14 Waterfalls You Have to Visit in Iceland
Iceland is one place where it is more than okay to go chasing waterfalls.
This small nation is jam-packed with natural beauty, but nothing’s quite as peaceful as listening to the rush of a waterfall while admiring the serenity around you.
Even though Iceland can get cold―very cold–Iceland’s waterfalls are beautiful any time of the year, whether they are frozen in the winter or framed by lush greenery in the summer.
The photo ops are endless and the memories will last a lifetime.
Guide to Iceland’s Waterfalls
Many of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls are located along the Golden Circle, Ring Road or the Diamond Circle, but there are a few hidden gems that we want to help you find. From interesting nomenclature to great historical significance, Iceland’s waterfalls are special in their own ways.
Check out the 14 waterfalls you have to visit in Iceland to really top off your trip!
14 Best Waterfalls in Iceland
Discover the magic that flows from some of Iceland’s most powerful bodies of water: the waterfalls. Many of these waterfalls are fueled by geysers and geothermal activity beneath the Earth’s surface.
From trickling cascades to behemoth, gushing waterfalls, Iceland is not short of picturesque scenery that will offer you peace and serenity to clear your mind and enjoy the beauty of nature.
We’ve compiled our list of 14 waterfalls in Iceland that cannot be missed when you visit this amazing little country. Which ones will you explore?
Many feel that Gullfoss Waterfall is the most majestic waterfall in all of Iceland. With its convenient location on the Golden Circle, it is certainly among the most famously visited. This waterfall even ranks among the beautiful waterfalls in the entire world. It is certainly one that you do not want to miss.
Gullfoss Waterfall is located approximately an hour and forty-five minutes from Reykjavik. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visitors can visit this natural beauty free of charge.
There is a small cafe at the Gullfoss Waterfall that offers delicious snacks and a variety of excursions to explore nearby attractions. From chasing the Northern Lights to viewing Iceland’s beautiful landscape from an airplane, you can truly do it all. One of the most popular excursions from the Gullfoss Waterfall is the Game of Thrones tour to a neighboring waterfall.
This waterfall is located outside of Reykjavik, but you must look closely for it because its location is not indicated by many signs like most other tourist destinations. It is located on the Laxá í Kjós river and is known for its abundance of salmon.
Þórufoss is at its most beautiful when it freezes over in the wintertime. The image of rushing current captured in millions of tiny ice crystals is one from a dream. Visiting this waterfall in the winter months is something phenomenal.
Although it is not paid much attention by Icelanders, you may recognize the magnificent Þórufoss Waterfall from HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Faxafoss Waterfall is also commonly known as “Vatnsleysufoss” or simply “Faxi.” This waterfall is part of Iceland’s most famously traveled Golden Circle and is located just a short drive from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. It is also only a dash away from the Great Geysir!
The origins of this waterfall’s name are pretty interesting since “Vatnsleysufoss” means “shortage of water” in Icelandic. This waterfall never actually lacks water, but it is sometimes seen as the smaller, less powerful version of the Gullfoss Waterfall.
While many say it’s a cool experience to feel the mist of Faxi from below, the best shots are taken from above the waterfall. Grab your camera and your poncho, because the Gullfoss Jr. is one that must be explored.
Located in the Þjórsárdalur valley in southern Iceland, this conjoined pair of waterfalls ranks high on many Icelandic “must see” lists because of its undeniable beauty.
The name of Hjalparfoss has a unique meaning. “Hjalparfoss” is literally translated as “help waterfall,” which seems to be an odd name for a waterfall. The story behind the name is quite sweet. Before there were cars, travelers journeyed across the Highlands from the North to the South on horseback. For a long stretch of the journey through the mountains, there is not lush grass for the horses to graze. The waterfall creates the perfect environment for delicious grass to grow.
The creation of this waterfall is very Icelandic in nature. The water rushes down from a lava field created by an eruption of the Hekla Volcano.
Hjalparfoss is conveniently located near both Ring Road and the Golden Circle, so you certainly don’t want to miss this one if you’re in the area!
The Öxarárfoss Waterfall, also known as “the waterfall in the Ax River,” is a true Icelandic favorite according to the locals. It is located in the beloved Þingvellir National Park along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
As strange as it may sound, this waterfall is not naturally occuring. It was created by human intervention when the Icelanders shifted the path of the Öxará River many, many years ago.
