Hiking in Laugavegur Valley and South Coast

Laugavegur | Iceland
5.00
3 REVIEWS
Trip Highlights

Top reasons to hike the Laugavegur Trail and South Coast

  • Trip Highlight

    Explore glacier-fed lakes, deep canyons, and hidden waterfalls

  • Trip Highlight

    One of the most incredible shorter thru-hikes in the world

  • Trip Highlight

    Landscapes formed by millennia of glaciers and volcanoes

As you walk through an ever-changing landscape crafted over thousands of years by the powerful volcanoes and glaciers, you’ll understand why Iceland is called the land of fire and ice. This place of myth and legend more than lives up to its reputation. The Laugavegur trail is the perfect way to escape the modern world with its unspoiled wilderness, awash with more natural wonders than you could ever ask for. From rainbow-colored mountains and coal-black deserts, petrified lava and emerald valleys to waterfalls, glacial streams, and much, much more, this hiking tour is any adventurer’s dream. Your expert guides will take you to hidden places that lie off the beaten track, topped with a visit to the South Coast and the majestic Solheimajokull for an exciting glacier hike. Find out why this is one of the best hiking destinations worldwide from Maggie Slepian—backpacker, trail runner, climber, and mountain biker.

Season

June through September

Nearest city

Reykjavik, Iceland, is 3 hours away

Duration

5 or 7 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Itineraries

Choose how you spend your days

5-Day Laugavegur and South Coast Hiking Tour

5 days

This truly incredible tour will take you through some of the most varied landscapes on the planet over 5 days of hiking. Spend your days exploring the stunning scenery along the Laugavegur trail. In the evenings, relax in secluded huts and soak up the magical atmosphere. Thundering waterfalls and glacier hiking on the brilliant blue ice of Solheimajokull will be the cherry on top of your unique Icelandic guided adventure!

7-Day Laugavegur and South Coast Hiking Tour

7 days

Begin your week-long odyssey in Reykjavik and head to the highlands replete with natural wonders and unique colorful landscapes. Discover the unspoiled wilderness along the Laugavegur trail and spend your evenings in secluded mountain huts before embarking on yet another day of hiking among the emerald valleys and lava fields. Top off your journey with a glacier hike on the Solheimajokull led by a professional guide!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary: 5-Day Hiking Tour

Day 1: Reykjavik - Landmannalaugar

Your adventure begins bright and early in Reykjavik. From there, you will take a 3 to 4-hour drive to Landmannalaugar, taking in some truly spectacular scenery along the way, including Hekla—one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. Upon arrival at Landmannalaugar, you will find yourself in a magnificent geothermal wonderland, whose colorful rhyolite mountains are famous across the world. Your first stop will be the Laugahraun lava field, whose moss-covered rocks were crafted by a massive volcanic eruption of the Brennisteinsalda Volcano in 1477. Hike to the foot of Brennisteinsalda, whose slopes have been dyed blood red, amber yellow, turquoise and deep green by the volcano’s sulfur deposits over the centuries. Continue your way to the Vondugil canyon before spending the evening in a secluded Landmannalaugar hut.

Meals: lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 8 km / 4.9 mi
Hiking time: 4 hours
Ascent: 470 m / 1540′

Reykjavik from air

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker - Álftavatn

Day two begins with breakfast at the hut and a journey towards Hrafntinnusker, an obsidian desert that grants an otherworldly sight. Follow the beautiful Reykjafell Mountains, and once you’ve reached their summit, begin to descend into the Jökultungur area. This luscious green valley is spattered with rocks that have been dyed various shades of ruby and amber by centuries of volcanic activity. The scenery will begin to change as you approach the other side of Jökultungu. Begin climbing the Jökultungur Mountain and at the top, you will be rewarded by views over the famous Fjallabak Nature Reserve and the idyllic Lake Alftavatn. As you approach your accommodation in Lake Alftavatn, pass the luscious green oasis that surrounds the River Grashagakvisl.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 24 km / 14.9 mi
Hiking time: 7-8 hours
Ascent: 900 m / 2950′

The Jökultungur area, a luscious green valley, spattered with rocks that have been dyed various shades of ruby and amber, by the volcanic activity that has occurred over the centuries.

