Brennisteinsalda

Best Icelandic Hot springs

Best Icelandic Hot springs

The ultimate guide to most beautiful Icelandic hot springs. How to find them, what kind of car do you need, our experience and many tips!

9. REYKJAFJARDARLAUG

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes
Time spent at: 30-45 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Reykjafjardarlaug is a nice hot spring in the middle of nowhere, right next to the Road 63 in Westfjords.

How to get to Reykjafjardarlaug

In summer, Reykjafjardarlaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Although the road 63 leading there is zig-zag and secluded, it should be alright to reach with a bit of careful driving. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Reykjafjardarlaug

We made just a quick stop at the hot spring because we had already visited several of them at that time and headed elsewhere on that day. Reykjafjardarlaug is nevertheless nice and pleasant, just maybe not that exceptional compared to some other ones in Iceland. As someone had put it: “3 out of 5 Icelandic stars, i.e. 5 out of 5 anywhere else in the world”. 

Tips about Reykjafjardarlaug

There are actually 2 places for bathing in here. First one is the man-made artificial pool with regulated water temperature. The second one is the actual source of the hot water itself – a wild hot spring with varying temperature (usually much hotter). This secret Reykjafjardarlaug hot spring lies nearby.

Bathing is free of charge, we didn’t notice any donation box, but there may be one.

8. HVERAVELLIR

Hveravellir hot spring

The only Hveravellir hot spring for bathing. Image: courtesy of hiticeland.com

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes (hot spring) 
Time spent at: 1 hour
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 3 – nice (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Hveravellir is a hot spring area in the middle of F35 road with one nice free hot spring available for bathing. 

How to get to Hveravellir

You need a 4wd car to access the Hveravellir area. The road F35 (Kjalvegur) is not hard to drive on, though. You may rent basically any 4wd car to drive it. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Once you leave F35 towards Hveravellir, it’s just a short, easy drive and you will soon find a parking lot in front of a small restaurant.

Our experience with Hveravellir

Almost next to the parking lot lies a nice, public, free hot spring.

Since it is so close to the car park, there’s a high chance someone will be inside most of the time. Nevertheless, the hot spring is big enough and water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C (according to my professional assessment). On the other hand, air temperature felt really cold, something like 7-8°C even in the middle of August. So again – be prepared for that – you are in the middle of Iceland, in highlands.

I guess my expectations for Hveravellir were too big (read further to find out why). When planning our trip, I had read that there are “several hot springs in the Hveravellir area”. Moreover, seeing pictures like this had instantly made me a Hveravellir enthusiast. Well, the reality was a bit different.

Tips about Hveravellir

There were supposed to be “several hot springs” so let’s go find the other ones, we told ourselves. Hopefully with no people inside

hveravellir trail sheep

Sheep around Hveravellir trail

We were hiking for 1 hour around the entire area, but we haven’t found any hot springs, other than the main one near the parking lot. We don’t have anything against walking, but the entire area was pretty uneventful, with nothing interesting to observe. We said hello to several sheep along the way, but even those didn’t know where the other hot springs were.

We finally also asked the local at the restaurant who just confirmed our realization by saying: “you can bath only in this hot spring, next to the car park. There may be also some other hot springs further away, but you shouldn’t bath there”.

7. LYSUHOLSLAUG

lysuholslaug hot spring

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 0 minutes 
Time spent at: 0,5 to 2 hours
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Lysuholslaug is a nice, man-made and man-maintained hot spring, hidden in the southern part of Snaefellsnes peninsula. 

How to get to Lysuholslaug

Lysuholslaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Don’t get fooled by Google that you have to walk to Lysuholslaug. You don’t have to. There’s a road leading right next to the hot spring area. It’s just not marked on the Google Maps (see below).

Lysuholslaug hot spring map

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring as indicated on Google Maps. The road to it does exist, though.

Our experience with Lysuholslaug

Bathing in Lysuholslaug is definitely a very pleasant activity when the weather sucks. We really enjoyed it, despite the place not being anywhere near as picturesque as Hrunalaug or some other “wilder” hot springs. So, it depends on your preference, weather (and who knows what else), whether it’s worth making a detour for you. For us it definitely was.

Other than us, there was just one other couple using the pools at the time of our visit. We guess the main reason was, once again, Covid pandemic, rather than the place being unpopular.

Tips about Lysuholslaug

There are 2 small hot tubes and 1 bigger pool. All of them are the so-called “sea-weed baths”. That means, they look to be dirty, because of the sea-weeds everywhere. The ground and walls of the pool are also slippery, because of sea-weeds.

The big pool has water with the temperature of around 32°C (according to my professional assessment, i.e. read “just guessing”). Water in the small hot tubes is much hotter, around 36-38°C in the first of them and around 39-41°C in the hottest one. It’s definitely not recommended to stay in the hottest one for too long.

The hot spring is a paid one – 1000ISK/person, i.e. some 6-7eur.

6. BRENNISTEINSALDA

Landmannalaugar hot spring

Landmannalaugar hot spring. Picture taken from https://www.foodiebaker.com/day-4-iceland-travelogue/

Summary

Distance from car park: 5-7 minutes from both car parks (in camp and before camp) 
Time spent at: 20-40 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little to medium
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Brennisteinsalda hot spring is the only hot spring suitable for bathing in the main Landmannalaugar area.

How to get to Brennisteinsalda

You need a proper 4wd car to reach Landmannalaugar and Brennisteinsalda hot spring. However, there’s a huge difference whether you come from the northern side of F235 or southern side.

