Your Ultimate Guide to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Find out why Skógafoss is a favourite of film location scouts with our ultimate guide to the waterfall.

14. október 2022

Your Ultimate Guide to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Find out why Skógafoss is a favourite of film location scouts with our ultimate guide to the waterfall.

14. október 2022

Iceland’s rugged landscape is scarred with glacial rivers where tumbling waterfalls cascade over clifftops. One of the most distinctive waterfalls in the country is Skógafoss, which cascades like a cloak of white from a high clifftop. Tours to Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland stop to admire the rainbows cast by sunlight on the waterfall’s mist. Pausing to take in this natural wonder, you can see why it’s been used as the backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV shows alike. Here’s our complete guide to one of Iceland’s most beautiful natural wonders.

About Skógafoss Waterfall

Flowing from the spring beneath Eyjafjöll mountains, the Skógá river is the source of Skógafoss waterfall. The falls occur where the plateau of the Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes ends, and the river Skógá crashes over towering basalt cliffs into a deep basin. The cascade is a jaw-dropping 227 feet (around 60 metres) high and there is usually a double or single rainbow shining in the waterfall’s mist which attracts photographers and admirers from far and wide.

According to legend, one of the first Viking settlers at Skógar – a man called Þrasi Þórólfsson – threw a chest filled with treasure into the waterfall. Three local men from Skógar decided to try and pull the chest out of the falls, but, in trying to get the chest out of the water, the golden ring broke and the chest plummeted to the bottom of the pool. The alleged golden chest ring is on display in the little Skógar museum – in a pretty white church with a red roof.

You may recognise Skógafoss as the backdrop to a number of Hollywood films and TV series. The drama of the falls was certainly not lost on the location scouts for the likes of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Thor: Into Darkness and James Bond, and the TV series Vikings.

It’s worth noting that the spray from Skógafoss is powerful and standing at the bottom to admire this wonder means you’ll probably get wet. It’s a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket with a hood and even waterproof trousers on a trip to this waterfall.

Head to the South Coast of Iceland and get lost in the landscape


skogafoss 9

Year-round, Reykjavik Excursions leads tours of Iceland’s beautiful South Coast, taking in the black-sanded beaches, waterfalls and glacier hikes.

What does Skógafoss mean in English?

In English, Skóga means forest and foss means falls, so the rough translation is forest falls. The name is something of a mystery as Iceland is famously sparse when it comes to trees and you won’t find any forests in this part of the country.

Where is Skógafoss Waterfall?

One of the great allures of Skógafoss waterfall is that you can spot it from the Route One ring round – Iceland’s main route around the entire island. It’s also on the route of Iceland’s South Coast wonders, alongside black-sanded beaches, fishing villages and glaciers. From Reykjavik, it’s 154km (about 95 miles) to Skógafoss, so around a two-hour drive.

It also marks the start (or end) of the 25km Fimmvörðuháls trail through Iceland’s untouched highlands which takes you past ‘Waterfall Way’ and into the island’s volcanic wilderness. The route begins with the 527 steps up to the top of Skógafoss waterfall where you can gaze out over the mossy-green landscape all the way to the sea. Of course, if a full day of hiking doesn’t appeal to you, the ascent to the top of the waterfall can feel like enough of an adventure for one day.

How to get to Skógafoss Waterfall?

Just off the main Route One ring-round around Iceland, it’s easy to navigate your own way to Skógafoss from Reykjavik if you’re hiring a car. It’s about a two-hour drive from the capital, and you can stop at several other South Coast sights along the way, or include it in a full road trip around the entire coast of the island.

If you don’t fancy driving yourself, buses run from Reykjavik to Skógar twice a day in summer, taking around three hours. There are a handful of accommodation options in Skógar if you want to spend the night and perhaps hit the hiking trail the next day.

Of course, if you want to combine a trip to Skógafoss with the other sights of the South Coast, Reykjavik Excursions offer plenty of guided tours of Iceland’s South Coast to take the hassle out of navigating your way there.

See nature at its finest on a south shore adventure in Iceland


skogafoss 5

Ethereal rock formations, glaciers and thundering waterfalls await on Iceland’s South Coast. Join the Reykjavik Excursions south shore adventure to explore the region’s natural wonders.

How much time do you need at Skógafoss waterfall?