The “Ax” in this river’s name refers to an Icelandic myth. According to folklore, there was a nasty troll that tormented and tortured people who lived in the area and those who were simply passing through. It is said that she was stabbed between the shoulder blades and killed. The same ax is believed to have been found close by where Öxarárfoss is now.
If you enjoy beauty, history and a little bit of mystery, you should definitely visit this wonderful waterfall.
If you’re looking for your Kodak moment, this is it. Grab your camera, because Seljalandsfoss is one of the most photographed spots in Iceland due to its naturally mesmerizing features. This waterfall has many crevices and caverns and can be full encircled. It is both breathtaking and explorable.
This gorgeous waterfall made a grand appearance in a Justin Bieber music video. Although he carelessly scampers around the falls in many clips of the video, it is suggested that you navigate this precious location with much more care and caution.
Seljalandsfoss produces a lot of spray and mist, so be prepared to get a little wet. Rocks around the waterfall do get a little bit slippery. Come dressed in appropriate clothing and footwear, as you’ll want your experience to be a safe and comfortable one.
This hidden gem is often bypassed by many tourists in Iceland. It is located just off Ring Road near Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss which tend to steal the spotlight. Kvernufoss is equally as beautiful as the other local waterfalls, but it takes a bit of a hike to discover.
To get to Kvernufoss, you’ve got to park at Skógar Museum and walk the hiking trail about 20 minutes towards the Kvernugil gorge near the Kverná River. You will come to the majestic waterfall, where you can admire from in front or you can explore from behind.
Kvernufoss Waterfall is certainly worth the hike. If you visit in the winter, please be mindful of the ice that forms around the waterfall. Surfaces may become slippery so proper footwear and safety precautions are a must. Wintertime also brings the risk of falling icicles behind the falls. During these months, it may be best to view the cascading fall from the front.
Hraunfossar, or the “Lava Waterfalls” is a series of waterfalls located close to Reykholt that pour into the Hvita River. Clean, cold water seeps out through the lava and runs into the river. Hraunfossar extends over 900 meters.
This natural phenomenon was created by volcanic activity that occurred underneath a glacier. The water is said to appear as different colors at different times, ranging from a royal turquoise to a milky white.
Hraunfossar is certainly the ideal spot to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. You should grab your camera, because this is memory that you will want to frame.
Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls and is located along the south coast. Its mist and spray create beautiful rainbows that will make you feel like you’re in a dream. This dreamy waterfall is certainly a favorite of visitors and Icelanders alike.
The Skógafoss Waterfall is very welcoming to travelers and tourists. It is conveniently located along the highway, and it is surrounded by very flat land. The landscape makes it the perfect spot for people to hop out of the car during a long drive to walk around and stretch their legs. You can even walk up to the stream of water and touch the cascading fall if you so choose.
Skógafoss can be observed from above. Take the stairs up to the observation deck for more of a bird’s eye view.
The pool at the bottom of Skógafoss is a fisherman’s wonderland. In the summer, locals come out to catch their dinner because it is home to an abundance of salmon and char.
The waterfall of the gods, or “Goðafoss,” is hands down one of the most magnificent wonders that your eyes will ever see. When this waterfall in northern Iceland is lit up by the Northern Lights in the winter months, your heart will skip a beat or two.
Goðafoss is conveniently located on Ring Road in the Diamond Circle near many other iconic attractions.
This waterfall got its name after Christianity was dubbed the official religion of Iceland in the year 1000 and statues of Norse gods and goddesses were discarded into the rushing currents.
You can visit this beautiful waterfall all year round, but if you’re going to visit in the winter, you should rent a 4×4 vehicle.
Looking for the waterfall with the greatest volume in all of Europe? Look no further. Dettifoss is a massive waterfall in northern Iceland that is powered by a glacier river called Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The energy from the magnitude and power of this waterfall is incredible.
The monstrous Dettifoss Waterfall pours over 96,500 gallons of water every single second.
Dettifoss, or “the Beast,” is located a little ways off of Ring Road and can be a bit difficult to visit in the winter months, so if you want to visit this powerhouse of a waterfall, it is best to come in the warmed months when there is less ice and slush.
Iceland’s Glymur Waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in fall of Iceland. It is fed by the Botnsá River and is certainly not a sight to be missed. It is located just a short 45 minute drive from Reykjavik, so if you are visiting the nation’s capital, driving to the Glymur Waterfall is not far out of your way.
Once you’ve parked, there is a bit of a hike to the waterfall. The hike takes about 3 and a half hours and is certainly an “outdoorsy” terrain. You will have to cross a shallow river (with a little help of a guiding rope) and a few other minor obstacles to reach this beauty.
