Iceland – must see waterfalls and how to reach them

Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice. But during my Ring Road trip around Iceland, it became clear that the land of waterfalls could have been a great alternative as well. Sure, I read about Skogafoss and Gulfoss on the internet in advance, but honestly those didn’t even reached my top 5. There are literally thousands of waterfalls or fosses in Iceland and you can’t see them all in one trip. Some are easily spotted, while others are well hidden. Here are a few impressive waterfalls in Iceland along the ring road and how to reach them.

Reykjavik area

Gulfoss

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Why? Probably Iceland’s most visited waterfall as it is located along the Golden Circle. The size of it makes it truly impressive!

How to reach? Located along the Golden Circle route, about 10 kilometers from Geysir.

Tip! Go early or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. During summer you can enjoy the spectacle until late in the evening due to midnight sun.

Öxarárfoss

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Why? One of the highlights of Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir). To explore the national park, you can follow the trail to Oxararfoss.

How to reach? Thingvellir National Park is often the first stop along the Golden Circle route. The park is situated along route 36. There is a car park located nearby the Oxarargfoss, or you can make the slightly longer hike (4,2km) from the visitor’s center.

Tip! None

South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is a popular road trip and has several beautiful waterfalls along the road.

Seljalandfoss

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Why? The Seljalandfoss is a popular stop in every South Coast tour because you can walk behind the waterfall.

How to reach? Seljalandfoss lies along route 1 about 70 kilometers beyond the city Selfoss. There is a car park nearby from which you can make a short hike behind the foss.

Tip! Visit early to avoid the crowds. You can also stay at the nearby campsite Hamragarðar and combine this waterfall with the Gljúfrafoss.

Gljúfrafoss

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Why? Probably my favorite waterfall in Iceland mainly due to its setting. Located nearby a campsite but still has the ‘hidden’ feel.

How to reach? This fall is located close to Seljalandfoss (10 min hike) and is actually situated on the campsite Hamragarðar. There is a narrow gorge with a river flowing out of it. Enter the gorge and follow upstream before reaching the pool with close-up views on the fall.

Tip! This is a real treat for photographers. The setting gives an Lara Croft feel and the big rock in front of it completes the picture.

Skogafoss

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Why? This is probably the best-known waterfall in Iceland, so it should be on your list to visit.

How to reach? While the Skogafoss can be seen from the road in advance, you continue your way to Skogar where a sign will tell you to turn left. Another left turn will lead you to the parking lot.

Tip! Almost every tourist visits Skogafoss so don’t expect to be alone. There is a campsite nearby where you can spend the night as well.

 

Kvernufoss

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Why? Located less than a kilometer from Skogafoss, but lacks the crowds. And in my fair opinion, is more beautiful as well.  One of the hidden gems and you can walk behind the waterfall.

How to reach? From Skogar museum, step over the fence (there is a ladder) and head east across the plain towards the gorge that can be easily spotted. Follow the river into the gorge and you will reach Kvernufoss eventually. Takes about 20 minutes.

Tip! The first glimpse on the fall is impressive to say the least, but the best photo opp is from behind the fall where you can get the view on the gorge.

Svartifoss

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Why? Famed for its setting in black basalt columns.

How to reach? Located in Skaftatell National park. There is a trail from the campground leading to the fall. The full hike takes about 1h, depending on your stamina.

Tip! Make the circular walk instead of returning the same way.

East Iceland

Hengifoss

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Why? Iceland’s third highest waterfall measuring 128 meters in height.

How to reach? Hengifoss is around a 30 minute drive from Egilsstaðir, and then the hike up to the falls is around 2.5km. It’s pretty much all uphill.

Sveinsstekksfoss

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Why? Impressive fall closely located near the ring road. Ideal for a quick stop.

How to reach? Located about 16 km northeast of the city of Djúpivogur along route 1.

Tip! There is a viewing platform, but you can also scramble your way up.

Northern Iceland

Dettifoss

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Why? The waterfall with the highest volume of water going over it in Europe, so impressive to say the least.

How to get there? Dettifoss is located just east of Myvatn area. There are two sides to see the fall. Route 864 from the ring road leads to the east side (asphalted road), while route 862 brings you the more close-up view on the west side. However, the latter involves a long, bumpy ride.

Tip! See the Dettifoss from the western side. Here you get a more close-up view. Avoid in wintertime.

Godafoss

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Why? Easy to get to along Iceland Ring Road, so this horseshoe-shaped fall has receives many visitors.

How to reach? 50 kilometers west of Reykjahlíð (Myvatn area) along Ring Road.

West Fjords

Dynjandi

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Why? I haven’t visited this one, but it’s high on my list. Despite being very impressive, this bridal veil-style of waterfall doesn’t receive many visitors.

How to reach? Dynjandi is found deep in the Westfjords, a remote region of north west Iceland that many visitors never venture to. Can be found along route 60, somewhat 260 kilometers off the popular Ring Road.

 

So what waterfall in Iceland is your favorite and why? Please share your story in the comments below. 

 

One Comment on “Iceland – must see waterfalls and how to reach them

  1. Pingback: Ultimate Iceland Itinerary | An Adventurers Journal

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