If you’re on a whirlwind tour of the South Coast, you could spend just half an hour at Skógafoss, walking to the bottom of the cascade and snapping a picture or two of the double rainbow against the tumbling water. Walking to the top of the falls, up more than 500 steps, you’ll want to allow for 45 minutes to an hour, especially in winter when the steps can be slippery. Of course, if you are embarking on a day-long hike along the Fimmvörðuháls trail, you’ll want to allow for at least eight hours to complete the walk.

Is Skógafoss waterfall free?

Skógafoss waterfall is completely free. That is, there is no entrance fee to visit the waterfall and you can walk the trail up the hillside to the top for free as well. Parking is also free and there are toilets you can use at no extra cost.

Best time to see Skógafoss Waterfall?

In summer, the waterfall sits against a beautiful backdrop of moss-green and slate-grey. The bonus of visiting in summer is that you can also see for miles from the top of the waterfall and the steps to the top are unlikely to be icy and slippery. In spring and autumn, the weather is a little more changeable, but you’re still likely to get a nice day for good views and an easier hike to the top.

In winter, the landscape around Skógafoss changes dramatically, with icicles hanging from the sheer rocks and snow coating the fields and plateaus around. There’s no denying it’s a beautiful sight in winter – like a fairytale illustration. However, if you want to climb to the top of the waterfall in winter, you may be disappointed by the view which can disappear in the bad weather, and the 500+ steps can be icy and slippery.

Hike past dozens of waterfalls on the rugged Fimmvörðuháls trail.


skogafoss 2

This 25km hike starts at Skógafoss waterfall and heads in the barren wilderness of Iceland’s Highlands, far from civilization. For a day of hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail, take the highland bus directly from Reykjavik.

Tours to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Taking the hassle out of your journey to Iceland’s South Coast, you can hop on a Reykjavik Excursions tour and enjoy a stop at Skógafoss along the way. The classic South Shore adventure ticks off all the major natural sights along this beguiling stretch of coast. Black-sanded beaches where twisting rock formations form other-worldly caves, cute fishing villages by the sea and beautiful waterfalls await on this single-day adventure.

If you have more time, Reykjavik Excursion offers multi-day trips and varying itineraries along the South Coast for all kinds of traveller. Perhaps you want to go a little further and sea the sunlight winking off the huge chunks of ice at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, or combine your visit to Skógafoss with a session of snowmobiling or glacier hiking on Eyjafjallajökull.

Attractions near Skógafoss Waterfall

skogafoss 6

If you’re spending the night at Skógar or have a lot of time to spend around Skógafoss, there are plenty of hidden secrets to explore in the area. Firstly, housed in a former church with crisp white walls and a red roof, the Skógar Museum is where you can learn all about the history of this unique settlement. You can even spot the handle of the chest that Þrasi Þórólfsson allegedly hid in the waterfall on display in here.

All along the Skógar river and in the surrounding area, you’ll find a number of other beguiling waterfalls. Kvernufoss is lesser-visited than its neighbour Skógafoss, but at 98 feet (approximately 20 metres) high, it’s an impressive spectacle. It sits in a gorge and can be spotted from the main road. The crowds are deterred by the twenty-minute hike along the river to reach the waterfall, but those that venture here are rewarded with another picture-perfect waterfall.

About 30km (a half-hour drive) from Skógafoss is another of south Iceland’s most spectacular and frequently visited falls – Seljalandsfoss. This one is famous for being able to walk in behind it. Follow the walking path to admire the landscape as the thundering water tumbles in front of you. Close to Seljalandsfoss, you’ll find a secret. Gljúfrabúi waterfall (meaning Canyon Dweller) is just 750 metres (a two-minute walk) from Seljalandsfoss. But it is hidden by two high cliffs, keeping the crowds away. Those that manage to find it can enjoy one of nature’s most beautiful sights in peace.

Just over 40km from Skógafoss, you can hop on the 35-40 minute ferry at Landeyjahöfn to the Westman Islands. Wildlife lovers shouldn’t miss a trip to the Westman Islands as they are home to Europe’s largest colony of puffins and a beluga whale sanctuary. There’s also volcanic scenery to be enjoyed and an array of restaurants serving fabulous Icelandic cuisine in the small town.

As you can see, there are many reasons to visit Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland. People flock here to witness something beautiful, or to embark on a 25km hike through the untamed Icelandic Highlands along the Fimmvörðuháls trail. Whether you’re stopping as part of a south coast tour, embarking on a hike into the volcanic wilderness or staying around Skogar, we hope you catch a glimpse of that famous double rainbow when you visit Skógafoss.

Blogg

Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira. Bloggið okkar er á ensku en það er stórskemmtilegt engu að síður!