Read more about these different routes in our F-road guide. Read also about how we chose our car, as this is essential for your Icelandic trip. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Landmannalaugar Brennisteinsalda campsite

Landmannalaugar Brennisteinsalda campsite on the summer evening

Our experience with Brennisteinsalda

Brennisteinsalda hot spring is the only real natural hot spring (without any human interference) we’ve seen in Iceland so it’s definitely worth trying. It’s basically a stream of some really hot water (>50°C) flowing into the small river and you may bath in this river.

The river actually isn’t so hot, maybe around some 26-30°C which doesn’t feel so fantastic when it’s like 5-10°C outside. But the more you approach the actual hot stream, the warmer it gets. The warmest place is, of course, just near the place where the stream flows into the water. This is the place you want to aim for (but so will all your fellow co-campers). You will probably have to wait some time in a queue to get to that source. There’s also another smaller stream a few meters to the right, so these 2 streams flowing into the river are the hottest spots.

Tips about Brennisteinsalda

The hot spring is free to use. There’s no place to change your clothes, just a wooden structure to put leave your clothes on, which also serves as an entrance to the hot river.

The river is also really shallow, only some 40-70cm deep, so you basically have to lie in it to be covered by water. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the experience and it’s a really cool thing to try as Brennisteinsalda hotpot is one of the very few “wild” hot springs not artificially modified by locals.

5. HORGSHLIDARLAUG

Horgshlidarlaug hot spring

Hörgshliðarlaug hot spring in the heart of fjord

 

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Hörgshliðarlaug is a nice remote hot spring hidden in one of the fjords in the northern part of Westfjords.

How to get to Horgshlidarlaug

In summer, Hörgshliðarlaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Not only tough to pronounce, but also tough to find, that’s Horgshlidarlaug. At the time of our visit, the road 633 was closed, so we had to use northern part of the road 61 and make a detour south (left) right before crossing the Mjóifjörður fjord.

Once we arrived at the point indicated on Google Maps, there were just a few rural settlements with old houses next to them and we didn’t see any hot pot. At one of the settlements, we spotted an old bath-tub, with the big sign “PRIVATE PROPERTY”. Hmm, maybe this is Hörgshliðarlaug? I stepped out of the car and headed towards the bath-tub. On a halfway there a local guy stopped me with a huge smile on his face. I asked whether this is Horgshlidarlaug and he just casually replied that this is his house and the hot spring is another 2 kilometres down the road. I guess we were not the first, nor the last tourists sneaking around his courtyard.

horghslidarlaug map

The actual hot spring Hörgshliðarlaug is 2 kilometres south from the spot indicated by Google Maps

Nevertheless, the guy was right (of course). So, in case it will not be corrected yet on Google Maps (and you couldn’t see any hot spring), just continue 2 kilometres south down the road. You will definitely see it on your right (when coming from the north) or on the left (when coming from the south). There’s no real car park, you have to stop next to the road (but there’s a wider part of the road near hot spring).

Our experience with Horgshlidarlaug

Horgshlidarlaug is a dirty, old, full of seaweed hot spring with true Icelandic atmosphere. It lies right in the heart of the fjord, so you will be able to watch the fjord while soaking in the hot pot. If you are lucky enough, there may even be seals around (we haven’t seen any though).

Horgshlidarlaug westfjords

Horgshlidarlaug hotpot and a changing room

At the time of our visit, there were 2 groups of tourists already bathing in the hot spring. Hence, we waited 10 minutes, and afterwards, the hot spring became empty. Hörgshliðarlaug is definitely an original and picturesque place, nevertheless, we liked some other (see below) hot springs even more.

Tips about Horgshlidarlaug

There’s an old shelter next to the hot spring, which serves as a changing room. If you are into “sauna style” bathing, you may even alternate between bathing in the hot spring and bathing in the ice-cold sea. Water in the hot spring is very pleasant though, having some 36°C (according to my professional, read as „guessed“, assessment).

Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one.

4. HELLULAUG

hellulaug hot spring

Hellulaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 2-3 minutes 
Time spent at: 15-45 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Hellulaug is a nice hot spring situated in one of the fjords in the southern part of Westfjords.

How to get to Hellulaug

In summer, Hellulaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

You can get to Hellulaug from the main road 60. Just be sure to finally turn on Hellulaugavegur and end up here, because there’s one other (wrong) spot on Google maps. You will leave your car at a small, gravel parking lot. From there you have to descent about 1 minute to reach the pool itself.

hellulaug hotpot

Hellulaug hotpot

Our experience with Hellulaug

At the time of our visit, it had already started to rain. We changed our clothes inside our car and virtually ran in the rain towards the pool. There were two local girls (this time without cocaine) already bathing there (didn’t seem to leave any time soon). 

The entire bathing experience was very nice. The water was pleasantly hot, but not too hot (some 34-36°C). It felt really comfortable to soak in the pool, while the rain poured down. Additionally, view from the hot spring is very nice, because of its location in the fjord. So you’re basically sitting in the hot spring looking at the fjord.

Tips about Hellulaug

Hellulaug is situated right in the heart of the fjord and it’s a man-made hotpot (water is being brought there by a pump). There’s no changing room, nor any shelter, but the hot spring is free of charge.

Well, if it rains, since there’s no shelter, some of your things will probably get wet, unless you cover them with something. We didn’t mind, though, because Hellulaug was probably the last stop of our trip.

3. KROSSNESLAUG

krossneslaug

Krossneslaug

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Krossneslaug is a really unique, one-of-its-kind hot spring literally at the end of the world (or at least all Icelandic roads). 

