Skaftafell National Park: Glacier Paradise of Iceland


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Established as a National Park with an area of 500 square km, Skaftafell expanded twice and became a part of Vatnajökull National Park. Now a part of the reserve, the park is an Icelandic oasis letting you trail through waterfalls, forests, sands, and whatnot, it’s an adventure in itself! The beauty envelopes a diverse selection of Iceland’s landscapes and other popular features. Skaftafell Park is home to around 250 varieties of plant species and about an impressive 30 different types of birds are found there. The flora, birds, weather, and hiking trails are just the starting of the list of things that add to the breathtaking view of the majestic park. These elements in the park bring it together to be one of the ‘must-sees when in Iceland’! 

Skaftafell National Park in south Iceland

Location and How to Get There

Situated between the Kirkjubæjarklaustur village and Höfn town, the Skaftafell National Park falls in the preservation area of Öræfi, South-East Iceland. At a 319 km distance from Reykjavík, it can easily be reached by following the Ring Road 1 along the south coast. Driving straight down the road, it is simple to follow route signs and reach the park, with the facility of a bus connecting Reykjavík to Höfn, with Skaftafell falling on the way.

Svínafellsjökull in Skaftafell National Park in south Iceland

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What You Will Find Buried in Skaftafell National Park

One of the most beautiful works of nature in Iceland, the park makes a stunning backdrop with green meadows, black sands, and white glaciers. The most treasured jewel of the Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell National Park shows diverse traits and elements in winters and summers. The winter sees the beautiful glaciers and icicles glowing sharp, while they lay low during summers. boasts its wonders along diverse trails. The white icy scenes turn into blue tranquil landscapes for a calm paradisiac painting.  

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park

Majestic Mountains

One such easily marked trail starting at the parking leads to the glorious Svartifoss waterfall, one of the most unique gem of the Icelandic falls. The elegant veil of water drops from the meltwater of the grandest European glacier, Vatnajökull. With black volcanic basalt columns on either side of the cascading water, the unique hexagonal basalt formations make this a picturesque view in the Skaftafell region. Another mystical waterfall in the park is the Hundafoss Waterfall which lies just before the Svartifoss, making it an easy stop for those who don’t wish to hike as much.

Skaftafell ice cave in south Iceland

Nature’s Icy Caves

Skaftafell offers for winter ice-cave tours with the famous Crystal Ice Cave and many new forming each winter. Thin layers of ice compose a cave with a light penetrating through the delicate sheets of ice for a magical experience, located at the foot of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Though unsafe to visit these caves in summers, new formations and flow of meltwaters render different caves every winter, for a different experience every single time!

Skaftafell National Park in south Iceland

High Peaks to Explore

With Iceland’s highest summit rising to 2110 meters, the pyramidical peak, Hvanndalshnúkurn is also a majestic scene not to be missed when visiting the park. The popular hiking trail must be explored with experienced guides and is situated on the northwestern side of the stratovolcano, Öræfajökull. The grand peak paints a tranquil view for the beholder and is a scene worth appreciating.

Skaftafell campsite in south Iceland

Skaftafell Visitor Centre and Nearby Accommodation

Any queries will be answered by the friendly helpers at the Skaftafell Visitor Center. Conveniently located right by the parking area, you can get all the information you require here, along with a cafeteria, souvenir shop and a free of cost documentary show. You can find help with accommodation or find numerous hotels nearby. For the campers at heart, the Skaftafell National Park also welcomes campers into their embrace. The all-year-round camping site can be accessed from the west of the parking lot after registering with authorities at the visitor center.  Next to the center, you can find a glacier hiking booking centers for more adventure!

Activities in the area

  • Skaftafell glacier hike – 3 hours
  • Skaftafell glacier hike & ice cave
  • Skaftafell glacier hike & ice climbing
  • Skaftafell glacier hike – 5 hours
  • Glacier Lagoon Kayaking
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