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Skógar is a delightful village on the south coast of Iceland. Surrounded by waterfalls and hiking trails—and home to one of the country’s oldest museums—it’s a place to see rural Iceland at its best. Explore our tours below to discover the top ways to visit Skógar.
Skógafoss Waterfall in the south coast of Iceland

Everything to know about Skógar before you visit

The history of Skógar

Skógar is a tiny village on the south coast of Iceland. It has a permanent population of about 25 people, although its accommodation and eating options may make it seem a little bigger.

Since its settlement, Skógar has been a farming village, and the international visitors aside, it still remains that way. In fact, you can see some of the most traditional buildings in the whole of Iceland in Skógar—a testament to its important place in Icelandic culture.

The village was established about a thousand years ago when the Vikings first arrived in Iceland. It’s mentioned in the book known as Landnámabók, Iceland’s “Book of Settlements”, the record of the earliest days of Icelandic culture. A Viking known as Þrasi Þórólfsson first settled in Skógar, right next to the waterfall known as Skógafoss.

One of the most famous stories about Þrasi is that he buried a chest full of gold and treasure behind the waters of Skógafoss. Once upon a time, you could still see the chest—or so the story goes—and in the seventeenth century someone tried to grasp it. However, the ring on the side of the chest snapped off. That ring can now be seen in the Skógar Museum.

Since then, Skógar has been home to farmers who have cultivated the land in the area. At the Skógar Museum, you can see the sorts of homes they would have once lived in. These are stone huts with turf covering their roofs. It’s a fascinating insight into how rural Icelanders would once have lived.

If you look at a map, you’ll notice that Skógar sits just below the famous volcano of Eyjafjallajökull. As a result, it’s always been vulnerable to that volcano’s power. For example, in 2010, the area was flooded by glacier melt, while the air became thick with dust. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Today, Skógar is one of the best places in Iceland to discover the country’s history and see its most impressive natural sights. It’s the perfect base from which to explore the south coast.

What to do in and around Skógar

At the heart of Iceland’s south coast, there’s plenty to do in and around Skógar.

One of the most unique attractions in the village is the Skógar Museum. Set up in 1949, it’s among the oldest museums in Iceland—and it’s a fascinating insight into the country’s history and culture. Visit if you want to see how real Icelanders would have lived throughout the centuries.

For example, here you can see the iconic turf-roof houses, modest dwellings with grass growing on the roof. You can also dive into Iceland’s history of fishing and agriculture, to understand the challenges that Icelanders would have had to overcome to survive in this harsh landscape.

If you want to see some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural sights, you’re in the right place too. A short distance from the village of Skógar is Skógafoss, perhaps the most astonishing of all of Iceland’s waterfalls. Water thunders over a cliff into a stunning crater, creating rainbows in the mist.

Get your hiking boots on and walk to the viewing platform above the waterfall. You can continue up to other waterfalls too, including Steinbogafoss and Fellsfoss.

This path along the Skógá river passes many more waterfalls on its way to Fimmvörðuháls, the “five cairn pass”. This full-day hike takes you to the area between the glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, where you can see the impacts of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption. It’s an incredible walk through some of Iceland’s most beautiful scenery. It can even take you on to Þórsmörk, the hiking hub in the Icelandic highlands.

A short distance down route 1 from Skógar you’ll find Sólheimasandur. This is a stark black-sand plain that’s now most famous for the plane wreck that has sat on its sand for the last fifty years. It’s an eerie, atmospheric, and completely unforgettable place.

Or visit Sólheimajökull, one of the outlet glaciers of the mighty Mýrdalsjökull. If you want to explore the icy landscapes that give this country its name, this could be the place to do it.

You can also stretch out for the half-hour drive to Vík. It’s a charming fishing village with a famed beach, the mysterious Reynisfjara.

How to get there

Skógar is located on route 1, the famous “Ring Road” that draws a loop around Iceland. That means it’s really easy to get to, whether you’re coming from Reykjavík or from the east.

If you’re driving from Reykjavík, the journey will take you about 2 hours. You’ll cover 156 kilometres (97 miles) from the capital, through some of the most scenic countryside in Iceland. Alternatively, Skógar is about a half-hour drive from Vík, or about 33 kilometres (20.5 miles).

However, you may not want to drive—and that’s okay too. Instead, why not take a guided tour of the south coast? This way, you’ll see the very best of Iceland, without having to worry about navigating or managing the potentially tricky road conditions.

For example, we can pick you up from Reykjavík and show you the likes of Skógafoss, Sólheimajökull, and Vík. You’ll also benefit from a local guide, who will share local knowledge that you won’t find in a guide book.

Alternatively, just jump on the highland bus from Reykjavík. Throughout the summer, the bus leaves Reykjavík’s BSÍ station at 07:00 every day and arrives in Skógar at 09:45.

Frequently asked questions

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