How to get to Krossneslaug

Although officially any 2wd car is allowed in here, I do recommend a 4wd car and some guts to reach Krossneslaug. Road 643 heading towards Krossneslaug could easily be classified as an Icelandic F-road. It doesn’t contain any river crossings but it contains almost everything else an F-road may contain. Potholes, gravel, narrow passages, steep parts, driving on the edge of the cliffs, …

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Google Maps mark Krossneslaug quite precisely. They just don’t show that the “car park” (or better said the place next to the road where you may leave your car) is tens of meters above the pool. That means, you have to leave your car up, next to the road and you have to walk down the path to Krossneslaug itself. Only the owner of the pool has an access to reach the pool by car.

Our experience with Krossneslaug

Bathing in Krossneslaug is again a once in a lifetime experience. It definitely belongs to Top 3 of our Icelandic hot springs. When we arrived, there was no one else in the pool, only the owner performing maintenance of the place.

krossneslaug hot spring

Views from Krossneslaug

Once in the pool, you will again feel like being in some kind of fairy tale. Just you, hot pool and view of the endless sea. The smaller, hotter bathtub even has a windshield (I guess for cases of severe weather?).

Before our departure, I asked the owner whether it does make economical sense to maintain such a pool at the end of the world. He just smiled and replied that from June till 1st half of August usually hundreds of people come per day. Even during Covid times, just their structure changed to more locals. OK, that surprised me, I guess it makes sense then.

Tips about Krossneslaug

Krossneslaug is a paid (1000ISK, i.e. 6-7Eur/person), man-made, hot water pool, utilising nearby hot spring water. It has a long history (1954) and 2 pools available for bathing. The bigger, rectangular pool with a water temperature of around 34°C and a smaller, more modern hot tub with a temperature of around 38°C. It is well maintained by the owner of the place, who also resides there usually from June until August each year. The entrance fee includes a changing room, toilets and showers, of course.

2. GUDRUNARLAUG

gudrunarlaug hot spring shelter

Shelter for changing clothes and Gudrunarlaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Guðrúnarlaug is one of the most picturesque hot springs in Iceland. It’s very well accessible.

How to get to Gudrunarlaug

In summer, Guðrúnarlaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Gudrunarlaug

When we arrived at the parking lot, we saw just one couple bathing in the hot spring. We were already spoiled by travelling during Covid pandemic, in the sense that we had been alone at every other place we had visited. So, we decided to wait a bit once the couple finishes its bathing, which took about 5 minutes.

Yep, once again, we were alone in Icelandic hot spring, in August at 4 pm. The rain had already been pouring when we got out of our car. We really enjoyed Gudrunarlaug bathing, even despite (or thanks to?) rain getting heavier. The place with its surroundings is pretty cool and the water is pleasantly hot (some 36-38°C). Definitely worth visiting. It was one of the best hot springs we’ve bathed in.

gudrunarlaug hotpot neighborhood

Neighborhood of the Guðrúnarlaug hot spring

Tips about Gudrunarlaug

Guðrúnarlaug is definitely a bit more touristy compared to, for example, Lýsuhólslaug. The reason for that is its proximity to ring road and to Westfjords, i.e., it’s quite easily accessible. The same is true when it comes to access to the actual hot tube – it’s a 2-minute walk from the car park, which sits right next to it. Google Maps are also quite precise about the location of Gudrunarlaug, so feel free to orientate according to them.

Guðrúnarlaug is located next to the small rural campsite (we didn’t see anyone camping at the time of our visit, during Covid-19 times) and something which looked like a school. There’s an authentic wooden shelter (similar to the one next to Hrunalaug) serving as a changing room, right next to the pool. Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one.

1. HRUNALAUG

hruni hot spring

Tranquil scenery of Hruni hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 20-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, definitely
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Hrunalaug

Hrunalaug (or Hruni) is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Use Google maps. They were quite precise about the location. There’s actually a car park (see attached picture) near the hot spring. From the “car park” it’s about 3 minutes of walk. You shouldn’t get lost, as far as I can remember there’s even a sign pointing towards hot spring.

hrunalaug car park

Hrunalaug “car park”

Our experience with Hrunalaug

I can confidently nominate Hruni hot spring for winning the award of most authentic Icelandic hot spring. It is, without doubt, the best hot spring we’ve ever been to. Thanks to many aspects. Firstly, it’s a place secluded from anything else with no buildings or roads around. Secondly, the landscape surrounding it is truly peaceful and picturesque. Thirdly, the hot pot itself looks like to be from some kind of fairy-tale. And, importantly, the water (in the main one) is pleasantly hot with some 38°C according to my professional (read amateur) assessment.

Once we got in, we really got carried away by the surrounding atmosphere. Just a slowly pouring rain, few sheep, endless grass and besides that just silence. Everything was tranquil, only until the new guest arrived at the hot spring. If you are into stories, feel free to read ours about meeting a naked Icelandic teenager possibly under drugs.

hrunalaug bathing

The main and the hottest hot spring in Hrunalaug

Tips about Hrunalaug

Once you arrive at the hot pot itself, you will realize there’s also a covered shelter for changing clothes! A very authentic one 🙂 The entire place is maintained by locals and works on a basis of free donation. There’s a donation box next to the hot spring.

There are actually several pools, some of them smaller, some of them bigger. All pools do contain a heated water, but each one has different temperature. The hottest one is also the smallest and is the one right next to the shelter. It’s ideal for 2 people, and if you are OK with some squeezing even for 4.

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Landmannalaugar 1-day hike guide

Landmannalaugar 1-day hike guide

If you want to have an idea of how amazingly the area around Landmannalaugar looks like from a bird’s eye perspective, there’s a Highlands Virtual Reality tour that will take you there immediately.

When to go?

We went in the summer. This is the safest option, both because of the roads leading to Landmannalaugar are usually in the best conditions and at the same time, the weather should be the most merciful.

There’s much more to say about Icelandic weather though. In very short words – never underestimate the harsh Icelandic weather and overestimate your physical condition.