The hike to Glymur is for hikers of decent physical health and capacity, so please consider this beforehand. If you are able to make the hike, the view is certainly worth it.
Háifoss, which is also commonly known as “the high waterfall,” is among the highest and most brilliant waterfalls in Iceland. Its narrow stream pours into the Þjórsárdalur Valley and creates an iconic picture of Iceland.
When this waterfall was discovered over 100 years ago, it was thought to be the highest waterfall in all of Europe, not just Iceland. It was written about in published articles upon its discover under the name Háifoss and the name has stuck, even though it has since been proven to not be the highest waterfall in Iceland or Europe.
To get to this wonderful waterfall, you either need a 4×4 vehicle or hiking boots to make it through the last 7 kilometers. The hike is not a bad one, but the terrain is not suitable for a small car.
The views of this spectacular southern Icelandic waterfall are worth the travel and effort.
All though this little waterfall is blue as blue can be, there is no way you’ll feel blue when you see this beauty. Brúarfoss is one of Iceland’s most treasured waterfalls.
The short drops, multiple layers of lava rock formation and variety of pits and crevices allow the water of Brúarfoss to be so blue. During the warmer months when the foliage is lush, the contrast between the bright green and bright is thought to be one of the most dreamy scenes.
This waterfall has a bit of a grim history that does not seem fitting with its blissful beauty. In the 15th century, a Danish bishop was drowned in Brúarfoss. He had attempted to murder the lover of a local girl and was then avenged for his attempted murder.
Legend has it that there was once a stone bridge that crossed over Brúarfoss, which is also known as “Bridge Falls,” that was destroyed by an Episcopal in 1602. In this time, there was a great famine and the bridge was what connected the peasants to the bountiful lands owned by the church. The destruction of this bridge meant that the people would perish.
It is hard to believe that this lovely waterfall has such a dark past. How could anything so beautiful be intertwined with something so dark and atrocious? Perhaps you should go get a feel for the scene yourself.
Hekla’s Waterfall Tours and Excursions in Iceland
While exploring these waterfall on your own can be fun, traveling with a tour group certainly has its benefits.
An expert guide can safely lead you to all of the best spots to see the most magical views that Iceland has to offer. You’ll learn about the history, myths, legends and culture of Iceland.
Traveling with a tour group can also be great if you haven’t rented a car or if you’re looking to meet people from around the world. There are so many positive things about traveling with others!
Experience the Gullfoss Waterfall on a day long tour! This 9 hour tour also includes horseback riding across valleys and lava fields, a visit to the Þingvellir and more.
Be sure to dress comfortably for your day of adventure and bring your camera. Lunch will be provided at a local farm.
This guided hiking tour of the Glymur Waterfall will pick you up wherever you’re staying in Reykjavik and bring you back in the afternoon. You will have an up close and personal experience with the Glymur Waterfall before you hike for about 2 and a half hours through a birch forest, canyons and a magnificent lava field.
Be sure to bring hiking boots and a backpack with lunch and a camera! Water resistant clothes are the best option and are available for rental.
Waterfalls are very, very powerful bodies of water. Swimming at the bottom of waterfalls can be very dangerous. There may be siphons that make it difficult to swim, due to a suctioning effect that causes swimmers to drown.
You should never swim in bodies of water in Iceland without the guidance of an expert and the proper attire. Unless you’re swimming in a hot spring, you typically want a good wetsuit to ensure your comfort and safety.
Similar Icelandic Travel Guides
Iceland’s waterfall are magnificent, but Iceland has so many more wonderful attractions that you cannot miss.
Explore some of the other wonderful travel guides that we’ve put together to help you plan the trip of a lifetime to Iceland:
- Drive the Golden Circle
- The Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Volcanoes
- Visiting the Blue Lagoon
- Top Spots in Iceland
- The Key To Reykjavik: The Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Capital
We want you to have a trip that is full of special moments and memories that will last a lifetime, so book your flight today and start planning the trip you’ve been dreaming about.
Iceland is the perfect holiday destination for anybody who loves beauty and nature. Many of Iceland’s waterfalls are conveniently located and accessible, but if you want to visit some of the magnificent hidden gems in Iceland, you may want to pack your hiking boots and get off the beaten path.
Iceland is calling your name, just begging to be explored. Answer the call and prepare to experience beauty and bliss like no other.
Book your trip to Iceland with Hekla today.