Laugavegur: The Most Beautiful Trek In All The Land

Far be it for me to speak in superlatives, but Iceland’s Laugavegur Trek is the most colorful, diverse, and beautiful hike in existence.

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland 

Over the course of 4 days we covered 35 miles from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, many of them taxing uphill or steep downhill bits. We waded through rivers and carried on through black deserts, all the while enjoying other-worldly scenery. As much as I love camping, it was fantastic to end each day in a warm and cozy hut: laying down in bed to rest for an hour, warming up with a cup of tea, reading by candlelight at a communal table.

I’ll save the practical details of taking on the Laugavegur Trek for another post. For now, let’s just sit back in disbelief at how unbelievably stunning Iceland is, shall we?

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland 

Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

The first day of the Laugavegur Trek just blew my damn mind. It was both the most physically challenging and aesthetically rewarding of the 4 trekking days. In no time it turned into a rainbow-colored mountainous wonderland and I just COULD NOT PUT MY CAMERA DOWN. Wildflowers, volcanic rock, geothermal pools, waterfalls, glaciers, braided hills laced with neon green moss. Oh my sweet baby Jesus, just look at the Landmannalaugar region:

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland 

Snow gradually started creeping into view as we gained elevation. During this last hour of trekking we were exhausted, cold, and begging the Icelandic gods for our hut to be just over the next hill. And the next. And so on until we practically dropped to our knees at the sight of Hrafntinnusker. Man, what a day.

Laugavegurinn Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland 

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

The second day of the Laugavegur Trek was quite a stunner as well. It began with heavy wind and light rain as we trudged through fog in a constant uphill/downhill pattern. Every so often the fog would lift for a few seconds and reveal ice caves and braided hills beyond the black landscape just in front of us.

We reached our highest elevation around midday and, as if on cue, the clouds parted to reveal the brightest green valley below, dotted with peaks and accented with blue lakes. We had an ARE YOU KIDDING ME moment, then began the steep decent into it. There was a traumatizing river crossing and a wrong turn I’d prefer not to relive, but we made it to Álftavatn just in time for golden hour on the lake. PERFECTION.

Laugavegurinn Trek, Iceland

Laugavegurinn Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek Iceland

Laugavegurinn Trek, Iceland 

Day 3: Álftavatn to Emstrur (Botnar)

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Day 3 of the Laugavegur Trek because it would entail *2* river crossings, but I powered through them like a champ (a humble champ, mind you). Then the trail merged with the 4WD road for a bit and instantly felt less trek-like – that is, until I looked to my left and glimpsed a glacier peeking out from between the peaks. As if that weren’t enough, the light was hitting the scene just right. Nicki and I whipped out our cameras on reflex and shot the hell out of it – as avid photographers do.

The second half of the day took us through a massive black desert. We kept turning corners, insisting that the hut just HAD to be there – but no, just more black sand and nothingness. It felt endless like it did at the end of the first day, except without the dramatic landscape to entertain us.

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland 

I’d had grand plans to hit the ‘night hikes’ at each hut, but at the end of the first two days of trekking I was happier warming up and relaxing at the hut in the evening instead of heading back out to the hills. I have no regrets about skipping these side hikes. BUT, since the third day of trekking wasn’t quite as exciting, I was keen to check out the night hike from Emstrur. It brought me to this gorge, where I planted myself until the sun went down. It was beyond glorious and just… so peaceful.

Laugavegur Trek in Iceland 

Day 4: Emstrur (Botnar) to Þórsmörk

The weather turned its back on us completely on the last day of the Laugavegur Trek. About 10 minutes into it, my backpack cover bit the dust and blew away in the wind without my even realizing it. My bag got wet, my gloves were soaked through, and the entire time I was dreading the massive river crossing that was rumored to be up to our thighs. Needless to say, the camera stayed stashed in my backpack for 98% of the day.

I was ECSTATIC to reach sunny Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) and in dire need of a hot shower and coffee. I took care of both there before we caught our bus back to Reykjavik.

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland

Laugavegur Trek, Iceland 

Stay tuned for practical details on hiking the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland!

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Photos from the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

Where in the World is This?


  • Katie McGrain

    Holy crap! These pictures are incredible!

