Iceland – The Land of Waterfalls

Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice for it’s dramatic volcanic and glacial landscapes. This name is completely appropriate however I also think Iceland should be called the land of waterfalls. Scattered across this tiny island nation in the middle of the Atlantic are so many stunning waterfalls.

In the land of waterfalls it’s hard to choose an absolute favourite so here’s my top ten waterfalls of Iceland.

Iceland - The Land of Waterfalls

Iceland – The Land of Waterfalls

1. Godafoss

Waterfall of the Gods!!  Godafoss is so incredible spectacular it’s easy to see why it’s also known as the waterfall of the gods.

Godafoss - The Waterfall of the Gods!!

Godafoss – The Waterfall of the Gods!!

Beautiful Godafoss

Beautiful Godafoss

Godafoss

But the name, Waterfall of the Gods, is also linked to Godafoss’ place in history. In the year 1000 the Lawspearker Porgeir Ljosvetningagodi made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After this historic decision Porgeir threw his pagan carvings of the Norse Gods into the waterfall.

Godafoss can be found in the north of Iceland approx 40 mins outside of Iceland’s second biggest city, Akureyri.

2. Svartifoss

Cascading over a black basalt amphitheatre is the impressive Svartifoss, the Black Waterfall. The dramatic black lava columns encircling this waterfall make it unique and simply wonderful.

Dramatic Svartifoss

Dramatic Svartifoss

Icy rocks at Svartifoss

Icy rocks at Svartifoss

This dramatic waterfall is set in Skaftafell in Vatnjokull National Park and is an easy 90 minute return walk.

3. Bruarfoss

Hidden just off the well-trodden tourist path that is the Golden Circle is a stunning little waterfall that doesn’t seem real.

Bruarfoss is a lot of little cascades converging on a brilliant blue river. The brilliance of the blue is absolutely divine, and seems even more impossibly blue under grey skies and against autumn colours.

The surreal blue of Bruarfoss

The surreal blue of Bruarfoss

You won’t find this special place in Lonely Planet, and it isn’t mentioned on the big travel blogs out there. But photographers and those looking to get a bit off the beaten path have discovered this gorgeous gem.

4. Gulfoss

If you’re not up for the adventure of trying to find Bruarfoss you can still see a seriously impressive waterfall right on the Golden Circle, Gulfoss. Gulfoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfall given it’s proximity to Reykjavik. It is also pretty awesome in it’s own right.

Gulfoss, one of Iceland's most popular waterfalls

Gulfoss, one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls

Gulfoss

Gulfoss

5. Skogafoss

Rainbows arcing across the misty spray of Skogafoss are a common occurrence making this one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. It is so darn gorgeous it’s hard not to fall in love with the magic of this 60m waterfall.

Rainbows are a common occurrence at Skogafoss

Rainbows are a common occurrence at Skogafoss

Skogafoss is very popular, so don't expect to have it to yourself!!

Skogafoss is very popular, so don’t expect to have it to yourself!!

For a different view of this iconic Icelandic image climb the steps on the side to look down next to and from above.

Skogafoss from the side

Skogafoss from the side

Easily accessible from the Ring Road (you can actually see it from the main road of Iceland!) and it can also be visited as a long day trip from Reykjavik.

6. Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is famous for being the waterfall you can walk behind, and what a way to experience the power of a waterfall!

Seljalandsfoss from afar

Seljalandsfoss from afar

Going behind Seljalandsfoss

Going behind Seljalandsfoss

A pretty special moment - behind a veil of water that is Seljalandsfoss

A pretty special moment – behind a veil of water that is Seljalandsfoss

Be prepared to get very, very wet when you venture behind this beauty. But it’s absolutely worth it!

7. Dettifoss

Cutting through a surreal volcanic black basalt world with the largest volume of water of any waterfall in all of Europe is the thunderous waters of the mighty Dettifoss.

This is nature at it’s most primal and raw, and you will easily be made to feel tiny and insignificant.

I approached this force of nature from the north-west on Rte8662 but have since read the views are even better from the north-east approach on Rte 864.

Regardless of which angle you see Dettifoss from I’m sure you will be blown away by this mighty force of nature.

8. Selfoss

As I walked away from the mighty Dettifoss along the wild volcanic black landscape high above a fast flowing river I felt like I had been transported to Lord of The Rings.

Like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings

Like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings

Following this wild, otherworld like world brings you to Selfoss.

Selfoss is in a pretty dramatic setting

Selfoss is in a pretty dramatic setting

Stunning Selfoss

Stunning Selfoss

Ordinarily this would be considered a powerful and beautiful waterfall in it’s own right but it has stiff competition from the might Dettifoss. For me walking here and seeing something very few do was worth it.

9. Kirkjufellsfoss

I am completely and utterly obsessed with the mountain that is Kirkjufell and the pretty waterfalls that cascade at it’s foot. So of course those waterfalls, Kikrjufellsfoss had to make it onto this list.

The most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell, and the cascades, Kirkjufellsfoss

The most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell, and the cascades, Kirkjufellsfoss

The pure magic of Kirkjufellsfoss

The pure magic of Kirkjufellsfoss

I love how this landscape looks so different from different angles, light and season. Pure magic!

Transformed with a dusting of snow, beautiful Kirkjufelssfoss

Transformed with a dusting of snow, beautiful Kirkjufelssfoss

Found on the wonderful Snaefellsnes Peninsula full of other magical Icelandic landscapes be sure to put this waterfall and the peninsula on your must see list.

10. Roadside Waterfalls

As you drive around Iceland don’t be surprised to see a random waterfall close to the road. They are literally everywhere and it was one of my favourite part about driving the Ring Road.

A rather impressive random waterfall on the Snaefellsnes peninsula

A rather impressive random waterfall on the Snaefellsnes peninsula

Sometimes the waterfalls a little tucked away

Sometimes the waterfalls a little tucked away

Sometimes the beauty of the waterfalls beckon you to have a closer look

I just had to have a closer look at this random roadside waterfall

Worth a Mention

One day I plan to return to the land of waterfalls and when I do I will do my utmost to visit these other impressive falls:

  • Haifoss – Not the easiest waterfall to visit but from the photos I’ve seen this place looks truly wild and incredible.
  • Glymur – once thought to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland. I attempted to hike to see Glymur but sadly the river crossing was impassable with the log you use to cross the river being submerged under a very fast flow of water.
  • Alderjarfoss – You have to follow a F road into the highlands in the north of Iceland to see this waterfall cut through a stunning looking volcanic and otherworldly landscape.
  • The hidden waterfall, Gljufurarbui – take we weather gear to get a photo of this waterfall cascading inside a hidden canyon.
  • Dynjandi – in the Westfjords, an even wilder version of Iceland.

Practical Information

If you’re planning to visit the land of waterfalls, Iceland, I would recommend hiring a car or campervan. This allows the maximum flexibility and  allows you to explore to the max.

I hired a camper van from Happy Campers and couldn’t have been happier with my little home and transport. However, given I travelled in the first week of November I did, with hindsight, wish I’d paid more for a 4WD – the roads were pretty dicey at times!

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