Best Waterfalls in Iceland

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Best Waterfalls in Iceland

You won’t lack for waterfall views during your Iceland visit – they’re everywhere! But which are the best ones? How do you travel to find them? Are they everywhere or only in certain regions? We’ll learn a little more here about Iceland’s majestic cascades and give you a list of the best waterfalls in the country. Each has its own unique characteristics, shape, size, sound, surrounding nature, even historical tales and folk stories.

 

Why does Iceland have so many waterfalls? It’s all about the glaciers. With these vast ice sheets come waterfalls fed by pure glacial waters. Strong, rushing current carve through rock and when combined with the volcanic forces that have long been at work in Iceland, bizarrely shaped waterfalls, as well as hexagonal basalt columns are formed.

 

Come with us to explore the best Icelandic waterfalls in the land of fire and ice.

Gullfoss

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If you’re following the Golden Circle, you won’t miss the most famous Icelandic waterfall, Gullfoss (“The Golden Waterfall”). Along the same circular route, you’ll also find Geysir Geothermal Area and Pingvellir National Park. Gullfoss is located in South Iceland, on the Hvita River.

 

Skogafoss
If you’re traveling on the south coast of Iceland, on the Ring Road close to the village of Skogar, don’t miss the Skogafoss waterfall. It’s 82 feet wide and 197 feet high, making it one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the country. If you’d like, walk up the 500 steps to the top of the waterfall.

Seljalandsfoss

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Also on the south coast, this narrow, tall waterfall is 197 feet high. You can actually walk behind it for a particularly Insta-worthy photo. The falls are easily accessible from the Ring Road and about a 90-minute drive from Reykjavik.

 

Svartifoss
Put this one atop your must-see list. It’s located in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in Southeast Iceland, part of the Vatnajokull National Park. Those hexagonal basalt columns we spoke of earlier – they’re here in spades. The fall’s name actually means “Black Waterfall” for the contrast of white water and the black basalt.

 

Hraunfossar Falls
You’ll find these stunning falls, nicknamed “Lava Falls,” in Borgarfjordur in West Iceland, 40 miles north of Reykjavik. The falls are formed by water flowing from the edge of the Hallmundarhraun lava field and running into the Hvita River (not the same one that feeds the Gullfoss waterfall). Unlike many Icelandic waterfalls, you can easily view this one from the car park or the coffee shop. While you’re here, you can visit the dramatic Barnafoss waterfalls nearby.

 

Bruarfoss
A collection of smaller waterfalls along the Bruara River, in the Grimsnes area of Southwest Iceland, this is a hidden gem. The cascading water is a stunning shade of blue as it plummets into the deep gorge below, earning it the nickname, “Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall.”

 

Hrafnabjargafoss
There are three falls along the mighty Skjalfandafljot River in North Iceland, including this one. Sister cascades Aldeyjarfoss and Godafoss Waterfall are must-sees as well. Aldeyjarfoss is the tallest of the three, at 65 feet and set in a natural amphitheater created by dark basalt columns. It’s not easily accessible, so you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get there.

Godafoss

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The Godafoss Waterfall is the most well known of the Skjalfandafljot waterfalls and the only one featured on the popular Diamond Circle route. At 39 feet high and 98 feet wide, it’s nicknamed the Waterfall of the Gods. Legend has it that a chieftain settled a religious crisis by throwing the idols of the Old Norse Gods into the water, symbolizing Iceland’s conversion to Christianity.

 

Kirkjufellsfoss
Test out your photographic skills in the light of the midnight sun at Kirkjufellsfoss near Mount Kirkjufell at Grundarfjordur. The serene water makes for a fantastic juxtaposition against the rugged mountain scenery of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights dancing above.

 

Haifoss Waterfall (Tall Falls)
At 400 feet high, this is the third highest waterfall in Iceland. It’s in the Fossa River, a tributary of the Pjorsa, Iceland’s longest river. Almost nextdoor, you’ll find the Granni (“neighbor”) Waterfall.

Glymur

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Glymur Waterfall is the country’s second tallest at 650 feet high, and the highest that you can access on foot. The hike in takes about two hours, but the whole route is pretty, full of rock arches, views of the Botnsa River and the Hvalfjordur. The Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls are nearby.

 

Dettifoss
A regular stop along the Diamond Circle route, Dettifoss is said to be one of the most powerful in Europe. If you take a tour from Akureyri, you’ll likely visit Dettifoss. While you’re here, hike to Selfoss Waterfall, just 0.6 miles away. To the north, you’ll find Jokulsarglufur canyon, part of Vatnajokull National Park.

 

Hengifoss
The third tallest waterfall in Iceland, in the eastern part of the country, Hengifoss waterfall is a single drop against black lava cliffs. Perhaps most notable is the red stripes of clay in the rock face. Hike to this waterfall along a fairly easy trail – about a 45-minute one-way trip from the parking lot. Along the way, enjoy views of the Litlanesfoss waterfall, and when you reach Hengifoss, look the other way for views of Lagarfljot Lake and Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstaoaskogur.

 

Dynjandi Waterfall
One of seven waterfalls in a row, Dynjandi is particularly breathtaking. Set in the Westfjords of Iceland, it is approximately 325 feet high, 98 feet wide at the top and 196 feet wide at the bottom.

 

Morsarjokull, Vatnajokull National Park
Only recently discovered, the Morsarjokull is named for the glacier upon whose edge it sits. The waterfall was likely created by a slight rise in temperature, making it now the highest waterfall in Iceland, behind Glymer Waterfall.

 

Oxararfoss
Set within Thingvellir National Park, Oxararfoss is a popular waterfall along the Golden Circle Route. It’s just a ten-minute walk from the car park.

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