Skaftafell National Park in Iceland: Made from Fire and Ice

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Skaftafell National Park, one of Iceland's national parks, is truly a landscape forged from fire and ice over centuries with many volcanic eruptions, glaciers and rivers. Like much of Iceland’s beautifully unchanged scenery, the terrain of Skaftafell National Park continues to instill a sense of awe and wonderment in all who travel there. Now included in the southern part of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell National Park has been enlarged twice since it was officially founded in 1967.

The protected area of Skaftafell accounts for 4807 km2 of the total terrain of Vatnajökull National Park (13,600 km²). A mountainous landscape that is home to volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers and woods, Skaftafell’s creation took place over thousands of years. The result is a stunningly wild sweep of Nordic vistas carved by eruptions and erosion.


  • Skaftafell benefits from a pleasant climate. Visit in summer and experience the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun.
  • Sightseeing flights are available from the small Skaftafell runway. Get a true bird’s eye view of the vast terrain.
  • Get a new perspective on life by coming face-to-face with the awesome magnitude of a glacier.  
  • Get up close and personal with the local wildlife including puffins and arctic foxes.
  • Witness water cascading from a jet black basalt lava wall at Svartifoss waterfall.


  • Tourism has doubled in the last few years. During peak seasons, Skaftafell will be crowded with thousands of visitors. 
  • Skaftafell National Park receives little snow. However, rain, harsh wind and ice can make trails hazardous during winter.
  • Winter is a popular time to visit Skaftafell as the landscape changes completely. However, fewer daylight hours also set a limit on the activity.
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What To Do and See in Skaftafell National Park

  • Glacier hikes are available at all levels. From 3 hour family friendly excursions to 7 hour hikes.  
  • Glacier ice climbing is available for those who like a vertical challenge.
  • Hiking is a popular activity. Trails start at just half an hour long while some can take a full day.
  • Just east of Skaftafell is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Famous for it’s immense beauty,  Jokulsarlon is a must-see for visitors in the area.
  • Camping is available from the beginning of May to the end of September.
  • Visit Skaftafell Farm, whose history dates back to the middle ages.
Skaftafell National Park is near to the photogenic Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall is a photogenic tourist spot that features jet black lava basalt wall
At Skaftafell National Park you can sight puffin birds
At Skaftafell National Park you can get up close to the local wildlife like puffins

Opening Hours

The Skaftafell Visitors Centre is open all days of the week with the opening times are per the below. Please note that opening times may vary on public holidays.

January - February 11:00 - 16:00
March - April 10:00 - 17:00
May 09:00 - 19:00
June - August 08:00 - 21:00
September 09:00 - 19:00
October 10:00 - 17:00
November - December 11:00 - 16:00

If you are planning to make films or advertisement or planning to conduct, ‘research of nature and the natural environment and of cultural remains’, then you need to apply for the relevant permits. 

Skaftafell National Park will transport you to a whole new world. A world used to depict beautifully harsh landscapes in familiar scenes from Westeros and beyond. Get out of your comfort zone and explore all the tours and trips in Iceland. Don't forget to check up on the best time to visit Iceland

Published by Jane Andersen, updated on May 4, 2021

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