summer, you should bring several layers of clothing with you, including a base layer, mid-layer and a quality waterproof/windproof complete outer layer. Rain and wind is not uncommon.
THE ROUTE OF LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL
The hike begins at Landmannalaugar – an intensely geothermal area surrounded by colourful rhyolite mountains, old lava flows, bubbling pools of mud and water, and the characteristic bright green moss of Iceland. This eventually gives way to the black volcanic desert of Mælifellssandur where the wonderful views of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier begin. You even come across some rare trees as you descend towards Þórsmörk!
As you climb to Fimmvörðuháls there are spectacular views back down into the Þórsmörk valley, and you cross some of the youngest soil on the planet (less than 10 years old!). Then, as you descend towards the ocean, you follow “The Waterfall Way” – more than 23 impressive waterfalls ending with the famous Skógafoss.
Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls
Day 1: Bus transfer from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar – hike to Hrafntinnusker Hut. 12km.
Day 2: Hrafntinnusker – Álftavatn. 12km.
Day 3: Álftavatn – Emstrur. 16km.
Day 4: Emstrur – Þórsmörk. 15km.
Day 5: Þórsmörk – Fimmvörðuháls. 12.0km.
Day 6: Fimmvörðuháls – Skógar – Bus transfer to Reykjavik. 14km.
- Spend an extra day to explore some of the other trails around Landmannalaugar and the hot spring
- Take an extra day at Þórsmörk to explore the gorgeous Þórsmörk valley. In particular, don’t miss the short climb to the magnificent viewpoint of Valahnúkur mountain.
ACCOMMODATION ON LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL
There are options to camp or enjoy the comfort of Iceland’s wonderful huts.
If you are hiking independently and plan to stay in the huts, you will need to book well in advance as they tend to fill early (if you are on a guided tour, the company will take care of this for you). They are heated (which can be a welcome relief when the weather is bad!) and provide a kitchen for guests to use (not for campers). Sleeping arrangements are in dormitories with mattresses laid out side by side on a platform so you need to bring your own sleeping bag. All of them have toilet facilities and some have shower facilities available for an extra fee, but there is no internet and nowhere to charge devices. Make sure you bring enough batteries!
Camping is only permitted in designated campsites (near the huts) and strictly prohibited elsewhere. Campers are allowed to use the toilet and shower facilities at the huts, but not the kitchen or any of the internal living areas. Note: Your tent should be sturdy and able to withstand high winds and rain.
Regardless of whether you are camping or staying in the huts, you need to bring all your own food with you (the outdoor adventure company will take care of this for you if you are doing the trek guided). Campers also need to bring their own stove and fuel but those staying in the huts have access to full kitchen facilities.
The one exception is Álftavatn, where you can find the highland’s only restaurant/bar close by the hut. Cooked meals, snacks and beer are available here, though given its remoteness, you can probably imagine the prices.
Lisa Germany – you can read Lisa’s extensive trip report on her Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides at: http://world.lisagermany.com/trekking-iceland-laugavegur-landmannalaugar-hrafntinnusker/