Iceland is the “Land of Waterfalls.” You’ll find them everywhere, and all around you, as you travel throughout the Icelandic countryside. Some will be jaw-droppers you can see from the highway, others you’ll have to 4X4 to get to, and others still will be slightly hidden from view, just waiting to be discovered. After seeing dozens of them on my trip, I’ve chosen the top five waterfalls that you must see while you’re in Iceland. They stand out from the rest, in my opinion, and 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 the waterfalls that are closest to Reykjavik, and ending with those furthest away).
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, Golden Circle, Iceland
This is the waterfall that everybody sees – because almost everybody does the Golden Circle when they visit Iceland. Which means, you’ll likely be with many other tourists when you visit – though that doesn’t make Gulfoss any less grand! To get the best possible pictures of Gulfoss (and to minimize other tourists being in them), I’d suggest visiting near sunrise or sunset, when the light will make the waterfall and 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 and getting a view from far above Gulfoss. While you’re up there, you can 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. Click the following link for: Google Map of Gulfoss Waterfall.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, South Iceland
This was the waterfall I was dying to see! When I saw the Google images of Seljalandsfoss, they were simply calling to me, beckoning me to come & see this amazing waterfall for myself. The fact that you can walk behind this waterfall, and make a full 360° coming out on the other side of it, makes it pretty spectacular – and makes for some phenomenal shots. We were not 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. Google Map of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.
- Skogafoss Waterfall, South Iceland
This is another popular waterfall in South Iceland, not too far past Seljalandsfoss. It’s going to be on the left-hand side of Route 1 (the Ring Road) if you’re coming from Reykjavik, and is also visible from the road. This waterfall is going to give 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, and we were able to get amazing photos of the rainbow hovering just beside the waterfall. Skogafoss is 150 kilometers southeast of Reykjavik, making it around a two-hour drive. Skogafoss is also very close to 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 get to Skaftafell National Park and Jokulsarlon Glacier, which is a drive of several hours. Google Map of Skogafoss Waterfall.
- 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 many tourists either time I was there, which makes 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, and both have unique vantage points to offer. Google Map of Godafoss Waterfall.
- Detifoss Waterfall, Northern Iceland
I love this waterfall – and I loved the journey to get there. You’re traveling in a barren, desert-like landscape, and then, after traveling several 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, and shows you just how much is going on beneath the surface in Iceland. This waterfall is also in Northern Iceland, near Godafoss and the popular Lake Myvatn, where you can take a dip in their nature baths or explore around the lake. From Akureyri, it’s 150km, or at least a two-hour drive. From Route 1, you will turn left onto either Route 862 (west side of Detifoss), or Route 864 (east side of Detifoss – this is the route I took). Both routes are dirt roads, and you’ll travel at least twenty minutes on either one, though 864 is slightly longer. Google Map of Detifoss.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of some of the most spectacular 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 – which one did I miss that’s on your list? Let me know in the comments below!