Day 3: Álftavatn - Emstrur - Botnar

After breakfast, ford another stream and head deeper into Iceland’s highlands. The first stop will be Stórasúla, a grass-carpeted volcano towering over the dark landscape surrounding it. Hike into the jet-black desert of Mælifellssandur, a gloomy, otherworldly landscape. The black sands are crisscrossed by a large number of icy blue glacial streams. At its center is the emerald Mt. Mælifell, which rises like a green turret out of the black and makes it one of the most spine-tinglingly beautiful places. Approach Emstrur, a narrow green valley where luscious vegetation abounds, and take a small detour to the deep canyon of Markarfljótsgljúfur. Finally, reach Botnar where you will spend the evening in a secluded mountain hut.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 15 km / 9.5 mi
Hiking time: 6-7 hours
Descent: 40 m / 130 ‘

Two hikers looking at the scenery of Iceland

Day 4: Botnar - Thorsmork

Your last day in the Icelandic Highlands will take you to the famous Thorsmork Valley, a glorious oasis nestled between two massive glaciers. Approach the Myrdalsjokull Glacier, which seems like an endless ocean of pristine white snow. Pass by the uniquely shaped Einhyrningur (The Unicorn). Continue to the dense birch forest that signals the beginning of Thorsmork, an emerald valley, which is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful places in all of Iceland. Icelandic folklore believes that it was created by a mighty blow of the Norse Thor’s hammer. Leave at around 21:30, traveling to a comfortable country hotel in preparation for your visit to Iceland’s famous South Coast. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments
Distance: 15 km (9.5 mi)
Hiking time: 6-7 hours
Descent: 300 m / 985 ‘

Hikers admiring the view of dark Thorsmork and its meandering rivers

Day 5: South Coast - Bilbo Glacier - Reykjavik

The final day will take you to Iceland’s iconic south coast. You will be picked up from your hotel and make the scenic journey to the magnificent Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It has a secret cave hidden behind it, allowing you to see the waterfall from a different perspective. Head to the equally beautiful Skogafoss Waterfall. There is a meandering path cut into the hillside next to Skogafoss, which offers visitors the chance to climb to the top and enjoy an awe-inspiring view of the entire area. The tour will end at the Solheimajokull Glacier, a vast body of ice that unfurls from the larger Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Hike from the base camp at the foot of the glacier, where your expert glacier guide will provide you with all the equipment that you need. Step onto the mighty glacier, where your guide will teach you all about glaciers and how they helped to create the Iceland that you see today. After that, your guides will take you back to Reykjavik. If you’re still not tired of Iceland by then, uncover some of the best trekking tours available!

Meals: breakfast

Panoramic view of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Trip Highlights

Itinerary: 7-Day Hiking Tour

Day 1: Reykjavik - Landmannalaugar

Day one starts bright and early, at 7:00 – 7:30 am when you’ll meet your guides in Reykjavik and make the scenic journey to Landmannalaugar. During the 3-4 hours drive, you’ll see Hekla, Iceland’s most active volcano, along with a host of other incredible sights. Once you reach Landmannalaugar, you will be greeted by a geothermal paradise, replete with colorful rhyolite mountains and bubbling hot springs. Hike across the craggy Laugahraun lava field, until you reach the awe-inspiringly beautiful Brennisteinsalda volcano, whose slopes have been dyed various shades of green, red and blue by sulfur deposits. Spend the night at a remote Landmannalaugar hut.

