8 Icelandic Waterfalls

For Your Bucket List
12 min read

If there’s one thing Iceland’s known for, it’s waterfalls. And camper vans. And ponies. And that gross fermented shark stuff. Anyway, in a land of over 10,000 waterfalls, here are 8 that you must see in your trip through the Land of Ice and Fire. Check out an interactive map of each waterfall’s location below!

8 Majestic Waterfalls You Need to See in Iceland on Roadtrippers

1. Gullfoss

We’ll start right off with Gullfoss, which translates to, “Golden Falls.” Gullfoss is one of the most popular and most frequented waterfalls in Iceland since it is part of the famous, “Golden Circle.” Being a part of the Golden Circle means that it’s close to Reykjavik. The benefit is, it’s easily accessible. The hindrance is, it’s easily accessible. You’ll see what I mean when you view the massive crowd of tourists and buses in the parking lot.

A sunny, rainbow-y shot of Gullfoss

That being said, the waterfall itself is huge, torrentially flowing down multiple “steps” into a narrow crevice. The falls are easily accessible, with walking trails leading from the parking lot to several viewpoints overlooking the Golden Falls. Since the Gulfoss itself is so wide, it looks completely different from the varying angles afforded by those viewpoints. My suggestion? Suck it up and walk to the furthest and tallest spot overlooking the falls. You’ll get a look directly into the crevice, high above the meandering tourists. It is there that you’ll have the best angle to witness the power of Gullfoss.

2. Skógafoss

While there are plenty of waterfalls in Iceland, Skógafoss is the one you’ve probably seen the most of on social media. You’ll tend to find people standing in front of it, wearing a yellow rain jacket. Well, I decided to buck the trend and stand in front of Skógafoss with a BLUE jacket. Take that, social media.

Who’s that dashing, anonymous fellow standing in the shadow of Skogafoss?

Located in the Southwestern part of Iceland, Skógafoss and the adjacent campground are easily accessible (about a two hour drive) from Reykavik. The proximity of a campground is especially cool, because you can pull up in your camper van, take a hot shower, and see the nearly 200 foot waterfall all in the same place.

The only drawback of staying at the campsite is the cost. It costs 1500 ISK / $15 per person for the night. They ask you to pay 200 ISK/ $2 to use the toilet and 300 ISK / $3 to use the shower. If you haven’t showered or used a proper toilet in a while, it might be worth it, but that’s a pretty steep price tag for what you get.

See what I mean about how busy it is?

When it comes to accessibility, This is possibly the most convenient waterfalls I’ve ever seen. The way to the falls is a flat, rocky, wide path that curves right up to the thundering cascade. A craggy shoulder hides some of the falls, so more of Skógafoss is revealed as you approach. There’s a set of steep stairs that take you to the top of the waterfall, but I believe the best view is from the ground. Check out the photos for yourself and tell me what you think!

3. Goðafoss

Goðafoss is far and away my favorite waterfall in Iceland. I’m not sure if it’s the shape of the falls, the fact that you can fly a drone there, or the fall’s ties to Norse mythology (a personal passion of mine). Probably all of the above.

How awesome is Goðafoss?

Goðafoss is located in Bárðardalur, an area in the Northeastern part of Iceland. The semi-circular waterfall stands 40 feet tall and arcs over 100 feet wide. The surrounding rocks make it easy to walk your way right to the waterfall’s edge. Just be careful, I wouldn’t want to try to swim my way out of that freezing water.

Am I thinking about Norse gods? Or am I about to sneeze? I don’t know; I’m honestly asking.

Goðafoss roughly translates to, “Waterfall of the Gods.” The story behind this is that over 1,000 years ago, a lawman named Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði named Christianity as the official Icelandic religion. According to the myth, he rejected the Norse gods and threw all of their statues over the falls, hence the name Goðafoss. I can’t imagine Odin and Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon was too pleased having their likenesses shoved from the top of this waterfall. Check out a quick drone video I made of Goðafoss below!