Two main Landmannalaugar hikes

“Orange mountain”

There are two main, most beautiful, one-day hikes you can do from the Brennisteinsalda campsite. And it can be a bit confusing to understand the difference between them and how to get to each trail. At least for me, it was in the beginning. So let’s get to the point.

The first of the hikes, the easier and quicker one, is the hike ending at the top of the Brennisteinsalda volcano, or “orange mountain”. It takes about an hour to reach the top and some 30 minutes to come back. The ascent is of normal difficulty and everyone should be able to make it.

pointing at brennisteinsalda

Pointing at Brennisteinsalda from Bláhnjúkur hiking trail

“Blue peak”

The second hike, for me even more beautiful, is the hike to the Bláhnjúkur peak or “Blue peak”. It’s a bit longer hike, it took us 1,5 hour to get to the top and some 1 hour to get back to the campsite and you should be in good physical condition to make it, at least compared to other places in Iceland where you just step out of your car and make a 5-minute walk. But it’s definitely doable for everybody and more than just worth it as it’s one of the most beautiful views in entire Iceland. Just be prepared for a mountain hike.

brennisteinsalda top view

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda towards Bláhnjúkur

Map of the area

What helped me the most with orientation was the Landmannalaugar map. I wonder why it’s so hard to find this map online, but this map is basically all you need to know. If you are in good physical condition and the weather is good, I definitely do recommend you to go for both peaks – Brennisteinsalda and Bláhnjúkur as well.

It’s a beautiful loop trail, so you don’t go twice via the same trail and all the views around it are breath-taking. On halfway to Brennisteinsalda, you’re going to cross a lava field called Laugahraun which is interesting as well, although compared to the other peaks it’s not that special.

landmannalaugar map

The most important slice of the Landmannalaugar map for your 1-day trip

There are of course many other trails in the Landmannalaugar area. If you are really into hiking or if you’re planning to spend more days in the area, you’re more than welcome to go for the other trails as well. The longest one is supposed to take some 3-4 days and ends in Thórsmörk, another magnificent valley. You will be probably spending nights in mountain huts along the way if you choose this hike. We didn’t go for it, as we wanted to see as many different parts of Iceland as possible in 12 days, but next time – why not? Just be prepared for rough cold weather even in summer and its sudden changes.

Brennisteinsalda hike

Distance from car park: 5/10 minutes (to the start of the trail, from camping/car park in front of the camping)
Time spent at: 1 hour to the top
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no
Physical condition needed: medium
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

brennisteinsalda hike start

This is how the start of the hiking trail towards Brennisteinsalda looks like

Hike for Brennisteinsalda volcano is quite easy and takes around 1,5 hour round trip. If you either don’t have much time or weather is worsening or you simply aren’t into hiking that much, you can definitely make Brennisteinsalda hike. The trail to the top and the view from the top itself is definitely worth it. We experienced it in slightly foggy weather and it was still beautiful.

brennisteinsalda hiking trail

Easy Brennisteinsalda hiking trail

You start at the main building of Landmannalaugar/Brennisteinsalda campsite where there are red signs pointing to two opposite directions. When coming from the river crossings facing the campsite, the one pointing left is the one for Bláhnjúkur and the one pointing right is the one for Laugahraun lava field and Brennisteinsalda.

The other way how to orientate yourself is simply to go in the direction of the mountain (you can see it throughout almost the entire trail) and use common sense. Although the trail is well marked (it’s important to stick to the marked trail to not destroy Icelandic untouched nature and not get yourself fined heavily), the signs are not very helpful because they contain just the name of the entire trail and they don’t point specifically to Brennisteinsalda.

brennisteinsalda hike

Views from the Brennisteinsalda hike

Your first checkpoint would be crossroads with the Laugahraun lava field where you will continue to the upper right, i.e. above the field. Then you will eventually arrive at another crossroad just below Brennisteinsalda where you should turn right, to face the only little steeper part of the hike right towards the peak. Once you reach the peak, you can enjoy 360° views of surrounding landscapes, Laugahraun field from bird-eye view and also majestic Bláhnjúkur peak nearby.

brennisteinsalda top

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda on a slightly foggy day. Still very windy at the top, despite a calm day.

There was no wind below Brennisteinsalda at the time of our visit, but at the peak, the wind was blowing like crazy. So be prepared for this. After Brennisteinsalda you may either come back to the campsite or continue for the Bláhnjúkur peak – as we did. If you have enough energy and the weather is alright I definitely do recommend to go for Bláhnjúkur as well because the views surrounding that route are even more amazing.

Laugahraun

Distance from car park: 5/10 minutes (to the start of the trail, from camping/car park in front of the camping)
Time spent at: 15-20 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

brennisteinsalda peak view

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda towards Laugahraun

Laugahraun is a lava field with interesting rock formations formed from volcanic lava eruptions. It takes some 30-40 minutes to reach it from the campsite and it stands on halfway to Brennisteinsalda mountain. It’s a nice place to see but it was not that amazing for us compared to other sights like peaks of Bláhnjúkur or Brennisteinsalda. We didn’t go particularly for it, but we stumbled upon it on our way back from Brennisteinsalda peak and on our path further towards Bláhnjúkur mountain.

If you have enough energy and good weather I recommend you to take the same route as we did so that you can admire all of them. Coming from Brennisteinsalda, if you leave the Laugahraun field at its top-right part, you will find yourself at the beginning of the trail for Bláhnjúkur, the Blue peak.

Bláhnjukúr hike

Distance from car park: 15 or 40 minutes (if you want to go only for Blahnjukur or if you firstly want to go for Laugahraun lava field)
Time spent at: 2 hours to the top, 60-90 minutes back down
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no
Physical condition needed: advanced
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

blahnjukur hiking path

Slippery clay slope at the start of the hike to Bláhnjúkur or Blue peak

Which trail to choose?

