Nature is the most important thing we have—but do not own. At the very least we are all part of it and have a duty to work together to take care of it. Here is some good travel advice that concerns travellers and nature.
Tents and overnight stays
Overnight stays outside of defined camping areas are not permitted in the following areas of the National Park:
● The specifically protected area at Askja
● The lowland areas at Hoffellssvæði and Heinabergssvæði
● Skaftafellsheiði, Bæjarstaðarskógur and Morsárdalur. However, it is permitted to put up tents in the mountains Skaftafellsfjöll above an altitude of 400 metres and in the area at the mouth of the river Kjós. Travellers should get information from the National Park regarding the use of tents in these areas.
Overnight stays outside of marked camping areas in Vatnajökull National Park are otherwise subject to special rules, cf. Article 10 of Regulation 300/2020 regarding Vatnajökull National Park, which the Board establishes in consultation with local councils and publish on the website of the National Park. These rules shall reflect the goals and conditions of the Management and Conservation Plan (which are based on the legal framework of Vatnajökull National Park) and the provisions of the Nature Conservation Act no. 60/2013
The Natural Park is a place for various forms of outdoor activities and people keep finding more ways to enjoy the outdoors. Hiking routes probably represent one of the oldest forms of outdoorsmanship, and a great many routes are available. There is also a wide-reaching network of roads in the National Park, some of which are paved and accessible to all types of cars, while others are rougher and some can only be navigated in specially equipped cars driven by experienced drivers. In recent years cycling has grown in popularity and a considerable number of visitors choose to travel by bike, for example by crossing the highlands in Summer. The policy of the National Park is to increase the number of defined, marked cycle routes, and roads are of course also accessible to bikes.
Travelling in Iceland requires preparation because the weather is ever changing and circumstances can vary greatly. Accessibility and services vary greatly by season.
Hiking routes of various kinds are available throughout the National Park and the National Park's website and hiking route map are ideal for finding out what trips and routes best suit each individual. It is also possible to get more detailed information in our visitor centres and from rangers.
Driving on mountain roads
Highland roads are often ill-defined gravel roads with unbridged rivers and some are not suitable or even passable for certain types of vehicles. It is best to seek information from people who know the area before driving on unknown highland roads and it should be noted that it is only permitted to drive on the roads that are indicated on the maps issued by the National Park. Maps in GPS-devices or that are obtained from outside parties can give wrong ideas about clear and open roads.
Security and precautions
Most of the territory in Vatnajökull National Park is part of the highlands of Iceland where summers are short, the weather is unpredictable and road conditions can deteriorate due to flooding, sandstorms and even snow at any time of the year. We therefore recommend the following tools and actions:
● Weather: Get information about the weather and weather forecasts from the Icelandic Meteorological Office at vedur.is
● Roads: Find out about road conditions and whether roads are open or closed from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration at vegagerdin.is
● Cautions: The National Park issues special cautions for specific areas online.
● Recording: We recommend recording travel plans on safetravel.is, especially for walkers and cyclists.
● Emergency phone number: 112
Let us protect nature
Nature is the most important thing we have—but do not own. At the very least we are all part of it and have a duty to work together to take care of it. All of us also have the responsibility to do our best to protect natural and cultural heritage so that future generations can enjoy them in the same way that we do. In the National Park this means, among other things, that:
● we try to avoid disturbing the local wildlife
● we follow hiking routes where they are marked and/or clearly defined
● we do not build cairns nor add stones to older cairns
● we do not remove nor disarrange stones, plants or other items that form part of natural and cultural heritage
● we keep dogs on a leash
● we do not light open fires
● we do not litter, nor burn or bury waste
● we sort our waste and dispose of it in appropriate locations
● we follow rules about drone use