Vatnajökull National Park


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  • Largest National Park in Europe.
  • 13% of the land of Iceland. 
  • Houses the largest glaciers, highest mountain, and most powerful waterfalls of entire Europe.
  • Divided into 4 territories, from south Iceland to north Iceland.

Bearing the reputation of being the largest national park in Europe, Vatnajökull National Park is another gem from Iceland. The national park is spread across an area of 12,000 square kilometers, which means you can explore it for weeks on end. A picturesque landscape is offered by Vatnajökull National Park. Tourists and explorers across the world visit this place to uncover the experience of a lifetime. Covering 13% of the land of Iceland, this national park is known for its extraordinary features which capture the dynamic of the fire and ice. Vatnajökull National Park houses the largest glaciers, highest mountain, and most powerful waterfalls of entire Europe. Picturesque sceneries fill the landscape of this national park.

Dettifoss the most powerful waterfall in Europe

Explore around Vatnajökull National Park

Brimming with towering ice caps, soft black sand beaches, glacial landscapes, enormous active volcanoes, and hilly terrains, Vatnajökull National Park is divided into four territories, each of which has different features. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon that closes with the boundaries of Vatnajökull National Park. If you are interested in sea life, you can spot some freshwater fishes and even the adorable seals at Jökulsárlón. The clear blue water of Jökulsárlón will capture your heart immediately. Offering boat tours as well, Jökulsárlón is a refreshing area to check out. Fjallsárlón is another glacier lagoon near it and if you’re an avid hiker, there is a trail that leads between the two lagoons; it is about 5 hours run. Svartifoss is a large waterfall in the middle of Vatnajökull National Park and is located in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. It is a beautiful waterfall cascading over cliffs of black basalt columns. It is among the popular places of the national park and tourists often fall for it. With a hike of approximately one and a half hour, it suits almost everyone’s level of fitness but the end of the trail near the waterfall can get a bit muddy, so make sure you choose the footwear accordingly. You can continue the trail to the viewpoint of Sjónarnípa which offers some mesmerizing views.

Vatnajökull National Park has something in its kitty for all. If you want to experience a diversity of locations all within the same vicinity, then Vatnajökull is that one place in Iceland that you cannot miss. Situated in the highlands of Vatnajokull National Park is Askja, a nested caldera, a cauldron-like volcanic formation. You can grab some breathtaking snapshots here as the location provides a fantastic background. Askja is surrounded by the Dyngjufjöll Mountains, another awe-striking location to see and take pictures at. You can make a quick stop-off at the informative visitor’s center, which is located inside the park, to know more about the hiking trails at the park and around it.

Jöklsárgljúfur canyon is the northernmost part of Vatnajokull National Park. The river that runs through the magnificent canyon comes from Vatnajökull glacier, near the subglacial volcano Bárdarbunga. Jökulsárgljúfur is known for the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss, as well as the smaller but still powerful waterfalls Selfoss and HafragilsfossÁsbyrgi Canyon is also a part of Vatnajokull National Park and you can find the National Park’s visitor center here. Ásbyrgi seems to be formed like a horseshoe and surrounded by 90 to 100-meter cliffs on all sides except the northern side where the cliffs descend to the lowland. 

boat sailing on Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in south east Iceland

When to Visit Vatnajökull National Park

Summers are considered a good time to visit Vatnajökull National Park. All roads in Iceland are open during the summer and if you wish to visit some of the locations in the highlands or Jokulsargljufur canyon, it is better to travel when the roads are open and easily accessible. Summers are also comfortable for various hiking trails that are offered by Vatnajökull National Park. The days are long and the weather is mild, so you can prepare a long list of places to cover, unlike winters when the weather is uncertain and there can be storms anytime.

Places to Stay near Vatnajökull National Park

To make your exploration hassle-free, it is essential to plan your stay somewhere near to the national park. This not just to saves your time but serves you with far more ease. There are several campsites located at Vatnajokull National Park, the most popular one being in Skaftafell Nature Reserve in South Iceland. If you are traveling around the National Park in north Iceland, the campsite in Ásbyrgi canyon is a great one. If you want more sophistication, you can go to nearby hotels such as Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. It is a four-star hotel with spacious and fully furnished rooms. There are other options like Hotel Skaftafell. You can take your tours directly from the hotels to Vatnajökull National Park.

Jokulsargljufur canyon next to Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls

Map of Vatnajokull National Park

Interesting locations in the area

More Locations in North Iceland

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