Six Spectacular Iceland Waterfalls

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

Foss a Sidu

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.

Godafoss

Godafoss

Goðafoss

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.)

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

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.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

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

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

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.)

Glymur Waterfall

Glymur

Glymur

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.)

Which of these spectacular Iceland waterfalls is your favorite?

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Six Spectacular Iceland Waterfalls

Comments

  1. Thora Norman says

    Some of my favorites are Hraunfossar, barnafossar and dynjandi, as well as gullfoss and skogarfoss.

  2. says

    So gorgeous and otherworldly it seems like sci fi, or theater. I was reading some years back that Canadian conductor Robert LePage based his then concept of Wagner’s Ring for the Met in NYC on such photos of Iceland. He reasoned that since the classic Norse myths which gave rise to the Ring were in fact Icelandic, perhaps the Icelandic landscape shaped and inspired our ancestors to devise such myths to explain the wonders. At the end of Das Rheingold, the gods walk across a rainbow bridge and ascend into Valhalla. That rainbow pic above seems to perfect set design for such a concept. Amazing photos and superb website. Very inspiring! But how do you travel so extensively with full time jobs? Do tell!

    • says

      Thank you, Jackson! We actually wrote a post on our secrets to how we travel so much with full time jobs. There’s really no big secret – it just takes planning and maximizing our holidays and vacation time.

  3. says

    I love waterfalls! These are so gorgeous. Between the northern lights and the waterfalls, Iceland is so high on my list. I especially like the photo with the rainbow.

  4. says

    those are amazing falls, I love the distance shots and the majestic one with the rainbow, gorgeous…we also have some beauties in Hawaii

  5. says

    How strange that I’ve never thought of waterfalls in Iceland, but of course there would be spectacular ones! Goðafoss is super dramatic, so that’s probably my favorite. But it’s very cool that Foss a Sidu is so close to the road.

    • says

      I never thought of waterfalls in Iceland either before our first trip. I honestly didn’t know what to expect! I’d really never paid any attention to Iceland until the volcano reeked havoc on European air travel in 2010. But as soon as I arrived, I was just absolutely blown away by the spectacular scenery there.

  6. says

    Oh my goodness, they’re all spectacular. Love the photo of Gulfoss with the rainbow — so magical! The hike to Glymur sounds a lot of fun; I think I’d go for that one.

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