Is the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland Hard? A Breakdown for Hikers

Arnar

Arnar

A co-founder of Local Adventures and guide, Arnar has a degree in physical education and is certified glacier guide. Along with his education he has worked in tourism for 20 years.

Planning Your Laugavegur Trail: Difficulty, Terrain, and Tips

Many tourists believe and rightly so, that it is the adventure of a lifetime to go on the Laugavegur trail. It takes you on an unforgettable journey from the hot springs area of Landmannalaugar to the breathtaking glacial valley of Þórsmörk.

You’ll be amazed by the incredible diversity of landscapes along the way. It features vibrant mountains, black lava fields, bubbling hot springs, and serene lakes. What’s more! You will get to see dramatic canyons and even a stunning black sandy desert.

Read on the blog to learn more about the Laugavegur trail’s itinerary, difficulty level, camping, and hiking details below.

Laugavegur trail 3 days or 4 days?

The Laugavegur Trek is a journey through diverse terrain unlike any other. From stunning geothermal phenomena to vibrant landscapes, this hike offers a breathtaking exploration of nature’s wonders.

If geology and captivating scenery excite you, don’t miss out on this unforgettable trek!”
-Arnar, Local Adventures Iceland Expert

Typically, you can complete this incredible trek in four days. It will involve hiking from north to south.

Hang on! Many cozy stops will be at the mountain huts, popularly known as “Iceland Laugavegur trail huts” of Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, and Emstrur.

You will witness at least three rivers along the way. If you are wondering about the difficulty level, the Laugavegur trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

In case you feel extra adventurous, you can even combine this trek with a hike over the Fimmvörðuháls route from Þórsmörk to Skógar.

Just remember to be prepared for the unpredictable Icelandic weather. At times, there can be thick fog or heavy snow, reducing visibility.

Laugavegur Trail 4-Day Itinerary by Local Adventures

DAY 1: Landmannalaugar – Álftavatn Lake

  • Early morning departure from Reykjavik (3-4 hour drive)
  • Marvel at the colorful Reykjafjöll rhyolite mountains and Jökultungur area.
  • Vivid geothermal colors contrast with pale sand.
  • Breathtaking views from Jökultungur overlooking the Fjallabak region and Álftavatn Lake.
  • Camping at Álftavatn Lake campsite.

Distance: 24 km | Walking Time: 7 hours | Ascent: 900 meters

DAY 2: Álftavatn – Emstrur

  • Refreshing river crossing
  • Witness the unique black sand plains of Mælifellssandur.
  • Keep an eye out for Stórasúla and Hattafell Volcanoes.
  • Enjoy panoramic views of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers from Emstrur.
  • Camping at Botnar amidst the black sand.

Distance: 15 km | Walking Time: 6-7 hours | Descent: 40 meters

DAY 3: Emstrur – Þórsmörk

  • Pass through Almenningar Gorge near Unicorn Mountain.
  • Witness the transformation from scattered trees to lush birch forest.
  • Relax beneath the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers in Þórsmörk.

Distance: 15 km | Walking Time: 6-7 hours | Descent: 300 meters

DAY 4: Þórsmörk

  • Explore Þórsmörk Valley at your own pace.
  • Retrace parts of the Laugavegur Trail through Húsadalur Valley.
  • Enjoy the hike to the foothills of the Tindfjöll Mountains.
  • Choose between the scenic Slyppugilshryggur Ridge or the adventurous Slyppugil Canyon
  • Rest and recharge at Langidalur Hut
  • Conquer Valahnúkur Mountain and witness some panoramic views of Þórsmörk.
  • You have the flexibility to extend or shorten your hike based on preferences.
  • Afternoon transport back to Reykjavík.

Hiking the Laugavegur Trail: Quick Facts

  • Here’s what visitors need to know about the Laugavegur trek:
  • Best weather: The best times to visit are June through September.
  • Difficulty: The Laugavegur trail is generally considered challenging.
  • Famous for: It’s a popular area for backpacking, bird watching, and camping.
  • Tourist Place: Expect to encounter other people while exploring.
  • Distance: 55-kilometer (34-mile) trek from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk.

