How to get to Skútafoss (and Photography Tips), East Iceland

Skútafoss is a stunning and lesser-known waterfall in the east of Iceland, located between Vestrahorn and Eystrahorn. While Skútafoss is usually not part of any major touristic itinerary in the area, it is absolutely worth the time it takes to visit.

At a height of just 6 meters (20 feet), Skútafoss isn’t a particularly imposing waterfall, but it’s its location and settings that make it a rather unique waterfall to visit.

Hiker looking at skutafoss, a waterfall view from within a cave in East Iceland


It’s a short stop too, that would not require more than 20-30 minutes. This is true unless you are visiting it for landscape photography in which case you could easily spend an hour here looking at all the different possible compositions!

Skútafoss does offer several different viewpoints, all of them rather distinctive and unique – making it almost look like a different location from different viewpoints.

I’d highly recommend adding it to your itinerary – as it is also a location you can visit in any kind of weather.

Skutafoss, a waterfall in East Iceland dropping into a pool of water.

How to get to Skútafoss

Located not too far north of Verstahorn, no signs are pointing to it, and it is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

  • Driving Directions: If you are coming from the south, it takes about ten minutes to drive from the Vestrahorn tunnel to Skutafoss. If you see the Red Chair sculpture, it means you’ve just passed Skutafoss. Likewise, if you are coming from the north and you see the red chair to your left, you’re about to reach Skutafoss. Watch out for the dirt road to your left, coming from the south, or to your right, coming from the North.
  • Parking: You can park by the side of the road by Fremstifoss, another smaller waterfall downstream of Skutafoss (click here for directions on Google Maps). It’s best to park here if you have a low-clearance vehicle. There is another parking area closer to Skutafoss, but I recommend driving there only if you have a car with a little more ground clearance – a Duster or similar is fine. You’ll find some big rocks that effectively close the road, you can leave the car there. Anyway, that upstream parking only saves a couple of minutes of walking, so not a big deal.
  • Public Transport: none.

Overview of the Hike & Map

This is more of a short walk rather than a hike, but the terrain requires you to be careful. It is slippery by the waterfall, the ground is soft and crumbly, and the upper viewpoint is completely exposed. So practice caution.

Max Altitude  53 m
Distance  1,05 KM
Elevation gain  10m ↑ / 10m ↓
Hike time  00:15/ 00:30  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy

Here is also the map of the hike:

The Skutafoss Trail

Skútafoss isn’t immediately visible from the parking area, and you won’t see it until you are pretty much upon it. The main trail, which is what remains of an old, dirt road, follows the river upstream and will get you to a viewpoint above the waterfall.

A second trail closely follows the river closely upstream. This trail will get you to the lower viewpoint and into the cave by the waterfall.

Whichever trail you take first, you can get to the other viewpoint without having to backtrack. There’s a short, but rather steep, train connecting the two viewpoints just before the waterfall.

Be careful approaching the waterfall from above, since there is no protection and it’s completely exposed.

View of a waterfall in Iceland from above

Skútafoss Photos and Photography Tips

The Beauty of Skútafoss, in terms of landscape photography, is how versatile this waterfall is. There are plenty of compositions to choose from, above and below the cave.

My favorite is inside the cave. The shape of the cave frames the scene and the waterfall in a rather unique way. To get a similar photo you’d first need an ultra-wide lens, 14mm. Or you’d have to create a panorama, whichever works best for you.

Hiker looking at skutafoss, a waterfall view from within a cave in East Iceland


View of the Skutafoss waterfall on a sunny day from inside a cave.

You’d also need to place the camera as far back as possible and close to the cave’s walls. Please be sure to look for the flattest spots you see. That’s where all the photographers go and I guess they “nested” a spot from themselves in the cave – top which I contributed to too.

Anyway, the cave offers multiple vantage points, so it’s. worth exploring different compositions from within the cave

Gloomy image of a waterfall in Iceland viewed from inside a cave

On the upper viewpoint: that also requires a wide-angle lens to capture the waterfall, though it is less of a constraint compared to the lower viewpoint.

The rocks around the waterfall provide many options for the foreground. Some are so sharp that appear to be almost precisely cut by a machine!

Anyway, it’s fun to look for compositions there, looking for the best lines and framing options with the rocks in the foreground.

Skutafoss waterfall upper viewpoint on a foggy day, with the waterfall in the foreground and the river vanishing in the fog in the background.

View of a waterfall falling into a pool

Except for winter, when it does not catch any light, Skutafoss catches some light in the morning, but otherwise none for the rest of the day. So in terms of landscape photography, it isn’t a great location for sunny days.

However, it may be worth attempting a sunset shot here. From the upper viewpoint, if the clouds catch some color, the results could be interesting.

However, I think this location works great on dark and gloomy days; Skútafoss has enough interesting elements, to stand out on its own in bad weather.

Additional Resources