The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi
I love the mesmerizing feeling of sitting by a waterfall and have to tear myself away from them. I am in luck as Iceland has got so many beautiful waterfalls, which I visit often.
One of my favourite trips in my country is visiting the waterfalls in the south; the best known are Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skógafoss waterfall. The Icelandic term for a waterfall is "foss".
Top photo: Skógafoss waterfall and the troll
Seljalandsfoss is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland. It is approx. 60 meters tall and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
It is a must to visit Seljalandsfoss when visiting the south coast, you will not regret it!
A path leads you behind the waterfall, but do bring a raincoat as you will get soaking wet from the drizzle.
The view from behind Seljalandsfoss at sunset
It is fantastic walking behind Seljalandsfoss, especially on a sunny day when one can catch a rainbow.
Flash is needed for photos behind the waterfall if you don't want to come out looking like a silhouette against the waterfall.
Soaked behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall
In the wintertime, the path is closed when it gets too slippery and dangerous to walk behind the waterfall.
In September 2017 it had rained so much that 100 kg heavy boulders fell from above onto the path!
This is nature, after all, so let's be careful here.
Seljalandsfoss in the wintertime - path closed
An icicle fell inches from a woman behind the waterfall when she disobeyed the guide and ventured down the slippery path.
I have included that story in my travel-blog about my winter visit to the south-coast:
Seljalandsfoss is not far from Reykjavík, only some 120 kilometres, so you can take a day trip and check out Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi, Skógafoss, and a couple of other waterfalls on the way.
A new path has been opened at Seljalandsfoss so it is much easier now to go behind the waterfall than it used to.
The new path by Seljalandsfoss waterfall
You can spot Seljalandsfoss from the ring road long before you reach it and it is a beautiful sight watching it getting closer and closer. In the wintertime, it is lit up.
Now you have to pay for parking your car by Seljalandsfoss waterfall. New toilets have been put up and the path improved, and money is needed for that, and the landowners try to keep the surroundings clean.
You will find another waterfall called Gljúfrabúi, very close to Seljalandsfoss. The name means "Dweller in the Gorge". Gljúfrabúi is also called Gljúfrafoss, but I prefer the cute name of the dweller in the gorge :)
Gljúfrabúi is 40 meters high and in front of it is a big rock almost covering it, making it difficult to see the lower part of the waterfall. This rock is called Franskanef cliff or the French nose.
Not many visitors knew about this waterfall until a couple of years ago, as it is so hidden away, so we locals kind of kept it to ourselves.
Visiting Gljúfrabúi is a different experience from visiting Seljalandsfoss as you walk behind Seljalandsfoss, but right into Gljúfrabúi. It is best to wear Wellington boots and maybe a raincoat if there is a lot of drizzle.
You can either wade through the gorge, which is easy - or climb up the rock which is in front of the waterfall. I have never climbed up the rock, but if you do so, you can look down at Gljúfrabúi.
The entrance to Gljúfrabúi waterfall
I once visited Glúfrabúi in November. At that time there was not too much water in the river so I jumped on the rocks in the river and walked straight up to the waterfall.
The rocks were icy and slippery, so it was a little risky though. But an excellent experience as it is very mystical being so close by the waterfall.
It is difficult to take photos when inside as the light shining from above is too bright and there is a lot of drizzle.
Inside the gorge by the waterfall
I always climb up on the small rock in front of Gljúfrabúi inside the gorge and have my photo taken there - either sitting in the lotus position or with my hands in the air ;)
These are the most popular photos - and of course, couples have their photos taken on this rock as well, but maybe not in the same positions as I use when I am there alone.
Skógafoss waterfall and a rainbow - I love this photo :)
The next waterfall is Skógafoss, which is 30 kilometres away from Seljalandsfoss, just off the ring road 1. It is breathtakingly beautiful and has always been amongst my favourite waterfalls since I first visited it as a child with my parents.
When I was younger, I wanted to stay behind and just live by this waterfall as I was so mesmerized by it :) And I still always look forward to visiting it.
Skógafoss is approx. 60 m high and 25 meters wide, and you can walk right up to it.
Standing so close to a powerful waterfall is overwhelming, and you will be drenched in the drizzle, make sure to protect your camera and phone.
Often you will see the most beautiful rainbow by Skógafoss waterfall and here is the only place where I have been encircled by a rainbow!
That cannot be caught on camera, but in my photos, you can see how beautiful the rainbow by Skógafoss can be.
I hope that it will be sunny during your visit to Skógafoss so that you can see a rainbow.
A rainbow by Skógafoss
Stairs lead up to the top of the hill above Skógafoss, and from there you can see what Skógafoss looks like from above. It is much more impressive from below though.
There are 527 steps all in all if I am not mistaken. I counted the steps when I first climbed them, so do correct me if you come up with another number.
The stairs leading to Skógafoss waterfall
I have climbed these steps several times, and am always out of breath when I reach the top. And so are most of my fellow step-climbers.
It is quite tricky climbing the steps in one go, but you can stop and rest on the grass if needed.
Be careful though as there is a long way down and visiting the troll is not for those who are afraid of height.
The photos from this very spot are so beautiful. The track leading to the troll has not been closed off.
From above you can have a look at some other waterfalls in the river in the summertime. That path is closed in the wintertime.
There is a legend connected to Skógafoss waterfall dating back to around the year 900 - according to this old folklore, you can find a chest filled with gold and treasures behind Skógafoss waterfall
You can read more about it in another travel-blog. In that travel-blog, you will also see more photos of Skógafoss, one of which is up close and personal.
See my other travel-blogs:
The turf house at Skógasafn - Skógar Museum
The legend involves a beautiful chest-ring which is now on display at Skógar Museum at Skógar, close to Skógafoss waterfall. Do check it out!
