Deep in the Iceland Highlands, the colourful mountains of Landmannalaugar are a mystical looking wonder, but getting there is not easy. Here’s our advice on how to get to Landmannalaugar by car, bus or jeep.
Landmannalaugar, Iceland is an area of immense and weird beauty in the Fjallabak National Reserve in southwest Iceland. Famous for dramatically coloured mountains, steaming sulphur vents and thermal pools, its awe-inspiring beauty and day-trip proximity to Reykjavík has made it a popular spot for travellers keen to appreciate some of the otherworldly beauty of Iceland’s highlands.
Getting to Landmannalaugar requires venturing off the popular ring road and exploring a remote and wild part of Iceland. It’s an exhilarating journey over crusty lava fields and rocky mountain roads.
Fortunately, there are several options for taking in this geological masterpiece.
Anyone willing to stroke their sense of adventure can drive to Landmannalaugar with a medium-sized 4×4. It’s a slow and bumpy ride through Iceland’s unique barren landscape, but a thoroughly rewarding experience.
Alternatively, there are regular bus services from Reykjavík and several tours to choose from.
Here’s all the information you need to decide how to get to Landmannalaugar. If you already know how you’re getting there, jump straight to our favourite hikes in Landmannalaugar.
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HOW TO GET TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
Deep in the remote highlands, Landmannalaugar can only be accessed via Iceland’s mountain roads (f-roads). These are unpaved gravel tracks that are not regularly maintained. F-roads come in all shapes and sizes and understanding them is one of our top travel tips for Iceland.
Some are good quality gravel tracks that allow for speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour); others will require fording rivers, traversing steep rocky inclines and gliding through sand.
The f-roads are closed throughout winter to all vehicles except Super Jeeps – specially modified 4×4 vehicles. They are generally open by the end of June and remain open until early October, however, openings vary from year to year based on weather conditions.
Getting to Landmannalaugar on the f-roads includes several different options each with different levels of complexity.
DRIVING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
There are three routes for driving to Landmannalaugar: F26 and F208 from the north, F225 from the west, and F208 from the south. For each of these routes you will need a 4×4 vehicle that is authorized by your rental car company to be driven on F-roads. Before you set off be sure to read our F-roads in Iceland post which details tips and safety procedures for heading into the highlands.
LANDMANNALAUGAR VIA THE F26 / F208 FROM THE NORTH
This route is the easiest route to drive to Landmannalaugar and one of the easiest F-roads in Iceland. If you are new to driving 4WD’s then this is a great way to start.
The F26 is a gravel track that begins at the intersection of Route 26 and Route 32. It is not too stony or rough and there are no river crossings. Driving is easy and you can make progress at quite a pace. After about 10 minutes it passes the Hrauneyjar Highland Centre. There is a gas station, accommodation for the night, and a bar selling very basic snacks.
Ten minutes further, turn right onto the F208 signed to Landmannalaugar. The F208 is also a gravel track in pretty good condition. It is a little rougher than the F26, with a short stony section about 15 minutes after joining. It is here that you can find a wonderful 5-minute detour (on your left) to Sigöldugljúfur Canyon. This sheer-sided gorge has a turquoise river running along its base with several waterfalls trickling over the moss-covered edges.
The F208 continues south across dusty roads and through lava fields and after another 45 minutes, it meets the F225 coming in from the west. Ljötipollur Crater – another great detour – is opposite the junction. It’s a further 5 minutes to the car park (free), then another 5-minute walk to the rim of the crater.
Back on the F208, it winds past a lake and over a hill, dropping down the other side. At the junction with the F224, turn right and head to Landmannalaugar.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE THE F26 / F208 TO LANDMANNALAUGAR?
Allow 1 hour and 30 minutes from the junction of Route 26 and Route 32 to Landmannalaugar (marked in red on the map below). If you stop at both Sigöldugljúfur Canyon and Ljötipollur Crater, add at least an extra 30 minutes.
LANDMANNALAUGAR VIA THE F225 FROM THE WEST
This F-road is not very bumpy or rough, but there are three or four river crossings to negotiate. From Route 26 it heads under the flanks of Hekla Volcano, which on a clear day you’ll see rising above a sea of black gravel and ash. This first section is desolate and wild.
The F225 continues through the gravel and around the edge of a lava field until it reaches the river crossings. In normal conditions, they are all relatively easy (not very deep or wide) and could be done in any sized 4×4. The first cross Rauðfossakvisl, downstream from Rauðfoss waterfall. There is an optional 30-minute hike each way to the waterfall from the river crossing.
The next two river crossings are just a little further and both cross the Kluukkugilskvisl River. In normal conditions, they are not too difficult but make sure you follow the guidelines for crossing rivers on the F-Roads.
The scenery changes and the F225 now heads through green valleys and past colourful mountains. After just over an hour the F225 meets the F208. Turn right, then after another 20 minutes turn right again on the F224 to Landmannalaugar.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE THE F225 TO LANDMANNALAUGAR?
