Landmannalaugar – Central Iceland

Categorized as Landscapes and seascapes
Iceland Summer adventure

Landmannalaugar Park

Landmannalaugar is a volcanic hotspot in the country’s southern highlands. Landmannalaugar is famous for the multi-coloured mountains caused by the interaction of rhyolite rock and geothermal gasses.

It is a challenge to drive there, the road is tough for a car, but a jeep copes with the rough road much better. There are 3 roads into Landmannalaugar, they all involve river crossings, be sure that your car is 4×4 and waterproof.

The Landmannalaugar mountains are situated in an area called “Fjallabak” meaning behind the mountains. This illustrates the remoteness of the area. The Landmannalaugar area is a geothermal hotspot and has seen a lot of volcanic activity. There are many steam vents which give the mountains a unique appearance.


Private Northern Lights Tours

Painted Mountains

Landmannalaugar Painted mountains

The other unique quality which make this area famous is the colour of the mountains. There are many different shades and colours and the mountains appear as if they have been painted. 

Swimming pool

There is a naturally heated bathing area in the middle of the Landmannalaugar campsite. This is totally natural and it can be strange to be swimming with the wildfowl. Apart from a few birds and the mossy vegetation, the area is void of life. The water is undrinkable due to the geothermal properties. The most abundant form of life is the campers, photographers and hikers who frequent the hills. For the fit adventurer there is a famous 4 day hike from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork. For the semi fit photographer, there are several hiking routes from the campsite to the summits of each surrounding mountain.


Red Mountain

The featured photograph was taken from the top of the red mountain which can be see from the campsite. A popular route to this spot is up and through the Lava Field that towers over the campsite building. The trek through the lava field has photo opportunities in all directions. Lava is tricky to compose, but there are plenty of good foreground opportunities, try using a 50mm in the lava field because the background mountains are not so high. Also be sure to stick to the path because the Lava is extremely tricky to traverse and could lead to injury.

The hike to the top of Red Mountain is about an hour from the Landmannalaugar Campsite.

Photo tips:

Experience this yourself with a Day Tour or Multi-day tour.

Landmannalaugar is a hiking area, so be prepared with good walking boots, hat, gloves and waterproofs. A lightweight tripod or mono-pod is convenient. Do take notice of weather warnings and keep to established paths. You will be rewarded with great wide-angle vistas and incredible telephoto scenes. The main challenge is hiking with enough lenses to cover several focal lengths, a good tripod and waterproof clothing for surprise weather without breaking your back.

In most cases a 24mm lens will work.  Mountains are big and fill the frame at 24mm.  But, it would be a shame o visit the Landmannalaugar mountains without some sort of telephoto.  You don’t really want to hike with a 400mm f/2.8.  Something like the 70-200mm would be suitable.

Bláhylur Crater Lake
Bláhylur Crater Lake near Landmannalaugar. Pano made from 3 frames at 24mm.

Best times to visit

Winter: It may be possible to visit Landmannalaugar in the Winter, this requires either serious team of 4×4 Super Jeeps or an experienced Skidoo team. But really you are missing the colours, but I have never been so I don’t know what I am missing. If you want to see Landmannalaugar in the Winter, it can be arranged – at a cost.

During the thawing season, the roads into Landmannalaugar are strictly closed. Any vehicles using the roads during this fragile time can cause extreme damage to the roads. Large fines are laid upon anyone violating this rule.

The roads open around mid June. If you can get in during these first few weeks you will see beautiful snow patterns on the mountains. The Landmannalaugar  mountains are beautiful on their own, but having delicate snow patterns adds even more magic.  Later in the Summer the snow is gone, but is replaced with Cotton Grass.  In general, the roads are in much worse condition towards the end of the Summer.

If you can access the park in September you could see Northern Lights over those beautiful Mountains.

Summer Tours

Here you can book a tour online. The road in usually opens around mid-June.

Day Tours

Multi-Day Tours

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.