Skaftafell Tours

Best Skaftafell Tours in Iceland

Choose from Iceland's largest selection of Skaftafell tours. Visit the waterfalls, glacier tongues, black sands, and birch forests of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
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Exploring Natural Wonders with the Best Skaftafell Tours in Iceland

Skaftafell, located in the southeastern part of Iceland, is a mesmerizing natural wonderland that serves as a gateway to some of the country's most breathtaking attractions.

This remote region, nestled within Vatnajokull National Park, offers a wide range of tours and adventures that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the raw beauty of Iceland's wilderness.

One of the most popular activities in Skaftafell is exploring the Vatnajokull glacier, the largest ice cap in Europe. Guided glacier hiking and ice-caving tours are available year-round, providing visitors with the opportunity to traverse the icy landscapes that have been shaped by centuries of glacial activity.

Experienced guides lead groups through crevasses, ice tunnels, and crystal-blue ice caves, offering a unique and otherworldly experience.

Skaftafell is also a haven for hikers, with numerous well-marked trails catering to all skill levels. The most famous of these is the Svartifoss trail, which leads to the stunning Svartifoss waterfall, framed by hexagonal basalt columns.

More experienced hikers can opt for the challenging Morsarjokull Trail, offering unparalleled views of glaciers, mountains, and the vast expanses of the national park.

For those seeking a more adrenaline-pumping adventure, Skaftafell boasts opportunities for ice climbing. Ascending the towering ice walls of the glacier with the assistance of expert guides is an exhilarating experience, and it's suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers.

The summer months in Skaftafell are ideal for exploring the lush vegetation and vibrant flora of the region. Nature enthusiasts can join guided botanical tours to learn about the diverse plant life and ecosystems unique to this area.

Additionally, birdwatching tours provide the chance to spot various bird species that call the national park home.

Skaftafell also serves as an excellent base for exploring other nearby attractions, including the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, where visitors can take boat tours amidst icebergs, and the nearby Diamond Beach, where ice chunks from the lagoon wash up on the black sand shore.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best Skaftafell tour in Iceland?

The best Skaftafell tour in Iceland is this top-rated glacier walk in Skaftafell on Vatnajokull glacier. The tour earned 4.8 out of 5 stars from over 300 travelers. For around 132 USD, you’ll embark on a two-hour guided tour where you will hike and climb through the Vatnajokull glacier inside the Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
Alternatively, you can join this challenging five-hour small group ice cave and glacier hike on Falljokull glacier, rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by at least 40 travelers. For approximately 198 USD, the tour lets you scale the Falljokull glacier in all its crystal blue glory.

Is it worth it to join a Skaftafell tour in Iceland?

Yes, joining a tour in Skaftafell, Iceland, can be a worthwhile and rewarding experience, depending on your preferences, interests, and circumstances. Here are some factors that make a Skaftafell tour special:
Expert Guidance: Tours in Skaftafell are typically led by knowledgeable and experienced guides who are well-versed in the local environment, safety protocols, and the best spots to explore. They can enhance your experience by providing information about the area's geology, wildlife, and history, making the excursion educational and engaging.
Safety: Skaftafell's natural landscapes, including glaciers and ice caves, can be challenging and potentially dangerous to navigate independently. Joining a guided tour ensures you have the necessary equipment, safety precautions, and guidance to explore these areas safely.
Access to Unique Locations: Some tours provide access to remote or restricted areas that are not easily reachable on your own. For example, ice cave tours often take you to hidden, stunning ice formations that may be inaccessible without a guide.
Convenience: Guided tours often include transportation to and from Skaftafell, eliminating the need to rent a car or worry about logistics. This can be especially convenient if you're unfamiliar with the area or prefer a hassle-free experience.
If you rent a car, you can also find meet-on-location tours you can incorporate into your travels.
Group Experience: Joining a tour can be a social experience, allowing you to meet and connect with fellow travelers who share your interests. It can also provide a sense of camaraderie during the adventure.

What is the cheapest Skaftafell tour in Iceland?

The cheapest Skaftafell tour in Iceland is this three-hour Skaftafell glacier hiking tour on Vatnajokull. For around 87 USD, you can hike along Skaftafell until you reach the top of one of Vatnajokull’s outlet glaciers. Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by over 480 travelers, the tour comes with an experienced glacier guide and all the equipment for a safe hike.
Alternatively, you can join this guided 45-minute blue ice-caving adventure in Vatnajokull with transfer from Jokulsarlon for around 141 USD. The tour takes you off the beaten path en route to a naturally-formed ice cave.

What are the must-see attractions in Skaftafell?

Skaftafell is known for its stunning landscapes, including the Svartifoss waterfall, Vatnajokull glacier, and various hiking trails. Be sure to explore these iconic natural wonders.

What is the best way of travelling to Skaftafell from Reykjavik?

The best and most comfortable way to travel to Skaftafell is to rent a car or to join a tour. A taxi to Skaftafell would be very expensive as the area is about 180 miles (290 kilometers) from Reykjavik. A ride with a bus requires frequent stops, you would have to switch buses multiple times, and stay overnight as the buses only depart once a day. Therefore, renting a car or joining a tour is the best travel option.

How far is Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon from Skaftafell?

