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2. Langisjór

A group of hikers in Langisjór enjoying the landscapes of one of the most remote areas of the Icelandic Highlands.
Fog may obscure some of the views in Langisjór, but it makes the place look even more enchanting. Photo courtesy of Albert Ojembarrena

For me, Langisjór is the most beautiful place in the Highlands. Add to that its seclusion and you’ve got yourself some of the best hiking in Iceland. 

Take a long look at Langisjór—from above

Translated as the “long sea”, this lake in the western part of Vatnajökull National Park is 14 miles (20km) of turquoise waters enclosed by mountain ridges.

Driving through the ancient moraines, you reach mossy slopes, yellow-black deserts, and patches of azure hues—occupied by a few birds, sheep and you (hopefully). 

Since staying by the lake doesn’t grant the best views, you have to go up. 

Traversing the slopes surrounding Langisjór is best described as uncovering one of the hidden hiking trails of Iceland. Hikes here can range between 6 and 22 miles (9.6 and 35 km) in length. I recommend you reach the highest point: Sveinstindur (3,580 ft / 1,093m). The elevation gain is only going to be around 1,150 ft (350m) though, since you start at 2,200 ft (670m). The hike starts near the campground (located by the westernmost tip of the lake) and will take you around one and a half hours to finish. 

Beware that you’ll encounter cliffs and steep terrain—if you’re afraid of heights. Once you reach the top though, you’ll be rewarded with the best views of the lake, the Highlands (including Hvannadalshnúkur—the highest peak in all of Iceland), and even the Vatnajökull glacier (if weather permits).

And if you do like heights, consider climbing two other iconic Icelandic peaks to the west near Reykjavík: Mt. Hengill, for views of Lake Þingvallavatn and the distant Vestmann Islands, and the tempestuous 1,651m (5,417 ft) Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which last erupted in 2010.

A short and tempestuous season

As for the weather, don’t take it lightly. It is volatile and treacherous. A common thing that happens is that you get favorable skies and temperatures in the first part of the day, but then everything changes (it can happen in a minute)—you can get strong winds or easily get caught up in hail—even in late July! 

Go off the grid

If you want to stay in the area for the night, make sure to have everything well-prepared in advance as it is one of the most remote areas in the Highlands. No phone connection, no restaurants, one toilet, one campground and that is it. The campground is literally a flat surface with no one working there. Oh, there is also one fishing cabin by the shores of the lake. If you want to stay there, make sure to book it well in advance! 

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