Skógafoss is in the top ranking of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and draws many visitors to the south of the country.
Skógafoss, or “forest falls,” is formed by the Skóga River rushing over the Fimmvörðuháls Pass as it melts away from the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers.
Located between these two majestic glaciers, Skogafoss can be seen from afar when you pass on the ring road and is a must-see attraction for all tourists visiting southern Iceland.
The Skóga River tumbles from the top of a 60-meter cliff over a 25-meter wide lip and smashes to the ground with a constant roar and cloud of mist: this is the mighty Skógafoss. Like other waterfalls in Iceland, Skógafoss is sometimes adorned with a beautiful rainbow.
Legend has it that there is a treasure hidden behind the waterfall. The settler Þrasi Þórólfsson is said to have hidden a safe containing all his wealth under the waterfall until it was discovered by a lucky child. Being so small, he was unable to carry the heavy trunk and only brought back the trunk handle. You can actually see the handle of legend preserved in the nearby Skogar Museum.
From the car park it's a few hundred meters walk to the foot of the fall. The waterfall is stunning and makes for great pictures up close or from afar in landscape shots. You can get very close to the fall but it throws a lot of mist and water droplets, which is not practical at all for taking pictures. Be it winter or summer, you'll have to wear waterproof clothing to get near the fall without catching a cold.
A path to the right of the waterfall winds up the cliff to reveal a view from the top of the falls. The incredibly steep path is made up of over 400 steps. For yet another view of the waterfall and to get away from tourist crowds, we recommend you take the short path a few hundred meters before the official entrance (Drangshlíðardalur 2) when coming from Reykjavík. This will give you a rather unique view of the site, and there is absolutely no one to spoil your shot (see last photo below).
On site there are toilets, a café and also the campsite located at the foot of Skógafoss.
The waterfall is located along Road number 1 near the small village of Skogar, 150 kilometers from the capital Reykjavík in the west and 40 kilometers from the small village of Vik in the east. It is therefore very easy to get to with a classic passenger vehicle.
For those traveling by bus from Reykjavík, for example, line 21 stops there.
As the region is relatively spared the worst of the winter snow and extreme conditions that are common in other regions of Iceland, access to Skogafoss is almost always possible in winter so it's popular all year round.
As Skógafoss is a very touristic site, we strongly recommend going there, if possible, in the morning before 10 am or in the evening to avoid tourist buses, especially in summer.
The small path that climbs to the right of the waterfall gives you a nice view of the Skogafoss waterfall from above, but it is also the starting point for some excellent trails:
The legendary Laugavegur trek gets you to the Landmannalaugar region from Skógafoss via Thorsmork in 6 days.
The hike to Fimmvörðuháls is 25 kilometers long and is usually done in one day with an overnight stay in Þórsmörk afterward. You can take the bus back to Skogafoss or go back the next day on foot if you have the energy.
The waterfall hike is finally the most user-friendly of the trails, but its beauty is on par with the harder options. The hike runs along the Skoga and as the name suggests, takes you to numerous waterfalls over several kilometers in a lush landscape of rolling hills. You'll see towering giant waterfall, cascading falls, secret hidden falls, powerful roaring falls, soft and quiet falls, thunderous falls, sunset-tinted falls, falls surrounded by lush flowers or over scenic bridges... There are no less than 22 waterfalls on this trail.
The ascent is quite steep at first but then you arrive at a plateau and the hike is very well-indicated. In any case, you won't get lost if you just keep the river to your left all the way.
Most hikers who take this walk turn around at the bridge, the last site in the series, but of course you can head back whenever you want. The distance between Skogafoss and Bridge Falls is 7.2 kilometers, just under 2 hours, the return trip being much shorter as it is almost entirely downhill.
This bridge marks the border between this hiking trail and the Fimmvörðuháls trail when the bridge takes you across the Skóga.
Camping enthusiasts should know that there is a campsite near the fall. In fact, the Skogar Camping Ground is only 200 meters from the site. The proximity to Skógafoss and the amenities offered make this a great deal.
There are quite a few hotels and guesthouses nearby, but the Skógafoss Hotel and the Rauðafell Bed and Breakfast have the top reputation.
Located just 3 km from the waterfall, Rauðafell offers excellent value for money. As for the Skógafoss Hotel, it is certainly a bit more expensive but located only a few hundred meters from Skógafoss, which offers the advantage of walking there in the evening when tourists are less present.
For a bite to eat, the Skógafoss Hotel actually has a restaurant and nearby there is also the Skógakaffi Café and the Bistro Bar.
In the vicinity of Skogafoss, the Skogar Museum is a must-see and is located just a short walk from the waterfall. Very close to the museum, there is a little-known but beautiful cascade, the Kvernufoss waterfall, which is also worth a detour.