With its hot springs, vivid mountains and lush vegetation, who wouldn't be happy to soak away the hours in Landmannalaugar's warm river?

Landmannalaugar means ‘Hot Springs of the People from Land’. The land is an area of South Iceland where farmers have grazing rights in the highlands near Landmannalaugar. When they used to round up their sheep in September they would stay in the turf shelter, which sits on the lava behind the present-day huts.

As you approach Landmannalaugar, there is a parking area on your right, where you can leave your vehicle and avoid the ford ahead - sometimes the water is quite deep. There is a footbridge over the river.  

Lying at just under 600m in altitude, the lush vegetation around the hot springs at Landmannalaugar comes as a surprise. The warm water emerges from the Laugahraun lava, forming a river that has been dammed to make the bathing pool.

There's a wooden platform by the pool, where you can leave your towel and clothes but bring a bag to put them in. At peak times it's a popular spot but mornings are usually quieter.  Note that bathing here is unsupervised, the water is, of course, untreated and where it flows into the pool, it can be scalding hot. 

The mountain hut, toilets, showers, and changing facilities are run by the Touring Club of Iceland and visitors need to buy at ticket at the Information Office to use the toilet facilities. You'll also find a mobile shop and cafe on site, but it's recommended to bring a packed lunch with you. 

Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, a protected area.  Visitors are asked to stay on marked paths to protect the vegetation and lava and rock formations.  As elsewhere in Iceland, driving off-road is prohibited. The area is only accessible by vehicle in summer. 

There are many walking trails to choose from and a trail map is available from the Information Office. A 1.5-2 hour walk leads through the Laugahraun lava field to Brennisteinsalda geothermal area (2km), returning via Graenagil gorge. 

The slow-flowing viscous lava, from a 1480 eruption, oozed from a fissure on the ridge to the left of Brennisteinsalda, the colorful pink mountain behind the lava. The silica-rich lava has a glossy sheen to it, like obsidian.

A popular ascent is Blahnukur mountain (943m) a strenuous climb and a two-hour return trip. The view of the rhyolite mountains from the summit is outstanding and in clear weather, you can see Iceland’s three largest icecaps.

Note that most of the walks at Landmannalaugar are fairly challenging and the terrain is rugged. Ensure you are equipped with the right clothing and footwear for mountain hikes. Walking poles are helpful.