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Laugavegur is one of the most popular highland trails in Iceland. The scenery is breathtaking in its beauty and diversity, perfectly representing the country’s raw natural wonder.
The area is a favourite for those who want to take multi-day hikes through the Icelandic Highlands.
The Laugavegur Highland Trail should not be confused with the Laugavegur shopping street in Reykjavík. The name Laugavegur means ‘the way of the water’.
Location of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail
The Laugavegur Trail is located in the southern Icelandic Highlands, and connects the geothermal area of Landmannalaugar to the forested valley of Þórmörk.
Landmannalaugar is a spectacular location, only accessible in summer, renowned for its colourful rhyolite mountains and bubbling hot springs, which guests are welcome to bathe in.
Þósmörk, meanwhile, is sheltered by mountains and glaciers, and famous for its greenery. It is so beautiful that it was named after the most acclaimed of the Old Norse Gods, Þór (often anglicized to Thor).
The Laugavegur Trail, from Landmannalaugar, passes the ‘Swan Lake’, Álftavatn; the black sand desert of Mælifellssandur, renowned for its vibrant green mountain Stórasúla; and through the plains of Emstrur. There are countless peaks, crater lakes and volcanoes en route, and the trail sits in the shadow of the glaciers Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull.
It is 55 kilometres (34 miles) long.
Hiking the Laugavegur Hiking Trail
The Laugavegur Hiking Trail is one of the most popular hiking routes in the country. It is usually taken over five- to six- days, although some tours have an additional day hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Pass from Þórsmörk to Skógafoss waterfall. The route can usually be accessed from June to September, though this is weather dependent.
It is possible to camp as you cross the Highlands via the Laugavegur Trail, but most tours stop off at the mountain huts of Hrafntinnusker, Alftavatn, Hvanngil, Laugahraun and Emstrur (Botnar).
Hiking the Laugavegur Trail should only be done by those with good endurance, as many of the paths are uphill, and the days can be quite long. If you wish to hike it without a guide, you must be an expert, well-researched hiker, with all necessary equipment and stocks, and way to contact emergency services as a precaution.
It is also highly recommended that you register your journey at safetravel.is, so that the rescue teams will be alerted if you do not get to your destination at your expected time.
Though some may wish to take the tour independently, there are many advantages to joining a group. It is safer; you will also have the company of an experienced, knowledgeable guide who can tell you about the locations you pass through; your heavy bags will be taken ahead of you; and you don’t need to worry about bringing or cooking food.
Regardless of if you are hiking yourself or on an organised tour, you will need many layers of warm, waterproof clothing; shoes for crossing rivers; sturdy hiking boots with ankle support; a first-aid kit; and a large water bottle.
It is also highly recommended that you take a camera, as well as a swimsuit and towel to enjoy the hot springs at Landmannalaugar.