Skogafoss, which literally translates to “forest waterfall”, is a true natural wonder, captivating visitors the world over. With a 60-metre flow of gushing water in a near perfect rectangular shape, Skogafoss is one the largest waterfalls in Iceland.
One of Skogafoss’ signature characteristics is its ability to produce a beautiful single or double rainbow when the sun reflects off its constant, powerful spray. This unique sight also makes Skogafoss one of Iceland’s most photographed locations! Skogafoss, along with another stunning waterfall, Seljalandsfoss are two major highlights of the Golden Circle in Iceland.
We’ve put together this guide to help you make the most of your visit to Skogafoss waterfall, including a suggested itinerary so you can see all the incredible sights Iceland’s southern shore has to offer.
A mighty and powerful waterfall, visiting Skogafoss is an incredible experience. Standing next to the falls, many visitors say it makes them feel quite insignificant, causing them to reflect on the Earth’s incredible beauty and all its wonders.
While many of Iceland’s waterfalls are simple (though beautiful) stopovers as part of longer journeys, a visit to Skogafoss can be a day out in itself. Adventure junkies and nature lovers might be interested in climbing the trail that starts on the waterfall’s eastern side. This trek eventually connects with the Fimmvörðuháls trail, one of the country’s most popular hiking routes. It will take you between the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and Mýrdalsjökull glacier before continuing down through the Thórsmörk mountain ridge. This trail is only open in the summertime and takes about one to two days to complete. From Thórsmörk, you can join another popular trekking trail in Iceland, the Laugavegur trail.
If hiking a trail is a bit too much adventure for you, you can also simply climb the 430 steps at the side of the waterfall for views of the Atlantic Ocean from Iceland’s southern coast.
Like many popular sites along Iceland’s most frequented routes, Skogafoss waterfall can become quite busy, particularly during the summer months. If visiting during prime tourist season, we recommend planning your trip to start quite early in the morning.
It is also worth pointing out that the steps to the top of the waterfall are quite steep, and might not be manageable by those with limited mobility.
- Skogafoss is not only impressive in its steep drop; the waterfall also has an impressive width of 25 metres
- Legend has it that the area’s first Viking settler, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried his treasure in a cave behind Skogafoss. It is said that a local boy found the treasure many years later, but was only able to grab a hold of a ring on the side of the treasure chest before it disappeared. You can visit this ring in the museum in Skogar, the nearby village.
- Skogafoss is situated on the Skoga River and sources its water from two glaciers – Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull
- There is a camping area next to Skogafoss where you can stay for a small fee.
- Between the months of July and October, you might see local fisherman fishing beneath the falls for salmon and char.
- The cliffs you see at Skogafoss were once sea-cliffs. However, the shoreline can now be found about five kilometres south of the waterfall.
- Skogafoss was the filming location for several Hollywood movies, including Thor: The Dark World from Marvel Studios and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Skogafoss waterfall is just under 150 km from the capital city of Reykjavik, making it a driveable journey of under two hours – perfectly manageable as part of a day trip. The falls and the parking lot are very easily seen from the ring road and make an excellent stopover as part of a road trip across the South Coast.
If you are not renting a car during your visit to Iceland, most tour operators include a visit to Skogafoss as part of their South Coast single-day outings.
We’ve put together this itinerary for those who might be travelling by car to Skogafoss from Reykjavik.
- Leaving Reykjavik, drive east along road 1.
- Before visiting Skogafoss, we suggest paying a visit to an equally impressive and perhaps even more well-known Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The journey from Reykjavik is approximately 120 km, taking just over one and a half hours. This can be a quick 15-minute stopover or an extended visit, depending on how much time you have.
- On your way from Seljalandsfoss to Skogafoss, keep an eye out for the infamous, Eyjafjallajökull volcano that famously erupted in 2010, causing major travel disruption across Europe.
- Skogafoss can be found just a short 30 km (25 minutes) from Seljalandsfoss. Allow plenty of time for your visit to Skogafoss, particularly if you wish to hike part of the Fimmvörðuháls trek.
- After visiting Skogafoss, stop by the village of Skógar, home to a small population of just 25 people. Here you can visit the area’s folk museum, home to the famous Þrasi treasure ring and a large wooden ferry boat. You can also travel further up the Skoga river to see many other impressive waterfalls.
- Continue another 33 km (30 minutes) along road 1 to Vik, the southernmost village of Iceland. Stop here to see its famous black sand beaches. If it’s on your bucket list (and you don’t mind large crowds), you can also visit the site of the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, just a 10-minute drive from Skogafoss followed by an hour trek to the coast.
- From Vik, your return journey to Reykjavik will take just over two hours. Be sure to stop by in one of the coastal villages for a feast of delicious seafood on your way!
Of course, our itinerary is a suggestion only. There is so much to see on the south coast of Iceland, and every trip is bound to be different. Read our other guides, including our itinerary for Seljalandsfoss waterfall for more information on the area’s incredible sights.