For us hike to the Bláhnjúkur, or the Blue peak was the most beautiful, the most rewarding and the most difficult part of our one day visit to Landmannalaugar. We had to find the beginning of the trail, we had to ford the small river, we had to climb the steep muddy hill and then we had to cope with a strong cold wind at the top. All of these were definitely worth the experience. Views encompassing the route are amazing if you are lucky with the good weather and the view from the peak is even more breath-taking. So how do you reach Bláhnjúkur?

You have three options on how to reach the top (including circular round trip we did, starting with Brennisteinsalda and continuing to Bláhnjúkur or vice versa). Arriving from river crossings before Landmannalaugar you may either:

  1. turn left and go directly for Bláhnjúkur or
  2. you may turn right, reach the Laugahraun lava field first and then continue for Bláhnjúkur hike or
  3. of course, you may choose the order we chose, i.e. after reaching Laugahraun continuing for Brennisteinsalda peak, then coming back to Laugahraun and then going for Bláhnjúkur.

I recommend the way we did it, i.e. the circular route so that you can see everything.

blahnjukur hike views

Spectacular views right from the beginning of the hike on Bláhnjúkur and even on the slightly foggy day

How to reach Bláhnjúkur peak

After you leave the upper right part of Laugahraun field (coming from Brennisteinsalda trail), you will arrive at the small river. Despite the river being small, there’s no bridge or a designated place where the river should be crossed. We spent almost 30 minutes searching for the spot where to cross the river to not get our feet wet in this cold weather. And up to this day, I don’t know where was the “official” spot meant for this Landmannalaugar river to be crossed.

What we finally did was going almost 10 minutes to the right along the bank of the river coming to the place where the river was shallow enough with enough pebbles to jump on and pass. Then we had to come these 10 minutes on the other side of the river back again to reach the yellow marks marking the trail towards Bláhnjúkur. So, after 30 minutes of struggle, we managed to ford the river without getting wet, although I’m not sure whether this was the way meant for crossing. Probably no.

blahnjukur hike near top

Bláhnjúkur hike near the top

Afterwards, for us, the most dangerous part followed. The trail is well marked with yellow sticks so you shouldn’t get lost. You will shortly arrive at the steep clay slope going up closer towards Bláhnjúkur. The ascent is not hard or anything, but it’s quite steep and you don’t have a good grip on the ground because of the clay. So with each step, you feel like slipping on the smooth clay. I was equipped with high-quality La Sportiva hiking shoes and those didn’t help either. There are neither stairs nor chains so you can only help yourself by going slowly zig-zag to the top.

Fortunately, this part is not too long and takes some 10 minutes to complete. What follows next is just a typical gravel hiking trail and you shouldn’t have any problems continuing up the trail. Magnificent views will shortly emerge and will accompany you all the way to the top.

blahnjukur peak view

One of the views from the peak of Bláhnjúkur towards Landmannalaugar and 2nd (steeper) hiking trail

We had a semi-clear sky with partially sunny, partially cloudy weather and light fog. This is still supposed to be good weather so we enjoyed every moment of it. Visibility (although not perfect) was fine and the views were, as I already mentioned, breath-taking. We met just a single-digit number of visitors at the peak, so at the time of our visit, the peak being crowdy wasn’t an issue. It was really windy and the temperature felt like 5°C even on a sunny summer day like ours, so be prepared for that. Once reaching the top, you will be rewarded with the best views over the area.

blahnjukur top view

Another view from the peak of Bláhnjúkur towards Landmannalaugar camp, Laugahraun and 2nd (steeper) hiking trail

The way back

We started our descent from the other side of the mountain (the one where you may access Bláhnjúkur right from the campsite), which was supposed to be much steeper, according to guides I’ve read. That definitely wasn’t true and compared to the steep clay part we had to overcome before, this was a piece of cake. I wonder what’s worse – to ascent the clay part or descent? I guess descent would be worse.

The path continued without any obstacles until we reached the point where we could see the small river we’d forded before from above. At this point we’d also seen the campsite from above already, so we continued pursuing that direction. The entire descent wasn’t hard and it took us some 1 hour at maximum to reach our campsite again. We went for a hot chocolate at the nearby snack bar, ate a little, and it was still only before 3 pm so we had enough time to continue with our journey.

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Day 4 – Landmannalaugar and Highlands in the north

Day 4 – Landmannalaugar and Highlands in the north


If you want to have an idea of how amazingly the area around Landmannalaugar looks like from a bird’s eye perspective, there’s a Highlands Virtual Reality tour that will take you there immediately.

Landmannalaugar hikes

There are two main, most beautiful, one-day hikes you can do from the Brennisteinsalda campsite. And it can be a bit confusing to understand the difference between them and how to get to each trail. At least for me, it was in the beginning. So let’s get to the point.