You can see a photo of the chest ring in my travel-blog above. At the regional museum, you will also see a traditional Icelandic turf house.
Skógafoss with a rainbow
Seeing that Skógafoss is my favourite waterfall in Iceland I decided on staying at Hotel Skógar for my birthday on the 24th of March.
The hotel is only a 5-minute-walk from Skógafoss and during my stay, I visited Skógafoss 3 times :) You can also camp by Skógafoss.
Visiting these beautiful waterfalls is a delight, and I cannot wait to come for another visit when I leave for Reykjavík after a full day by the waterfalls.
And you might want to visit the less-visited neighbour of Skógafoss waterfall - Kvernufoss waterfall as well.
Or at least it used to be less visited until I wrote a travel-blog about it many years ago, the people started including it in their visit to Skógafoss.
Kvernufoss is located in a small gorge behind the regional Skógar Museum. It is possible to walk behind it in the summertime.
Don't walk behind it in the wintertime as there is a real danger of falling icicles.
Yet another beautiful waterfall is partly hidden away in another gorge on the south coast. It is located on the land of a farmer, so I was reluctant to write about it.
But now that I see that people have started including it in their south-coast visits, then I will add it to my travel-blog.
It is called Íráfoss waterfall and can be seen from ring road 1. A short hike through a mystical gorge takes you close to the waterfall. It doesn't look like much from the highway, but once you reach it you will see how distinctive it is.
When I first visited Íráfoss a couple of years ago nobody but some locals were stopping by it. And there were even 2 dead sheep rotting away in the gorge, so I guess that the farmer hadn't visited it for some time either.
By Íráfoss waterfall
Then it got discovered, as it were, and now I always see people in the gorge when I drive by.
In this area, I have visited a couple of other beautiful waterfalls on which I have written travel-blogs; the unique Gluggafoss - Window's Falls and Nauthúsagil, which is hidden away in a narrow gorge - you will have to hike along a creek to reach the waterfall.
But as they are not located by ring-road 1 I refer you to my travel-blogs about these locations.
Rauðárfoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur
This travel-blog is mainly on the 3 beautiful waterfalls on the South-coast; Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gljúfrabúi, but you can see several other beautiful waterfalls by the ring-road in South Iceland. If you drive much further on then you will see Rauðárfoss from ring-road 1.
Rauðárfoss waterfall is located by Kirkjubæjarklaustur village some 250 km away from Reykjavík. It is so distinctive, set in russet columnar basalt. Isn't it just beautiful?
I love visiting it when the sun is shining as the whole waterfall and the columnar basalt glisten and almost look like they are glowing. Rauðárfoss means Red River Falls and the river is called Rauðá or Red River.
Rauðárfoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur - such beautiful basalt columns
I haven't seen many people visiting this waterfall, only a handful of people who are on their way to Systrastapi. As Rauðárfoss has got a much better-known neighbour, Systrafoss waterfall.
Systrafoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Systrafoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur is the main waterfall of this area right in the middle of the village.
Its name Systrafoss means the Waterfall of the Sisters or Nuns, as from 1186-1550 there was a convent at Kirkjubækjarklaustur, which is often shortened to Klaustur or the Convent.
Systrafoss waterfall with only one waterfall in draught
What makes Systrafoss so distinctive, is that the river Fossá runs in 2 identical waterfalls calmly side by side down the rock into Fossárgil rift from Lake Systravatn above.
In draught, the waterfall dries up and disappears.
You can see photos from different seasons, with and without draught in my travel-blog:
Just around the corner from Kirkjubæjarklaustur, another distinctive waterfall is to be seen, the round waterfall Stjórnarfoss.
The river Stjórn runs through a pretty gorge and creates this little waterfall ball, which is quite cute :)
Foss á Síðu
Foss á Síðu
The next waterfall by the ring-road is Foss á Síðu or Foss at Síða, which is located some 10 km east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Foss á Síðu, which is not large in volume, but very distinctive, cascades down from Lake Þórutjörn.
The rock formations are fairytale-like in my opinion and I always stop here to take a photo of this waterfall, which only goes by the name Foss or waterfall and then the name of its location.
I have stayed for several nights in this area and can recommend this area for an overnight stay.
Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell set in beautiful black and brown basalt columns
Should I add one more waterfall, which is to be found in South Iceland, but cannot be seen from the ring road? It is so beautiful that I count it among my 10 favourite waterfalls in Iceland - its name is Svartifoss waterfall.
Svartifoss in Skaftafell is set in black basalt columns, which makes it very distinctive.
It is a very elegant 20 metres tall waterfall which from above looks like a big heart. Such romantic settings and one of my best friends got engaged by Svartifoss :)
To reach the waterfalls on the south coast, you can rent a car in Reykjavík and spend a lovely day visiting the waterfalls.
Or more days if you want to drive further on and see the other waterfalls and more attractions in the southern part of Iceland.
From my travel-blog The spectacular Katla Ice Cave in South Iceland is open all Year round
There are also many guided tours to the south coast of Iceland to choose from to make the most of your visit.
Also, check out the glacier hike on Sólheimajökull glacier - I have joined this tour and can recommend it. If you'd like to find out what that tour is like then here is my travel-blog with plenty of photos:
Glacier Hike & Ice Climbing on Sólheimajökull glacier in South Iceland
Hiking on Sólheimajökull glacier
I have written another travel-blog about a fun trip which I joined to the South coast and Eyjafjallajökull in a luxurious super jeep.
There is just a myriad of things to do here on the south coast of Iceland. The latest activity is zipline in Vík, which I must try out.
Have a lovely time visiting the waterfalls in South Iceland :)
Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland
Sænautasel Turf House in the Highland of Iceland
The Dynamic Plant Lupine
Secret waterfall on the South Coast
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