Meals: lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 8 km (4.9 mi)
Walking time: 4 hrs
Ascent: 470 m (1540′)

Stunning contrast of the Landmannalaugar

Day 2: Landmannalaugar - Hrafntinnusker - Álftavatn

Day two begins with a traditional Icelandic breakfast before heading towards the obsidian desert Hrafntinnusker. Continue hiking to Reykjafell Mountains and descend into the Jökultungur area, a luscious green valley whose rocks have been dyed various shades of red and yellow by the volcanic activity. Proceed through Jökultungur and watch the scenery change to a dark shade of palagonite black. If the weather is good, head towards Mt. Haskerdingur. If not, proceed towards the Jökultungur Mountain and begin to weave your way through its meandering paths to its summit, where we will be rewarded with majestic views over the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Descent will take you past the River Grashagakvisl and through a small stream before arriving at Lake Álftavatn, where you’ll spend the night.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 24 km (14.9 mi)
Walking time: 7-8 hrs
Ascent: 900 m (2950 ‘)

Calm lake in Laugavegur

Day 3: Álftavatn - Mælifellssandur - Emstrur

After breakfast, ford a stream and push deeper into the stunning Icelandic Highlands. Skirt around Stórasúla, an emerald green volcano that rises out of the jet-black volcanic desert of Mælifellssandur. Mælifellssandur is a completely unique black desert, crisscrossed by icy blue glacial streams, which make it one of the most beautiful places in the world. Your penultimate stop will be Emstrur, a luscious valley where Icelandic farmers have traditionally grazed sheep. Finally, you’ll stop at the Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon, carved into the earth by the glacial river that runs through it. Rest amidst yet more stunning scenery of Botnar and prepare for the next day’s adventures.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 15 km (9.5 mi)
Walking time: 6-7 hrs
Descent: 40 m (130 ‘)

A person looking in the distance, Lauhavegur out of focus in the background

Day 4: Emstrur - Thorsmork

Start your day with a traditional Icelandic breakfast and head towards the iconic Thorsmork Valley, a green oasis that rests between two imposing glaciers. The journey begins near to the colossal Myrdalsjokull Glacier which dominates the skyline of the area. Pass the uniquely shaped Einhyrningur (the Unicorn) before reaching the dense birch forest that signals your arrival at Thorsmork, the most famous place in Iceland’s Highlands. Spend the evening in this incredible valley, which is steeped in myth and surrounded by mighty glaciers and majestic mountains.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 15km (9.5 mi)
Walking time: 6-7 hrs
Descent: 300 m (985 ‘)

A hiker staging on a cliff in Thorsmork

 

Day 5: Thorsmork

Day five will take you to the mountain pass, which bisects the mighty Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull Glaciers. This ever-evolving landscape has two new features known as Magni and Modi that were created by the notorious eruption of 2010. You’ll notice a lava waterfall that is literally frozen in time and is a stark reminder of just how powerful nature is. Once you reach the summit of the mountain pass, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding area. Return to the gorgeous Thorsmork Valley, enjoy a delicious grilled lamb dinner, and rest for the day.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 16 km (10 mi)
Walking time: 7-8 hrs
Ascent: 800 m (2600 ‘)

Hikers admiring the view of dark Thorsmork and its meandering rivers

Day 6: Thorsmork - Hella

The final day in the Icelandic Highlands is more flexible with the itinerary. Go and explore the area surrounding the volcanoes of Katla and Eyjafjallajokull or hike up Valahnukur Mountain, whose summit provides sublime views over the valley. It is also possible to simply relax in Thorsmork and enjoy all of its majestic beauty or go off in smaller groups to explore something else. In the afternoon, return to civilization and spend the night in a lovely country hotel in Hella. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch, refreshments, dinner
Distance: 6 km / 3.5 mi
Walking time:: ~3 hours
Ascent: 275 m / 902 ‘