First of the hikes, the easier and quicker one, is the hike ending at the top of the Brennisteinsalda volcano, or “orange mountain”. It takes about an hour to reach the top and some 30 minutes to come back. The ascent is of normal difficulty and everyone should be able to make it.

pointing at brennisteinsalda

Pointing at Brennisteinsalda from Bláhnjúkur hiking trail

The second hike, for me even more beautiful, is the hike to the Bláhnjúkur peak or “Blue peak”. It’s a bit longer hike, it took us 1,5 hour to get to the top and some 1 hour to get back to the campsite and you should be in good physical condition to make it, at least compared to other places in Iceland where you just step out of your car and make a 5-minute walk. But it’s definitely doable for everybody and more than just worth it as it’s one of the most beautiful views in entire Iceland. Just be prepared for a mountain hike.

brennisteinsalda top view

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda towards Bláhnjúkur

What helped me the most with orientation was this map. I wonder why it’s so hard to find this map online, but this map is basically all you need to know. If you are in a good physical condition and weather is good, I definitely do recommend you to go for both peaks – Brennisteinsalda and Bláhnjúkur as well. It’s a beautiful loop trail, so you don’t go twice via same trail and all the views around it are breath-taking. On a halfway to Brennisteinsalda you’re going to cross lava field called Laugahraun which is interesting as well, although compared to the other peaks it’s not that special.

landmannalaugar map

The most important slice of Landmannalaugar map for your 1 day trip

There are of course many other trails in the Landmannalaugar area. If you are really into hiking or if you’re planning to spend more days in the area, you’re more than welcome to go for the other trails as well. The longest one is supposed to take some 3-4 days and ends in Thórsmörk, another magnificent valley. You will be probably spending nights in mountain huts along the way if you choose this hike. We didn’t go for it, as we wanted to see as many different parts of Iceland in possible in 12 days, but next time – why not? Just be prepared for rough cold weather even in summer and its sudden changes.

Brennisteinsalda hike

9:00-10:30

Distance from car park: 5/10 minutes (to the start of the trail, from camping/car park in front of the camping)
Time spent at: 1 hour to the top
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no
Physical condition needed: medium
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

brennisteinsalda hike start

This is how the start of the hiking trail towards Brennisteinsalda looks like

Hike for Brennisteinsalda volcano is quite easy and takes around 1,5 hour round trip. If you either don’t have much time, or weather is worsening or you simply aren’t into hiking that much, you can definitely make this one. The trail to the top and the view from the top itself are definitely worth it. We experienced it in slightly foggy weather and it was still beautiful.

brennisteinsalda hiking trail

Easy Brennisteinsalda hiking trail

You start at the main building of Landmannalaugar/Brennisteinsalda campsite where there are red signs pointing to two opposite directions. When coming from the river crossings facing the campsite, the one pointing left is the one for Bláhnjúkur and the one facing right is the one for Laugahraun lava field and Brennisteinsalda. The other way how to orientate yourself is simply to go in the direction of the mountain (you can see it throughout almost the entire trail) and use common sense.

Although the trail is well marked, the signs are not very helpful because they contain just the name of the entire trail and they don’t point specifically to Brennisteinsalda. It’s important to stick to the marked trail to not destroy Icelandic untouched nature and not get yourself fined heavily.

brennisteinsalda hike

Views from the Brennisteinsalda hike

Your first checkpoint would be crossroads with Laugahraun lava field where you will continue to the upper right, i.e. above the field. Then you will eventually arrive at another crossroad just below Brennisteinsalda where you should turn right, to face the only little steeper part of the hike right towards the peak. Once you reach the peak, you can enjoy 360° views of surrounding landscapes, Laugahraun field from bird-eye view and also majestic Bláhnjúkur peak nearby.

brennisteinsalda top

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda on a slightly foggy day. Still very windy at the top, despite calm day.

There was no wind below Brennisteinsalda at the time of our visit, but at the peak wind was blowing like crazy. So be prepared for this. After Brennisteinsalda you may either come back to the campsite or continue for the Bláhnjúkur peak – as we did. If you have enough energy and the weather is alright I definitely do recommend to go for Bláhnjúkur as well as the views surrounding that route are even more amazing.

Laugahraun

11:00-11:10

Distance from car park: 5/10 minutes (to the start of the trail, from camping/car park in front of the camping)
Time spent at: 15-20 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

brennisteinsalda peak view

View from the top of Brennisteinsalda towards Laugahraun

Laugahraun is a lava field with interesting rock formations formed from volcanic lava eruptions. It takes some 30-40 minutes to reach it from the campsite and it stands on the halfway to Brennisteinsalda mountain. It’s a nice place to see but it was not that amazing for us compared to other sights like peaks of Bláhnjúkur or Brennisteinsalda. We didn’t go particularly for it, but we stumbled upon it on our way back from Brennisteinsalda peak and on our path further towards Bláhnjúkur mountain.

If you have enough energy and good weather I recommend you to take the same route as we did so that you can admire all of them. Coming from Brennisteinsalda, if you leave the Laugahraun field at its top-right part, you will find yourself at the beginning of the trail for Bláhnjúkur , the Blue peak.

Bláhnjukúr hike

11:15-13:45

Distance from car park: 15 or 40 minutes (if you want to go only for Blahnjukur or if you firstly want to go for Laugahraun lava field)
Time spent at: 2 hours to the top, 60-90 minutes back down
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no
Physical condition needed: advanced
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

blahnjukur hiking path

Slippery clay slope at the start of the hike to Bláhnjúkur or Blue peak

For us hike to Bláhnjúkur, or the Blue peak, was the most beautiful, the most rewarding and the most difficult part of our one day visit of Landmannalaugar. We had to find the beginning of the trail, we had to ford the small river, we had to climb the steep muddy hill and then we had to cope with a strong cold wind at the top. All of these were definitely worth the experience. Views encompassing the route are amazing if you are lucky with the good weather. View from the peak is even more breath-taking. So how do you reach Bláhnjúkur?

You have three options to reach the top (including circular round trip we did, starting with Brennisteinsalda and continuing to Bláhnjúkur or vice versa). Arriving from river crossings before Landmannalaugar you may:

  1. either turn left and go directly for Bláhnjúkur or
  2. you may turn right, reach the Laugahraun lava field first and then continue for Bláhnjúkur hike or
  3. of course, you may choose the order we chose, i.e. after reaching Laugahraun continue for Brennisteinsalda peak, then come back to Laugahraun and then go for Bláhnjúkur.

