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…

Best Waterfalls in Iceland, Girl Who Travels the World

Godafoss Waterfall, located in Northern Iceland, just outside of Akureyri, is my absolute FAVORITE waterfall in Iceland.

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

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

Gulfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Skogafoss Waterfall

Godafoss Waterfall

Detifoss Waterfall

Reykjavik

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 (& minimize other tourists being in them), visit at 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 up & getting a view from above the falls.  While you’re up there, grab a bite to eat at the large cafe ~ it’s expensive, but so is everything 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  

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

I made it!

This is the waterfall I was dying to see!  When I first saw photos of it, 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° walk & coming out the other side, makes it highly unique, & makes for phenomenal photographs.  We weren’t able to see 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, as the path is 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.

3. Skogafoss Waterfall, The “Rainbow Waterfall,” in South Iceland  

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

Try & catch a rainbow at Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland!

This is another popular waterfall in South Iceland, not 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 falls, 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 of 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, which is a drive of several hours.

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

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland

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

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

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

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 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. 

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

5.  Detifoss Waterfall, in Northern Iceland

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

Sitting beside the most powerful waterfall in Europe…

I loved this waterfall ~ & I loved the adventurous 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 located in Northern Iceland, near Godafoss & popular Lake Myvatn, where you can soak in hot nature baths. 

From Akureyri, it’s 150 kilometers, or a two-hour drive to reach Detifoss ~ & you’ll need to do some off-roading.  From Route 1, turn left onto either Route 862 (west side of Detifoss), or Route 864 (east side).  I took the east side, & a glad I did, for I got many outstanding vantage points of this crazy-powerful waterfall.  Both are dirt roads, & you’ll travel at least twenty minutes on either (though 864 is slightly longer).

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

Top 5 Best Waterfalls in Iceland

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The Closest Waterfalls to Reykjavik in Iceland, Girl Who Travels the World

The Top 5 Must-See Waterfalls in Iceland, Girl Who Travels the World

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