Stunning contrast of the Landmannalaugar

Day 7: South Coast - Bilbo Glacier - Reykjavik

Head towards Iceland’s famous South Coast, renowned for its incredible cascading waterfalls, impressive glaciers, jet-black beaches, and capricious volcanoes. Your first stop will be the iconic Seljalandsfoss waterfall. There is a secret cave hidden behind the waterfall, allowing you to see the beauty of this majestic natural wonder from a different angle. Next stop is the mighty Solheimajokull Glacier, famous for its many icy crevices, deep craters, and craggy rock formations. Upon arrival at the base camp at the foot of the glacier, your guide will provide you with all the equipment that you need and give you a short safety briefing. Then you will head out for an incredible 1-hour hike on a glacier, where you can explore all the magic that this icy wilderness has to offer. The final stop on the tour is the majestic Skogafoss waterfall, famed for its roaring cascade of water that tumbles 60 meters down the cliff face into a beautiful valley below. Iceland’s stunning south coast is the ideal way to finish your time in the country, providing access to everything that makes the land of fire and ice so special!

Meals: breakfast

Hungry for more? Explore all the hiking tours in Iceland on offer!

Solheimajokull glacier
Reviews

Reviews (3)

Arctic Adventures in Iceland... what a great team of people!
LightPacker77885 about Arctic Adventures on TripAdvisor

I recently went to Iceland, as it is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. We booked 4 tours through Arctic Adventures, and were extremely pleased with them. The drivers & guides were all very knowledgeable, helpful, courteous, and just great people. We drove through various types of weather (snow, icy roads, sleet, sun, rain), without concern, as our drivers were highly experienced with the ever changing weather patterns in iceland. We explored a lava tube, ice cave, glaciers (hiking on and snowmobiling across), visited waterfalls, a black sand beach, among other things. I will book with Arctic Adventures again, as there is so much more I want to see and do in Iceland.

Memorable 5 Day Trip in Iceland
nikhilsharma10 about Arctic Adventures on TripAdvisor

We were in Iceland for celebrating our marriage anniversary and Extreme Iceland/Arctic Adventures didn’t disappoint us. It was a very well planned 5 days tips covering almost everything we wanted to see in Iceland. Our tour guide (Vik) was very friendly, helpful and awesome person. He showed us the right locations for northern lights and we got amazing pictures too. The glacier hiking was an amazing experience with Chris.

Highly recommend and thank you Arctic Adventures for a memorable trip.

Grand Laugavegur Trek
Leanne about Arctic Adventures on TripAdvisor

This was the most amazing trek of a lifetime, no wonder it is among the top 10 in the world. We had Chris for the first couple of days at Landmannalaugar, then we had Jono for the remainder. They were both fantastic guides, couldn’t fault them at all. 

The people on the trek with me came from different countries but everyone was really friendly and we all got on well, which made it easier for me being on my own. The scenery was unbelievable and it kept changing so there was always something different. You think you had seen it all but over the hill, around the corner there was another wander to see . I don’t really like the cold and we ended up walking in rain,hail and over ice but I just loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. The huts of course helped at the end of the day, they were all pretty good, then a lovely hot meal – what more could you want??Jono made delicious soups & meals then for our last dinner together we had a roast which was mouth watering. I thought I would lose weight with all the hiking but we were fed very well. 

If your thinking about doing the trek do it as it was worth every bit and if you can get Jono or Chris that would be a bonus.

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Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Iceland

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity. 

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures on Laugavegur Trail, Iceland, please visit the official Government of Iceland and Official Information about Covid in Iceland websites.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

  • An experienced, English-speaking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
  • Mountain hut accommodation in dormitories
  • Kitchen and all needed cooking equipment
  • Meals as indicated by the itinerary
  • Transport at the beginning and end of trek
  • Transfer of luggage

If you have any special dietary supplements, such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten free or other supplements, we strongly suggest that you purchase the special food extra. Please let us know prior to booking to make arrangements. 

All of the huts are heated, some have electricity and some have hot water. They have bunk rooms with single and twin beds. Participants have to be prepared to share a bunk with other travelers from the group.

