Packed with a variety of natural wonders, Iceland is known for its impressive collection of majestic waterfalls. With easy access and dramatic surroundings, chasing waterfalls in this picturesque country is an adventure in itself. From big show-offs to subtle plumes, read on to discover our pick of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
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Located on the South Coast of Iceland, Seljalandsfoss is a popular waterfall with travelers, as it is photogenic from the front and behind. First you’ll make your way up the steep set of staircases, then you’ll have the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall and feel the power of this natural wonder as water drops from the glacier. Its sheer size makes it easy to admire it from all angles, as you can admire the 206 feet of cascading water above you as you gaze into the picturesque plans that stretch to the horizon.
A rectangular shape waterfall with stunning surrounding landscapes, Skogafoss is beautiful no matter the time of year. The water in this wonder is a combination of glacial river and spring-fed river, which makes its appearance unique. Easily accessible from the Ring Road, the waterfall is one of the country’s biggest waterfalls at 82 feet across and has a drop of 196 feet. Climb the stairs to the falls, then watch as its powerful cascade creates a beautiful double rainbow display on sunny days.
Many consider Gullfoss to be the most picturesque waterfall in all of Iceland, and it is one of the most popular stops along the famous Golden Circle. Part of the Hvita glacial river in Arnessysla in the south of Iceland, the waters plunge down into a narrow river gorge via two tiers. The 114-foot waterfall offers a dramatic display of power, where visitors can get up close to the “Golden Waterfall” on the water’s edge. Explore the lip of the hidden canyon for the best views of the waterfall or come in winter to see its beautiful display of frost and ice.
Godafoss is Iceland’s fourth largest waterfall and is the most famous of the three waterfalls, located in the Skjalfandafljot glacier river in North Iceland. Godafoss is 39-feet tall and 98-feet wide and features an elegant curve of water amongst its pristine landscapes, where winter turns it into stunning ice sculptures. Translating to “Waterfall of the Gods”, it is said that when Christianity was declared the official religion in Iceland, by lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.
Surrounded by dark lava columns, Svartifoss is located in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park on the South Coast of Iceland. Translating to “Black Waterfall”, here you’ll find a dramatic contrast between the bright white water and surrounding dark hexagonal basalt columns that creates a stunning natural landscape that can only be found in Iceland. The landscape even provided inspiration for the architecture of the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík, the ceiling of the National Theatre, and sculptor Richard Serra‘s work ‘Milestones’, located on Viðey island.
Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls, with spring water showers that tumble from the Hallmundarhraun lava rocks. Its ethereal beauty is located in the district of Borgarfjordur, Hraunfossar, formed by rivulets streaming from a short distance out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field. Sit and admire as the water washes over the red-black rocks and falls into the beautiful pools below, while summer and autumn offer an array of lush, colorful foliage that makes the perfect backdrop for a souvenir photo.
Located near Mount Kirkjufell at Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Kirkjufellsfoss is a hotspot for photographers. The serene waterfall is best captured against the dramatic mountain scenery that surrounds it during the midnight sun or Northern Lights, while winter brings a new dimension with stark white ice. Bigger is not always better when it comes to picturesque waterfalls in Iceland, as this small natural wonder packs a lot of punch for its size, fed by water from the extinct volcano Helgrindur.
Dettifoss is often referred to as the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe, as it is located in a very powerful glacial river Jökulsá. Measuring 328-feet wide and with a powerful drop of 147-feet deep, it is Iceland’s largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge. You can view the fall from both sides of the river, offering a spectacular landscape that can be seen in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbuster “Prometheus”. Reaching almost 50,000 cubic meters per minute, watch as an Olympic swimming pool amount of water is rushed over its edge every three seconds.
Seeing Dynjandi in all its glory is like watching ice flowing down a tiered cake, offering a unique view of the collections of waterfalls in Iceland. At 328 feet high, the waterfall flares out towards the bottom and spreads from 98-feet wide to 196-feet wide. The waterfall’s shape is what makes it so unique, as it boasts a wonderful bridal-veil that has helped it earn its name as “The Thunderer”. Located in the Arnarfjörður fjord, this waterfall is best seen in summer when conditions are ideal, as it also offers a scenic hike where you can pass 6 smaller waterfalls.
The Glymur waterfall sits an impressive 649 feet high and is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland. The waters spill from the river Botnsá in Botnsdalur valley in Hvalfjordur and is nestled in one of the country’s most picturesque fjords. It takes a two-hour hike to get to the waterfall, but travelers are rewarded with impressive views of its immense natural beauty. For the best views of the waterfall, you’ll have to hike through a small cave and cross the River Botnsá on a narrow log bridge, then scale the rim of the slot canyon.
The 419-foot Hengifoss waterfall is one of highest waterfalls in Iceland. Soak up the majestic views of this impressive waterfall by taking a one-hour walk to capture the best views. It will be worth it as you marvel at the water pouring over red and black humbug-striped cliffs, as the long, narrow plume of water trails from a remote plateau. On the way you’ll pass a smaller waterfall, Litlanesfoss, which is squeezed between outcrops of columnar basalt similar to those at Svartifoss.