The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Skjálfandafljót river in North-Iceland is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen in my country. It has got a drop of 20 meters into a turbulent, icy cold pool and is set in such beautiful basalt columns, that the beauty just blows my mind. Aldeyjarfoss in the right light is the perfect photography location.

I am a big fan of both waterfalls and basalt columns, so I have put Aldeyjarfoss amongst my top 3 favourite waterfalls in Iceland. You know how some waterfalls look like bridal veils, but Aldeyjarfoss looks like a beautiful train of a bridal gown! 

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Aldeyjarfoss is off the beaten path in North-Iceland, so many people don't get a chance to visit it, but if you don't mind driving for 41 km one way into Bárðardalur valley from the main road then you will be rewarded with one of the most scenic waterfalls in Iceland.

Aldeyjarfoss drops from the ancient Báðardalshraun lava field, which flowed from an eruption some 9,000 years ago.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Here we are not far from my favourite place in Iceland, Mývatn, with all of its gems of nature - and where you will for sure feel like you have stepped into another world.

There are 2 roads leading to Aldeyjarfoss waterfall from Goðafoss waterfall by ring-road 1; roads 842 and 844. I took road 842 up to the falls and returned back to ring-road 1 on road 844, as I wanted to explore all the 90 km of Bárðardalur valley!

Visiting Aldeyjarfoss from the north bank

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

I visited the waterfall from both sides, the north bank first, where we were totally alone, and from there I got some of the most beautiful photos I have ever shot in my whole life. From the north bank though you cannot see the whole round basin into which the waterfall drops and which makes Aldeyjarfoss so characteristic, so different photos can be shot from the south bank of the river.

That is kind of the official site, as it were, and several people were photographing the waterfall on that side. From the north bank, there is a beautiful hike to the waterfall, whereas on the south bank you kind of stumble down a rocky hill. I would recommend that you visit both sides of the river if you have got enough time to do so.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

A ca 18-minute easy hike takes you to Aldeyjarfoss waterfall. The hike is absolutely beautiful when the blue river comes into view, with an island and a basalt column rock in the middle of the powdery blue glacial river. Aldeyjarfoss - Aldey Island Fall - got its name from Aldey island in the river.

I was in awe when Aldeyjarfoss waterfall finally appeared. The sun came out and lit up parts of the waterfall and I got tears in my eyes, I was so astounded by its sheer beauty and so happy that I was finally able to see this remote waterfall in my country with my own eyes :)

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

I just stood there for ages and felt a great love for all the wonders of my country. I had seen photos, which tourists visiting my country had posted but had never got the chance myself to see Aldeyjarfoss with my own eyes. And I know that many Icelanders have never laid their eyes on this beautiful waterfalls. Sometimes visitors to our country see more of Iceland than we, who have lived here for our whole lives, ever do.

I walked further up to see the waterfall from above and get a better view of the powdery blue river. There was nobody on this side, so I guess I must have kind of ruined a few photos which people were taking from the south side - I am that white dot in many a photo of Aldeyjarfoss waterfall taken on that day ;)

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

I explored the surroundings of Aldeyjarfoss and checked out the waterfall from above. I wanted to stay there forever - I am sure you have been to a place like this, where you just didn't want to leave, right? 

We took a different route back and walked through a small fairy-tale valley, where I just wanted to camp and stay for a few days (not allowed though). It reminded me of Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur valley in parts - a little oasis in this ruggedly beautiful landscape. 

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

My husband's family owns a summer cottage at Mývatn, very close to Bárðardalur, which gives us a great opportunity to explore the surrounding areas and we returned that night to the cottage totally happy after such a beautiful day of exploring Bárðardalur valley and the waterfalls in Skjálfandafljót river. What treasures there are to be found off the beaten path in Iceland!

Visiting Aldeyjarfoss from the south bank

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

But before we returned back to the cottage we also visited Aldeyjarfoss from the south bank.

I visited Bárðardalur and Aldeyjarfoss in August when the gravel roads were in ok condition, and we drove up to the parking lot by the falls in our 2WD. You have to open a gate which marks the boundaries between the normal road 842 and the mountain road F26. Remember to close the gate behind you.

If you choose to leave your car by the gate and hike to the waterfall then I have read that the hike from the end of the road is something like 40 minutes. The road is a bumpy gravel road, which leads to Sprengisandur in the highlands, but the first part of it leading to Aldeyjarfoss is suitable for 2WD in the summertime in my opinion.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

The award-winning Icelandic film Hrútar (2015) was filmed at the two last farms by the gate, Bólstaður and Mýri. You can see the farms in my photo above.

Hrútar is the Icelandic term for rams, and tells the story of two brothers living on farms side by side in a remote valley in Iceland - only they haven't spoken to each other for 40 years!

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

If you follow the road further up you will need a 4x4 as this gravel road is the beginning of the Sprengisandur Highland Road. You will see 2 signs with "óbrúaðar ár" written on them. That means unbridged rivers. I have never gone any further as I don't own a 4x4 and have not yet come across any guided tours over Sprengisandur.

From the parking lot for Aldeyjarfoss, you will have to stumble down a rocky hill to get close to Aldeyjarfoss. I would say that it takes some 10 minutes of walking and stumbling to get a good view of Aldeyjarfoss from this side.

