Europe's largest glacier in a stunning National Park
Vatnajökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland, and it encompasses all of Vatnajökull—Europe’s largest glacier—along with a large swath of the surrounding area. In all, the park covers roughly 14% of Iceland’s landmass! It includes the Skaftafell and Jökulsárgljúfur national parks within its borders.
The Vatnajökull glacier itself has an area of over 8000 km2 , 8% of Iceland’s landmass. The glacier reaches 2000 metres at its highest point and covers many active volcanoes, including Grímsvötn, Iceland’s busiest volcano with several eruptions recorded in recent years (1996, 1998, 2004 and 2011).
The park's diverse landscape was shaped by the region’s many powerful rivers, glacial ice and volcanic activity. Many of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions can be found here, including the volcanoes Askja, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn, the Ásbyrgi canyon and the mighty Dettifoss waterfall in the park’s northern region; and the lush oasis of Skaftafell, the Eldgjá and Lakagígar volcanic fissures and Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, in the southern end.
This national park is so large it is divided into four territories and includes five visitor centres: Skaftafell, Gamlabúð at Höfn, Skaftárstofa at Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Snæfellsstofa at Skriðuklaustur and Gljúfrastofa at Ásbyrgi. There are also many interesting hiking trails within the park, rated from easy to challenging, and trail maps can be obtained at visitor centres.
Always heed all signs and warnings when hiking and never stray from marked trails or paths.View South Iceland