4. Gufufoss

Gufufoss which means, “Steam Waterfall,” is an elegant waterfall just outside of Seyðisfjörður (I love trying to say that out loud). These falls are incredibly easy to get to, just pull off on the side of Road 93! It’s even visible from the road, causing a bunch of driving distractions, I imagine. The falls stand around 40 feet and crash down to a shallow, rocky end. There’s a path leading up the right side of the falls, and you can get quite close to the falls that way. However, to reach the left side and climb to the top of the falls, it requires you to cross the river. Depending on the height of the river, the rocks needed to help you cross could be submerged. I certainly tested the waterproof..ness of my boots during my fording (or fjording, ha!) of the river. My boots held up, but my pants didn’t. I slipped and fell, soaking my jeans, socks, and pride (can you soak pride?). Wet pants aside, I think the photos were worth the trouble. Don’t you?

Look at Gufufoss, all majestic

5. Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss (I just call it Salamander Falls) is a 200-foot tall waterfall with a fun caveat. There’s a path into a small cave behind the waterfall that allows you to get an intriguing look at the cascading water and surrounding landscape. Because of Seljalandsfoss’ proximity to Reykjavik, a 1-hour & 45-minute drive, there’s going to be a ton of foot traffic. That means there’s almost always going to be someone in your photo. Because of the amount of people, this waterfall might be one to hike sans-camera and just drink it in with your eyes. I mean, I didn’t do that, but you totally could. I believe in you.

See how many people there are?

A view of Seljalandsfoss from the interior cave

Look at that golden mist!

6. Gljúfrafoss

I don’t even know how to say this one, so if you ask me in person, I’m just going to refer to it by its nickname, “Secret Falls.” Gljúfrafoss is a really cool waterfall hidden in a cave close to Seljalandsfoss. The passageway is narrow and a shallow stream flows from the cave. That means, to get to the alcove and witness the falls, you’ll have to rock-hop and hug the wall. It’s not particularly difficult, the only issue is there’s normally a traffic jam from amateur spelunkers trying to come in and out of the cave.

Pretty cool, right?

Once you’ve made it inside, you can enjoy the frigid mist from this hidden beauty. There’s a large boulder right in front of Gljúfrafoss that makes for a perfect photo op. Climb up, strike a pose, and get a photo that will totally get over 100 likes on Instagram.

Protip: Looking away from the camera is the key to making yourself look cool.

7. Svartifoss

Svartifoss, or the “Black Falls,” is located in the Vatnajökull National Park. That places it in the South-Southwestern part of the Icelandic coast. Ita 30-45 minute, uphill hike to make your way to Svartifoss. There are several other visible falls along the way that allow for scenic spots to pant out-of-breath…ly. You have to check in at the Visitor Center to pay for a parking pass in order to have access to the hike.

See the hexagonal spires?

Svartifoss itself is about 80 feet tall, but it is not known for its height. What it is known for is the hexagonal spires framing the cascade. These geometric rock-shapes are caused by slowly-cooling lava that crystalizes as it hardens. It’s an alien, yet enchanting view, seeing such rigid-yet-naturally-occurring geometry in nature. You’ll probably be pretty beat after your trek to the falls, so prop yourself against a rock, take a swig of water, and marvel at the angular majesty that is Svartifoss.

8. Dettifoss

We’ve saved the most powerful waterfall for last. When I say most powerful, I don’t mean the most powerful waterfall in Iceland. I mean the most powerful waterfall in Europe. If Dettifoss looks familiar, it’s because it was used in the beginning of the movie Prometheus. Remember when the big pale guy drinks a weird Diet Coke and falls over the edge? Yep, that’s Dettifoss.

I wish I had the words to describe Dettifoss to you

Dettifoss is located in the Vatnajökull National Park in the Northeastern part of the country. The fall itself is over 300 feet wide and 144 feet tall. It thunders into the Jökulsá á Fjöllum (pronounce that) river at an acute angle from the viewing areas, allowing for some stunning photos. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the parking lot to the falls, and you can hear the rumble of the falls almost immediately into your hike. We went in the dead of night and crunching across the snow to see the torrential flow takes your breath away. Well, it was the waterfall as well as the frigid cold stealing the air from my lungs. Look at the photo and see what I mean.

how many Icelandic waterfalls

are on your bucket list?

While there are an insane amount of waterfalls in Iceland, these eight are the ones I think you need to see. Are there any that you think should be on this list? Comment below and let me know! Until next time!

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