Picture of Jeannie Wearing Her Safety Clothes While HIking the Skaftafell National Park

If you plan on visiting Skaftafell National Park, Iceland, I know you’re ready for an adventure!

This gem is one of the most beautiful places in the country and ticks off all the top Icelandic landscape must-sees:impressive glaciers, ice caves, lush birchwood forests, lagoons, wildlife, sparkling waterfalls…

(ah, waterfalls 🥰)…

I could go on, but I think I’ve got your attention! 😄

As you can see, if you love the great outdoors, Skaftafell has something for everyone.

Stick with me and I’ll guide you through what you need to know when you visit. 

Take a road trip from Reykjavík (there are great stops along the way). Then explore some of the best hiking trails, cozy places to stay, and the top activities in the national park.

Plus, I’ve included some resources to save you money and make planning your trip a breeze!

Let’s get into it. 👇

Table of Contents:

Visiting Skaftafell National Park

Picture of Skaftafell Hike in Iceland | Iceland with a View

I’ve been to Skaftafell Nature Reserve a few times, and I never get tired of it! 

This park is protected inside the larger Vatnajökull National Park area and lies between two glacier tongues.

For many, the highlight is Svartifoss waterfall, but there are so many other things you don’t want to miss in and around the area. 

The perks about visiting a national park are that the hiking trails are well kept, there are convenient parking spots and designated camping areas with all the facilities you need for a comfy stay!

Plus, the Skaftafell visitor center has maps, helpful information on hikes, and knowledgeable park rangers that’ll help you make the most of your visit.

Oh, and it’s sooo pretty! 🥰

How to Get to Skaftafell from Reykjavík

The national park is located in southeast Iceland on the popular Ring Road route. 

So, how far is Skaftafell from Reykjavík? 

It’s about 200 miles (320km) on Route 1 and if you’re driving it’ll take you roughly 4 hours and 15 minutes to get there. 

Whether you’re opting for solo travel in Iceland or enjoying a real road trip adventure with someone, the drive from Reykjavík to Skaftafell has a lot of beautiful spots and fun detours along the way. 

Visit Waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi.

Soak in the Reykjadalur Hot Springs, or visit the Icelandic horse park in Fakasel (kid-friendly if you’re traveling with littles).

Speaking of road trips, you’re going to need a car, and renting one is probably on your to-do list!  

My favorite car rental company is Blue Car Rental

There are so many things I love about this company, like their excellent customer service and 24/7 roadside assistance. It’s good to know that if there’s an emergency, you won’t be left stranded.

🚙 Psst… you’ll want to use my VIP LINK when you book for 5% off your rental!

Banner for Blue Car 5% Discount Code (Click the Banner And Your Discount Will Be Applied Automatically | Iceland with a View

The Best Time of Year to Visit

Skaftafell is accessible year-round and each season has its perks. 

Summer in Iceland is the most popular time to visit because it’s ideal for exploring and you’re able to take full advantage of the extended daylight hours and warmer weather. 

You can hike to Svartifoss waterfall, but I’d skip it in winter – the ice and snow make it super slippery and unsafe.

On the other hand Iceland in winter allows you to see the landscapes in a whole new light. You can visit the ice caves and go glacier hiking.

It all comes down to what experiences you value most on your trip. 

Skaftafell weather conditions, like the rest of Iceland, are extreme and can change very quickly. 

The warmest month to visit is July, with temperatures ranging from 47 – 50°F (8°C – 10°C) with December being the coldest at 28 – 34°F (-1 and 1 °C).

To help you prepare for any season, I’ve put together something special just for you! 👏

Packing for Iceland can be tricky, that’s why I created an Ultimate Iceland Packing Guide.

You’ll find weather averages, how to layer your clothing, packing checklists and seasonal shopping lists of items I personally recommend, even if you’re traveling with kids.

And the best part? It’s FREE!

✅ Download your FREE Ultimate Iceland Packing Guide here.👇

Parking & Restrooms

Pulling into the national park, you’ll see a large parking lot. 

There are also restrooms available and a cafe, camping grounds, and a visitor center nearby. 

Pro Tip: You’ll need to pay for parking but if you plan on visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Skaftafell Park on the same day, you’ll get a 50% discount when you use the Parka app

Yay for savings! 🙌


Although dining options in Skaftafell are limited, you can still find a hot meal here.

Freysnes: When you think of getting food at a gas station you’re probably picturing a questionable three-day-old pie that’s turned an off-gray color. 😬

However, this is Iceland, and you can find good food – even at a gas station! Freysnes serves everything from burgers and soups to lamb and seafood. They also offer vegetarian-friendly options.

Satvik: Can’t choose between Indian or Italian cuisine? Be extra adventurous and order both! Satvik also serves bakery items like croissants, muffins, and cakes. Carbo load before a hike, anyone? 😄


If you’re staying overnight, you can choose hotels near Skaftafell, Iceland, or camp in the scenic campgrounds.

Hotel Skaftafell: For comfortable and safe accommodation, Skaftafell Hotel is nearby. Their restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and lunch packets can be arranged. It’s perfect if you plan on exploring all day – no one likes to get hangry! 😉

Fosshotel: This hotel is a 20-minute drive from the national park, located between Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón Glacier. The rooms are lovely and highly rated, and there’s a restaurant on-site at Fosshotel.

The Potato Storage: Okay, let me just say, that I give this place a 10/10 for the name! It’s only about a 10-minute drive away from Hotel Skaftafell, in Svínafell. The apartment-style guest houses have a private entrance, kitchen, and bathroom. The Potato Storage is great if you’d like to prepare your own meals – and very convenient when you’re traveling with children!

