Your Guide to Skogafoss – A Treasure in Southern Iceland

Skogafoss

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Skogafoss is a very large and popular waterfall in the southern part of Iceland. This fall in particular is very well known for creating its own rainbows when the sun is shining on the large amounts of mist that this fall creates. It is the product of two huge glaciers and holds a beautiful hiking trail that you can take on foot, or by horse.

    Seeing a rainbow in a waterfall is a unique experience, especially in Iceland. Skogafoss waterfall is not only high and wide but also the home of a peculiar legend with some actual substance to it. We have gathered all the information about Skogafoss – a treasure in southern Iceland.

    What is Skogafoss?

    If you take a trip from Reykjavik and head east, you are very likely to make this one of your stops. Skogafoss is a majestic waterfall with a drop of 60 meters from top to bottom and is known to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. That is a bragging point, considering the sheer number of waterfalls in Iceland and a good reason why it is one of the top waterfalls in Iceland.

    What’s nearby?

    At the bottom of this fall, you will find the lovely village of Skógar, which is the base of operations for anything regarding Skogafoss. Here you will find a camping ground that allows you to camp very close to Skogafoss so you can enjoy the thundering noise of the endless stream of glacier water crashing down. At the bottom, you will also be able to see the waterfall rainbow when the sun is shining. Due to the large amount of splash generated by the fall, the waterfall rainbow is an almost permanent instalment.

    Going up the waterfall a little bit, Skogafoss will give you a stunning view of the area. Below Skogafoss, the land is pretty flat, so you will be able to see almost all the way to the ocean. If you turn around and head toward the mountains, you can start one of many hikes that use the top of Skogafoss as a starting point.

    Skogafoss, Iceland

    Skogafoss Legend

    If you are the one to enjoy the mystery surrounding sagas (which might be true), then Skogafoss waterfall is here for you. Centuries ago, a Viking named Thrasi Thórólfsson (who was rumoured to be a giant) came to Iceland with a large chest of gold. Being one of the early settlers, he was well aware of how unsafe these lands could be with the absence of a governing body and any rules whatsoever. He, therefore, dragged his large chest of gold and hid it inside the mountain, behind the Skogafoss waterfall.

    Finding evidence

    Since this day, many have tried to find it, but the only small piece of evidence that exists is a large, golden ring that is now on display in the local museum. The ring is supposed to be one of the handles on the chest and comes from a young man who decided to bra Skogafoss and tried to find the chest. He allegedly went up the waterfall and found the chest, but when he tied a rope around the handle and tried to pull it with him, the handle broke off the chest and he was left with that and his story.

    The handle was a part of the door handle for the church for a long while before it got put in the museum. We don’t know if any of these legends are true or not, but it might be worth it to check out Skogafoss a little closer.

    Skogafoss waterfall

    How Was Skogafoss Formed?

    A very long time ago, Skogafoss didn’t exist as a waterfall at all. We said earlier in the article that the land in front of the waterfall was fairly flat, and you could see all the way to the ocean. This is partly because Skogafoss waterfall used to be at the edge of the ocean, with the cliffs being the mountains around the waterfall today. The water has receded a whole 5 kilometres south since then, and the glacial stream from Skogafoss is the only connection to the sea it has left.

    Sources of the waterfall

    Skogafoss is one of many waterfalls in Iceland that is made up of these cold-water streams. The water in Skogafoss comes from the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökul, which are both on top of volcanoes that have made their mark on Iceland in modern times. Myrdalsjökull is the cap of Katla, the most active volcano in Iceland and the reason why people in Vík need to have “volcano drills” from time to time. Eyjafjallajökull is on top of a volcano with the same name, which happens to be the volcano that had an eruption in 2010 and closed down air travel in large portions of Europe.

    The Best Time to Visit Skogafoss

    We are not going to beat around the bush with this one. The best time to visit Skogafoss waterfall is going to be in the summer. You will be able to enjoy all the sightings in and around the area without freezing, and the best part of it all is that you can actually go into the mist that the fall creates without any major issues. It’s actually quite nice on those days in Iceland when the temperatures are going up and the sun is out.

    Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

    The cons of the summer season

    In the summertime, you will, however, battle the other tourists for a good look and feel of the Skogafoss falls. It is a very popular tourist area (with good reason) and you will have to make peace with the fact that you’re not going to get the fall to yourself, at least not during the day. If you want to have a chance of getting some alone time with this water giant, going there early in the morning or late at night might give you a fighting chance. You might even be able to see Skogafoss under the midnight sun!

    If you are looking to see the Skogafoss falls in all its glory, we recommend going there in the spring when the ices start to melt, and the rains are kicking in. The weather and temperatures might not be the best, but you will get a show that is hard to match anywhere else.

    Where is Skogafoss?

    One of the absolute best things about Skogafoss is its accessibility. The waterfall is located in the southern part of Iceland, right next to the very small town of Skogar. This town is so small that the majority of buildings are either hotels or guesthouses. This also means that the people there will love you when you visit.

    You can turn into Skogar right off Ring Road 1, so it’s another one of those good and natural stops on your road trip around Iceland. Skogafoss is also a great place to stay a day or two to replenish the batteries and have a hike or two.

    Around Skogafoss

    Staying at Skogafoss can be a good idea if you want to explore the surroundings. This area holds a lot of fun and can keep you occupied for days.

    So, what about horse riding? Right next to Skogafoss is a place where you can take tours on Icelandic horses. Hiking around Skogafoss is fun and all, but nothing beats travelling this harsh nature on the horse equivalent of a 4x4 car.

    Activities by Skogafoss

    If you are more into the icy side of Iceland, then head to Solheimajökull! Along the ridges like a cold tongue, Solheimajökull is an outlet glacier from Mýrdalsjökull and is a very popular destination for glacier hikes. At the base of this outlet glacier, you can find a lagoon that stands as a testimony to how quickly this glacier is receding.

    If you want to get more of the sagas and legends, Drangurinn í Drangshlíd is the place to visit. The rock has many small caves and caverns that are rumoured to house elves that help the local farmers. There are many stories about elves and giants in this area, and most of them incorporate the rock in one way or the other.  

    Last but not least is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland: Fimmvörduhals. This has been a long-standing favourite amongst Icelanders as well as tourists, but in recent years it has practically exploded. Now that hikers can explore actual volcanic eruptions not far from the trail, it has become more popular than ever. The lava falls were the highest ones in the world for a while with a 200-meter drop!

    A visit to Iceland’s most captivating waterfall!

    The beauty of this natural wonder will surely leave no one indifferent. It is indeed well worth the ride. Luckily, these sights are all just a car ride away, so rent your car in Reykjavik and make sure to cross these sights off your list.

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