Kvernufoss waterfall is a beautiful 30-meters high (98 ft) waterfall that is half-hidden away in a gorge in South Iceland, yet very close to the ring-road. It is located on the east side of the popular Skógafoss waterfall and is often overlooked by travellers.
I myself visited it for the first time back in 2010 but had often ogled it from the ring-road when driving east after visiting Skógafoss waterfall.
It is possible to hike into the gorge to visit Kvernufoss, and the hike takes only some 20 minutes by the river. It is an easy hike and only in a couple of places, one has to climb up rocks while looking down into the gorge. There is some loose gravel in some places, but it is not at all bad. It is a beautiful short hike.
The hike starts from behind Skógar museum and in one location you step on stiles to pass a fence. Not far from the fence the hike leads us into a gorge, Kvernugil, by a lovely river, Kverna or Kvernuhólsá river. See also:
Steps/stiles leading over the fence. It was so dark during our November visit, hence the quality of this photo
Note that the river is called Kverna and not Kverná, but Kverná river is located in Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the waterfall in that river is called Kvernárfoss. In that gorge, you will find the largest concert hall of the Elves in Iceland. I have noticed some confusion regarding these two rivers, which almost have the same name. See also:
You cannot see Kvernufoss waterfall unless you stand right by the river and look into the gorge, that is why it is overlooked by so many. You can see it from the ring-road though, but most people don't notice it.
It is possible to walk behind Kvernufoss in the summertime and from there you will really feel the power of this waterfall, even though it doesn't look big when you see it drawing closer during your hike. And from there you will get a unique perspective of the waterfall.
I love walking behind waterfalls, it is so mystical somehow. Bring a raincoat as there is a lot of drizzle coming from the waterfall. I took a short video of Kvernufoss with a small camera:
30 km west of Kvernufoss you will find the most popular of the waterfalls, which you can walk behind, Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It is much bigger than Kvernufoss and you can walk all the way behind it the summertime, but Kvernufoss has the advantage point of fewer people visiting it so you can take your time here and take photos without so many other people around. See also:
With time though more people have found out about Kvenufoss and other hidden locations in Iceland, so since I wrote this travel-blog, the number of visitors to Kvernufoss has increased.
I also want to show you what Kvernufoss waterfall looks like in the wintertime. I usually visit Kvernufoss in the summertime, but I was once guiding friends of mine in November on the south-coast heading towards Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.
We made the usual stop by my favourite childhood waterfall, Skógafoss, and then headed into the gorge to have a look at Kvernufoss. See also:
Horses, in their winter outfit, so to speak, were grazing in the golden winter sun while we were hiking to the waterfall, which made it much more magical. It was very cold, windy and icy, so the hike took longer than usual as we did not want to slide into the river. There was a strong icy flurry, which at one point almost blew me into the gorge.
It is not possible to walk behind this waterfall in the wintertime when there is ice and snow as it is way too slippery - plus a great risk of icicles falling on one's head! We saw several icicles falling down from the cliffs during our visit.
My friend and I sat down in front of Kvernufoss and admired it. We are both crazy about waterfalls and are in 7th heaven when we see "new" waterfalls. We can just sit by them for the longest time in awe.
It was -10 degrees C plus wind, and I was all red in the face, as my cheeks were frozen
It was her first time by the waterfall and we sat there alone totally mesmerized by it. Yet we were so close to hundreds of travellers visiting Skógafoss. It was calm at the end of the gorge, but all of a sudden Kvernufoss changed and became triple in size, scaring us so we jumped up and ran away.
There must have been a sudden swirl-wind which changed the appearance of Kvernufoss making it look huge! We did not want to get wet in such cold weather, so this was the end of our visit on this frosty November day.
This is a lovely area to visit, do pay Skógar museum and Skógafoss waterfall a visit as well. Here you will also find restaurants and lodging. I have stayed several times at the Hotel Edda at Skógar and also at Hotel Skógar, on which I have written another travel-blog.
If you want to join a guided tour from Reykjavík to Kvernufoss, then the Wild South Coast | Waterfalls & Black Beach with Glacier Hike will take you there. This tour includes a visit to 7 waterfalls, some of which are off the beaten track, so I think it might be interesting to join it.
The beautiful Skógafoss and the troll
There are many more guided tours to the South coast of Iceland f.ex.:
Waterfalls, Glacier & Black Sand Beach - South Coast Day Tour just to mention a few of the interesting tours.
Also, check out the combined tour with a glacier hike South Coast & glacier hike on Sólheimajökul, but Sólheimajökull glacier is very close to Kvernufoss. I have joined that tour and wrote a travel-blog about that interesting hike:
To reach this area on your own you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive there in a couple of hours. There are many beautiful sights on the way.
Skógar Museum is approximately 148 km southeast of Reykjavík, accessible by following ring-road 1 south, then travelling north up a road named Skógar. Turn right for Skógar Museum and you will find the beginning of the hike to Kvernufoss behind the museum. Kvernufoss waterfall is located a few hundred meters northeast of Skógar Museum.
Have a lovely time at Kvernufoss waterfall :)