Svinafell: This is a smaller campsite only a short distance from Skaftafell. You’ll find toilets, showers, an area to cook and more. 

Skaftafell Campsite: If you plan on camping, Skaftafell has a big field where you’ll find a really decent campsite open all year long. It feels more upgraded than other campsites because it’s a national park. 

They also have internet, hot water, a children’s playground and more. There’s an area that’s specifically reserved for campers and trailers with access to electricity.

For the best camper van experience, I recommend renting one from Happy Campers!

We’ve used them on multiple occasions and they never disappoint.

They’re a family-owned business committed to excellent service, and their campers are equipped with everything you need for your trip.

I’ve partnered with Happy Campers to give my email subscribers, an exclusive 10% discount off the total rental price! 

If you’re not on my email list yet, sign up here to get your discount and save. 💸

Want a grand tour of a Happy Camper van? I’ll do the honors.👇

Things to Do in and Around Skaftafell

If you’re looking for information about the area, you’ll find everything you need to know at the Skaftafell Visitor’s Center


If hiking’s what you’re here for, you’ve come to the right place!

At the visitor’s center, there’s a Skaftafell National Park map and there’s usually a ranger there that you can ask questions about different hiking loops, wildlife, and plants in the area.

Svartifoss Waterfall Hike

This is possibly the most popular Skaftafell National Park hike, leading you through stunning landscapes and culminating in the breathtaking sight of Svartifoss waterfall.

It’s moderately difficult and can take 1.5-2 hours to reach Svartifoss from the parking lot.

A nice thing about this hike is that you pass two smaller waterfalls (Hundafoss and Magnúsarfoss).

When you reach Svartifoss you’ll see a big 82-foot (25m) waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns – impressive and totally worth any effort it took to get there!

This is an incredibly popular location for nature lovers and photographers.

If you’re interested in architecture you’ll notice that this waterfall inspired the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.

Looking for the best waterfalls in Iceland? Check out my top 10 favorites right here. Oh, and Svartifoss is on the list!👇

➡️ READ: Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland: Discover The Top 10 Breathtaking Waterfalls In Iceland

Hvannadalshnjúkur Hike

This is the highest peak in the country so you better believe that there’s a trail that goes there! 

Unlike Svartifoss, there is a lot of preparation needed, so you’ll meet with the guides the day before and they’ll go over what you can expect on the tour.

The climb isn’t technical but requires endurance. Find out more about taking a guided tour here.👇

➡️ TAKE A TOUR: Hvannadalshnúkur 

Skaftafell Glacier Hike & Ice Cave Tour 

You can choose to hike to the viewing point of Skaftafellsjökull glacier nearby which is pretty easy and about 2.5 miles away. 

Just follow the road from the visitor center to the glacier overlook point.

For an incredible experience, take a glacier hike and ice cave tour. I’ve done it and it was magical!

Pro Tip: Never walk onto a glacier by yourself. Glacier hikes must be done with an experienced guide because it’s unsafe to do it alone. 

Svínafellsjökull is another popular glacier tongue to hike to. It comes off Öræfajökull glacier and is 3 miles (5 km) from Skaftafellsjökull.

This glacier has become popular since scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed there.

➡️ TAKE A TOUR: Skaftafell Ice Cave & Glacier Hike Tour


In this moderate hike, you’ll pass through Skaftafellsheiði. 

This hike should take around 5 hours and you’ll get to see Skeiðarárjökull and Skaftafellsjökull glaciers and Morsárdalur. 

Jökulsárlón & Diamond Beach

Jökulsárlón is easily one of my absolute favorite places on the planet!

It’s only 35 miles (57km) away and should take you under an hour to get there but it’s a MUST when you’re visiting Skaftafell Nature Reserve!

Trust me, you’ve got to see it for yourself – icebergs drifting in the calm lagoon waters framed by a massive glacier is simply breathtaking.

Diamond Beach is just across the road from Jökulsárlón and it’s impressive to see the huge chunks of ice scattered across the black sand beach. 

You’re right there, please don’t skip it!

There are plenty of tours to choose from, like glacier lagoon kayaking. Take a look at what you can expect at Jökulsárlón here.👇

➡️ READ: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: Explore this Breathtaking Gem in South Iceland

Aerial Tours

If you want a bird’s eye view of this spectacular area, then aerial tours are a perfect way to take in all the beautiful sights.

Experience a tour over Skaftafellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull, with highlights like Mount Hrútsfjall. 

You’ll also enjoy aerial views of Virkisjökull, Falljökull, Korárjökull, and Öræfajökull before a scenic flight over cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls. 

Don’t forget to take photos!

➡️ TAKE A TOUR: Glacier Edge Airplane Tour

Need Help Planning? 

I have to share something awesome with you!

If you’re getting ready for a road trip to conquer Iceland, chase waterfalls, and hike to some of the most stunning scenic spots, I’ve got just the thing to make planning your trip a piece of cake!

… And who doesn’t love cake? 😉

My 👉 Iceland Guidebooks + Maps has it all – detailed maps with over 500 pinned locations, from hidden hot springs to the best little cafes. 

You’ll find handy checklists, packing tips, and even hotel and restaurant recommendations that fit any budget. 

Not only that, but you’ll also get all the practical information you need: where to refuel, locate the nearest grocery stores, and find clinics.

My Ring Road Guidebook and My South + West Guidebook both feature Skaftafell, giving insights into iconic spots and some cool off-the-beaten-path places that you might totally miss otherwise. 

It’s time to get excited! 👏👏

Happy Planning!

Picture of Jeannie's Signature

Similar Posts