Iceland is full of glacial rivers that produce countless spectacular Iceland waterfalls. Some pour out of cliff faces as you round the next bend on Route 1, Iceland’s Ring Road. Others can only be reached by a hike through Iceland’s wilds. Some are famous; others don’t even have names. Here is a collection of our favorite spectacular Iceland waterfalls and ones we think should be on your must see list when visiting Iceland:
Foss a Sidu
Located about 10 kilometers from Kirkjubaejarklaustur, South, Iceland, Foss á Síðu literally translates to “waterfall on the side”. Though not as dramatic as some of the other waterfalls on our list, we couldn’t help but notice this waterfall falling down from the cliffs above the tiny town of just a few houses.
Located about 50km east of Akureyri in the North, Iceland’s most historic waterfall of course has a legend, like so many other things in Iceland. As the story goes, in the year 1000 a local chieftain Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði decided that Icelanders should adopt Christianity. He threw all of his statues of Pagan gods into the waterfall and the waterfall was appropriately named Goðafoss, which translates to the “waterfall of the gods”. (Read more about Goðafoss in winter.)
There are many taller and more powerful waterfalls in Iceland, but the special thing about Seljalandsfoss is that you can walk behind it! Dropping 60 meters, Seljalandsfoss is easily spotted from Route 1 on the way from Reykjavik to Vik and is a popular tourist attraction with tour buses reguarly stopping off.
Located about 28 kilometers east of Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss spills over the cliffs of the former coastline. Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls with a width of 25 meters (82 feet) and a drop of 60 meters (200 feet). And of course, there is a legend. The first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure chest filled with gold coins in a cave behind Skógafossl. On days when the sun is shining, it is said that his gold can be seen glittering through the water. Many have tried to find the chest and once a young, local boy succeeded. He tied a rope to the chest’s ring and pulled. He was only able to retrieve the ring and the rest of the chest disappeared. The ring was later used for the church door at Skógar.
Gullfoss can be found on The Golden Circle, the 190 mile (300 kilometer) circular route from Reykjavik and back which encompasses many of Iceland’s most famous landmarks. With a 105-foot double-cascade and dozens of rainbows streaking across the misty skies on a sunny day, it’s no wonder Gullfoss is Iceland’s most popular waterfall. (Read more about Gullfoss and The Golden Circle.)
Our favorite waterfall, perhaps because it isn’t easy to reach like all the others on this list, is Glymur. Iceland’s highest waterfall cascades 196 meters down the deep gorge of the Botnsdalur valley. To see this stunning waterfall, you’ll have to lace up your hiking boots, though the hike to Glymur isn’t for the faint of heart. The hike climbs steeply up one side and crosses over (you’ll likely need to wade through) the icy waters of the Botnsá River. (Read more about the Glymur waterfall hike.)