Landmannalaugar Hot Springs is a region near the Volcano Hekla in southern section of Iceland’s highlands. Like most of Iceland, there are unusually colorful and dynamic geological elements you’ll encounter as you explore the area, such as the multicolored rhyolite mountains and expansive lava fields. The many mountains in the surrounding area display a wide spectrum of colors including pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, and white. Two of the most popular mountains among hikers are Bláhnjúkur (meaning “blue peak”) and Brennisteinsalda (meaning “sulphur wave”).
Two routes lead to Landmannalaugar and one of them is accessible by regular car, though the road is rough (stones the size of fists are not uncommon) so we had a 4WD, which I’d strongly recommend. Rented cars are not allowed in either road as F roads are usually only intended for 4WD vehicles. The easiest route to Landmannalaugar is to take either Route 30 from the main road and change into 32, cross the Sultartangi hydro-electric dam, going onto 26, then F208 and just before arriving in Landmannalaugar, making a right turn to F224. Bottom line, you’d be better off on a tour since renting 4WD vehicles are quite pricey in Iceland and it’s not a place you want to break down.
Landmannalaugar is the usual starting point for a four day long hiking trail aptly called Laugavegur. The name actually means “The Landmannalaugar Trail”, “Laugar” being a shortened version for “Landmannalaugar”. The usual four day trail ends in Þórsmörk, but one or two days can be added, trekking then all the way to Skógar nearly at the coast via Fimmvörðuháls between the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
That said, once you’re at Landmannalaugar, rather than hike away from it, the area is so stunning that you might just decide to hang out for awhile.
Regardless of which direction you look, you’ll be greeted with picturesque views.
On site, you can bathe in the hot springs which is one of the main reasons people take the time to get to the area. It’s a natural warm pool where many hot and cold springs have mixed together.
In the distance, you’ll spot a couple of buildings, which are changing rooms and bathrooms if needed. Frankly, most people just strip down on site.
In the crook of the mountain range, there are several hikes you can take.
I opted for a short hike since we didn’t have a ton of time. My route took me along the river where I discovered some beautifully colored rocks.
Here, your walk brings you into the canyon itself and there are more rocks to gaze at along the way.
The canyon is magestic and peaceful at the same time. More than once, I wanted to stop to ponder and reflect.
You don’t have to venture far before you hit snow, even in mid-June.
The drive is a stunning one and well worth doing. Along the way, you will also visit Pjorsardalur Valley, crossing lava fields of different eras, small rivers and volcanic craters. The mountains are split with gullies and gorges that make it an ideal location for hiking. Also nearby is Mt. Hekla, Iceland’s most active volcano. Hekla is the queen of mountains on the island and has erupted on average every 10 years in the 20th century, the last time being 2000. The frequent eruptions have created dramatic scenery with thick layers of ash and lava in the surrounding area.