Kerlingarfjöll vs Landmannalaugar | Which Icelandic Gem to Visit?

Kerlingarfjöll vs Landmannalaugar | Which Icelandic Gem to Visit?

Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar are two different geothermal areas located in the Icelandic highlands. Each site features astounding rhyolite mountains and epic hiking trails. However, each of these beautiful Icelandic gems are unique in their own way. Keep reading to learn more about the differences and similarities between Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar.

What is Kerlingarfjöll?

Kerlingarfjöll is a mountain range located in the Icelandic highlands between the Langjökull glacier and the Hofsjökull glacier. What’s more, Kerlingarfjöll is known for its colorful rhyolite mountains that are brownish orange, red and even yellow. Rhyolite is a type of rock that forms after molten lava has cooled and solidified. Rhyolite has a high silica content which is what gives it such unique colors.

Furthermore, Kerlingarfjöll is filled with plenty of geothermal activity, as well as beautiful hiking trails. As you hike through Kerlingarfjöll, you can expect to see bubbling mud pools, geothermal steam and many hot springs. It is important to be extremely careful in the area–these springs and vents can be very hot. However, there is one geothermal hot spring that is the perfect temperature for a relaxing soak.

What is Landmannalaugar?

Landmannalaugar is also a geothermal area; however, it is located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the southern Icelandic highlands. Similar to Kerlingarfjöll, Landmannalaugar is filled with colorful rhyolite mountains. However, Landmannalauagar’s mountains are not only reddish brown, orange and yellow but also green, blue and purple.

Visitors to Landmannalaugar can enjoy lovely hikes through its colorful rhyolite mountains. Like Kerlingarfjöll, the area is filled with hot springs and thermal pools. Just beside the Landmannalaugar campsite is a famous hot spring that has been enjoyed by humans for centuries. There is nothing like going on a strenuous hike only to relax in the Landmannalauguar hot spring afterward.

How far are Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar from Reykjavík?

Landmannalaugar is approximately 183 km (114 mi) from Reykjavík. It takes about 3.25 hours to drive from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar. Kerlingarfjöll is approximately 187 km (116 mi) from Reykjavík. It takes about 3.5 hours to drive from Reykjavik to Kerlingarfjöll. Though it is a very similar distance from Reykjavík to both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar, Kerlingarfjöll is somewhat more remote and a bit less accessible.

Can you visit Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar all year round?

Yes, it is possible to visit Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar all year round. However, there are some restrictions. First, Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar are only accessible via 4×4 vehicle. This is because visitors must drive on F-roads in order to access the Icelandic highlands. F-roads are unpaved, gravel roads that are only open to 4×4 rental vehicles from early June to late September.

During the wintertime both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar are only accessible via super jeep. This is due to Icelandic weather and the resulting road conditions. In fact, from October to late May, F-roads are closed to all vehicles except super jeeps. These large vehicles are specially modified, making it possible to traverse the most difficult tracks. All super jeep drivers must obtain a special license in order to operate these vehicles.

It is also important to note that both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar can be very snowy in the winter months. This makes it more difficult to enjoy the hiking trails in both locations. However, you can participate in a variety of other fun wintertime activities.

What activities are available nearby Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar?

Super jeep tours are an amazing way to explore both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar. All super jeep tours are led by experienced guides who will take you to the most interesting sights. See incredible vistas, fascinating geothermal formations and incredible landscapes. Along the way, your guide will share stories and information about the Icelandic highlands.

Amazing Tours offers private super jeep tours of Landmannalaugar during the summer months. You will be picked up directly from your accommodation in Reykjavík or south Iceland. From there, you will head into the highlands through the beautiful Þjórsádalur Valley. Don’t forget your swimsuit–at the end of your tour, you will get a chance to soak in the hot spring at Landmannalaugar.

During the wintertime, it is possible to explore both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaguar on cross-country skis. Unless you are an experienced cross-country skier, it is recommended to join a guided tour. Skiing through this isolated area is an unforgettable experience. Enjoy peaceful solitude while you traverse snowy tracks.

Though snowmobiling tours are typically not offered in Kerlingarfjöll or Landmannalaugar, they are available on nearby glaciers. Amazing Tours offers several epic snowmobiling adventures on Langjökull Glacier. Zoom across this icy glacier while experiencing amazing views of Eiríksjökull Glacier, Hofsjökull Glacier and the Kerlingarfjöll Mountains.

If you want to try a snowmobiling tour, we recommend Amazing Tours’ Glacier Snowmobiling and Ice Cave Tour. You can choose to be picked up in Reykjavík or meet at the Amazing Tours basecamp near Geysir on the Golden Circle route. Both experiences are combo tours which means you get to try two fun activities in one day.

Can you stay overnight at Kerlingarfjöll?

Yes, it is possible to stay overnight at the Highland Base Hotel all year round. This lodge offers various types of accommodation ranging from premium to budget. There is also a campground that is open during the summer months with onsite kitchen and shower facilities.

Can you stay overnight at Landmannalaugar?

It is only possible to stay overnight at Landmannalaugar during the summer months. For a small fee, you can pitch a tent at the Landmannalaugar campsite. This also gives you access to the shower facilities and a small kitchen area.

Landmannalaugar also has a few mountain huts. These types of accommodation are basic but more comfortable than camping. The huts are dormitory style with bunk beds, a shared kitchen and bathrooms. Please note that you need to book these mountain huts in advance of your visit to Landmannalaugar.

What are the biggest differences between Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar?

In many ways, Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar are quite similar. Both locations are home to excellent hiking trails that wind through colorful rhyolite mountains. In addition, both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar are filled with all kinds of geothermal activity. However, there are certainly some differences between the two locations.

When it comes to accommodation, Kerlingarfjöll offers some advantages. Visitors can stay in the Highland Base Hotel year-round. Furthermore, the Highland Base Hotel has an on-site restaurant. Visitors to Landmannalaugar can only stay overnight during the summer months. In addition, there are no luxury accommodations available in Landmannalaugar. Rather, you can choose to pitch a tent or book a bunk bed in a mountain hut.

Though both locations include colorful rhyolite mountains, Kerlingarfjöll is in general more mountainous with higher elevation. On the other hand, Landmannalaugar features more lava fields. Furthermore, both sites are home to lots of geothermal hot springs and mud pots.

Hiking is a popular activity in both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar. Both sites offer various types of trails; however, the trails in Kerlingarfjöll are typically a bit more difficult. Similarly, both locations have hot springs for hikers to enjoy after a day on the trails.

Both Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar are epic places to visit. Each site offers the chance to experience a different facet of the majestic Icelandic highlands. If possible, we highly recommend visiting both locations on your trip to Iceland.