Iceland has hundreds of waterfalls. What are the most beautiful and popular waterfalls and where in Iceland are all these waterfalls?
It has been said before, when it comes to water, Iceland has an abundance of it – in all forms. Be it swimming pools, hot springs, geysers, lakes, glaciers, rivers or waterfalls, Iceland has plenty.
The waterfalls in Iceland are countless. Every year new ones form from melting glaciers and every river has a few ones. They can be seen all over the country, many of them from the Ring-road.
Here are some of the major waterfalls of Iceland:
Most popular waterfall in Iceland – Gullfoss
Gullfos waterfall literally means ‘Golden waterfall’ and by many is considered Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. It is the most known waterfall in Iceland since it is close to Reykjavík and the Golden Circle draws its name from this waterfall, seeing as it is one of its pit stops along with Geysir and Þingvellir. It is situated in the southwest part of Iceland and is only about a 2 hour drive from Reykjavík, by road number 35.
Highest waterfall in Iceland – Glymur
Glymur waterfall is Iceland’s highest waterfall, 198 meters high. It is situated in Hvalfjörður fjord, not far from Reykjavík. Although it is not far from Reykjavík it is not visible from route 1 and is about a 2 hour hike from the main road. Here you can join a hiking tour to Glymur waterfall.
Second highest waterfall in Iceland – Háifoss
Háifoss waterfall is Iceland’s second highest waterfall, 122 meters tall. It is situated in Fossárdalur valley in the south of Iceland, in the inner Þjórsárdalur valley. You may need to hike a little from the road in order to reach it - but if the gravel road is in a good condition then you can reach a parking nearby. From Reykjavík it's a 2 hour drive along road no. 1, then turn left onto road no. 30 after you've passed Selfoss and then turn right onto road no. 32. From road no. 32 you can drive a gravel road no. 332 all the way up to the waterfall and park. Check the road condition beforehand if you're driving a small car, or go with a 4x4 car.
Most powerful waterfall in Europe – Dettifoss
Dettifos waterfall is the most powerful waterfall in Iceland when it comes to volume of water. It is only 45 meters tall but about a 100 meters wide and it has an enormous amount of water thrusting down every second. This waterfall was prominently displayed in the opening scene in Prometheus by Ridley Scott. Dettifoss is in the northeast part of Iceland and you can reach it on a daytrip from Akureyri or nearby Mývatn. Here are some Dettifoss tours to choose from.
The waterfall you can walk around – Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is in the south of Iceland and is easily accessible from all sides. It is right by the main road and there is a short walking path going all around it, accessible for every fitness level. It is breathtakingly beautiful to watch a waterfall standing right behind it! You can drive to it yourself, just head east on ringroad number 1 from Reykjavík and after a couple of hours you'll see it. Alternatively, you can choose between many tours of the southcoast.
The lava waterfalls – Hraunfossar
Hraunfossar waterfalls is a synonym for many springwater waterfalls running from Hallmundarhraun lava in the west of Iceland. Combined they form one of Iceland’s most picturesque waterfalls. Hraunfossar are less than a 2 hour drive from Reykjavík, first you head north on road no. 1 but turn right onto road no. 50 just before you reach Borgarnes. Road no. 50 then turns into road no. 518 and that takes you all the way to these waterfalls. Or you could go on this waterfall tour where you'll not only visit Hraunfossar but plenty of other waterfalls as well!
The waterfall that marks the start of Fimmvörðuháls hike – Skógafoss
Skógafoss waterfall is a prominent waterfall by route 1 and marks the beginning of Fimmvörðuháls hike over to Þórsmörk. Above Skógafoss along the hiking trail are various waterfalls in all sizes and shapes for a few kilometers, each even more beautiful than the last. (I think I counted 33 waterfalls on the way up to Eyjafjallajökull last time I hiked Fimmvörðuháls). This waterfall is seen from the ringroad and is featured in every south coast tour available.
The waterfall that crowns the Westfjords – Dynjandi
Personally, Dynjandi waterfall is one of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland. It is 100 meters high and gradually spreads out from top to bottom. At the top it is about 30 meters wide but at the bottom it is about 60 meters wide. The waterfall is one of seven in a row of waterfalls. It's situated in the Westfjords of Iceland, the most remote area of the country. You can join this tour of Dynjandi from Ísafjörður - or rent a car and drive there yourself from Reykjavík. (It's about a 6 hour drive, so you won't do it in a daytour!)
The waterfall that is surrounded by dark columns - Svartifoss
Svartifoss waterfall is situated in Skaftafell, within the Vatnajökull National Park. The columnar basalt that surrounds it are some of the most picturesque columns you can find in Iceland, with the waterfall cascading right in the middle.
This beautiful natural structure has inspired artists for decades, for example in the design for Hallgrímskirkja. In Skaftafell you can choose between a couple of hiking trails through beautiful scenery leading to this magnificent waterfall. And getting to Skaftafell is easy, just drive the south coast along road no. 1. From Reykjavík it's at least a 4 hour drive (but you'll want to stop on the way to admire other waterfalls - so take your time and spend the night in Skaftafell or nearby!)
And these are just the tip of the iceberg – you can find countless other waterfalls all over Iceland. It’s hard to pick out a favourite waterfall, but each Icelander has one, and perhaps you can tell us which one you like the most here in the comments below...