Fjaðrárgljúfur Viewing Platform

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Fjaðrárgljúfur Viewing Platform

  • Icon for path Path

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a magnificent canyon, about 100 metres deep and two kilometres long. The local plan for the area promotes the development of tourist sites as well as protection of its natural wonders. A robust and removable platform has been installed and designed with respect for the area’s fragile natural landscape.

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Damage caused by an influx of tourism

Due to overcrowding and a growing number of unofficial footpaths causing damage to the area’s fragile vegetation, the municipality decided to start construction of designated pathways and viewing platforms. One of the main challenges was to adapt the viewing platform to the area’s beautiful but harsh landscape, ensuring that it blends seamlessly with the surroundings and still lives up to  the visitors’ expectations of experiencing raw and unspoiled nature.

Revegetation and a robust and removable structure

All developments have been carried out according to an overall plan and design strategy for the area. Service buildings have been placed by the roots of the canyon, serving as a main entrance to the site. A long pathway leads visitors up and along the canyon, toward the grand viewing platform. The design had to take into account the remote location and breathtaking landscapes. The platform was therefore designed to be prefabricated in units and transported to the site, with as little disturbance as possible.

The material selection is based on optimising the appearance, strength and durability of the platform. All materials have been chosen with the aim of minimizing the visual impact and matching the colours of the natural surroundings. The choice of materials is in line with similar projects in Skaftárhreppur and Vatnajökull National Park.

Key facts

  • Location

    Fjaðrárgljúfur, Skaftárhreppur, South Iceland

  • GPS points

    N63° 46' 16.026" W18° 10' 19.506"

  • Estimated number of visitors a year

    An average of 27,000 visitors per year in 2015-2016

  • High season

    768 visitors per day on average in 2015-2016

  • Low season

    52 visitors per day on average in 2015-2016

  • Projection

    Fjaðrárgljúfur/Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is listed on the National Conservation list

  • Project Owner

    Skaftárhreppur municipality

  • Protection Framework

    Katla UNESCO Global Geopark is listed in the Icelandic Nature Conservation Register

  • Designer

    Arkís Architects

  • Year of construction


  • Materials

    Corten steel, stainless steel wire, and non-slippery Weland grid

  • Grants

    ISK 48,136,000 in 2012-2017 from the Tourist Site Protection Fund and ISK 10,000,000 in 2018 from The National Plan