Travelling in Iceland requires preparation because the weather is ever-changing and circumstances can vary greatly.
Vatnajökull National Park mostly encompasses mountainous territory and land near to mountains, including parts of the highlands of Iceland where summers are short, weather conditions can change suddenly, and conditions of roads can deteriorate due to flooding, sandstorms and even snow at any time of the year. We therefore recommend the following tools and actions:
● Weather: Observe the weather and forecasts from the Icelandic Meteorological Office at vedur.is
● Roads: Find out about the condition and opening/closing of roads at the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration at vegagerdin.is
● Information: Get detailed information about your destination, for example on this website. Do not hesitate to contact visitor centres or park ranger stations to obtain the latest information and good travel advice
● Recording: We recommend recording your travel plan when appropriate at safetravel.is
● Emergency phone number: 112
Accessibility and conditions by seasons
The areas, visitor centres, camping sites and destinations at Route 1 are accessible, road and weather conditions permitting. Snow covers the mountains and hills, and roads and footpaths may be slippery. We recommend using crampons and suitable tires, such as winter, whole year or studded tires. The roads in highland areas are closed, but the areas remain open for winter tourism.
April is when Spring begins, the snow starts to melt and the ground thaws. The areas, visitor centres, camping sites and destinations at Route 1 are accessible, road and weather conditions permitting. Paths and plants are in a delicate state during the melting season, conditions are often quite muddy and there is a risk of damage occurring. Hiking routes can therefore often be closed in order to prevent damage to them.
The most popular time to visit the National Park is during Summer, both for tourists and migrating birds. All areas are made accessible as mountain routes are cleared in good weather conditions. Highland areas are opened as the snow melts and the nesting season ends, and the highland map of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration is useful to find out about what roads are opened or closed. Tourists must obtain information about the weather and state of the roads, as conditions can change suddenly in mountainous and highland areas. Rivers can increase in volume and snow may even begin to fall.
September is the time when autumn sets in and alters the appearance of the National Park with its colours. The number of park rangers in the highlands decreases and people leave the mountainous areas. Travellers must obtain information about the weather and road conditions, and the season can be characterised by both still and rough weather.