Must Pack Things for Laugavegur Trek:

  • Waterproof hiking boots with ankle support. Don’t forget to pack spare laces.
  • Waterproof breathable shell jacket and trousers
  • Packable down jacket and fleece
  • Quick-dry hiking trousers
  • Long/short sleeve tops -merino wool recommended; more layers rather than thicker ones
  • Good walking socks and sock liners
  • Warm hat and gloves

Question 1: Should I include the Laugavegur trek in Iceland’s travel bucket list?
Answer:
Absolutely! The Laugavegur trail is a classic Icelandic trek renowned for its stunning scenery. Even for less experienced hikers, a four-day itinerary with hut accommodation is a very manageable and rewarding option.

Question 2: How many people hike the Laugavegur trail?
Answer: The Laugavegur trail is a magnet for hikers, with estimates suggesting between 75,000 and 100,000 people tackle the trail every year. This popularity speaks volumes about the trail’s breathtaking scenery and accessibility for hikers with varying experience levels.

Laugavegur Trail Quiz

Test your knowledge of this stunning Icelandic trek!

Question 1: Do you need a guide to hike Laugavegur?
a) Absolutely, the trail is doable for experience, well-marked and easy to follow.
b) No, a guide is not necessary.
Answer: a (However, many choose the convenience of a local guide with Local Adventures, for safety reasons and an enjoyable trek.)

Question 2: How long is the Laugavegur trail itself?
a) 25 kilometers
b) 55 kilometers
Answer: b) 55 kilometers

Case Study: Planning a Laugavegur Trek with Fixed Hut Bookings

Traveler: A group of hikers planning a trip to Iceland with the Laugavegur trail as their main focus.

Initial Plan: The group planned to fly into Iceland on August 9th and depart on August 18th. They intended to camp along the Laugavegur trail, allowing flexibility to choose the best weather window for the hike.

Challenge: The group secured hut bookings for August 14th, 15th, and 16th, limiting their ability to adjust the hike based on weather conditions.

Solution: The case study explores the pros and cons of fixed hut bookings versus tent camping on the Laugavegur trail.

Benefits of Fixed Hut Bookings:

Warmth and Comfort: Huts provide a guaranteed escape from bad weather, offering shelter and warmth which is especially appealing for those less accustomed to hiking in challenging conditions.

Luggage Issues Resolved: Hikers can leave behind camping gear like tents and cooking supplies, making for a lighter backpack.

Potential Drawback:

Weather Dependence: Fixed bookings limit itinerary changes based on weather forecasts.

Weather on the Laugavegur Trail:
The weather is unpredictable, with possibilities of sunshine, rain, sleet, and even blizzards.
Inclement weather typically clears within a day or two, though prolonged periods are possible.
Park rangers advise travelers on safe passage during extreme weather.

Conclusion:

The case study suggests that while fixed hut bookings may limit weather flexibility, the benefits of comfort and a lighter pack can be worthwhile, particularly for hikers less accustomed to challenging conditions.

Ultimately, the decision depends on the group’s comfort level and experience with hiking in various weather conditions.

Local Adventures Iceland to the Rescue:

While fixed hut bookings limit weather flexibility, Local Adventures Iceland can be a valuable resource for hikers.

  • Guided Laugavegur Trek: Local Adventures Iceland offers guided hikes on the Laugavegur trail. This could be a perfect solution for the group, as experienced guides can navigate various weather conditions and ensure safety.
  • Unique Off-the-Beaten-Path Options: If the group still desires some flexibility and adventure, Local Adventures Iceland offers unique off-the-beaten-path trips. These could fill the first few days (August 10th-13th) before the hut bookings, allowing them to explore other stunning parts of Iceland and maximize their Icelandic experience.

Explore Laugavegur Trail Sustainably with Local Adventures Iceland

Local Adventures Iceland curates unforgettable experiences on the Laugavegur trail. We prioritise both your adventure and environmental well-being.

We operate with a deep respect for Iceland’s pristine landscapes. Our sustainable practices ensure the trail’s continued beauty for generations to come.

With Local Adventures Iceland, tackling the Laugavegur trail becomes a manageable adventure, ensuring an unforgettable experience awaits. Get ready for the best time of your life.

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