Travel info for Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

A powerful Icelandic waterfall


Gönguleið um Fimmvörðuháls, Icelande

GPS: 63.533226907628, -19.508372848382

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Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, along with the neighbouring Seljalandsfoss. It is located on the south coast of the island, near the small town of Vík, the only isolated community of 300 inhabitants together with the tiny village of Skógar in an area of 70 km². The waterfall emanates from the coastal river Skógá, which rises in the mountain pass of Fimmvörðuháls before plunging into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Skógafoss is a classic rectangular waterfall, 60 metres high and 25 metres wide. This massive wall of water is incredibly powerful and has the ability to mesmerise visitors from near and far. It is preceded by twenty smaller waterfalls, positioned upstream from Skógafoss. In summer, the flow of this waterfall is greatly reinforced by the melting of two enormous glaciers (Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull) that it crosses. These are ranked among the largest ice caps in the country. On a sunny day, a single or double rainbow appears permanently due to the plumes of mist and the high level of spray produced by the Skógafoss waterfall. In winter, a spectacular display of ice in a snowy landscape is always on display for courageous visitors who come to see the waterfall up close in a windswept area. On site, a 300-step path leads up to the top of Skógafoss and up close. It leads to a hiking trail that takes several hours to several days to reach the Eyjafallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, the Fimmvörðuháls pass and then on to the Landmannalaugar massif in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve.

Surrounded by rock formations and a black sand beach, Skógafoss waterfall was particularly exposed to the ash clouds caused by the activity of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. This spectacular natural phenomenon brought air traffic in northern and western Europe to a standstill for several weeks. Small-scale accommodation facilities in this remote area of Iceland, slightly set back from the Skógafoss waterfall, offer the opportunity to spend the night in a unique setting.

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  • The natural glow of Skógafoss waterfall; the deafening sound of the waterfall; the formation of rainbows
  • The breathtaking view from the top of the waterfall, which is accessible on foot
  • The landscape of high cliffs to the north and black sandy beaches to the southeast
  • The Skógar Museum, which recounts the Icelandic way of life in the past; the traditional village church dating from the late 19th century
  • The nearby Seljavallalaug hot water pool
  • Fimmvörðuháls Pass (“Five Cairns Pass”, where the first eruptive phase of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano took place in 2010) and the Þórsmörk valley further north
  • The Eyjafjallajökull, Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers (the latter covering the Katla subglacial volcano) above the Skógafoss waterfall
  • Seljalandsfoss (a 65-metre high waterfall with the possibility of walking behind it) and Gljúfrabúi (hidden in the rocks and not very popular with tourists) to the west
  • Dyrhólaey Peninsula (a rocky promontory with a volcanic arch), the small village of Vík í Mýrdal, the cliffs of Reynisfjall (including the rocky stacks of Reynisdrangar and the basalt peaks of Garðar) and the moonlit beaches of Reynisfjara (with black sand, caves and cliffs swept by unusually high waves) to the east
  • A local legend tells that a treasure chest full of gold was hidden behind the waterfall by the first Viking to arrive in Iceland, Þrasi Þórólfsson (Thrasi Thorolfsson). The handle of this chest was seized by a child who failed to get hold of the treasure (the chest piece is proudly displayed in the Skógar museum).
  • Another legend, from Icelandic mythology, has to do with trolls. These folkloric creatures, living hidden in caves and cliffs, only move at night as they turn to stone when exposed to daylight. When he arrived at Skógafoss, a troll accompanied by his young child was so enthralled by the waterfall that he forgot the passage of time and found himself petrified at dawn, when the first rays of the sun appeared.
  • Very present in Icelandic culture, the sagas are oral narratives born from the 11th century on the archipelago. They relate the daily life of the inhabitants and that of their ancestors in medieval times. This literary genre can be about historical facts, tales, myths,fiction or legends.
  • The Skógafoss waterfall has been used as a film location for the series Viking, Game of Thrones and Lost in Space. This sudden exposure has led to an explosion in the number of visitors to the area (the number of tourists has increased fivefold in the last 10 years).
  • The best time to visit Skógafoss Waterfall is in May, when the good weather returns and before the influx of visitors.
  • If you are visiting Iceland during the summer season, it is best to get to the waterfall early in the morning (8 am) or late in the evening (9 pm) to avoid groups of day trippers coming from Reykjavík via the main N1 road.
  • A mackintosh is highly recommended if you want to get as close to the waterfall as possible without being sprayed.
  • Beware in winter, the Skógaheiði trail to the top of Skógafoss can become very slippery.
  • If you are considering the option of a long hike to the Landmannalaugar massif, it is highly recommended that you are accompanied by an experienced guide and equipped accordingly.
  • Some trails in the area may be temporarily closed to the public to allow the vegetation to regenerate. Please respect the marked and restricted areas to preserve this protected natural site.
  • If you have a vehicle, continue east to discover the natural sites and geological wonders around the Dyrhólaey Peninsula near the village of Vík í Mýrdal (and further east to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon if you have enough time).

Where to eat

  • Sveitagrill Míu - Mia's Country...
    (Icelandic fish & chips)
  • Drangshlid
    (the lamb is delicious)
  • Country Hotel Anna
    (subtle dishes from the country)

Where to go

  • Skógar Museum
    (eclectic collections)
  • AtvTravel
    (nature tours)
  • Sólheimajökull
    (glacier hiking)

Where to stay

  • Eystri-Sólheimar
    (lovely hostel)
  • Country Hotel Anna
    (small family hotel)
  • Volcano Hotel
    (chic and spacious)