Skógafoss Waterfall – South Iceland

Skogafoss waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and is in the top 5 largest in the country. Aside from the millions of gallons of glacial melt-water cascading over this huge cliff, Skogafoss offers camping and hiking for the adventurous visitor.  It is an impressive curtain of glacier melt water.  Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers.

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Hidden Treasure

Skogafoss sits under the Mýrdalsjökull between Vík and Hvolsvöllur. It is 20 kilometers from Seljalandsfoss. Although the falls now sit some 5 kilometers back from the sea, it used to fall into the sea. One of the first settlers in Iceland, Þrasi Þórólfsson is rumoured to have hidden a treasure chest behind the falls. This is obviously just one of those rumours that was spread to kill stupid travelers. In almost every inaccessible spot in Iceland there is this story of hidden treasure.

Skogafoss Mid Summer

Skogafoss waterfall: Top #Iceland photo locations

How do I get to Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss waterfall is easy to find and highly accessible throughout the year. The waterfall can be viewed easily from the ring road as you drive through South Iceland. It is only 20km East of Seljalandsfoss waterfall, so if you are heading east from Seljlandsfoss, you will stumble upon Skógafoss waterfall after about 20 minutes of driving.

There are maintained roads that take you closer to the waterfall with access to Hotel, restaurant and campsite. The road continues to a gravel carpark and gets bumpier as you approach the waterfall. There is a point where no traffic is allowed and it takes about 2 minutes to walk right up to Skógafoss. In the winter, this land can become very slippery close to the waterfall. I recommend microspikes.

Skogafoss snow scene: Top #Iceland photo locations
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Photo Tips

Skogafoss waterfall is amazing to visit all year round, but works best for photography during the winter because it is south facing.  The sun hits the full face of the falls after 2PM, but the spray from the waterfall can catch the sunlight a few hours earlier. In the Summer, the midday light might be too harsh for effective landscape photography.

What Lenses do I need?

I don’t see much point in having anything wider than 24mm on a full frame (17mm on a crop sensor). Although you can get really close to the Skogafoss, the spray become too much for a wide-angle lens. All the photos on this post were taken with a 24mm prime lens.

There are good opportunities to photograph Skogafoss with a Telephoto lens. From the carpark, you can frame the waterfall tightly with a 200mm lens. You can do the same from the ring-road with a 400mm lems. There is little need for big telephoto lenses after the carpark, so I recommend leaving it in the car after shooting from the carpark.

Experiment with shutter speed. Try using a tripod and vary shutter speeds from 1/4 to 1/125. Your success will depend on the amount of available light.

Viewing Platform

There is a set of stairs on the eastern side of the falls which offers great views of the falls to visitors, but for hikers this is the start of the Fimmvörðuháls pass… a hiking route between the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and Eyjafjallajökull Glacier which leads to Þorsmörk. Both the names ‘Þorsmörk’ and ‘Skógafoss’ suggest forest land.

In 2010, the area suffered badly under the ash from the Eyjafjallajökull.

Can I walk behind Skógafoss waterfall?

You can walk right up to about 10 feet from Skógafoss waterfall. The river prevents regular tourists from getting even closer. Away from the waterfall, the river is shallow enough to wade in, but underneath the falls the river is likely to be significantly deeper. Only a foolish person would attempt to get under the waterfall and their chances of actually going behind it and surviving would be very slim.

Local Hotels

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South Coast Tours

Tours that visit Skogafoss waterfall.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.