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Lesa blogg

Your Ultimate Guide to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Find out why Skógafoss is a favourite of film location scouts with our ultimate guide to the waterfall.

14. október 2022

Your Ultimate Guide to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Find out why Skógafoss is a favourite of film location scouts with our ultimate guide to the waterfall.

14. október 2022

Iceland’s rugged landscape is scarred with glacial rivers where tumbling waterfalls cascade over clifftops. One of the most distinctive waterfalls in the country is Skógafoss, which cascades like a cloak of white from a high clifftop. Tours to Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland stop to admire the rainbows cast by sunlight on the waterfall’s mist. Pausing to take in this natural wonder, you can see why it’s been used as the backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV shows alike. Here’s our complete guide to one of Iceland’s most beautiful natural wonders.

About Skógafoss Waterfall

Flowing from the spring beneath Eyjafjöll mountains, the Skógá river is the source of Skógafoss waterfall. The falls occur where the plateau of the Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes ends, and the river Skógá crashes over towering basalt cliffs into a deep basin. The cascade is a jaw-dropping 227 feet (around 60 metres) high and there is usually a double or single rainbow shining in the waterfall’s mist which attracts photographers and admirers from far and wide.

According to legend, one of the first Viking settlers at Skógar – a man called Þrasi Þórólfsson – threw a chest filled with treasure into the waterfall. Three local men from Skógar decided to try and pull the chest out of the falls, but, in trying to get the chest out of the water, the golden ring broke and the chest plummeted to the bottom of the pool. The alleged golden chest ring is on display in the little Skógar museum – in a pretty white church with a red roof.

You may recognise Skógafoss as the backdrop to a number of Hollywood films and TV series. The drama of the falls was certainly not lost on the location scouts for the likes of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Thor: Into Darkness and James Bond, and the TV series Vikings.

It’s worth noting that the spray from Skógafoss is powerful and standing at the bottom to admire this wonder means you’ll probably get wet. It’s a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket with a hood and even waterproof trousers on a trip to this waterfall.

Head to the South Coast of Iceland and get lost in the landscape


skogafoss 9

Year-round, Reykjavik Excursions leads tours of Iceland’s beautiful South Coast, taking in the black-sanded beaches, waterfalls and glacier hikes.

What does Skógafoss mean in English?

In English, Skóga means forest and foss means falls, so the rough translation is forest falls. The name is something of a mystery as Iceland is famously sparse when it comes to trees and you won’t find any forests in this part of the country.

Where is Skógafoss Waterfall?

One of the great allures of Skógafoss waterfall is that you can spot it from the Route One ring round – Iceland’s main route around the entire island. It’s also on the route of Iceland’s South Coast wonders, alongside black-sanded beaches, fishing villages and glaciers. From Reykjavik, it’s 154km (about 95 miles) to Skógafoss, so around a two-hour drive.

It also marks the start (or end) of the 25km Fimmvörðuháls trail through Iceland’s untouched highlands which takes you past ‘Waterfall Way’ and into the island’s volcanic wilderness. The route begins with the 527 steps up to the top of Skógafoss waterfall where you can gaze out over the mossy-green landscape all the way to the sea. Of course, if a full day of hiking doesn’t appeal to you, the ascent to the top of the waterfall can feel like enough of an adventure for one day.

How to get to Skógafoss Waterfall?

Just off the main Route One ring-round around Iceland, it’s easy to navigate your own way to Skógafoss from Reykjavik if you’re hiring a car. It’s about a two-hour drive from the capital, and you can stop at several other South Coast sights along the way, or include it in a full road trip around the entire coast of the island.

If you don’t fancy driving yourself, buses run from Reykjavik to Skógar twice a day in summer, taking around three hours. There are a handful of accommodation options in Skógar if you want to spend the night and perhaps hit the hiking trail the next day.

Of course, if you want to combine a trip to Skógafoss with the other sights of the South Coast, Reykjavik Excursions offer plenty of guided tours of Iceland’s South Coast to take the hassle out of navigating your way there.

See nature at its finest on a south shore adventure in Iceland


skogafoss 5

Ethereal rock formations, glaciers and thundering waterfalls await on Iceland’s South Coast. Join the Reykjavik Excursions south shore adventure to explore the region’s natural wonders.

How much time do you need at Skógafoss waterfall?

