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Frequently Asked Questions

About Waterfall Tours in Iceland

Iceland is home to hundreds of beautiful waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. On waterfall tours, which are often combined with other activities, you allow yourself an intimate up-close encounter with these primordial forces of nature.

1. What are the most famous waterfalls in Iceland?

The most famous are Gullfoss, Dettifoss, Glymur, and the South Coast's picturesque Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.

2. What is Iceland’s most powerful waterfall?

Dettifoss, which is located close to Lake Mývatn, has the greatest flow of water. In fact, its width of 100 m (328 ft) and its drop of 44 m (144 ft) make it the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

3. What is Iceland’s tallest waterfall?

Officially, the tallest waterfall is Glymur in southwest Iceland. Its drop is over 190 m (623 ft), making it twice as tall as Iceland’s second highest waterfall, Skógafoss. Since 2007, however, a new waterfall, Morsárfoss, became visible after Morsárjökull glacier started melting. This new waterfall measures at least 240 m (787 ft) in height, making it the tallest of all.

4. Why are there so many waterfalls in Iceland?

The North Atlantic climate produces frequent rain and snow. This, along with the meltwater produced by glaciers makes Iceland extremely suited for waterfalls.

5. Where does the water of Iceland’s waterfalls come from?

Most of Iceland’s water comes from glaciers, although much also comes from mountain springs and rainfall.

6. Can you go rafting or kayaking down any waterfalls in Iceland?

No. You can, however, raft down rapids and rivers in North Iceland.

7. Are there any waterfalls in Iceland that have accessible caves behind them?

Yes, the most famous waterfall with an accessible cave is Seljalandsfoss, on the South Coast. Close by is Kvernufoss, which you can also walk behind. Do not attempt to go behind a waterfall in winter, it’s very dangerous as the cliffs and rocks get icy.

8. Why do waterfalls often have rainbows in front of them?

A rainbow is caused by the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets. Because of the constant mist of water around powerful waterfalls, the sunlight frequently creates rainbows. Two waterfalls in Iceland that are known to frequently display rainbows are Gullfoss, on the Golden Circle sightseeing route, and Skógafoss, on the South Coast.

9. Is the water in Iceland's waterfalls drinkable?

Waterfalls that contain clear spring water are drinkable, but waterfalls in murky glacial rivers are not.

10. What happens to the waterfalls in winter, do they freeze?

At 0°C (32°F), water freezes; in the case of a waterfall, its freezing over depends on the power of its flow. Sometimes, the whole waterfall freezes, while at other times, parts of it do while the water still rushes down past chunks of thick ice.

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Waterfalls in Iceland

Be they cascading over an ancient sea cliff on the South Coast, tumbling majestically from an ice cap in Vatnajökull National Park, or trickling down a cliff face somewhere in the Westfjords, Iceland’s waterfalls are a staple attraction for almost all visitors to Iceland.

An essential part of this country's natural cycle, Iceland’s waterfalls have their origins in the country’s glaciers, flowing down great veins from the highlands out toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Driving around Iceland, it is virtually impossible not to spot a waterfall at some point during the journey. Some are enormous, such as Dynjandi in the Westfjords, while others are small and tucked away in cliffside gorges, such as the photogenic Gljúfurárfoss.

Other waterfalls are staples on this country’s most popular sightseeing routes; Gullfoss, one of the most beloved Icelandic waterfalls, is an essential third of the Golden Circle route, while Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are almost compulsory visits in the south.

Waterfalls have also played an essential part in Icelandic history and folklore. The waterfall, Goðafoss, was, for instance, the final resting place of many Pagan idols, after Iceland’s early settlers threw them into the cascade as proof of their newfound Christian belief.

Another example is the hidden treasure chest that supposedly sits behind the curtain of water that is Skógafoss. According to legend, the chest was placed here by Þrasi Þórólfsson, the Viking Settler at Skógar. Supposedly, after a failed attempt to retrieve it, one of the chest’s handle rings accidentally broke away, leaving the chest behind. The ring from this chest was first hung on the church door at Skógar, before taking its final resting place in the village museum.


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