Self-driving is the most popular option for travelers to make the 203-mile (327 km) journey from the capital city of Reykjavik to Skaftafell, located just before the village of Hof. Although the drive can technically be done in approximately four hours, it's wise to allow for plenty of extra time to stop and marvel at the gorgeous south coast, making this a full day trip.
Renting a car may be the best way to enjoy the route, but it's possible to reach Skaftafell by bus in the summer months (May to September). This option requires multiple transfers though, so joining a group tour might be the better choice if you prefer not to drive.
Skaftafell is home to the impressive Vatnajökull National Park and a multitude of hiking trails. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the wonders of Svartifoss and the Skaftafellsjökull glacier as well. The drive from Reykjavik promises abundant natural attractions worth stopping for along the way. Waterfalls, hiking in the highlands, the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon are just some of the roadside wonders.
For a detailed guide to pluck more ideas from, check out the Ultimate Guide to Iceland's South Coast.
By Rental Car
Duration: 4 hours direct; 8-10 hours with recommended stops
From Reykjavik, travelers can take the Ring Road (Route 1) along the bountiful southern coast to reach Skaftafell. Roadside waterfalls and opportunities for hiking on this route will lure you in, so be sure to plan for a full day journey.
Along the way, you can venture off a bit to hit the Golden Circle, feel small in front of Iceland's waterfall giants like Selfoss and Seljalandsfoss, observe the contrasting ocean waters and black sand from the Dyrholaey lookout, and even explore glacial ice caves.
By Group or Private Tour
Duration: 10-12 hours
There are multiple options for visiting Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Park via group tour, including a bus transfer that allows visitors to explore on their own. Private transfers are also available, however, significantly more expensive (this is true of most private transfers in Iceland). For ultimate exploration opportunities, it's recommended to make the journey a multi-day trip. Ask your local specialist for details.