If you’re on a whirlwind tour of the South Coast, you could spend just half an hour at Skógafoss, walking to the bottom of the cascade and snapping a picture or two of the double rainbow against the tumbling water. Walking to the top of the falls, up more than 500 steps, you’ll want to allow for 45 minutes to an hour, especially in winter when the steps can be slippery. Of course, if you are embarking on a day-long hike along the Fimmvörðuháls trail, you’ll want to allow for at least eight hours to complete the walk.

Is Skógafoss waterfall free?

Skógafoss waterfall is completely free. That is, there is no entrance fee to visit the waterfall and you can walk the trail up the hillside to the top for free as well. Parking is also free and there are toilets you can use at no extra cost.

Best time to see Skógafoss Waterfall?

In summer, the waterfall sits against a beautiful backdrop of moss-green and slate-grey. The bonus of visiting in summer is that you can also see for miles from the top of the waterfall and the steps to the top are unlikely to be icy and slippery. In spring and autumn, the weather is a little more changeable, but you’re still likely to get a nice day for good views and an easier hike to the top.

In winter, the landscape around Skógafoss changes dramatically, with icicles hanging from the sheer rocks and snow coating the fields and plateaus around. There’s no denying it’s a beautiful sight in winter – like a fairytale illustration. However, if you want to climb to the top of the waterfall in winter, you may be disappointed by the view which can disappear in the bad weather, and the 500+ steps can be icy and slippery.

Hike past dozens of waterfalls on the rugged Fimmvörðuháls trail.


skogafoss 2

This 25km hike starts at Skógafoss waterfall and heads in the barren wilderness of Iceland’s Highlands, far from civilization. For a day of hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail, take the highland bus directly from Reykjavik.

Tours to Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

Taking the hassle out of your journey to Iceland’s South Coast, you can hop on a Reykjavik Excursions tour and enjoy a stop at Skógafoss along the way. The classic South Shore adventure ticks off all the major natural sights along this beguiling stretch of coast. Black-sanded beaches where twisting rock formations form other-worldly caves, cute fishing villages by the sea and beautiful waterfalls await on this single-day adventure.

If you have more time, Reykjavik Excursion offers multi-day trips and varying itineraries along the South Coast for all kinds of traveller. Perhaps you want to go a little further and sea the sunlight winking off the huge chunks of ice at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, or combine your visit to Skógafoss with a session of snowmobiling or glacier hiking on Eyjafjallajökull.

Attractions near Skógafoss Waterfall

skogafoss 6

If you’re spending the night at Skógar or have a lot of time to spend around Skógafoss, there are plenty of hidden secrets to explore in the area. Firstly, housed in a former church with crisp white walls and a red roof, the Skógar Museum is where you can learn all about the history of this unique settlement. You can even spot the handle of the chest that Þrasi Þórólfsson allegedly hid in the waterfall on display in here.

All along the Skógar river and in the surrounding area, you’ll find a number of other beguiling waterfalls. Kvernufoss is lesser-visited than its neighbour Skógafoss, but at 98 feet (approximately 20 metres) high, it’s an impressive spectacle. It sits in a gorge and can be spotted from the main road. The crowds are deterred by the twenty-minute hike along the river to reach the waterfall, but those that venture here are rewarded with another picture-perfect waterfall.

About 30km (a half-hour drive) from Skógafoss is another of south Iceland’s most spectacular and frequently visited falls – Seljalandsfoss. This one is famous for being able to walk in behind it. Follow the walking path to admire the landscape as the thundering water tumbles in front of you. Close to Seljalandsfoss, you’ll find a secret. Gljúfrabúi waterfall (meaning Canyon Dweller) is just 750 metres (a two-minute walk) from Seljalandsfoss. But it is hidden by two high cliffs, keeping the crowds away. Those that manage to find it can enjoy one of nature’s most beautiful sights in peace.

Just over 40km from Skógafoss, you can hop on the 35-40 minute ferry at Landeyjahöfn to the Westman Islands. Wildlife lovers shouldn’t miss a trip to the Westman Islands as they are home to Europe’s largest colony of puffins and a beluga whale sanctuary. There’s also volcanic scenery to be enjoyed and an array of restaurants serving fabulous Icelandic cuisine in the small town.

As you can see, there are many reasons to visit Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland. People flock here to witness something beautiful, or to embark on a 25km hike through the untamed Icelandic Highlands along the Fimmvörðuháls trail. Whether you’re stopping as part of a south coast tour, embarking on a hike into the volcanic wilderness or staying around Skogar, we hope you catch a glimpse of that famous double rainbow when you visit Skógafoss.

Blogg

Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira. Bloggið okkar er á ensku en það er stórskemmtilegt engu að síður!

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Lesa blogg