Top Waterfalls in Iceland
Whether you are planning on only driving the ring road or venturing into the Icelandic highlands, here we go over must-see waterfalls in Iceland.
Did you know that the World of waterfall's top 10 list, actually lists 2 Icelandic waterfalls? They are Gullfoss and Dettifoss waterfalls that we go over in this blog today. Iceland is full of water in all forms, frozen, boiling, swimming pools, and more. There are over 100 waterfalls in Iceland, and new ones are forming each year.
First on our list is the beautiful Hraunfossar. This is not only one waterfall, but many of them all flowing through the cracks into the beautiful lava field. Not far at all from Hraunfossar, you will also find the beautiful Barnafoss (Children's waterfall). Located only a 1-minute walk away from Hraunfossar and they are both easily assessable with only a short walk from the parking lot.
How to visit Hraunfossar?: When this blog is written, there are no tours you can join to get to Hraunfossar so you are going to have to rent a car to get there. The drive to Hraunfossar takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes. You take route 1 north until you see the town of Borgarnes. Just before you cross the bridge you take a right onto route 50. When route 50 takes a left turn, you will head on straight to road 518 that will lead you to the Hraunfossar parking lot on the left. There is a small fee you will have to pay for the parking. If you then keep on going on route 518 you will get to Húsafell where you can find a lovely hotel to stay the night, a camping site, and a swimming pool.
Located in the southeast of Iceland, Svartifoss (Black Waterfall) is located in Skaftafell, Vatnajökull National Park. The waterfall got its name due to the dramatic contrast between the white water and its surrounding dark basalt columns. This waterfall was actually what inspired the architecture when designing Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík.
To get to Svartifoss waterfall you will need to take a 1,5 km hike from the visitor center. This hike is uphill and you will see a few other waterfalls on the way. The hike takes approximately 90 minutes going back and forth
You can then spend the night at the nearby camping ground in Skaftafell as well, for that we recommend checking out our campers.
How to visit Svartifoss?: There is approximately a 4-hour drive to Svartifoss from the Capital if you have a rental car. You will make a stop at the visitor center in Skaftafell where you can get all sorts of information and tips about the area before you start your journey.
Is located in the north of Iceland in the river Skjálfandafljót. It has a 12-meter drop (39 feet) and its width is 30 meters (98 feet). The waterfall got its name, Goðafoss (Which translates to the waterfall of the nordic gods) due to that when the first settlers arrived in Iceland in the 9th and 10th century followed the old Norse religion. However, when the commonwealth was established in 930 AD, Icelanders began being pressured to convert to Christianity. It was believed that Norway would invade Iceland if they continued to stand by their pagan beliefs. This issue was therefore discussed at Þingvellir as the parliament met there once a year and the Asatru priest, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði was given the responsibility of the decision.
He came to the conclusion that Icelanders would take the Christian religion, but pagans could practice privately.
Then to symbolize his decision he returned home and threw idols of the old gods into a beautiful waterfall and since then it has been known as Goðafoss.
How to visit Goðafoss?: Goðafoss waterfall as said before is in the north of Iceland. The drive from Reykjavík takes approximately 5 hours but it is only a 30-40 minute drive from Akureyri. You can find tours that will take you there, however it is also very easy to go there yourself on a car rental vehicle. Just take Route 1 through Akureyri (heading to Mývatn) and when you reach the N1 gas station in the small „town“ of Fosshóll you will take a right on road 844. There you will find the Goðafoss waterfall parking lot.
Probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland of course needs to be on this list. Gullfoss means the Golden waterfall and is part of the Golden circle that consists of Gullfoss, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir National Park.
Gullfoss has a two-tier drop of 32 meters (105 ft) and in good weather, you can even walk close enough to it to feel the water spray on your face. However, if the stop signs are up, please do not go too close.
How to visit Gullfoss?: You can either visit Gullfoss by tour or rental car. There are plenty of tours to see the Golden circle so finding one should be easy. If you have decided to rent a car, getting there is easy and not too far from the capital area. You will find two parking lots there and visiting the waterfall is totally free of charge.
The other widely known waterfall. Located just off the ring road and you can even see it from there, however, we do recommend stopping there to take a walk behind it as that is really the wow factor of visiting Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It is a narrow waterfall with a drop of 60 meters (197 ft) and we recommend taking some waterproof clothing with you on the walk behind it. The path may be slippery and there is a lot of spray and mist from the waterfall so you will come back wet otherwise.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a part of the river Seljalandsá that has its origins in the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. You might have heard of the glacier as it is the one that erupted and stopped all air traffic in Europe in 2010.
