Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland!

Iceland is the “Land of Wintry Waterfalls.”  You’ll find them everywhere, as you travel through 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 on my trip, I’ve chosen my personal favorite “Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland” that are absolute MUST-sees!  And renting a car is ESSENTIAL so that you can get to some of these off-the-beaten path waterfalls…

So, let’s head to Iceland & scout the best, most phenomenal wintry 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!

Map of Iceland Waterfalls

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 be with many other tourists when you visit!  But that doesn’t make Gulfoss any less grand.  To get the best possible photos (& to minimize other tourists being in them), I suggest visiting near sunrise or sunset.  Gulfoss drops 32 meters down into a narrow river gorgeso make sure to walk right beside it!  You can also gain a different perspective by taking the stairs & getting a view from way up 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!  

Distance From Reykyavik:  Gulfoss is 108 kilometers to the northeast of Reykjavik, & will be about a 90-minute drive.

2. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, South Iceland  

This is the waterfall I was dying to see!  When I first saw photos of Seljalandsfoss, they simply called to me ~ begging me to come see this amazing sight.  The fact that you can walk behind this waterfall, making a full 360° & coming out the other side ~ makes it pretty spectacular.  It also makes for phenomenal shots.  We weren’t able to catch this waterfall at sunset, but if you can, I’d highly recommend it.  Also, bring 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, 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, stay 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 very popular waterfall in South Iceland, not too far past Seljalandsfoss.  It’s on the left side of Route 1 (the Ring Road) if you’re coming from Reykjavik, & is 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 located 150 kilometers southeast of Reykjavik, making it a two-hour drive.  It’s also near the town Vik.  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 & 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!  Of course, these things are subjective, but the reason I loved Godafoss so much is because, when I was there (at two different times of day), the light was absolutely sublime.  And there weren’t as many tourists, 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.

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 many miles on a dirt road, you begin to see mist rising, which means that you’re approaching the most powerful waterfall in Europe.  How that much water exists in such a stark landscape is unfathomable, & reveals just how much is going on beneath the surface here.  This waterfall is also in Northern Iceland, near Godafoss, & the popular Lake Myvatn, where you can soak in hot nature baths.  

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

Closest Nearby Towns: Akureyri 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 

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