Landmannalaugar colorful rhyolite mountains, geothermal pool, service center and facilities
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Landmannalaugar is one of the most remarkable and fascinating places in the Icelandic Highland. It is a place most people fall in love with from the moment they visit this extraordinary creation of Mother Nature. Landmannalaugar is also one of the five most fascinating natural wonders you can visit in Iceland and perhaps one of the most breathtaking places you can visit on the planet. This unique place in the Icelandic Highland, located 600 m above sea level, is best known for its relaxing geothermal pool and bath and a starting point for the famous 54km, four-day hiking trail Laugavegur. However, it is much more. It is the gateway into the magical caldera of Torfajökull with many natural wonders, colorful mountains, and hiking trails. When staying at Landmannalaugar, you can choose from many other exciting and breathtaking hiking trails with stunning sceneries and landscapes.
Landmannalaugar is one of the most interesting places you can visit in Iceland
Landmannalaugar is a wonderland for photographers, with an endless variety of geological formations, smoking hot springs, lava fields, rivers, creeks, gullies, ravines, canyons, volcanos, and rhyolite mountains that change colors from one hour to the next depending on the mood of the sun and the clouds. Unfortunately, it is a remote place only open from the first weeks of July (sometimes as early as the middle of June) until the end of September. It is a place that is always reluctant to show its colors and beauty outside this period, as it is often packed with snow or is under attack by severe blizzards and cold during winter. You should not visit or think about visiting it from the beginning of October until the beginning of July unless you are looking for a major 4x4 winter adventure.
A product of a unique volcanic system
Landmannalaugar is part of the unique Torfajökull glacier volcanic system. Just a short distance south of Landmannalaugar is the northern rim of its ancient and enormous caldera. Part of the famous Laugavegur hiking trail is a passage through this old caldera, with a diameter of 12 km times 16 km. The Torfajökull caldera emptied its magma chamber and collapsed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The uniqueness is that the magma in Torfajökull caldera is much higher in acid than most of the magma and that thousands of eruptions have occurred throughout the millions of years of the island's geological history. It is a magma that produces rhyolite lava instead of the most common, basalt lava. Since the calderas’ collapse, geothermal activity, hot springs, erosion, ice, and many other geological phenomena have reshaped and molded the whole region into a stunning, irresistible, and unique natural wonder. Today, the landform within the caldera and the nearby mountains like Landmannalaugar is perhaps one of the most breathtaking landscapes you can find, view, and experience on our planet.
Service center and facilities in Landmannalaugar
Recently, Landmannalaugar has become a kind of a base camp for people starting the hiking track from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. It is also popular among tourists visiting for a few days to hike the shorter trails and admire this pearl in the highland. The Icelandic Touring Association FÍ (Ferðafélag Íslands in Icelandic) has a service center in Landmannalaugar. The service center consists of a hut built in 1969 that houses 80 people, a camping ground, toilets, showers, and facilities for washing. The service center has hot and cold water and is an excellent place to change your clothes if you plan to take a dip in the geothermal pool. Some visitors prefer to switch to swimming suits the traditional way outside by the pool. But here, you might consider that there is no electricity to charge your phone or use your shaving machine, hairdryer, or other electronic devices. There is also only a tent where you can have a meal and do some minor cooking. The service fee is a modest 500 Icelandic Kronur per day.
The camping site and space for 4X4 campers
The camping ground is a bit rough with hard soil and, thus, a bit resistant to tent pegs. You might have to "pin" your tent down with rocks. Usually, campers must fasten their tents with rocks and stones, found aplenty in Landmannalaugar. There is also a good space for 4x4 campers, who are also required to pay the service fee. Campers and people with tents on top of their car who camp on the other side of the river must also pay the service fee, as FÍ needs to continue to build and improve its service and facilities.
Other services in Landmannalaugar
From late June until the middle of September, a small convenience store in Landmannalaugar offers the basic necessities. It does not mean that you can rely on this store for all your food or need lesser preparation if you take the Laugavegur hiking trail or stay in Landmannalaugar for a few days. It is mainly for emergencies, although the service is increasing year by year. Another service during summer, the Icelandic Rescue Squad, has a permanent presence in Landmannalaugar to increase security in the area and help visitors and hikers with problems and accidents.
The geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar
Taking a dip in the geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar has been extremely popular among tourists and Icelanders for decades. The warm-water pool is only a few steps from the service center at the edge of the lava field of Laugahraun. It is a pool fed by the cold and hot streams coming from under the lava that is blending into the stream by the pool. Most visitors put on their swimming suits by the pool. It is part of the freedom in the mountains and the relaxed highland experience. For hikers visiting Landmannalaugar for a day or more and hiking the many short hikes in the area, it is very relaxing to dip into the pool after a walk to the top of the volcano Brennisteinsalda or Mt. Bláhnjúkur.
Part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve
Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, which is approximately fifty thousand hectares of land in the south of the Icelandic Highland. It was established in the late eighties to protect the sensitive nature of the Highland. The Highland Road Fjallabak Nyrðri runs through most of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and is one of the most accessible Highland roads to travel in Iceland, although a larger type of 4x4 is recommended, such as a Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover Defender, or a Jeep Wrangler. As always, for people crossing the Icelandic Highland, we emphasize that it is a very sensitive area, and driving outside market roads is strictly forbidden. There are no off roads in Iceland, only F roads.
Finding your way and how to drive to Landmannalaugar
There are two main entrances to Landmannalaugar from the west. When you drive from Reykjavík, you find your way to Dómadalsleið Nr. F225, often referred to as Landmannaleið, or Nyrðri Fjallabak Mountain Road Nr. F208. Usually, Nyrðri Fjallabak opens sooner than Landmannaleið in early summer. We recommended that you rent a good 4x4 vehicle if you intend to drive on a mountain road in Iceland marked as an F road on maps. Accordingly, from Reykjavík, you start from the Ring Road Nr. 1 and drive eastward. Once you pass the bridge on the river Þjórsá, you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26. You need to drive approximately 50 km north on Road Nr. 26. By the mountain Búrfell, you take a right turn on Dómadalsleið Mountain Road Nr. F225. If the road is closed, you continue for approximately 25 km on Road Nr. 26 until you come to Mountain Road Nr. F208, the Nyrðri Fjallabak mountain road. Both Landmannaleið and Nyrðri Fjallabak lead to Landmannalaugar. Both roads can be a bit difficult, and we can only emphasize renting a 4x4 vehicle. Both roads usually open in early July; sometimes, F208 opens around the middle of June. Both roads close around the middle of September, and both require that you cross rivers.