How to visit Seljalandsfoss?: Seljalandsfoss is located just off of route 1 on the south coast of Iceland. You can actually see it from the ring road. You can find some south coast tours that will take you there and going there on a rental car is also very easy and you will not have to have a 4x4 vehicle for the journey. The drive to Seljalandsfoss is approximately 2 hours from the capital area
Definitely one of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls. It was ranked as Iceland's highest waterfall, standing at 198 meters (650 feet) until 2011, or until the discovery of Mosárfoss in Vatnajökull national park. As we said before, new waterfalls are forming each year here in Iceland and now Glymur is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland.
To reach Glymur you are going to have to take a one and a half hour hike from the parking lot. The hike is at most part through nature and nothing of it is paved. You are going to have to wade through a river, walk through a cave and walk along a narrow mountainside path. So we would recommend only taking the hike if you are in reasonably good shape and bring with you water, snacks, and warm clothes. The route is marked and is easy to follow, however, there are some off trails so just follow the signs that lead you to the waterfall.
How to visit Glymur?: Glymur is situated at the rear end of the fjord Hvalfjörður, so only a 45-minute drive from the capital area. You will take route 1 heading north and then just before you get to Hvalfjarðagöng tunnel you take a right onto route 47. That route will take you along the fjord until you reach a parking lot that is labeled Botnsá all the way at the bottom of the fjord. There is a bus tour that you can catch from Reykjavík to go to Glymur and is also a really easy drive with a rental car.
Is located in the east of Iceland and is 700 km from Reykjavík. Hengifoss translates to „the hanging waterfall“ and is the 3rd highest waterfall in Iceland and has fallen off 128 meters from the plateau into the magnificent gorge. The rock face surrounding the waterfall is colorful showing off different layers from volcanic eruptions over the centuries. The hike from the parking lot is a 40-60 minute gradual climb uphill (2,5 km). The trail is a bit difficult but benches have been put up along the trail so you can make a stop and rest if needed on the way. On your way, you will see another amazing waterfall called Litlanesfoss waterfall and also Stuðlabergsfoss waterfall. Stuðlabergsfoss means „basalt column waterfall“ and is rightfully so as it is framed by them.
How to visit Hengifoss?: The drive from Reykjavík to Hraunfossar is approximately 8 hours without any stops. So it is not something we recommend doing in one day. We would recommend making some stops along the way and maybe staying the night in or around the town Egilsstaðir. There are a number of hotels, guesthouses and camping sites in the area you can stay at. The drive from Egilsstaðir to Hengifoss is approximately 30 minutes on road 95 and road 931.
Dettifoss is a waterfall located in the north of Iceland. It is a part of the Diamond circle and we highly recommend stopping at Dettifoss if you are in the region. It is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and is 100 meters wide (330 feet) and has a 45 meters drop (150 feet) into Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is a part of Vatnajökull National Park and therefore Dettifoss is very well protected. Dettifoss is so powerful and large that you can see its mist from several miles away.
Dettifoss is fed by the magnificent river Jökulsá á fjöllum, however, it is not the only waterfall fed by this river. There are 2 other waterfalls no less impressive than Dettifoss and they are called Selfoss (Not the town) and Hafragilsfoss.
How to visit Dettifoss?: The drive to Dettifoss from Reykjavík is almost 6 hours so we recommend making a few stops on the way. Like for example, the drive from Akureyri is only 2 hours. You can visit Dettifoss from 2 sides, either the east or west side. Both are gravel roads but you do not have to have a 4x4 vehicle for them. Just be careful as they do have some rough spots and potholes. The parking lots on each side are small and only fit 25-30 cars, so we recommend heading there early as they are often full around noon.
Dynjandi is located in the West fjords of Iceland and is nothing short of magnificent! Dynjandi is often said to look like a bridal veil as it starts out narrower on the top and then widens out to 60 meters on the bottom.
There are 6 other waterfalls below Dynjandi. Their names are Hæstahjallafoss, Strompgljúfrafoss, göngumannafoss, Hrísvaðsfoss-Kvíslarfoss, Hundafoss and Bæjarfoss.
There is a little hike to reach Dynjandi waterfall however it is only approximately 15 minutes and you will see a few smaller waterfalls on the way. You do have to climb a little to get all the way up to Dynjandi. It is not much of a climb, but if you have bad knees for example it may not be ideal.