    • lindsaypunk

      Aw thanks, girl! :D

  • You know I cling onto what you say word for word. But I couldn’t read much of this post because those pictures WERE TOO DAMN DISTRACTING!!!! Seriously some of those look like watercolors. Nature is blowing my mind through every Iceland post of yours I read. Incredible.

    • lindsaypunk

      That’s EXACTLY how I felt on this trek! We would climb another hill and I’d be like *OMG*MUSTTAKE6564575PHOTOS*OMG*. I intentionally kept the words to a minimum on this post, so as not to detract from the photo montage ;)

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  • lindsaypunk

    We did this hike the first week of September, so I think you’ll be going at an ideal time. You’ll probably run into fog at some point but the path is VERY obvious so it’s pretty darn hard to get lost. Even in the fog you can still see the path right in front of you – and it likely won’t last for too long :)

    River crossings, yikes! They were much less scary than I thought, but if there’s been a lot of rain it could mean they’re deeper. I was the most scared at the first one and thought I could walk further down and find a shallow part but no such luck. My friend had already crossed at that point so I was basically crossing blind and didn’t know the best way to cross it.

    So my 2 big tips are: 1). Go with a friend and let them cross first, then follow in their footsteps; and 2). Bring water shoes or an extra pair of socks to wear when crossing so your boots don’t get soaked. You’ll be absolutely fine this way!

    Also, the last river crossing (before Thorsmork) is the deepest and has the fastest current. As long as you abide by my two tips above you’ll be ok!

  • rels

    Hi Sylvia,
    I’ll be on the trek the third week of August as well with my boyfriend! Maybe we will meet :) We are from Toronto, Canada. I am also worried about the river crossings, but there are some good youtube videos (from cleverhiker) that provide safety tips.

  • rels

    Hi Lindsay, Thanks for this great article. I will be doing the same trek in August. I was wondering a bit about the ice situation on the trek. I have read some places that there are ‘ice bridges’, but i’m not sure what that means in the summer. Did you cross any ‘ice bridges’ and what were they like? Did you come across a lot of snow?

    • lindsaypunk

      Hmm not sure what ice bridges they mean. There didn’t seem to be any in September! There was a bit of snow on the mountains but we hardly had to walk through any of it. I wouldn’t worry much about it at this time of year!

    • Cronmoax

      I saw someone comment about ice bridges on Trip Advisor – saying that 3 people in his group fell through them and one person was injured. That was the only time I’ve read about them, and it definitely sounds scary. But I wonder how common that sort of thing is…

  • Bryan Luu

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for the fantastic pictures of the hike. I’m looking to do the same hike, also in the first week of September, from Sept 1-4 (4 days like yourself). However, none of my friends could go with me since I’m taking a week off, so I’m doing it solo. :( I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this, I think Iceland is the perfect kind of landscape to soak in by yourself. However, I have several questions. Was it easy to find other people on the hike during that time? Ideally I’d like to make a friend with another trekker so I’m not completely alone. Also, I’d like to know if there are any real dangers I should look out for. I’ve heard that the hike is pretty simple and easy, and I don’t have too much long trekking experience but I’m reasonably fit enough I think. I’m mostly concerned about the presence of fog, snow, and/or ice. Finally, was it difficult to get to Thorsmork from Emstrur? I was thinking of catching the 3pm bus to Reykjavik, and I can’t miss it because my flight is next morning.

    • lindsaypunk

      Heya! YES, you should meet plenty of fellow trekkers along the way. You’ll all be staying in the same huts each night, and it’s common for everyone to sit around chatting around dinner before going to bed :)

      I can’t think of any dangers to worry about. For me, I was most concerned about the creek crossings, but as I’ve mentioned: take them slow, consider taking off your boots and walking in socks (or better yet, bring some kind of water shoes with traction), and if you can – follow behind someone else. Snow and ice aren’t likely to trouble you in September, but we had one foggy morning. It wasn’t bad though, and we could still see the trail.

      And lastly, Ermstrur to Thorsmork isn’t too difficult – it’s probably one of the easier stretches. I can’t give a good time estimate though ’cause we were stuck in heavy rains which slowed us down. I reckon we caught that same 3pm bus and had a couple of hours at Thorsmork to eat, shower, and rest before it came to pick us up, so you should be fine!