The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is around 34 miles (55 kilometers) away from the Skaftafell Nature Reserve.

I am going on a glacier hiking tour from Skaftafell, what should I wear?

You should wear warm and waterproof clothes, gloves, wool socks, and good hiking boots with ankle support. Your tour provider should supply you with the necessary equipment for your hike, such as crampons fitted directly to the bottom of your boots. It is also a good idea to bring sunglasses since the sun reflects off the white surface of the ice, making it very bright for the eyes.

Can I join a Skaftafell tour if I have no prior experience in glacier hiking or ice climbing?

Many Skaftafell tours cater to beginners, and no prior experience is required for most glacier hiking and ice climbing tours. Your guide will provide the necessary equipment, instructions, and safety information. However, a moderate level of physical fitness is usually required for these activities, as they can be physically demanding. Make sure to check the tour description for information about requirements.

Do I need a permit to hike in Skaftafell?

You do not need a permit for most hiking trails within Skaftafell and Vatnajokull National Park. However, specific areas or trails might require permits or be subject to seasonal closures for environmental or safety reasons.
Always follow park regulations and guidelines, and check with park authorities for any specific requirements.

Can I rent hiking shoes for my glacier hike in Skaftafell, Iceland?

Yes, you can rent these directly from your tour provider at Skaftafell.

Can I rent warm and waterproof clothes from my tour provider at Skaftafell, Iceland?

No, some operators might have rain ponchos, but you should have warm and waterproof clothes on arrival. If you didn't pack any for your trip, we recommend shopping for them at Laugavegur shopping street in downtown Reykavik.

Do I need to bring my own crampons on a glacier hike?

No, the tour operator will provide all safety equipment, such as crampons, an ice axe, and a helmet.

Can I take my DSLR camera on my glacier hike from Skaftafell?

Of course, you can. However, since you’ll be hiking up a glacier, you should take a camera you can easily carry.

Are there places to park at Skaftafell?

Yes, there is a parking lot where you can leave your car. There is also a Skaftafell visitor centre on-site.

Is it safe to explore Skaftafell without a guide?

While it is possible to hike and explore the Skaftafell Nature Reserve independently, joining a guided tour for activities such as glacier hiking or ice cave exploration is highly recommended, such as this five-hour small group Skaftafell tour.
The tour costs around 195 USD and is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by at least 40 travelers. Expert guides ensure your safety, provide essential equipment, and share valuable information about the area's unique geology and ecology.

Are Skaftafell tours suitable for children?

Some Skaftafell tours are suitable for children, but age restrictions may apply for specific activities such as glacier hiking or ice climbing. Check the tour description to confirm age requirements and ensure the selected tour is appropriate for your family. If you simply want to hike around the area and see Svartifoss waterfall, it should not be a problem for most children.

Are there any accommodation options near Skaftafell?

Yes, we recommend the charming Hotel Skaftafell, which has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars from 598 reviews. Located in the middle of the Icelandic wilderness, it's a great spot to enjoy the midnight sun in the summer or catch the northern lights in the winter.

What is the best time of year to visit Skaftafell?

The best time to visit Skaftafell depends on your interests and desired activities. Summer (June to August) offers warmer weather, longer daylight hours, and better accessibility to hiking trails. Winter (November to February) is ideal for ice cave exploration and offers a chance to see the northern lights. However, please note that the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, so always be prepared for changing conditions.

Are there food and drink facilities in Skaftafell?

There is a visitor center in Skaftafell that offers limited food and drink options. However, bringing your own snacks, water, and packed lunch is recommended, especially for longer tours or hikes. Some guided tours may include meals or refreshments, so check the tour description for specific details.

Are Skaftafell tours available year-round?

While some Skaftafell tours operate year-round, the availability of specific tours and activities may depend on the season. Glacier hiking tours are typically available throughout the year, while ice caving is only available in the winter. Some hiking trails can also be closed off during the winter, especially during heavy snowfall.

Are there restroom facilities available during Skaftafell tours?

Restroom facilities are available at the Skaftafell Visitor Centre. However, restroom facilities are unavailable during longer hikes or more remote tours. Therefore, it is recommended to use restroom facilities before starting your tour.

How can I minimize my environmental impact during a Skaftafell tour?

To minimize your environmental impact during a Skaftafell tour, follow these guidelines:
1. Stay on designated trails and avoid disturbing local flora and fauna.
2. Do not leave any trash behind. Carry a reusable bag to collect and dispose of your waste properly at designated waste disposal sites.
3. Use refillable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.
4. Avoid approaching wildlife, as this can disrupt their natural behaviors and habitats.
5. Respect historical and natural sites by not touching, climbing or removing artifacts or natural formations.

Are there any wildlife viewing opportunities during tours in Skaftafell?

Yes, Skaftafell is home to various bird species, and birdwatching tours are available.

Are tours in Skaftafell accessible to people with mobility issues or disabilities?

Some tour operators may offer accessible tours, but it's essential to inquire in advance about the availability of tours that accommodate specific mobility needs.

Are there restaurants or dining options in Skaftafell?

Yes, there are dining options, including a cafe and restaurant, near the visitor center in Skaftafell, where you can enjoy a meal or refreshments.
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