I have seen two different photos of girls in what looks like a hot-tub opposite Aldeyjarfoss, but it is actually cold rain-water or meltwater which has accumulated in potholes (skessuketill) in the rock. It makes for a good photo but must have been a pretty cold experience for these girls.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Beautiful bent basalt columns form the backdrop of Aldeyjarfoss The multi-coloured basalt columns here are amazing and so symmetrical, what an amazing masterpiece of the creator! To me, these settings are absolutely perfect :) 

I have seen these basalt columns described as being black, but they were actually very colourful, from grey to brown to yellow to orange. In one place they form a beautiful basalt column cave, which seems like it is man-made.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Another waterfall set in beautiful basalt columns is Svartifoss waterfall in South-Iceland, where the basalt columns are quite black, giving Svartifoss - Black Fall its name! 

And yet another waterfall set in basalt columns is the pretty little waterfall Litlanessfoss by Iceland's 3rd highest waterfall, Hengifoss. I am a huge fan of basalt columns and waterfalls, as you might have noticed ;)

Ullarfoss waterfall

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

On our way to Aldeyjarfoss on the north side of the falls, we passed Ullarfoss waterfall and walked down to it to check it out. By Ullarfoss you will see an abandoned power station. Bárðardalshraun lava field reaches this pretty little waterfall.

Ullarfoss runs in the fresh spring river Svartá, which flows from Lake Svartárvatn. Svartá river runs into the river Suðurá, which flows into the massive glacial river Skjálfandafljót, which further down creates the historical Goðafoss waterfall right by ring-road 1.

While visiting the 45 km long (90 km both ways) Bárðardalur valley, which is one of the longest inhabited valleys in Iceland, I made several stops on the way.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

I visited Lundabrekkukirkja church and got a guided tour of the church by the farmer at Lundarbrekka. Farm churches in Iceland are of special interest to me and I stop by every church I encounter on my travels in my country.

Lundarbrekkukirkja is the Annex church of the Þverárkirkja church in Laxárdalur valley, which stands by one of the few remaining turf houses in Iceland. Those of you who read my travel-blog might know that I have written travel-blogs on all of the remaining turf houses in Iceland ;)

Lundarbrekka was the home of the Viking settler of Bárðardalur and is named after him - Bárður Heyangurs-Bjarnason.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

We also stopped at the guesthouse Kiðagil, which is the community centre for the inhabitants of Bárðardalur valley, some 20 km away from ring-road 1, and checked out the photo exhibitions. There you will find a photo exhibition on the first motor vehicle to cross the Sprengisandur highlands.

Four men crossed Sprengisandur in 1933 in a Ford model 1927 - these men were Jón J. Víðis surveyor (top photo), Einar Magnússon college teacher, Valdimar Sveinsson sports teacher and Sigurður Jónsson driver.

I have told you about the noted Jón J. Víðis, surveyor and the instigator of the view-dials in Iceland in my travel-blog on Þverá turf house, and you will find a memorial on Jón by that majestic turf house, in which he was born.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

Jón J. Víðis was my husband's great uncle and namesake and you can see them both in my photo above. The photos at the exhibition at Kiðagil are from the private collection of Jón J. Víðis and the descriptions are taken from Jón's diary.

You can see the vehicle that first crossed the highlands of Iceland, Sprengisandur, on display at the regional and transport museum Skógasafn in South-Iceland

At Kiðagil you will also be able to get acquainted with the story of the many outlaws, who lived a hard life on the run in the highlands of Iceland, f.ex. Fjalla-Eyvindur and the Viking Grettir the Strong, who lived for 20 years as outlaws under harsh conditions.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

The guesthouse - community centre Kiðagil is named after a gorge west of Skjálfandafljót river, which the travellers through the highlands of Iceland, Sprengisandur, were always very happy to reach - as it meant that they had left behind them the ghosts, elves, trolls and outlaws of the highlands.

At school it was obligatory to learn by heart a poem by Grímur ThomsenSprengisandur, which tells us about the journey of the travellers through Sprengisandur and how they feared the ghosts, outlaws and elves and longed to be at Kiðagil. It is a very popular poem and we Icelanders often sing it on festive occasions.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

To reach Aleyjarfoss waterfall from the main road by Goðafoss waterfall, you ´will have to drive for 41 km into the valley of Bárðardalur. Take road 842 and drive to the end of it. Above it is road F26, which is for 4x4 only.

To visit North-Iceland and Aldeyjarfoss you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive for some 475 km. There are many interesting stops on the way so it is best to allow for some 2-3 days to reach this area.

I have seen one guided tour into Bárðardalur valley Aldeyjarfoss | North Iceland Off-Road Waterfalls Tour, which also takes you to a waterfall above Aldeyjarfoss - Hrafnabjargafoss waterfall.

The extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings

My photo above, which was shot by the amazing photographer Iurie Belegurschi, shows Aldeyjarfoss in the winter time. Isn't it amazing? Iurie runs very popular photography tours around Iceland.

Also, check out the many self-drive tours around Iceland:

We also have many guided summer packages and winter packages for those of you who don't want to drive yourself.

Have a wonderful time visiting Bárðardalur and Aldeyjarfoss waterfall :)

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