NatureWaterfallsThe Majestic Skógafoss Waterfall: A Full Guide
A beautiful sunset at Skógafoss Waterfall, Iceland
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Aron Freyr
By Aron FreyrJul 8, 2024 • 5 min read

The Majestic Skógafoss Waterfall: A Full Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, you must visit Skógafoss. This amazing waterfall is on the Skógá River in the south of the country. It’s a beautiful and powerful sight that impresses all visitors. Whether you love hiking, taking photos, or just enjoying beautiful views, Skógafoss has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explain why Skógafoss is worth visiting, share some interesting facts about it, tell you how to get there, and give tips on what to wear and what to do nearby.

Key Takeaways

  • Skógafoss is just a two-hour drive from Reykjavik. Renting a car is the best option to visit this amazing waterfall
  • Skógafoss means "forest waterfall", and it's steeped in folklore
  • You can't walk behind Skógafoss, but you can see it from different places and angles
  • There are many things to do around Skógafoss: you can hike, explore other waterfalls, visit the Skógar Museum, etc

Why is Skógafoss Worth a Visit?

Skógafoss is famous for its stunning waterfall, which drops 60 meters (197 feet) into a misty pool and often creates beautiful rainbows on sunny days. Visitors can get really close to the falls, feeling the cool spray and hearing the loud roar of the water. The powerful flow and lush green surroundings make Skógafoss a dream spot for photographers.

There’s also a staircase next to the falls that leads to a viewing platform, giving you amazing views of the waterfall and the landscape around it. Skógafoss is also rich in local legends. One story tells of a Viking settler named Þrasi Þórólfsson who hid a treasure chest behind the waterfall, adding a touch of mystery to this beautiful place.

Girl in front of Skógafoss waterfall

Skógafoss Facts & Features

Skógafoss is a stunning Icelandic waterfall known for its breathtaking beauty and fascinating legends. This section will highlight its cultural significance, geological formation, seasonal changes, visitor experience, and conservation efforts.

Height and Structure

Skógafoss is 60 meters (197 feet) high and 25 meters (82 feet) wide, making it one of the most incredible and most powerful waterfalls in Iceland. The wide curtain of water falling down is an amazing sight.

Name Meaning and Cultural Significance

Forest Waterfall: The name "Skógafoss" means "forest waterfall" in Icelandic. It comes from the words "skógur" (forest) and "foss" (waterfall). This name reminds us that the area used to have thick forests.

Local Legend: There is a legend about Skógafoss. A Viking named Þrasi Þórólfsson is said to have hidden a treasure chest behind the waterfall. The story says a ring from the chest was seen for many years, but no one could get the treasure. This adds a magical feel to the place.

Formation and Geology

Skógafoss was formed during the last ice age. The Skógá River, which is fed by melting glaciers, carved out the land to create this waterfall. The cliffs around the falls were once part of the coastline but have moved inland over time.

Flow Rate and Seasonal Changes

The flow of water at Skógafoss changes with the seasons. In summer, the waterfall is very powerful because of the melting glaciers. In winter, the flow is less, but the falls look beautiful with ice and snow around them.

Visitor Experience

Visitors can enjoy Skógafoss from different spots. There is a path that goes to the base of the falls, where you can feel the mist. There is also a staircase with over 500 steps that leads to the top of the falls, offering great views of the area.

Conservation Efforts

Skógafoss is part of the Skógar Nature Reserve, which helps protect its natural beauty. Efforts are made to keep the area clean and beautiful for future visitors.

Skógafoss is a special place with its powerful waterfall, interesting legends, and beautiful surroundings. Whether you enjoy nature, love stories, or just want to see amazing sights, Skógafoss is a must-visit spot in Iceland.

Where’s Skógafoss & How to Get There

Skógafoss is located about 149 kilometers (93 miles) from Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. The drive takes around two hours by car. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get there:

  1. Start in Reykjavik: Take Route 49 to Suðurlandsvegur/Þjóðvegur 1. Follow the signs for the Vik/Hveragerði exit from Route 49. This part of the trip takes about 16 minutes and covers 9.8 kilometers (6 miles).
  2. Follow the Ring Road (Route 1): Continue on Þjóðvegur 1, also known as the Ring Road, which is the main highway that circles Iceland. You'll travel southeast for about 145 kilometers (90 miles). Along the way, you’ll pass through the village of Hella, which is a good spot to take a break, and the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall, another stunning natural sight worth a quick stop.
  3. Turn towards Skógar: After driving for about 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Ring Road, follow the signs to Skógar. From there, continue on the local road leading directly to Skógafoss.

