Twelve Waterfalls of Iceland

December 13, 2019

If you are a waterfall person like me, Iceland is a must visit place. The country is littered with hundreds of them. I don't think you can drive more than a few miles without coming across one. Some are small, simple, and quaint. Ones that you would want in your backyard to play in on warm summer days. Others are big powerful beasts that make you stand in awe at the sheer force of their power.  During my trip exploring the entire country, my husband and I visited numerous ones each day. Some we researched ahead and some we just happened to stumble across.

 

From roughly the 30+ we saw, I found each of them worth a visit, but realized others may have more limited time and selected my 12 favorite.

FYI, foss means waterfall in Icelandic. Hence why you see that a lot in the names. 

 

Haifoss


The first time I visited Iceland in 2016, this one wasn’t as popular as it is today. Since then, it has got a lot of recognition and a visit to the area will tell you why. Tucked sort of in the middle of nowhere near Hekla; this is one you will need some sort of 4-Wheel Drive. The road to it is not paved and filled with ditches and rocks. Though the ride is bumpy, it is 100% worth it.  122 meters high what adds to this beauty is the dramatic landscape. The view is from high atop cliffs that drop down to a beautiful valley below. A slightly smaller waterfall sits next to it, named Granni (meaning neighbor in Icelandic)

 Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

Dynjandi

Iceland is a good size country with lots of remote locations. The Westfjords are one of those regions that tends to get overlooked by tourists. Mostly because its in the far, upper, west corner of the country. However, if you  are looking for a remote, get away from it all destination, this region of Iceland worth a visit. This waterfall is probably one (if not the) biggest tourist attraction in this region. When you first approach you will see the impressive Dynjandi coming down the cliffs like a huge bridal veil. As you start to walk the path to her base, the area really opens up with several smaller, but equally beautiful, waterfalls.  Walk by them as you hike up the mountain to the main attraction. Dynandi is like a mother looming above over the children she creates in her path below. You can get pretty close to this waterfall, but its windy and you will get wet. 

 Photo taken by me. 

 

Seljalandfoss

One of the most popular waterfalls in Southern Iceland, this one is special because you can walk behind it. The views from behind the falls will get you wet, but are worth the experience. Don't forget to fall the path along the hills to the end. A second bonus waterfall, Gljufrabui, lies at the end of this easy to walk path. You have to wade through a small creek to get up to it, but worth getting covered in some more mist. 

 

 Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

 

Skogafoss

This one is not easy to miss, as you see it from the road. It's the postcard image of a perfect waterfall. Carved into the stunning Iceland countryside, its not small, but not too big either. It would be just right by Goldilocks standards. You can get right up to this one if you want, but it does exude some power. Legend has it that a treasure is hidden behind the falls. If you visit, I highly recommend walking the path that takes you to the top. Admire the view from above but don't be afraid to walk back some as the views along the river that creates the waterfall is filled with beautiful Icelandic countryside scenery. 

 Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

Kvernufoss

This one isn't quite as known yet as some of the other more popular waterfalls in Iceland.  Close to Skogafoss it can be overlooked. However, its easy to access. Just park in the Skogar Museum, walk to the back away from the museum, towards the open fields. You'll see steps that take you over a fence. Go over the steps, then make a left on the trail that goes along the stream. The path will take you to tucked away waterfall. Not as big as Seljalandfoss, but similar in that you can walk behind it.  The bonus about it not being that known yet; it tends to be empty. My husband and I spent about 30 minutes back there and never came across another person.

Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

Bruarfoss

The first time I visited Iceland, this was my favorite waterfall. It's not huge but more of a series of rocks that create a smaller falls in a river. The show stopper though is the blue water. You mix this with the countryside backdrop and its Instagram gold. However, after you snap that picture, just relax and enjoy the sheer beauty of this place. Sadly this place was once more reclusive but is now known. The path to it is more muddy, and its close to lots of summer homes. Do your best to be respectful if you visit. 

Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

Gullfoss

One of the biggest tourist attractions on the Golden Circle, its like the Niagara Falls of Icelend. Its a popular tourist and bus tour stop, so expect a crowd, but totally worth dealing with the masses of people. Be sure to take some sneakers and maybe a waterproof jacket. There is a path that you can walk to get up on the one side and get pretty close to the top of the falls. 

 

Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

Dettifoss

The most powerful in all of Europe, this one is a powerful beast of a waterfall. Its' not the most beautiful waterfall, it looks kind of brown. However its has a dominating presence that makes it worth visiting. There are two sides to this waterfall you can view. Be warned if you want to do both sides, there is a good hour drive to get from each side. The first side and most popular is the West Side. This side is more developed with a nice parking lot, and a viewing deck. This side gives you a more direct view of the front of the falls. This one has the better views of this particular waterfall if you are pressed for time and can only do one. 

 

The east side of the falls is the more rugged landscape. Its more rocks and you can walk right up to the top of the falls if you want. There are no barriers like the west side. However, as I mentioned, its an extremely powerful waterfall.  Be careful on this side as it would be easy to fall over and be gone for good. A bonus to this waterfall is both of them are a short hike to nearby Selfoss (another waterfall that almost made this list). You get a better view of Selfoss from the east side than the west.

 Photo from west side of Dettifoss taken by me.

 

Godafoss

Know as waterfall of the Gods, it got its name when Christianity became the official religion of Iceland. The ruler at the time, threw statues of the Norse Gods over into the waterfall. In pictures the waterfall appears a little taller than it is in real life; but its not small. The setting of the slight curve and breaks in the falls is a pretty back drop. Allow plenty of time at this one to enjoy it from both sides and explore the area. 

  Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

 

Kirkjufellsfoss

The waterfall in itself is a pleasant waterfall. It is not as impressive as some of the larger ones, but want sets this one apart is the back drop. Kirkjufell mountain that is an unique shaped mountain, made famous in Game of Thrones, but I think it looks like the sorting hat from Harry Potter. The combination of this unique waterfall and mountain, make this one of the most photographed spots in all of Iceland. 

 

 Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

Hraunfossar

This is sort of a string of small waterfalls that makes up one large one. Its unique in that the water comes out from the black rock of the earth and dumps into that stunning turquoise waters. 

 

Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

 

 

Hengifoss

A popular waterfall in the eastern part of the country. We could see this one from the road and were excited to get up close to it. However, don't let your perception from the base fool you. Though a nice trail, it is quite a hike and a couple of miles uphill to reach the top and get next to this beauty. The dark rocks cut out of the mountainside with touches of red, makes the hike worth it. 

Photo by Wanderer Steve. 

 

 

I would like to give some honorable mentions to these waterfalls that didn't quite make the list but are worth a stop if you have time. 

Stjornarfoss, Bjarnarfoss, Kolugljufur, and Aldeyjarfoss. 

 

 

 

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