'Skógafoss! With a stunning 60m drop it's one of the biggest and most impressive waterfalls in Iceland.
Skógafoss! An astonishing waterfall in Iceland. Read on and learn about the best time to visit, how to avoid the crowds and more must-know tips.
Skókafoss is an excellent year-round destination. However, the best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. Less crowds and cooler conditions or pleasant temperatures with the downside of a packed and crowded place? Read our season overview:
Winter / Early Spring (November - April)
Although winter conditions can already occur in October, it’s usually November/December when heavier rain, strong winds, more fog and especially snowfall and ice are coming to Iceland’s south coast. It’s getting colder in winter months but not as cold as many visitors think. Average high temperature during the coldest months (December, January, February, March) is 3°C / 37°F. Be careful at the base of the falls, as it’s often covered with ice between November and April. Also keep in mind that days are short in winter. Between mid-November and the end of January there are only 4-6 hours of daylight on average. That’s important to know in case you want to photograph the waterfall: Sunset - Sunrise Reykjavik The great advantage in winter: It’s definitely less crowded. However, even in winter it can be a little busier at popular Skogafoss sometimes.
Late Spring / Summer / Early Fall (May - October)
The pleasant temperatures start in late May. On a warm summer in July or August day temperatures can even climb up to 20°C at times. Average daily sunshine in July/August is 5-6 hours. The perfect months terms of mild temperatures months are June, July and August. Great shoulder months for a visit without the harsher winter conditions as well less crowds and cheaper rates are May and September/October. July and August are the months when it gets very crowded with the highest rates for hotels and flights.
Avoiding the Crowds
Due to its popularity it’s usually very busy at Skógafoss, even more so in peak summer months. Tour busses, many cars, people to the falls and back from the parking lot. However, while some complain about the crowds, other visitors say it doesn’t feel too crowded, even during high season.There is definitely plenty of free parking, which means you don’t have to worry about getting a parking lot, even in July or August. Also the climb to the top is not too crowded since a good portion of the visitors stay at the base area. On the other hand, it’s a different experience to enjoy such a stunning waterfall with less people in general. The well-known way to dodge the crowds is visiting in the cooler months with less daylight. Although less crowded, you won’t experience real solitude at Skógafoss in winter, it’s just too popular. Thus, two other great options to avoid tourist crowds are:
- Visit Early/Late: Usually it’s a great idea to get to the famous waterfalls in Iceland very early to avoid the crowds. The reason: Most visitors and especially the tour busses usually don’t arrive before 10 a.m. However, at Skógafoss the early mornings can be busy in summer with campers due to the very close campground. Visiting later in the day? In general, after 5 p.m. crowds start to dissipate. Some even visit at night for real solitude. Tip: We wouldn’t drive directly from a hotel in Reykjavik. Rather check hotels close by (Skogar Hotels). They are pricier than in Reykjavik but it's worth it to stay closer. Then you can visit this waterfall twice: During daytime/morning and then later or even at night. That way you dodge the crowds enjoy walking around, take photos during different light conditions. Trust us, it’s 100% worth it! After your second visit or on the next morning you can continue to Seljalandsfoss and still have plenty of time. As recommend: It’s not a good idea to visit both waterfalls on one day starting from Reykjavik and returning there.
- Climb to the Top / Walk Along the Path: Even if you visit in peak season and the base area is packed: Climb the 400 stairs and then walk the path along the river. Many visitors stay at the base area, some walk to the top and only very few continue walking the path along the river. Check the details about this great path in the text below (How to Visit)
Weather and Climate
The south coast and it’s waterfalls experience cold winters (around freezing) and mild summer months with temperatures around 11°C (52°F). However, Iceland’s south coast experiences a milder climate in winter than you might think. This is due to the Gulf Stream that flows along the west and south coast, bringing pleasant air from the Caribbean. The summers are short with only 3 months where temperatures are considered warm. Regardless of the season: Weather in Iceland can change very quick. Always be prepared and pack an extra sweater as well as rain gear. Please note, that the temperature chart below shows the average high temps from a weather station (Stórhöfði) which is located 40 km from Skogafoss and on a small island. Degrees can vary at the waterfall.
The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið) is a truly fascinating geothermal spa and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland.
This is our complete Blue Lagoon guide with every question answered. Fully updated for 2019/20. Need quick tips? Jump directly to our 9 Must-Know Tips and the ultimate guide above it. Below the tips: Even more tips about viewing the Northern Lights, Opening Hours, Prices in US Dollars and Euros.
