Iceland is a country of many amazing waterfalls, but which are the best ones? Where do you need to travel to find the most spectacular waterfalls? Are there waterfalls all around the country? Continue reading to discover the ten most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
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An exploration in Iceland isn’t complete without visiting one or several of our country’s incredible waterfalls. All with a distinct character, each waterfall will leave you in wonder with the shape, size, sound or the surrounding nature around them.
As with most of Iceland, at each waterfall, you will find a new story, whether from history or folklore. These will include tales of historical significance, tragedy and even love, helping bring to life the constantly moving and growing landscape of the land of fire and ice.
Due to the impact of Iceland’s numerous glaciers, our country hosts some of the most attractive and bizarre waterfalls on the planet. Fed by the purest glacier waters, that carve through rock and sometimes combine with the volcanism in the environment to create the most fascinating shapes, such as hexagonal basalt columns decorating the many waterfalls.
So, after much debate, we’ve created our list of the top 10 waterfalls in Iceland, though there are many more. We’ve picked these based on which we think are the best ones to visit during your stay in Iceland. So check them out and let us know what you think.
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This small and charming waterfall is situated near the impressive Mount Kirkjufell at Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. For photographers, it is particularly scenic when you capture the serenity of the water against the dramatic mountain in the background. It best experienced in the light of the midnight sun in midsummer, but also fascinating when blanketed in snow and ice come midwinter - this may even allow you to see it under the beautiful Northern Lights.
These stunningly beautiful falls, located in Borgarfjörður in West Iceland, are formed by rivulets flowing at the edge of the Hallmundarhraun lava field, pouring into the glacier river Hvíta (not to be confused with a different river of the same name that feeds Gullfoss waterfall, discussed below). The Hraunfossar falls, though peaceful and serene, are widely considered some of the most spectacular in Iceland.
Their location is also very convenient, as they sit right beside Barnafoss, another dramatic waterfall.
This splendid series of small waterfalls is located in Brúará river, in the area of Grímsnes in South West Iceland. They are little-known and considered something of a hidden gem. Watching Brúarfoss falling in thousands of small runlets and the stark blue colour as it enters the deep gorge makes it a fascinating scene, and ideal as a photography location.
This fascinating waterfall is located in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve in South East Iceland, part of Vatnajökull National Park. The name Svartifoss means 'Black Waterfall' due to the dramatic contrast between the white water and the surrounding dark hexagonal basalt columns. At the base of the fall are sharp rocks that have broken from these columns, making for quite a spectacular sight.
This picturesque feature provided inspiration for the columnar architecture of Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík, the ceiling of the National Theatre, and sculptor Richard Serra‘s work 'Milestones', located on Viðey island.
Find tours from Skaftafell here
Hrafnabjargafoss is a beautiful waterfall that is located in the mighty Skjálfandafljót glacier river in North Iceland. It is the first of three successive falls along the same river that draw many guests, the other two being Aldeyjarfoss and Goðafoss.
Aldeyjarfoss is the second in the successive row of beautiful falls in Skjálfandafljót river, and the tallest, with a 20-metre cascade. As with Svartifoss, here you‘ll see a fascinating contrast between the white water of the fall and dark basalt columns, the perfect scenery for the avid photographer.
Goðafoss, at 12 meters high and 30 meters wide, is the most famous of the Skjálfandafljót waterfalls, and one of the most famous in the country at large. It is the only one specifically featured on the classic 'Diamond Circle' route.
According to the Sagas, chieftain Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði settled a religious crisis in Iceland by throwing the idols of the Old Norse Gods into the falls to symbolise the nation's conversion to Christianity, wherefrom it gets its name, 'The Waterfall of the Gods'. Certainly, those who witness the sheer beauty of the falls will agree that the name is fitting.
Widely considered the most famous of Icelandic waterfalls, the aptly named Gullfoss ('The Golden Waterfall') belongs to the famous Golden Circle, the most popular tourist trail in the country. This circle covers two other great attractions: the Geysir Geothermal Area and Þingvellir National Park.
Gullfoss is located in the mighty Hvíta glacier river in South Iceland, where it drops down 32 metres (105 ft) into a narrow river gorge via two tiers. In clear weather, you can even walk near enough to feel the water spray on your face. Stay within the fence though, for if you fall through, you'll never emerge again.
Skógafoss is a popular destination when travelling along the South Coast of Iceland, located close to the area of Skógar. At 25m (82 ft) wide and 60m (197 ft) high, it is one of the most beautiful and dramatic of all waterfalls in Iceland.
Photographers should particularly note that on sunny days it may produce a single or even a double rainbow, due to the interplay between the spray and the sunlight.
Seljalandsfoss is another widely popular waterfall when travelling the South Coast.
This is a narrow and tall specimen, with a drop the same as Skógafoss of 60m (197 ft), and it has the rare distinction in that you can actually walk behind it for a spectacular photographic angle.
This is considered one of Iceland‘s most picturesque waterfalls, and absolutely essential to visit when travelling in the country.
What did you think of this list of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland? Are there any waterfalls that you have visited and would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.