Photos of Dynjandi do not give it as much credit as it deserves as it looks much smaller than it actually is. As well as the amazing brightly red colors on the rocks that can be found in and around the waterfall. The red color is due to ancient layers of soil that are stuck between the lava beds, that are rich in iron.
How to visit Dynjandi?: When planning on visiting the Westfjords, the best option is to rent your own vehicle. However, it is also possible to catch a bus or super jeep tour with an experienced guide. Dynjandi is a 5-hour drive from Reykjavík. If you are traveling with a camper, there is a great camping site nearby to stay the night before continuing your journey. You can even fall asleep to the sound of the Dynjandi waterfall.
Ófærufoss waterfall is located in the western part of Vatnajökull national park. It is only assessable from the middle of June until late September as the highland roads are closed over the winter months for their protection.
The waterfall's surroundings are so magnificent that you can easily spend up to 3 hours there. The waterfall itself is no less impressive, falling in two cascades into Eldgjá canyon from the river Nyrðri-Ófæra. Once there was a natural stone arch across the lower part of the waterfall, however that collapsed in 1993 as then it fell into the river during the thawing in the spring.
How to visit Ófærufoss?: You can go there by bus tour into Landmannalaugar so you do not have to drive there yourself. The only downside to that is the bus only stops by Ófærufoss waterfall for an hour, if you want to hike up to the waterfall then that is definitely not sufficient time to explore its surroundings. If you have a rental car, you are going to require a 4x4 vehicle as you will be driving on F-roads and there is also one river that you have to cross. Just make sure to assess the river's depth before going over.
The drive from Reykjavík to Ófærufoss waterfall is approximately 4-5 hours, depending on weather conditions that may slow you down.
Brúarfoss is often known as „The blue waterfall“. The reason for the beautiful blue water in Brúarfoss is that it is fed by the Brúará river that is a glacier melt from Langijökull glacier. It may not be one of Iceland's biggest waterfalls with only a 2-3 meter drop, however, it might be one of the most beautiful ones so we just had to include it on this list! It is located on the west side of Iceland and is only a 1 and a half-hour drive from Reykjavík. Brúarfoss means „Bridge Waterfall“ and it gets its name from the stone arch that once stood over it like a bridge for those who wanted to cross it.
To get to Brúarfoss waterfall today is not the same as a few years ago. Once you could park it relevantly close by with a walkover private property. However, unfortunately, visitors trampled the fragile plant life and were leaving behind trash and even human waste so they have closed off the trail to the public to protect nature. Today the hike to Brúarfoss is between 2-3 hours and is a 7 km (4,4 miles) round trip walk.
How to visit Brúarfoss waterfall?: The waterfall is only a 20-minute drive from Gullfoss, making it the perfect stop on your way around the golden circle for example. There is a 7 km (4,4 mile) flat walk hike to get to and from Brúarfoss and it will take between 2-3 hours.
If you intend on visiting the small town of Seyðisfjörður then you will stumble upon this beautiful waterfall. Located right by the road leading up to the small town. It is also smaller than many of the waterfalls in Iceland but is absolutely gorgeous. Gufufoss translates to „Steam waterfall“ and is rightly so. Although smaller than most, Gufufoss is very powerful for its size and due to that power, there is a lot of mist that often looks like steam, hence the name.
How to visit Gufufoss?: As said before, Gufufoss is located just outside the road to the town of Seyðisfjörður. More exactly, road 93. The drive from Reykjavík to Seyðisfjörður is between 8-9 hours. If you intend on driving the east coast we recommend going to the beautiful town Seyðisfjörður and checking out the waterfall on the way.
Aldeyjarfoss is located in the north of Iceland. It has a drop into this beautiful blue lagoon of 20 meters and is surrounded by the beautiful basalt columns from the Báðardalshraun lava field above. Like Goðafoss this waterfall is also fed by the powerful Skjálfandafljót river however Aldeyjarfoss is harder to reach but well worth it! You can even drive on a 4x4 vehicle almost all the way up to the waterfall.
How to visit Aldeyjarfoss?: The waterfall is located in the Icelandic highlands so you do have to have a 4x4 car rental vehicle for the journey as you will have to take some F-roads. The drive from Akureyri is around 1 and a half hours taking the ring route until you reach road 842. Then continue on that road until you take a turn on road F26 that takes you almost all the way up to the waterfall.