Landmannalaugar is what you dream about when you picture Iceland. It is truly otherworldly – hot springs, color-streaked mountains, endless landscape. I will never forget the sheer wonder that we felt while we were here. As usual, we didn’t give ourselves nearly enough time, since we only had just over one week in Iceland. But luckily Iceland’s midnight sun allowed us to make the most of just one night in Landmannalaugar.
Getting there: You’ll probably want to take the bus, as we did, because getting to Landmannalaugar requires traveling on F-roads. What’s an F-road? It’s Iceland’s description of the rough roads that will get you to the most rugged areas of Iceland’s highlands. They’re unpaved, only open in summer, and often flooded with no bridges over the water. You’ll need at least a 4×4, some good insurance, and real guts to travel these roads and fjord the rivers. And probably some luck. Wasn’t worth the risk to us, but if you decide to go for it just make sure your rental company will even allow it.
Where you’ll stay: You can camp at Landmannalaugar, but we chose to stay in the hut, which accommodated 75 people in dorm-style lodging with a communal kitchen. I’d recommend that you book your spot ahead of time, just to make sure that you can get a space. (Or maybe I’m just a neurotic traveler.) Make sure you bring your own sleeping bag, and a bathing suit if you want to try out the hot spring river right near the hut! Perhaps most important, be sure to bring food to cook for meals. Your bus will stop at a gas station along the way, but I’d recommend buying your provisions in Reykjavik at a real supermarket. We were sick of Iceland’s gas station sandwiches (always with a chipotle mayo!) by the end of our trip.
Hiking options: Someday we’ll make it back to Iceland and do the Laugavegurinn hike – 4 days, 3 nights between Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork, with overnight stays in huts along the way. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time for this popular hike, but we did explore the area through two very different, both easy hikes.