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If you prefer public transportation, there are buses running between Reykjavik and Skógar. However, renting a car is recommended as it gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and make stops along the way. This flexibility allows you to visit other attractions like Seljalandsfoss and enjoy the scenic drive through the Icelandic countryside.

What to Wear When Visiting Skógafoss

When visiting Skógafoss, it's essential to dress appropriately for the conditions. Here are some tips:

  • Waterproof Clothing: The spray from the waterfall can drench you, so waterproof jackets and pants are recommended.
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots: The paths around the waterfall can be slippery, so sturdy, non-slip hiking boots are a must.
  • Warm Layers: Even in summer, Icelandic weather can be unpredictable. Wearing layers helps you stay warm and adjust to changing conditions.
  • Winter Gear: In winter, consider bringing ice spikes or crampons to navigate icy paths safely.

Surrounding Sites & Things to Do in Skógafoss

Skógafoss isn't the only attraction in the area. Here are some other must-visit sites and activities nearby:

  • Kvernufoss Waterfall: A less-visited but equally beautiful waterfall located nearby. It's a short hike from Skógar and offers a more secluded experience.
  • Reynisfjara Beach: Known for its black sand and striking basalt columns, this beach is about a 30-minute drive from Skógafoss.
  • Dyrhólaey: This promontory offers stunning views of the coastline and is a prime spot for bird-watching, especially puffins.
  • Skógar Museum: Located in the village of Skógar, this museum showcases Icelandic history and culture, featuring artifacts from the local area.
  • Hiking: The Fimmvörðuháls trail, a popular hiking route, starts near Skógafoss. It offers a challenging trek with incredible views, leading up to the volcanic landscapes between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
  • Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool: One of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools, Seljavallalaug is nestled in a mountain valley and filled with naturally warm water. It’s a short drive from Skógafoss and a great spot for a relaxing dip after a day of exploring.
  • Sólheimajökull Glacier: Just a short drive from Skógafoss, this glacier offers guided tours where you can hike on the ice and explore ice caves. It’s an unforgettable experience for adventure seekers and those interested in Iceland’s glacial landscapes.

Witness The Power of Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss is one of those must-visit places in Iceland that combines stunning natural beauty with easy access and a touch of cultural history. Whether you're amazed by the powerful waterfall, checking out nearby attractions, or just enjoying the peaceful landscape, Skógafoss offers an experience you won’t forget. Be sure to dress for the weather, pack your camera, and take your time to soak in all the beauty around you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Skógafoss

Can you see the Northern Lights at Skógafoss?

Yes, during the winter months, Skógafoss is an excellent location to view the Northern Lights, especially on clear nights. The waterfall's remote setting, away from city lights, provides dark skies perfect for aurora sightings.

Can you walk behind Skógafoss?

No, it is not possible to walk behind Skógafoss due to the sheer volume and force of the water. However, you can get very close to the base of the falls, which offers a thrilling experience.

How long should I stay there?

Depending on your interests, a visit to Skógafoss can last from a couple of hours to a full day. Spending a full day is ideal if you plan to hike nearby trails and visit surrounding attractions.

What is the folklore of Skógafoss?

The legend of Skógafoss involves a hidden treasure chest left by Viking settler Þrasi Þórólfsson. According to the tale, the chest is concealed behind the waterfall, and a ring from the chest is said to be kept at the Skógar Museum.

How do you pronounce Skógafoss?

Skógafoss is pronounced "Skoh-ga-foss," with emphasis on the first syllable.

What movie is the Skógafoss Waterfall in?

Skógafoss has been featured in several films, including "Thor: The Dark World" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," showcasing its cinematic appeal.

Which waterfall is better, Dettifoss or Skógafoss?

Dettifoss is known for its raw power, being the most powerful waterfall in Europe, while Skógafoss is celebrated for its scenic beauty and accessibility. The preference depends on whether you prioritize raw power or picturesque scenery.

Exploring Skógafoss and its surroundings is a highlight of any trip to Iceland. With its impressive cascade, fascinating legends, and myriad nearby attractions, Skógafoss is a destination that truly captures the spirit of Icelandic natural beauty.

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