Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland!

Iceland is the “Land of Wintry Waterfalls.”  You’ll find them everywhere, as you travel throughout the Icelandic countryside.  Some are jaw-droppers you’ll see from the highway ~ while others require a little 4X4’ing to get to, & others still are just slightly hidden from view, waiting to be discovered.  After seeing dozens of them on my trip, I’ve chosen my “Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland” that are absolute Iceland must-sees!  They stand out from the rest, in my opinion, & are the absolute best waterfalls in a country full of them!

So, let’s head to Iceland and scout some phenomenal waterfalls!  Note: I’m starting with waterfalls closest to Reykjavik, & ending with those furthest away.  I’ll also give recommendations for my favorite hotels nearby!  

GWTW Tip: The word “foss” in Icelandic means “waterfall,” so every time you see a word ending in “foss,” you can pretty much guarantee that it’s a waterfall!

Gulfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Skogafoss Waterfall

Godafoss Waterfall

Detifoss Waterfall


Keflavik International Airport

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland!

  1. Gulfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle, Iceland
    Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Guide to Iceland

    Gulfoss Waterfall, courtesy of Guide to Iceland

    This is the waterfall that everybody sees ~ because almost everybody drives the Golden Circle when they visit Iceland.  Which means, you’ll likely be with many other tourists when you visit!  But that doesn’t make Gulfoss any less grand.  To get the best possible pictures of Gulfoss (& to minimize other tourists being in them), I’d suggest visiting near sunrise or sunset, when the light will make your pictures come alive.  Gulfoss drops 32 meters down into a narrow river gorge ~ so make sure you walk right beside it!  You can also gain a different perspective by taking the stairs & getting a view from far above.  While you’re up there, grab a bite to eat or some coffee at the large cafe ~ it’s expensive, but so is everywhere in Iceland!  Gulfoss is 108 kilometers to the northeast of Reykjavik, and will be about a 90-minute drive.

2. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, South Iceland  

This was the waterfall I was dying to see!  When I saw Google images of Seljalandsfoss, they were simply calling to me ~ begging me to come & see this amazing waterfall for myself.  The fact that you can walk behind this waterfall, making a full 360° & coming out the other side of it ~ makes it pretty spectacular.  It also makes for some phenomenal shots.  We weren’t able to catch this waterfall at sunset, but if you can, I’d highly recommend it.  Also, make sure to bring slip-resistant shoes if you plan to walk behind the waterfall (which you must!), as the path can be very slippery. Seljalandsfoss is 120 kilometers southeast of Reykjavik, and is directly off Route 1 (the Ring Road), which makes it impossible to miss ~ you’ll see it from the road.  And all the tour buses. 

Closest Nearby Towns: Hvolsvollur & Asolfsskali.  If you’re continuing on to Jokulsarlon, try staying the night in Vik, a larger town with more dining & lodging options. 

Best Nearby Hotel: Hotel Fljotshlid ($92+/night), in Hvolsvollur.

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss, Girl Who Travels the World

I made it!

3. Skogafoss Waterfall, South Iceland  

This is another popular waterfall in South Iceland, not too far past Seljalandsfoss.  It’s on the left-hand side of Route 1 (the Ring Road) if you’re coming from Reykjavik, & is also visible from the road.  This waterfall gives you one of the best opportunities to catch a “rainbow waterfall” shot.  Right before we got out of our car, it was absolutely pouring rain.  Then, just as we approached the waterfall, the rain stopped & we were able to get amazing shots of a rainbow hovering just beside the waterfall.  

Skogafoss is 150 kilometers southeast of Reykjavik, making it about a two-hour drive.  Skogafoss is near the town Vik, in Southern Iceland.  This is a great place to stop for the night, because once you get past Vik, there are very few facilities until you reach Skaftafell National Park and Jokulsarlon Glacier, which is a drive of several hours.

Closest Nearby Towns: Asolfsskali & Vik.  If you’re continuing on to Jokulsarlon, stay the night in Vik.

Best Nearby Hotel: Enjoy the hot tub at Hotel Katla ($100+/night), in Vik.

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss Waterfall, Girl Who Travels the World

Try & catch a rainbow at Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland!

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland

4. Godafoss Waterfall, “The Waterfall of the Gods,” Northern Iceland

We’re moving to Northern Iceland now, to my absolute favorite waterfall in all of Iceland!  Of course, these things are subjective, but the reason I loved Godafoss so much is that, when I was there (at two different times of day), the light was absolutely sublime.  And to top it off, there weren’t as many tourists at Godafoss as there were at waterfalls in Southern Iceland, which made it feel more like a true discovery.  

Godafoss is fairly close to the northern town of Akureyri ~ so you’ll still be on the Ring Road, or Route 1.  From Akureyri, it’s 52 kilometers to Godafoss, or about a 45-minute drive.  Make sure you check out both sides of Godafoss. There’s a bridge that connects the two sides, & both have unique vantage points to offer. 

Closest Nearby Towns: Akureyri, Iceland.  Under an hour drive on open roads.

Best Nearby Hotel: If you’re on a budget, try my personal fave: Akureyri Backpackers Hostel ($22+/night).

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Girl Who Travels the World

Definitely one of the “Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland” ~ & my favorite.

5.  Detifoss Waterfall, Northern Iceland

I loved this waterfall ~ & I loved the journey to get there.  You’re traveling in a barren, desert-like landscape ~ & then, after traveling many miles on a dirt road, you begin to see mist rising, which means that you’re now approaching the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.  How that much water exists amid such a stark landscape is incredible to me, & shows you just how much is going on beneath the surface in Iceland.  This waterfall is also in Northern Iceland, near Godafoss & the popular Lake Myvatn, where you can soak in hot nature baths or explore around the lake.  

From Akureyri, it’s 150km, or at least a two-hour drive to reach Detifoss, & you’ll need to do some off-roading.  From Route 1, you’ll turn left onto either Route 862 (west side of Detifoss), or Route 864 (east side of Detifoss ~ this is the route I took).  Both are dirt roads, & you’ll travel at least twenty minutes on either one, though 864 is slightly longer.

Closest Nearby Towns: Akureyri, Iceland is the closest major city.  But the Lake Myvatn region is closer to Detifoss.

Best Nearby Hotel: Fosshotel Myvatn ($144+/night).

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Detifoss Waterfall, Girl Who Travels the World

Sitting beside the most powerful waterfall in Europe…

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guided tour of the “Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland!”  If you’ve been, which were your favorites?  Of course I didn’t get to all of them when I was there ~ so which one did I miss that’s on your list?  Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: Your Perfect Iceland Playlist!

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Noelle Bertram is a restaurant owner, former fitness coach, Huffington Post writer, & all-around entrepreneur who travels full-time now & writes all about it! Catch up with her on Instagram or @ her website about being the ultimate, fearless travel girl:
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