I recommend the way we did it, i.e. go for the circular route, so that you can see everything.

blahnjukur hike views

Spectacular views right from the beginning of the hike on Bláhnjúkur and even on the slightly foggy day

After you leave the upper right part of Laugahraun field (coming from Brennisteinsalda trail), you will arrive at the small river. Despite the river being small, there’s no bridge or a designated place where the river should be crossed. We spent almost 30 minutes searching for the spot where to cross the river to not get our feet wet in this cold weather. And up to this day, I don’t know where was the “official” spot meant for this river to be crossed.

What we finally did was going almost 10 minutes to the right along the bank of the river coming to the place where the river was shallow enough with enough pebbles to jump on and pass. Then we had to come these 10 minutes on the other side of the river back again to reach the yellow marks marking the trail towards Bláhnjúkur. So, after 30 minutes of struggle, we managed to ford the river without getting wet, although I’m not sure whether this was the way meant for crossing, probably no.

blahnjukur hike near top

Bláhnjúkur hike near the top

Afterwards, for us, the most dangerous part followed. A trail is well marked with yellow sticks so you shouldn’t get lost. You will shortly arrive at the steep clay slope going up closer towards Bláhnjúkur. The ascent is not hard or anything, but it’s quite steep and you don’t have a good grip on the ground because of the clay. So with each step, you feel like slipping on the smooth clay. I was equipped with high-quality La Sportiva hiking shoes and those didn’t help either. There are neither stairs nor chains so you can only help yourself by going slowly zig-zag to the top.

Fortunately, this part is not too long and takes some 10 minutes to complete. What follows next is just a typical gravel hiking trail and you shouldn’t have any problems continuing up the path. Magnificent views will shortly emerge and will accompany you all the way to the top.

blahnjukur peak view

One of the views from the peak of Bláhnjúkur towards Landmannalaugar and 2nd (steeper) hiking trail

We had a semi-clear sky with partially sunny, partially cloudy weather and light fog. This is still supposed to be good weather so we enjoyed every moment of it. Visibility (although not perfect) was fine and the views were, as I already mentioned, breath-taking. We met only a single-digit number of visitors at the peak, so at the time of our visit, peak being crowdy wasn’t an issue. It was really windy and temperature felt like 5°C even on the sunny summer day like ours, so be prepared for that. Once reaching the top, you will be rewarded with the best views over the area.

blahnjukur top view

Another view from the peak of Bláhnjúkur towards Landmannalaugar camp, Laugahraun and 2nd (steeper) hiking trail

We started our descent from the other side of the mountain (the one where you may access Bláhnjúkur right from the campsite), which was supposed to be much steeper, according to guides I’ve read. That definitely wasn’t true and compared to the steep clay part we had to overcome before, this was a piece of cake. I wonder what’s worse – to ascent the clay part or descent? I guess descent would be worse.

The trail continued without any obstacles until we reached the point where we could see the small river we’d forded before from above. At this point we’d also seen the campsite from above already, so we continued pursuing that direction. The entire descent wasn’t hard and it took us some 1 hour at maximum to reach our campsite again. We went for a hot chocolate at the nearby snack bar and ate a little. It was still only before 3 pm so we had enough time to continue with our journey.

F208 north towards Sigöldugljufur canyon

15:00-15:30

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

F208 north horses

Horses or “Icelandic ponies” blocking the F208 road Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri north of Landmannalaugar

This is the F208 all of the guidebooks out here suggest you use if you want to go for Landmannalaugar. Well, if you are afraid of, or if you simply don’t want to cross rivers, then yes, this is the right way to arrive and leave Landmannalaugar as well. All the other ways like F208 to the south, F233 and F210 towards Maelifell or Landmannaleið – the shortcut in/out of Landmannalaugar, all contain some serious river crossings.

The beginning of the road near Landmannalaugar, until Ljótipollur detour, is very beautiful. Afterwards, the road shortly turns into a dull gravel road. Hence, the majority of the road is just a normal gravel road with potholes without any nice views alongside it. Compared to the out of this world, amazing F208 to the south there isn’t much to see.

road to ljotipollur

F-road towards Ljótipollur

But the views you see from this road are not the reason why people like us use it. Apart from not going back down the same road to the Vik, there lie two very nice stops along the road. Namely, two beautiful canyons entirely different in appearance, both definitely worth visiting. These were among the most beautiful places we’ve seen.

The northern part of F208 is actually definitely doable also by 2wd car, it would just be a really bumpy ride. That’s what I meant by saying “it’s all about river crossing” when it comes to the difficulty of Icelandic F-roads., Since there’s no river crossing on this part of the road, it’s doable also by a normal car.

Ljótipollur

15:30-15:50

Distance from car park: 5 minutes ascent
Time spent at: 15-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

ljotipollur parking

Ljótipollur “parking”

Ljótipollur is a remote canyon where you will meet out of this world colours on every corner. It definitely didn’t look like a touristy place at the time of our visit and we had it all for ourselves at around 3 pm which is, I guess, still a peak hour.

If you put name Ljótipollur into your Google maps, it will navigate you towards detour in the right direction from northern F208 road, coming from Landmannalaugar direction (left, coming from F26 direction). There aren’t any good road signs so just follow Google and you should be fine. You’re going to drive nice black gravel road in the middle of nowhere which will end with the sign “cars forbidden” again in the middle of nowhere. The place with the sign served as a car park at the time of our visit (2 more cars were parked there, what a crowd). We left our car at this improvised car park and continued walking towards Ljótipollur direction a Google was pointing at.

ljotipollur

Ljótipollur

The walk took us around 5 minutes and a majestic red volcanic crater suddenly stood in front of us. We were the only visitors admiring it at that time. I don’t have any idea where were the people who arrived by the other 2 cars parked in the car park. Just us, absolute silence and a picturesque canyon filled with crystal clear water.

