The most accessible outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull are Skaftafellsjokull and Svínafelsjokull glaciers, both located in Skaftafell. The spectacular landscape, formed by the glacier for the past thousands of years is not something you see every day!
From Vatnajokull around 30 outlet glaciers flow from the ice cap. Outlet glaciers are channels of ice that flow out from the ice cap but are constrained on the sides with exposed bedrock. The ice moves forward very slowly but formes all kind of holes, deep crevasses and sometimes ice caves. The ice caves are popular attractions in Iceland but they vary every year in size and shape. At the end of some glacier tongues is a lagoon because the icebergs break away from the glaciers and melt into a lagoon. The most famous lagoon in Iceland is Jökulsárlón.
Skaftafellsjökull is an outlet glacier next to Skaftafell mountain, the glacier ice runs down a deep valley from the north part of Öræfajökull glacier the glacier is about 10 km long and about 2 km wide. The surrounding by Skaftafellsjökull glacier is beautiful with steep mountains and the glacier Öræfajökull and Vatnajökull in the background.
Private travel companies offer glacier tours on the nearby glaciers and mountains, the tours are truly a unique and essential Icelandic experience. It is also possible to hike from the visiting center in Skaftafell to the Skaftafellsjokull glacier. The round-trip is about 3,7 km long and takes about 1-1,5 hours, fairly easy. The views where the trail ends are good over the glacier tongue. The access to the glacier has been getting worse for the past years because of the melting of the glacier. Now there is big glacier lagoon forming in from the glacier margin, and it's getting bigger every year. People that walk to the glacier have to keep in mind that the surrounding next to the glacier can be dangerous, because of loose rocks falling down the hillsides. Also in winter the glacier lagoon can be covered with ice and snow so it can be hard to see if you are walking on ground or a frozen lake. Make sure to follow the instructions on the warning signs before going closer to the glacier and make sure not to enter the glacier without a professional guide.
The drive from Reykjavík is about 4 hours (319km) to the visitor center at Skaftafell. Follow Ring Road nr. 1 and then turn on road nr. 998.
Read more about Driving in Iceland.