The former Skaftafell National Park, now part of the large Vatnajökull National Park, is one of Iceland's most beautiful mountain and glacier areas.

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The vast landscape of mountain meadows, spiky peaks and large permanent glaciers is reminiscent of the Alps at times, but every now and then you'll come across typically Icelandic basalt rocks or waterfalls along the way that will leave you in no doubt that you're far from continental Europe.

Skaftafell is the perfect place for a relaxing hike in the mountains with plenty of short and very easy trails, but you can also have adventures in the ice caves or walk directly on the glacier.

The entire Vatnajökull National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is unique in southern Iceland for its greater number of sunny days.

Entrance fees and opening hours

Skaftafell or Vatnajökull National Park always charges a full car entry fee to enter the protected area, regardless of how many people are travelling in the car. For one classic car you pay 750 isk.

You can buy a ticket online at the park's official website: It is always valid for one calendar day and you can use all the public trails of the national park, for which you do not need a guide.

To camp in your own tent at the visitor center, pay 250 isk.

The Skaftafell area is open year-round and you can hike the trails 24 hours a day at your own risk. The Visitor Center is open 9:00-16:30. In winter and on weekdays it is only open until 15:30 and outside weekends, see the official website:

Hiking in Skaftafell

The area is literally criss-crossed with marked hiking trails that all visitors must follow. There really is something for everyone. There are short trails of up to 4 km on more or less flat ground that take you to a breathtaking viewpoint from where you can watch the mighty "flow" of the Skaftafselljökull glacier, as well as long, challenging trails of over 15 km that take you into the heart of the mountains, to lakes and waterfalls.

Popular are the very easy routes to Svartifoss waterfalls, which are among the most famous in Iceland.

Skaftafell Ice Caves and glacier walking

One of the most magical places is definitely the Skaftafell Blue Ice Caves. These beautiful natural temples are formed during the summer when the glacier melts, the water makes its way through the ice and when it starts to freeze at the end of the summer, crystalline blue or greenish ice walls, tunnels and crevasses form.

The paths to the ice caves always lead directly across the main field of the Skaftafellsjökull glacier, which is part of Vatnajökull , the largest glacier in Europe.

Most of the glacier caves are only accessible in winter, when they are stable and there is no danger of large, heavy chunks of ice breaking off.

The caves and the glacier itself are only accessible with a guide on organised, guided tours. All equipment, clothing, boots and helmets will be rented. Although the journey to the caves itself does not require any special climbing skills, it will be quite physically demanding due to the difficult terrain and walking on ice and rocks.

Trips to the glacier caves and the glacier itself are arranged by several travel agencies, with Skaftafell being one of the largest, offering trips such as the following:

Skaftafell Accommodation

Right next to the visitor center is a large campground for up to hundreds of tents. There is hot and cold running water, showers, toilets and laundry facilities. There is also a restaurant and cafe open before daylight hours at the nearby visitor center. The price for renting a tent site for the night is 250 isk.

If you prefer to stay in a traditional hotel, about 1 km from the Visitor Center right on the main road you will find 3* Hotel Skaftafell with an en-suite bathroom and a good breakfast included.

View accommodation - Vatnajökull

How to get there?

Skaftafell is just off the main ring road number 1 and is accessible by conventional cars all year round. It is 326 km from Reykjavík.

Bus line 51 stops at Skaftafell only once a day and only goes to both Vík and Myrdal.

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