The weather was supposed to worsen considerably in the evening according to the weather forecast and there were already clouds gathering in the sky. Still, we were lucky that up to this point of our trip we hadn’t experienced any persistent rain. You can also hike around the Ljótipollur area but that wasn’t our plan, because Ljótipollur was already supposed to be the highlight of the area and we were really tired after Landmannalaugar hikes. That said, we left Ljótipollur and continued further towards one of the three most famous Icelandic canyons – Sigöldugljufur canyon.

Sigöldugljufur canyon

16:30-17:00

Distance from car park: 10 minutes
Time spent at: 20-40 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

sigoldugljufur canyon

Sigöldugljufur canyon just by ourselves

Sigöldugljufur canyon was our favorite canyon in Iceland, because it was the least touristy and, in our opinion, the most beautiful. With all its remoteness it embodies for me the spirit of Iceland, i.e. a picturesque hidden place in the middle of nowhere. And that’s exactly where you will find Sigöldugljufur canyon, at the end of the road F208, in the middle of nowhere.

Google maps are quite precise with the location of canyon, although you won’t find any road signs indicating it, so you have to rely solely on Google maps. The canyon is located on the right side of F208 coming from the Landmannalaugar direction (i.e. naturally on the left side coming from the F26 direction). The only sign telling you “there’s something nearby” is the little car park near the spot which is the closest point connecting the road and the canyon marked on Google maps.

sigoldugljufur canyon

All alone at Sigöldugljufur canyon

When you leave the car park, you continue along the unmarked gravel road (used only by locals) and you keep on the left side of it, exactly as suggested by google maps. After some 10 minutes of walking, you will arrive at the right bank of the canyon and a huge network of small rivers and waterfalls of unbelievable colours will emerge in front of you. You will literally find yourself as in the middle of the fairy tale, especially if you’re as lucky as we were, and will be there all by yourself.

It’s possible to continue several kilometres ahead along the valley, so it’s just up to you how far you want to go. You are able to see the major part of the canyon already from the first moment you have it in your sight, however. That’s exactly what we did – admired it for a couple of minutes and didn’t continue further along the valley.

There’s actually no marked trail, so unless they make one anytime soon, you’re going to slightly break the rules, as you will be walking on an “unmarked path” and therefore destroying Icelandic nature a bit. We tried to go the same way back to spare the nature of our footsteps. That being said, I think it’s inevitable someone will build a marked trail heading to the canyon soon as it’s becoming more and more touristy from what I’d read before our trip.

Haifoss

18:00-18:20

Distance from car park: 5 minutes
Time spent at: 15-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

haifoss

Just Haifoss

It was already around 6 pm when we were deciding whether to make a detour to Haifoss or not. I persuaded my girlfriend to do so, because this was the only time we had Haifoss quite nearby. And it was also supposed to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland, hence the one you’re going to probably include into your to-do list. The road leading to Haifoss (332) is the gravel road which you will be able to drive fast on, because it doesn’t have any potholes just a lot of gravel on it. That’s also why it’s not marked as an F-road.

Once you reach the well-marked car park, Haifoss is just a few steps next to it, in a huge moss-covered green valley with many sheep around. This is the place which is supposed to be more touristy, due to its accessibility also by 2wd cars, and yes it was even during our visit. There were some 3-4 cars other than us parking at the car park, which seemed like a lot compared to our experience at that time. There are several viewpoints of the waterfall, all next to each other so you will have enough space to admire the waterfall from and make same nice pictures. Despite weather being cloudy already, we were able to make some nice pictures anyway.

Long road towards Vik with heavy rain

18:30-22:00

After leaving Haifoss, a long road towards Vik stood in front of us. Yes, we could camp anywhere closer, but I still felt like having enough energy to do the drive and my girlfriend didn’t mind and, also, I didn’t want to camp again in the same camp – Vik. That’s why our next target destination I chose for us was the campsite in Kirkjubaerklaustur, as it had some really good reviews in Google maps. So I drove a lot. Back via road 332, then the road 32, then the road 30 and then kilometers along the road 1 just to reach the Kirkjubaerklaustur camping around 10pm. This was our most exhausting day and I’d already been tired as hell after 15 hours of being awake.

Moreover, shortly after leaving Haifoss, the weather forecast proved itself to be correct and the promised rain started and it intensified with each hour passing by. In the middle of our journey to Kirkjubaerklaustur the rain started to be really heavy and the roads were full of water, so we had to drive more carefully i.e. slower.

Kirkjubaerklaustur camping

22:00-

We reached Kirkjubaerklaustur camping in a heavy rain after 10pm and there was a huge ramp in front of the entrance to the campsite, so our first thought was “oh my god, we’re really late, what if nobody’s there?”. Luckily for us, there was still a campsite manager at that time guarding the ramp and hence we were able to pay for the camping and proceed. The campsite is very nice in a good condition and I definitely recommend camping in here. Although the weather was brutal at the time of our visit with heavy rain and wind, we still remember the campsite as one of the best.

Skipped places

  • Longer hikes near Landmannalaugar
  • Hjalparfoss waterfall

Landmannalaugar area is a paradise for hikers. You may easily spend there several days and still don’t have enough. We didn’t go for longer hikes this time, due to either shortage of time and us not being that much into more hardcore hiking. Not to mention, we were not equipped well enough for hikes lasting longer than just a single day.

There’s another nice waterfall near the route we drove called Hjalparfoss which we skipped. The reason for skipping it was quite straightforward – we’d already seen a ton of fascinating things on that day and Hjalparfoss was not supposed to be any special compared to the other ones we’d seen already.

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