Sjónarnípa – The Best Viewing Point in Skaftafell


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Sjónarnípa viewing point

Sjónarnípa is a beautiful viewing point in Skaftafell. Skaftafell belongs to Vatnajokull National Park and is one of the most popular sights in the park.  Svínafellsjökull glacier is located in Skaftafell and you can go on glacier hikes to explore the glacier up close and personal. If you would like to get the best view of the glacier and the glacier lagoon that forms below the glacier, you should hike up to Sjónarnípa viewing point.

The views from Sjóarnípa is unbelievable. Look as far as the eye can see over glaciers, mountains, glacier lagoons, and black sand beaches.

The hike is fun and the view from the top is well worth it. It is in our opinion one of the best location in Skaftafell Nature Reserve and will give you some great photo opportunities.

The hike to Sjónarnípa is excellent during the summer time. During the winter and spring, the hike becomes more difficult as there is snow on the ground, or the trails have turned into mud from the melting ice.

Sjónarnípa viewing point in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Sjónarnípa Hike

When visiting Skaftafell you can find variety of great hiking routes and one of them will lead you up to Sjónarnípa. The trails in Skaftafell are very well marked and the signs are clear, so there is no need to buy one of the hiking maps at the Visitor Center.

It is possible to hike straight up to Sjónarnípa from the Visitor Center in Skaftafell. You can also choose to go a round route and hike to Svartifoss waterfall first. The hike to Svartifoss is also great and well worth it.

If you decide to hike straight up to Sjónarnípa, you will hike trail S5 that will lead you straight up to Sjónarnípa. To hike back down, you will go the same route back to Skaftafell Visitor Center. The trail becomes steep at times, but other than that it is an easy hike. It is easy to follow the trail so it should not be a problem to find the viewing point.

If you would like to keep on hiking for an even better view, you can take trail S3 along the ridge to get another perspective on the glacier and surrounding area.

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell Vatnajökull National Park in south Iceland

Hike to Svartifoss & Sjónarnípa

If you decide to hike to Svartifoss and Sjónarnípa, you will start at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell. The hike to Svartifoss is fairly easy and the path is well marked. Svartifoss is one of the famous waterfalls in Iceland. You can not see the waterfall from the main road. It is not possible to explore the waterfall without the hike. Therefor this waterfall is not as crowded as many of the other famous waterfalls. The hike up to Svartifoss is around 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) and it takes around 30 – 40 minutes. 1.5km

The first 250 meters of the hike go through the campground at Skaftafell. You will have to follow the path and look at the signs because the trail suddenly turns right and uphill. You will follow the trail and the signs until you arrive at a viewpoint above the waterfall. The waterfall looks beautiful from this view, with green trees all around the black basalt columns.
Continue down into the ravine, across the footbridge, and climb up the basalt column steps on the other side of the canyon.

Once you have explored Svartifoss waterfall, we recommend that you continue your hike to Sjónarnípa view point. You will see a sign that points to the blue S6 trail that leads to Sjónarnípa. Follow that trail until you arrive at the viewing point. The hike from Svartifoss to Sjónarnípa is easy and with beautiful views over the surrounding mountains. You might even be lucky and spot a reindeer on this route.

After you have enjoyed the view at Sjónarnípa, you will continue back towards the visitor center via trail S5 along Austurbrekkur. You will arrive back at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell.

The hike to Svartifoss & Sjónarnípa takes around 3 hours at a leisurely pace.

Many people miss out on Sjónarnípa and only hike to Svartifoss waterfall. It is our opinion that the views from Sjónarnípa are even better that the waterfall.

man standing looking at Sjónarnípa viewing point in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

How to get to Sjónarnípa

If you are interested in hiking to Sjónarnípa, you will have to get to Skaftafell first. It is fairly easy to find Skaftafell. When you are driving the Ring Road (Road Nr. 1) you will make a turn to road 998. The drive is around 2,8 kilometers or 4 minutes. When you arrive to the parking lot in Skaftafell you can find the Visitor Center. The hiking trials in the area start from the Visitor Center.

You can get more information on how to get to Sjónarnípa at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell. The Visitor center is open all year round.

There are no guided tours that will take you to Sjónarnípa, so you will have to drive to Skaftafell on your own and do the hike from there. It is easy to find the trail that leads to Sjónarnípa. At the Visitor Center you can find more information about hiking routes in the area and get answers to all your questions.

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