Top 10 Waterfalls of Iceland

Text by Sonia Nicolson

When in Iceland, we say DO go chasing waterfalls. There are some incredibly beautiful waterfalls in very dramatic surroundings and a lot of them are easily accessible. From the Golden Circle to the South Coast and further up north, you don’t have to go far to experience one. The Icelandic waterfalls are very dramatic and you can see water drop from a great height, gush through lava rocks, over ledges meaning you can walk behind them and certainly see a rainbow or two.

So here are our top 10 waterfalls in Iceland here to help you plan out your trip.

Gullfoss

On the Golden Circle you will find Gullfoss, meaning Golden Falls, is located on the Hvítá River and is one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. The glacier water from Langjökull cascades 32m down in two stages. It’s a dramatic display of power and is incredibly beautiful to watch. The waterfalls power does spray up a lot of moisture into the atmosphere so make sure to wear waterproofs. Access the viewing platforms from the lower car park for the most accessible view, the top car park also has a cafe and shop. Great tour to see Gullfoss is the Golden Circle, Secret Lagoon and Bubble tour

Gullfoss

Seljalandsfoss

On the South Coast of Iceland you will discover the picturesque Seljalandsfoss. One of the more famous waterfalls in the country, Seljalandsfoss is Iceland’s highest waterfalls, at 63m. Make your way up the steep staircase to get a unique chance to walk behind a waterfall, a very unique experience. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull. Slightly further along the mountainside is Gljúfrabúi, a hidden waterfall which is often overlooked by the large tour groups, and so you might get it to yourself.

Seljalandsfoss

Skogafoss

Further on along the South Coast and the next waterfall is Skógafoss. Measuring around 25m across, with a drop of 60m, Skogafoss is Iceland’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls. You can walk right up to the falls and be hit by the spray. If you are lucky enough to be visiting on a sunny day then you might spot a rainbows in the spray from the powerful cascade. If you have the time, climb the 60m of stairs to the top of the falls.

Skogafoss
Photo by Mitchel Jones

Dettifoss

Located in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland and said to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss flows from the glacier Vatnajökull, with an average waterflow of 193m3 per second. Dettifoss measures 100m wide with a powerful drop of 45m down into Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Dettifoss  is Icelands largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, having an average water flow of 193 m3/s.

Dettifoss
Photo by carlabits

Godafoss

Located on the River Skjálfandafljót in the North of Iceland, Godafoss waterfall is the fourth largest river in Iceland. A spectacular waterfall with a width of 30m, falling from a height of 12m, it truly is dramatic. Godafoss means Waterfall of The Gods. It’s said that when Christianity was declared the official religion in Iceland, by lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall. The river, originating deep in the Icelandic highland, runs from the highlands through the Bárðardalur Valley from Sprengisandur in the Highlands.

Godafoss

Svartifoss

Svartifoss, as know as the Black Falls as it is surrounded by dark lava columns. Located in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park on the South Coast of Iceland. Similar natural formations can be seen throughout Iceland and abroad, at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and on the Scottish island of Staffa. These basalt columns give inspiration to many buildings in Iceland such as Hallgrímskirkja church. in Reykjavík.

Svartifoss
Photo by Victor Montol

Hraunfossar

Located in the district of Borgarfjordur, Hraunfossar is a series of beautiful waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming from a short distance out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field. This lava field was formed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjokull. Some of the most magnificent falls found in Iceland, catch them in the summer or as the colours turn in autumn.

Hraunfossar
Photo by Jun

Haifoss

Háifoss is located near the volcano Hekla on the South Coast of Iceland. The third highest waterfall in Iceland, the water falls from a height of 122m streaming from the River Fossá. There is a car park above the waterfall. You can hike to the waterfall along the River Fossá from the historical farm Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. The farm was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Hekla in the Middle Ages abut has since been reconstructed. The hike both directions will take you around 5-6hours.

Haifoss
Photo by James Petts

Barnafossar

Barnafoss, also known as Bjarnafoss, is located near Hraunfossar and burst out of Hallmundarhraun, a huge lava plain in the west of Iceland and about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Reykjavík. Barnafoss is on the River Hvítá and flows out of a lava field, creating a dramatic and very picturesque scene.

Barnafoss has been associated with many Icelandic folk tales, most famously the one about two boys from the nearby farm of Hraunsás. One day, the boys’ parents went to church with their ploughmen, the boys were supposed to stay at home but as they decided to follow their parents as they had gotten bored. Making a shortcut across the stone bridge over the waterfall, they suddenly felt dizzy and fell. The boys sadly drowned and when the news reached their mother, she put a spell on the bridge saying that nobody would ever cross it without drowning again. The bridge was demolished in an earthquake sometime after this.

Barnafossar
Photo by fr.zil

Faxi

Faxi, or the Vatnsleysufoss waterfall, is located on the Tungufljót River on the popular tourist route to the east of Reykjavik, the Golden Circle. Find Faxi around 12 kilometres from Geysir and Gullfoss, and 8 kilometres from Skalholt. Park up and walk away from the main road on a gravel track where there is a picnic area and small car park. The waterfall is a popular fishing spot as it is full of salmon. Please note that Kayaking in the waterfall is forbidden.

Faxi
Photo by Adam Fagen

Which waterfalls are on your bucket list?