      • Bryan Luu

        Awesome, thanks!

        I’m really excited now. I can’t wait! :)

        I do have another question though: how easy was it to follow the trail? I don’t have a GPS but I’m planning to bring/buy a map and I hope that would be enough. In the worst case I was going to try to use my phone. Is buying a GPS really necessary?

        Sincerely,
        Bryan

        • lindsaypunk

          Oh it’s very easy to follow the trail – definitely no GPS needed! :) We didn’t even have a map and we were fine, really.

    • AshtheViking

      I literally just finished the trek so I can give you a few tips. I started solo and ended the first day with a bunch of new friends. The first day was horrible weather-wise (rain, sleet, and even some snow) so I unexpectedly ended up staying in the first hut (Hrafntinnusker) but it was great since I got to dry out my very wet clothes and met several people I would see again and again on the trail. Hundreds of people walk the path everyday so it’s rare to feel completely alone and since the trail is very well-marked and there’s always a definitive path it’s very safe. No real dangers other than the weather- bring wool clothes and very waterproof boots. Each side of Hrafntinnusker has about 4km of snow left on it. I doubt that will change much in the next two weeks.
      It is a pretty easy hike overall (someone brought their 8 year old) as long as you’re prepared for changeable weather conditions. We started each day around 9 and got to the huts in the early afternoon so it’s really quite a simple hike. There was nothing particular strenuous about the final leg, we started walking at 9:11 and got into Thorsmork by 1:30-2 and we weren’t really pushing ourselves. Also if you did miss it there another bus at 8pm.

      • lindsaypunk

        Ooh, thanks for all this helpful info! :D Good point about the weather: it can be pretty iffy, so being prepared for the worst is a great idea.

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  • Cronmoax

    Your posts on this trek have been incredibly inspiring. My husband and I had plans to book a shorter trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides (the Backroad to Landmannalaugar trek), but it filled the day we were planning to book. Now I’m back to stage one and trying to figure out the best trek for us. I feel like the fact that the Backroad trek was booked was kind of a blessing in disguise because last night I found myself second guessing my abilities. I’m in very good shape, love nature and taking hikes, but I’ve never done a multi-day hike or anything over 7-8 miles. I plan to train (big time) for whatever trek we choose, but the weather is what’s holding me back. I’m worried that I’ll find myself in a situation that I can’t handle. We visited Iceland last year and did very short hikes, as we did not have time to do much more than that on our ring road tour. I experienced the rain and the wind, but didn’t actually have to move through it for long. At the very least, I’d like to do the 3-day Pearl of the Highlands trek in Landmannalaugar, but my heart wants to find a way to do Laugavegur. Oof, this is so tough! Any words of encouragement from people who have had doubts, but went ahead and did it anyway, would be very appreciated! Thanks :).

    • What makes you think you won’t be able to handle any situation that you might face while on the trek? You’d be surprised what you’re capable of without even realizing it! ;)

      My friends and I had never done a multi-day trek before either (well, I did the overnight Waimanu Valley trek in Hawaii, but it was just one night), but we were all reasonably fit and had done loads of day hikes – and we did it just fine! PLUS, you’ll be with your husband: with your powers combined, I’m sure you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way. Also, the trail is only open during summer months, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting snowed in or freezing cold temps. You got this! :D

  • Jurgen Ciantar

    Hi,
    I would like to ask if it advisable to go for such trekking with a tour leader or is it safe to do it without guidance.

    thanks for helping and well done for such detailed information :)

    • Very safe and easy to do without a guide!

      • Jurgen Ciantar

        Thank you for your quick reply. Is there any landmarks so as to guide you or some techniques how to trek? :)

        • There’s the occasional sign along the way but not much. It’s very obvious where to go, so I wouldn’t worry!

  • Wichuda Sailomka Pawin

    Hi Lindsay,
    Thank you for your sharing. My friend and I would like to go the highlight of Landmannalaugar like 2 days for round and stay there a night.Is it possible by 4×4 instead trekking on The F208 road. Thank you so much for advance ^^

    • Hi! I’m not quite sure what you mean. Are you wanting to trek on the F road instead of drive? I did see someone doing that, but I think it’s quite a long way in to Landmannalaugur.