How to Get to Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is one of the most breathtaking areas of Iceland’s central highlands. It forms part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, and travelers come here in summer to hike the trails that lead through a landscape of rhyolite peaks.
Few mountainous landscapes are this colorful, but in this extraordinary spot, the rock is streaked with blue, pink, black, yellow, purple, and green. It’s also geothermally active, a place where you’ll find steaming rivers and hot springs. That’s the reason Landmannalaugar is often referred to as the People’s Pools.
In the past, Icelanders would have walked or ridden on horseback to reach Landmannalaugar. Fortunately, modern-day travelers have a few more options available if they’ve set their sights on this magical place. You can drive yourself, take the bus, or opt for Amazing Tours’ super jeep tour. In this post, we’ll compare the advantages and disadvantages as we cover how to get to Landmannalaugar.
Option 1: Drive yourself
Once the F roads leading into the Icelandic interior open up for the summer – usually in June – it’s possible to drive yourself to Landmannalaugar. Even in summer, these roads make for extreme driving: rutted and potholed. This isn’t an option for the fainthearted.
Often, heavy rain can leave rivers swollen, and these rough gravel roads often lead straight across them. Driving through water is something only experienced drivers should attempt. To do so, you’ll need to rent a suitable 4×4. One with high clearance is a must, or else you’ll find yourself stranded and in receipt of a hefty recovery and repair bill – your insurance won’t cover it.
Next, you need to choose a route. If you’re figuring out how to get to Landmannalaugar from the south, turn inland onto the F208 near Vik. This scenic road, the Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri, promises side trips to Huldufoss and Ófærufoss along the way.
However, you’ll need to ford a few rivers, and often the water is deep where you need to cross. An alternative is to travel along Landmannaleið (the F225), which isn’t as daunting. Nevertheless, it’s not without its challenges, and you’ll still need to conquer a river crossing. This one’s handy for side trips to Rauðfoss waterfall and the Ljötipollur Crater.
Option 2: take the bus
Icelandic long-distance bus services do exist, though they’re not usually very frequent. The bus to the Highlands is a case in point. Because of the low-season road closures, it only operates in summer, running from the middle of June until the middle of September. Departures to Landmannalaugar leave from the BSÍ Bus Terminal in Reykjavik, Selfoss, and Hella. The schedule is fixed; if it doesn’t fit in with your existing plans, you’ll need to wait around and travel up the following day.
The timings are designed so that you can do Landmannalaugar as a day trip, departing early in the morning and returning in the afternoon. This gives you about four and a half hours up at Landmannalaugar. If you want to stay for longer, then you would need to book the return journey for a different day and fix up overnight accommodation.
Option 3: Book a Super Jeep Tour
Amazing Tours offers a private tour to Landmannalaugar by super jeep, stopping off along the way at more of the area’s must-see destinations. The adventure starts as you travel through the delightful Þjórsádalur Valley. This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful landscape of lava fields, birch woodland, and intriguing rock formations. Iceland’s waterfalls are world famous, and you’ll stop at one of the prettiest: Hjálparfoss, twin cascades that fall into a gorgeous pond framed by columnar basalt.
As you close in on Landmannalaugar, the landscape changes again. You’ll leave behind any vestiges of green as you enter a world of multi-colored rhyolite mountains. On the Amazing Tours excursion, you’ll make a stop at a 14-metre-deep lake that fills a volcanic explosion crater. Its name is Ljótipollur, but it’s got to be one of the most inaccurately named places in Iceland. Ljótipollur translates as “ugly puddle,” but when you set eyes on the red crater walls, you’ll be blown away by its beauty.
The main focus of the tour, of course, is Landmannalaugar itself. Committed summer hikers adore this place, following the splendid long-distance Laugavegur Trail all the way to Þórsmörk over four days or walking the three-day Hellismannaleið, slightly shorter but no less breathtaking. Day visitors to Landmannalaugar don’t have to miss out completely. Circuiting the Laugahraun Loop takes around two hours and is one of the most popular short hikes. You’ll have time to take a stroll and see some of the nearby scenery.
Be sure to pack your swimsuit and a towel so that you can take a dip in the area’s natural hot springs, created by geothermal activity. Follow in the footsteps of weary travelers in days past and soak al fresco in the luxuriously warm water. Before the day ends, we head over to Mount Hekla, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. We’ll drive up the side of the volcano to a height of 950 meters and drink in the magnificent view.
That right there is one of the reasons we’d urge you to consider booking the Super Jeep tour with Amazing Tours. You can’t drive up the side of a volcano in a regular 4×4, and of course, the highland bus won’t be doing so either. If you’re working out how to get to Landmannalaugar, our tour is the easiest way, and you won’t miss out on the other highlights of this remarkable part of the Icelandic highlands.
The big advantage of a super jeep tour over self-drive and public transport is that these modified vehicles can travel over the rough, often icy surface year-round. It’s safer, too: You’ll also have none of the worries of a self-drive as you leave those challenging river crossings to someone else, someone who knows the area far better than any casual visitor. It’s not as cheap as taking the bus, but just think what you’d be missing out on. Why not check out our website or give us a call today?