Tip: If you stay in Reykjavik and prefer it comfortable, book one of these tours: Blue Lagoon Tours incl. Transfer from Reykjavik. Some also include a 'small' Golden Circle tour with excellent guides!
Nearby Must-Do: If you have a rental car (click here for rental car deals), you must visit the stunning Skógafoss Waterfall (recent article written by us) nearby (2 hour drive from Blue Lagoon or Reykjavik)
Now: What about Blue Lagoon tickets? Pre-booking your admission tickets is necessary for this famous spa in Iceland, as they only allow a limited number of visitors. In this way, they avoid a heavily crowded lagoon. However, regardless of the season and month it still gets busy during the day. Read on for our best time to visit tips before you go:
Avoiding the Crowds
Long waiting lines, hectic locker rooms, ... In the year 2015 Bill Gates reserved the entire Lagoon for a swim at midnight without the crowds. We have a much cheaper solution for you: Enjoy a much more peaceful lagoon and its surreal surroundings by visiting either very early in the morning or as late as possible. Stay at a close hotel as it's more comfortable, but not at the super expensive new 'internal' Retreat (from 1000 EUR) or the Silica (from 500 EUR) hotel. Our more budget friendly but still top class hotel recommendation is the Northern Light Inn, because it's right there and excellent value for the money! (Bookmark the link to compare prices later if you like! You can read more about this hotel below in the hotel section). Also try to avoid weekends (Friday - Sunday), because it's busier then, even in the morning or evening. Make your reservation a couple of weeks in advance to get your tickets for the desired slot:
Book a ticket the first time slot available (see opening hours below). Being there first thing in the morning, you won’t see any crowds and no waiting lines, regardless of the package you booked. Often there are only 20-30 people within the first hour of operation.
It usually thins out in the evening. Book tickets for a time slot about two hours before they close. Timing your visit for sunset will make your photos even more amazing. After sunset, there is even a chance to see the Northern Lights in winter. Check sunrise and sunset times here: Sunrise / Sunset Grindavík
Weather and Water Temperature
Regardless of the season, weather and outside temperature, the water is always kept at 37–39°C (98–102°F). However, if it’s really cold and windy, some parts of the lagoon can be cooler (different temperature zones). Check the monthly weather details for the area, as well as average rainy days here: Average Monthly Weather Grindavík (you can switch between °F and °C). Keep in mind, that the weather is unpredictable, particularly in the winter months. However, almost everyone says that a visit is always a fantastic experience, even on a cold, windy and rainy day. The warmth of the water and the shelter of the heaters help a lot. Especially with rain and fog the atmosphere is just otherworldly and even more amazing.
Dyrhólaey is a small peninsula on the south coast of Iceland. The whole place is stunning with massive cliffs, volcanic arch, lighthouse and views of the coastline.
Thanks to the good road, this place can be visited all year round. It is very popular and thus can become crowded with tourists. The summer months of July and August is always the busiest time of the year, as tour buses arrive during the day. The best time of day to visit the place and to avoid the crowds is early morning or in the evening. Being there at 9:00 AM, even in peak season, gives you enough time to enjoy the place without many other visitors. During off and shoulder season it's less busy. However, it's still a good idea to visit early and enjoy the place in solitude.
Highlights (Puffin Watching)
Puffins can be spotted from April until the end of August. Sometimes until early or even mid-September. To be on the safe side for Puffin viewing, visit between May and August. Usually, the best weather is a calm day. When it's very windy you'll have a hard time finding them.
Dettifoss is an amazing and intense lifetime experience. Not the highest waterfall in Iceland but it is said, that it's the most powerful waterfall in whole Europe, creating an impressive mist.
The best time to visit Dettifoss waterfall, depends on what you’re looking for: Total solitude and a fascinating landscape in winter or intense flow and pleasant temperatures in peak season during summer? Read on for the best tips:
Winter (mid-November – April): Less powerful flow but stunning snow and ice covered area. Also virtually no other tourists most of the time, especially in deep winter. Except maybe the small group you are travelling with. You definitely won’t have to fight for the best spots. Check out the amazing winter photos below. You'll also get a chance to see Northern Lights during this time. Please consider, that in winter a tour might be cancelled due to heavy snow storms. This might happen even in April.
Summer (June - August): More powerful waterfall with a really intense flow and mild climate. Also the most daylight. However, it can get crowded. In the peak months from June to August it's often busy during the day. Particularly on the west bank.