What’s not included:

  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary 
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented from the guide)
  • Showers in huts (payable on site)
  • Transportation to and from Iceland
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík before and after the tour

How fit do I need to be?

For this adventure, you need to be able to hike for full days, carrying a daypack full of your gear. Each day you will hike between four and seven hours. On top of that, volcanic terrain can be challenging and the weather unforgiving. That said, if you are looking for adventure and up to the task of multiple days of full-day trekking, you’ll be rewarded immensely. 

What do I need to bring?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

  • A duffel bag for the transport of your overnight gear between huts 
  • Day backpack for extra clothes and lunch pack during the day (around a 25-40L bag)
  • Sleeping bag (a basic sleeping bag with no specific temperature rating is sufficient for this trek since all the huts are heated) — can be rented from the guide
  • Small thermal mat to sit on — optional
  • Hiking poles — optional
  • Gaiters  — optional but recommended for departures in June and early July
  • Gloves – wool or synthetic 2 pairs of different thickness
  • Long sleeve shirt (thermal underwear) – wool or synthetic
  • T-shirt (thermal underwear) – wool or synthetic
  • Light wool or fleece sweater (2nd layer)
  • Warm, down jacket
  • Puffy jacket e.g. Primaloft — optional
  • Jacket with a good hood – windproof, waterproof and breathable, e.g. Gore-Tex or comparable
  • Soft-shell trousers – strong and light material that dries quickly
  • Rain trousers – windproof, waterproof and breathable — full raingear is mandatory in Iceland, poncho is not useful because of wind
  • Socks – wool or synthetic
  • Change of clothes for wearing in the hut
  • Sunhat
  • Wool hat
  • Sturdy hiking boots – waterproof with good ankle support
  • River shoes – walking sandals or old running shoes with a good grip are a good choice, along with a pair of warm socks or neoprene socks
  • Comfortable shoes for the mountain huts 
  • Quick dry towel – lightweight and packable
  • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
  • Pocket knife
  • Aperitif or other heart-warming spirits (liquor laws in Iceland prohibit the sale of alcohol) — optional
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Sunglasses
  • Earplugs
  • Portable power bank
  • Dry-bags for electronics and extra clothing — optional
  • Camera — optional (but recommended)

There is a limit of 1 piece of luggage per participant that can weigh up to 20 kg (+ your day backpack). The main luggage is transported between huts by a support vehicle provided by the guide.

Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans. Iceland is home to infamously unpredictable weather, so you need to be prepared with the right gear. 

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

  • The group size for this hiking tour is usually 6 to 16 guests.
  • Pricing is per person, and the cost does not decrease as your group grows.

If your hiking party is larger than six people, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements. 

Min. age requirements:

  • Anyone over the age of 18 can join these day-hiking tours
  • Minors as young as 14 may be allowed to join a hike on a case-by-case basis.

If you plan to hike with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Deposits and cancellation policy

A 30% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. For last-minute bookings, the remaining amount is paid as soon as the trip is confirmed by the guide. Once the trip is confirmed, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

In case you need to cancel the trip, the following cancellation costs would be incurred:

– 100% of the price of the trip is refundable before the group is guaranteed

– 70% of the tour price is refundable if canceled 8 weeks or more before departure, once the trip has been confirmed

– 50% of the tour price is refundable if canceled less than 8 and more than 4 weeks before departure

– 0% of the price of the trip if it is canceled less than 4 weeks before departure.

All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to the Laugavegur Trail, most people fly into Keflavík International Airport (KEF) — about three and a half hours away from the trailhead. You can take a bus or a taxi to Reykjavik, where you’ll join your guides that will transport you to the trailhead. 

There are several possible meeting locations in Reykjavik: Reykjavik’s City Hall, Hallgrimskirkja or Reykjavik Campsite. After joining your guides, a scenic 3 to 4-hour drive is the only thing separating you from your hiking adventure!

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