Seljalandsfoss waterfall in south Iceland

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".

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland. It is 65 meters tall according to the National Land Survey of Iceland and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a must visiting 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. 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.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in south Iceland

In winter time 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.

An icicle fell inches from a woman behind the waterfall, when she had 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:

A Winter Visit to the South-Coast of Iceland- all the way to Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Seljalandsfoss is not far from Reykjavík, only some 120 kilometres, so you can take a day trip, f.ex. South Coast Tour and waterfalls and visit Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss and return to Reykjavík on the same day. 

We actually have something like 211 various tours  to this area from Reykjavík, so do check them out to make the most of your visit to Iceland :)

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 winter time it is lit up.

Here is the location of Seljalandsfoss on the map.

Gljúfrabúi waterfall 

Gljúfrabúi waterfall in south Iceland

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.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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.

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.

Gljúfrabúi waterfall in south IcelandIt is difficult taking photos when inside as the light shining from above is too bright and there is a lot of drizzle. 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.

Here is the location of Gljúfrabúi on the map.

Skógafoss waterfall 

Skógafoss waterfall in south Iceland

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 most 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 around 62 m high and 25 meters wide, and you can walk right up to. Standing so close to a powerful waterfall is overwhelming, and you will be drenched in the drizzle, make sure to protect your camera.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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.

Staircases 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 beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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 visit the troll midway up.

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 beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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 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.

Skógafoss and the Legend of the Treasure Chest

Skógar Museum - An Excellent Regional Museum & Turf House in South-IcelandThe beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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.

Seeing that Skógafoss is my favourite waterfall in Iceland then 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 :)

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.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

And you might want to visit the less-visited neighbour of Skógafoss waterfall - Kvernufoss waterfall as well. It 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.

Kvernufoss Waterfall - the less-visited Neighbour of Skógafoss in South-Iceland

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Kvernufoss waterfall

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 have been reluctant to write about it. But now that I see that people have started including it in their south-coast visit, then I will add one photo of it.

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.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Íráfoss waterfall

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. 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 then I refer you to my travel-blogs on these locations.

Gluggafoss Waterfall in South-Iceland - have you ever seen a Waterfall with Windows?

The Mystical Nauthúsagil Ravine in South-Iceland & its beautiful Waterfalls

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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. 

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Rauðárfoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

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 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.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Systrafoss waterfall at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

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:

Historical Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Systrafoss & Systrastapi

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Stjórnarfoss waterfall 

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 :)

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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.

Extraordinary Columnar Basalt and Waterfalls in South-Iceland - Foss á Síðu & Dverghamrar

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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 top 10 favourite waterfalls in Iceland - Svartifoss waterfall.

Svartifoss in Skaftafell is set in black basalt columns, making 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 :)

Svartifoss & other astonishing Attractions in Skaftafell in South-Iceland

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell, south Iceland

To reach the waterfalls on the south coast, you can rent a car in Reykjavík  and spend a lovely day visiting the waterfalls. And if you want to travel further on and visit some of the other waterfalls, then have a look at the self-drive tours available:

Top self-drive tours in Iceland

Top summer self-drive tours

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

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.

The beautiful Waterfalls of South-Iceland; Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss & Gljúfrabúi

Also, check out this tour with a glacier hike South-Coast & glacier hike on Sólheimajökull | Medium difficulty - 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

I have written another travel-blog on 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.

See also my travel-blog on my favourite waterfalls in Iceland:

A Local's favourite Icelandic Waterfalls

Have a lovely time visiting the south coast of Iceland :)

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