Shoulder Months (May, September-October): Less crowded than in the peak summer month and less busy than other popular waterfalls in Iceland. However, Dettifoss attracts more tourists noow and you'll still be there with some others.
Avoiding the Crowds
Just Chillin at Dettifoss by Vinnie Cartabiano, CC BY
Dettifoss is much less crowded than Gullfoss for example. However, especially in the summer there are still lots of tourists visiting Dettifoss. To enjoy the falls with less others go either earlier in the morning or later in the evening when most groups left already. If you only want to visit one side: The east side is quieter nowadays and less popular. The west side is more 'touristy'.
There is less daylight in winter. Only 5 hours in December (5-7 hours in Nov and Jan). However, some photographers love to go then, since the light is magnificent during that time. As if you've got almost 5 golden hours every day.
Jokulsarlon (Jökulsárlón) is a glacial lake at the Vatnajökull National Park in direct front to the Atlantic Ocean.
Jokulsárlón (Google Maps) is a truly striking spot to visit in Iceland and was one of the Game of Thrones filming locations for season 7. However, it does get incredibly crowded during the daytime. Read on for our guide on how to avoid the crowds, when to see the most icebergs and more useful tips:
The lagoon is accessible year-round. Even in the winter, the part of Route 1 (Ring Road) between Reykjavik and Jokulsárlón is usually snow-free. There might be some exceptions when heavy snow-storms occur. Tip: You'll have the best experience and more freedom if you rent a car, preferrably a 4WD. Most of our tips below can only be followed with a (rental) car.
The icebergs are present year round. However, it's impossible to predict the amount of ice on a certain day. Our tips on increasing your chances:
Visit In Winter:
You'll often see more icebergs during the winter months. Another great advantage to visiting in winter is the Northern Lights. The downsides: It's colder, and no boat tours are available in winter.
Visit In Summer:
In the summer, as well as late spring and early fall, there are slightly fewer icebergs, but boat tours are available, and the weather is more pleasant. However, you'll usually spot enough icebergs in every season. A great experience in the summer: Afternoon on a sunny day for incredible contrasts between light, ice and the black beach.
Stay Two Days:
Regardless of the season, you should stay at least two days. Book a nearby hotel (Best Hotels at Jokulsárlón). First you visit the Lagoon in the afternoon/evening, then you stay the night in the hotel and on the next day you get back to the lagoon early in the morning. That way you'll avoid the crowds at both times (evening and morning). Staying two days also means, you can experience different tide levels, often different wind/weather and different light. You'll maximize the chances to see enough icebergs as well. Few visitors report, that almost no icebergs were there on a given day. It's not very likely but possible. Visit 2 days to be on the safe side.
Avoiding the Crowds
Crowds at Jokulsárlón are usually present year-round. The peak summer months bring the most tourists. However, there are easy ways to get away from the crowds:
Be Early or Stay Late:
Be there as early as possible, preferably around 7:30 AM. Then you'll have about an hour or more until the first tour buses arrive. Since a drive from Reykjavik takes about 5 hours, the best bet is to stay at a nearby hotel the night before you visit early. We highly recommend to stay two days (see section above: stay two days for the icebergs and light). Example: Day #1: Stay late at the lagoon until at least 4 or 5 PM when most tourists are gone. Staying late is a great idea even if you are not planning to visit again the next day. The night: Stay at the nearby hotel. Day #2: Be at Jokulsárlón early in the morning (see above).
The area around the main parking lot is always crowded: Check out the layout drawing below. Most people stay within 60 m of the parking area. Just walk a little farther, and you'll get away from the main crowds. About half mile down the road is another parking lot. From there you can go down the cliff to the beach. It's significantly less busy here and most of the time you see as many icebergs. The two beaches are nearly identical, while one of them often has more icebergs than the other. It's impossible to predict that on a certain day. If you'd like to avoid crowds, just go to the beach with fewer icebergs.
Visit In Shoulder Months:
Usually, the place is busy year-round nowadays. The peak season used to be from June until August. However, in the recent years, many visitors also come for the Northern Lights in winter. A chance of a slightly less busy place is the months of late September - October or April - early May. However, don't expect a quiet place during daytime regardless of the season.
Back in 2013 we decided to go to the land of fire and ice….. ICELAND to climb their highest mountain Hvannadalshnukur standing at 6,920ft.
Anytime. Every season offers a different experience