Iceland is home to some of the most incredible landscapes in the world. The country has so many gorgeous natural features to explore it can be hard to know where to start. From volcano tours to waterfall hikes – there’s plenty to do and see here.
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If there is one natural wonder that Iceland is most famous for – it’s the waterfalls! The dynamic landscape and glacier activity in Iceland has created over 10,000 waterfalls on the island. They’re all beautiful in their own way, but some are unmissable and more easily accessed than others.
Chasing beautiful waterfalls was our favourite thing to do in Iceland on our recent visit! We lucked out with great weather and an opportunity to see many of the falls firsthand! To help make the most of your visit, we’ve compiled a list of the best waterfalls to visit in Iceland. We’ll cover everything from accessibility to unique features, so you can make a plan that best suits you.
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Top Iceland Waterfalls
Before we jump into naming our top Iceland waterfalls, there is one thing you need to know. The word “Foss” is an Icelandic word that means “waterfall” in English. It is a common suffix in the names of many Icelandic waterfalls, which you’ll notice as you go down the list. To help you make sense of the names of the waterfalls and make them easier to find on the map, we’ve referred to all waterfalls on the list using their traditional Icelandic names, which include the word “foss”, meaning “waterfall’.
Below is the list of the waterfalls (“foss”) we loved the most in Iceland. They are all unique and made for a great experience. Some require a scenic hike and others were very easy to access and view. Whichever waterfalls you decide to explore, we hope you have a great adventure!
Located in South Iceland, Gullfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. The waterfall is only two hours away from the capital by car, along a scenic Golden Circle drive.
Since there are actually two drops on this waterfall, many consider it to be two separate features. The first is the shorter of the two, measuring 36ft, while the second drop comes in at 69ft. Gullfoss is located next to Geyser Geothermal Area, another popular stop on the Golden Circle.
In the winter months, the waterfall drops 358 cubic feet of water per second, increasing to 459 cubic feet per second in the summertime. The spray is very powerful, and those who get too close will surely get soaked.
Our Tip: The walk to Gullfoss waterfall is not challenging, and there is a restaurant and cafe right next to it if you want to grab a bite while admiring the view.
Another waterfall found in Southern Iceland is the Urriðafoss, located between the town of Selfoss and Hella. It might not be one of the tallest waterfalls in the area, but it is intensely powerful, with cascading water at 12,700 cubic feet per second.
The waterfalls run directly into the river, with minimal drops that are small enough for salmon to leap over during the mating season. In fact, the river is very popular with locals and tourists during the summer for salmon fishing.
There are no set opening times, which means you can visit Urriðafoss any time of the day. There is no entrance fee and no hike to get to the waterfall.
Urriðafosswaterfall is a popular stop on Golden Circle tours and can also make an excellent stop during a self-driving Golden Circle road trip.
Found in Southern Iceland, Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. The captivating scenery of this incredible waterfall leaves many visitors in awe, and its closeness to the highway makes it an easy stop on any Ring Road road trip.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall drops 200ft, with a gorgeous cascade that makes it one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland. Despite the narrowness of the fall, it remains powerful, so don’t forget a rain jacket to protect yourself from the spray.
Thanks to its easy-to-access location and impressive views, Seljalandsfoss waterfall attracts big crowds.
There is no entrance fee to visit Seljalandsfoss, but be prepared to pay an 800 ISK parking fee. A paved path from the parking lot offers easy access to Seljalandsfoss and continues behind the waterfall. The view from behind the falls offers a different perspective and is worth it, but be warned – the path is slippery and getting wet from the spray of the falls is inevitable, so be careful!
Note: This is one of the more crowded waterfalls in Iceland and gets particularly busy during the Summer. If you want to experience Seljalandsfoss without the crowds, plan to visit early in the morning.
With a width of 82ft and an impressive height of 197ft, Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. The majestic drop is clearly visible from the road, and there is no hike to get there, which makes it an easy stop on any Ring Road road trip.
In recent years, the waterfall has gained additional popularity after being featured in an episode of “Vikings” TV show. The black earth and lush green hills surrounding the falls create a magical setting, making this one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for photographers. Plan to visit early in the morning if you want to have the place all to yourself!
Entrance and parking are free, but there is a fee to use the restrooms, so make sure to bring a bit of cash just in case.
Since the land beneath the waterfall is completely flat, you can walk right up to the wall of the water. You’ll definitely get wet if you do, so don’t forget a rain jacket!
The salmon and char populating the river below Skógafoss make this a popular fishing destination during the summer. Even if you don’t have any interest in fishing, you can easily find a nice spot for a picnic along the river.
For the best views of the waterfall and the stunning landscape, you can take a staircase that leads to a viewing platform. While the staircase is a challenge (500 steps!), it’s a great way to escape the crowds and hike to even more waterfalls nearby.
Found in East Iceland, Hengifoss is the third tallest waterfall in the country with an impressive 428ft drop. Just below Hengifoss, you’ll find Litlanesfoss, another beautiful waterfall cascading down an impressive black basaltic strata formation.
The path to both falls follows a 2.5 km trail that some find quite challenging due to its steep elevation. The route is fairly simple and starts from the parking area. The trail passes Litlanesfoss first, allowing for a closer view of its unique surrounding and continues to Hengifoss, revealing the beautiful red rock sediment that dominates the background.