Allow 1 hour and 20 minutes from the junction of Route 26 and F225 to Landmannalaugar (marked blue on the map below with the crosses to indicate the river crossings). Add an extra 1 hour if you do the hike to Rauðfoss waterfall and about an extra 30 minutes if you go Ljötipollur Crater as well.
LANDMANNALAUGAR VIA THE F208 FROM THE SOUTH
This is the toughest route into Landmannalaugar. The F208 from the south is long and involves three quite sizeable river crossings (and many smaller ones). The F208 from the south starts near the village of Grafarkirkja and the first hour is straightforward. But once you pass the Hólaskjól Highland Centre, things get more interesting.
The first big river crossing is the Kylslahólmar and about 40 minutes later are the Halldórsdalur and the Kirkjufellfoss river crossings. They can be 40 to 60 centimetres deep and present quite a challenge. In normal conditions they can be completed with a large 4×4 vehicle, and sometimes with a medium 4×4. Rangers are often positioned along the road to offer advice.
On both our trips to Iceland we hired a medium-sized 4×4 and thought we would assess whether we could make this trip. One time the ranger said we should be fine, on another they suggested not to make the journey – so, we didn’t. If you can it’s a fantastic experience, especially the last section as it winds its way around glacial rivers and towering green mountains.
After the three river crossings, the F208 comes to a junction with F224. Turn left and head into Landmannalaugar.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE TO LANDMANNALAUGAR VIA THE F208 FROM THE SOUTH?
Allow 2 hours 30 minutes from the junction of Route 209 & 208 to Landmannalaugar (marked purple on the map below). However, keep in mind you may need to get out and assess the rivers which takes extra time.
OUR RECOMMENDATION FOR DRIVING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
If you are new to driving a 4×4, we recommend taking the F26 / F208 and then asking the ranger at the information hut about conditions on the F225 before deciding which way to return.
Whichever of the three routes you take, at the end of the journey turn onto the F224 for the final few kilometres to Landmannalaugar. Just before reaching Landmannalaugar Campsite there is a medium-sized river crossing.
But if it looks too deep, there is plenty of parking just before the crossing and a pedestrian walkway over the river and into camp.
You can find all the information for visiting in our Complete Guide to Landmannalaugar.
MAP / DRIVING TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
There is no gas station at Landmannalaugar so make sure you fill up with fuel before entering the highlands or at the Hrauneyjar Highland Centre on the northern section of the F208.
The F26 / F208 from the north is marked in red.
The F225 from the west and its river crossings are marked in blue.
The F208 from the south and its river crossings are marked in purple.
LANDMANNALAUGAR BUS / HIGHLAND BUS
If you have not hired a 4×4 or don’t want to drive on the F-roads then a great option is to take the Landmannalaugar Bus called the Highland Bus.
Reykjavík Excursions runs one bus a day each way to Landmannalaugar from Reykjavík with a few stops along the way.
The bus makes the return journey in the afternoon departing from Landmannalaugar just before 4pm. This usually leaves plenty of time to explore the area, try a few of the amazing hikes in Landmannalaugar and have a soak in the hot springs.
Tickets are US$85 return from Hella or US$120 from Reykjavík.
BUS STOPS TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
4 hours, 15 minutes to Landmannalaugar
2 hours 45 minutes to Landmannalaugar
2 hours to Landmannalaugar
TOURS TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
If you don’t have the means or the desire to drive to Landmannalaugar yourself, there are several great day tours that depart Reykjavík. These still allow you to experience the geological wonder of the Landmannalaugar area; just on a limited timeframe.
Most tours drive past the base of Mt Hekla – Iceland’s most active volcano – offering excellent views of one of the countries most impressive natural landmarks. You’ll also be able to do all most of what you can do on a self-drive excursion: explore the Laugarhraun lava field, admire the colourful rhyolite mountains and relax in the waters of a natural geothermal pool.
We have selected some great tours which take all the stress out of getting to Landmannalaugar. One is a simple hiking tour, another visits Haifoss waterfall along the way, and the third is a super jeep tour where you travel in a modified vehicle that visits places you could not otherwise get to.
SUPER JEEP TOURS TO LANDMANNALAUGAR
A Super Jeep tour to Landmannalaugar is a very expensive way to see the area, but it does come with some benefits that are not possible any other way.
These modified vehicles can take tours out all year round, meaning winter excursions are not out of the question. Equipped to cross extremely rugged terrain, a super jeep tour will take you to places you couldn’t get to on your own. Skirt past the base of Hekla for impressive views of its snow-covered peaks, visit the edge of one of the worlds youngest lava fields, then drive along the volcano’s ridge at almost 3,000 feet.
These Super Jeep tours to Landmannalaugar are particularly good for photography. Keep in mind, that some are charged per vehicle rather than per person.
PLANNING YOUR ICELAND TRIP
Iceland is an excellent destination for semi-adventurous travellers who like to get off the beaten track and immerse themselves in stunning scenery. Here’s some more reading from us to help plan your journey to the land of fire and ice.
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GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
EXPLORING THE HIGHLANDS
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