The basaltic strata surrounding the waterfall are pretty striking against the waterfall and hold a special geological interest. These strata give us a timeline of volcanic eruptions and even contain fossils!
Both waterfalls run into Lake Lagarfljót, home to the famed mythological sea creature Lagarfljótsormur which hold significant folklore value in the area There is parking for visitors, and you don’t have to pay to enter, so you can visit at any time.
Situated in North Iceland, Godafoss makes for another popular stop on the Ring Road road trip. The name “Godafoss” literally means “waterfall of the gods”, so this beautiful waterfall plays an important role in the folklore and history of Iceland.
It is said that as Iceland faced increasing pressure to convert to Christianity, the Lawspeaker of the time were left to make the final decision. He slept under a fur blanket for a day and a night in total silence, praying to the Old Gods so that he would make the right decision. In the end, the Lawspeaker claimed that Christianity would be the new religion for the good of the people but that pagans would be allowed to continue practicing privately. As a symbolic gesture, he returned home and threw his idols of the Old Gods into the waterfall that became Goðafoss.
Godafoss measures 39ft high and 98ft across and offers an expansive view of the gorgeous blue waters below. Getting to Godafoss is easy as the short path runs straight from the parking lot. While you can access the falls throughout the year, you will need to rent a 4-wheel drive in the winter as the road conditions can become quite challenging in the area.
Translated at Church Peak Falls, Kirkjufellsfoss is a powerful waterfall with a distinctive mountain backdrop located in the Western Fjord Peninsula. It’s located only 3 km from the peaceful town of Grundarfjörður and is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland.
The peak stands at 1519ft and has a distinctive shape. Game of Thrones fans might recognize Kirkjufellsfoss from season seven when it was remarked as being shaped like an arrowhead. The waterfall itself may not be as impressive as some others on the list, but the surrounding scenery of the mountain peak makes it one of the most stunning waterfalls in Iceland.
Kirkjufellsfoss is easily accessed, as it’s located right next to a parking lot at the base of the mountain. Entrance is free, but be prepared to pay 700 ISK for parking. It’s recommended that you visit in summer and winter because the difference between seasons is dramatic – both in terms of water volume (less in winter) and the landscape.
If you want to hike the peak, this is entirely possible. It takes around an hour to reach the top, and the peak offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. However, the climb is exceptionally steep and challenging and should only be undertaken by experienced hikers and climbers.
Located in the Borgarfjörður district of Western Iceland, Hraunfossar waterfall, also known as the Lava Falls, is another unique waterfall in Iceland. The walls of the Hraunfossar waterfall are made from porous lava that once flowed from an active volcano nearby. Once cooled, the lava created lava fields that now dominate the landscape.
Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls that flow from rivulets formed in volcanic rock. The waterfall series stretches across 2,900 ft, with cascades of varying height. If you’re lucky enough to catch the fall foliage during your visit, you’re in for a visual treat!
According to Icelandic folklore, two boys drowned in the falls, and in her grief, the mother cursed those who walked the bridge across them to meet the same fate. It wasn’t until an earthquake many years later that the bridge was broken, and the curse finally lifted.
The water of Hraunfossar falls more rapidly in the summer months, but the cascade is still powerful in the winter. Getting to the spectacular waterfall isn’t difficult, with a short walk on an easy path. It makes for a scenic retreat and a great way to witness the lava fields up close.
Bruarfoss is a small waterfall but is known as a hidden gem in Western Iceland. The glacier-fed waterfall can be found an hour and a half east of Reykjavik and is famous for its striking bright blue colour.
Bruarfoss is only 2-3m high, and the river that feeds it runs in a U-turn that takes it through volcanic rock formations. This creates some rapids and powerful currents.
The trail to Bruarfoss is muddy and runs through the river, so waterproof footwear is highly recommended. Tours are a must if you want to see the falls up close because the public walking path has now been closed.
Dettifoss is a spectacular waterfall located in the northeastern part of Iceland, in Vatnajökull National Park. With a flow rate of about 193 cubic meters per second, it is one of the most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe. The waterfall is located on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, which originates from the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Iceland.
Dettifoss is roughly 100 meters wide and descends 45 meters into a little canyon below, producing a roar and mist that can be heard and seen from a distance. The waterfall’s dramatic beauty is enhanced by the dark basalt columns, which stand in stark contrast to the white water tumbling down.
There are multiple viewing platforms that offer great views of the waterfall from various angles. Dettifoss is easily accessible by car and is a part of the Diamond Circle – a popular tourist route in Northern Iceland. While the waterfall is accessible all year around, it’s worth noting that the roads leading to Dettifoss can be affected by weather conditions and may be closed during winter or periods of heavy rainfall.
The adjacent waterfalls Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss, each of which are remarkable in their own right, can also be seen via a short hike in the summer. A nice hiking trail, 34km, goes along the canyon from Dettifoss to Asbyrgi.
Iceland has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty, and the waterfalls here are a must-visit. Surrounded by an equally stunning landscape, waterfalls in Iceland are some of the most beautiful and powerful falls we’ve ever seen on our travels.
So if you are planning to visit Iceland, be sure to add a visit to some of the falls to your Iceland itinerary. It’s a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the island while learning about its landscape formation.
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