Iceland has hundreds or even thousands of waterfalls. What are the most beautiful and popular waterfalls and where in Iceland are all these waterfalls?
It has been said before that when it comes to water, Iceland has an abundance of it – in all forms. Be it in swimming pools, hot springs, geysers, lakes, glaciers, rivers or waterfalls, Iceland is bursting at the seams.
The waterfalls in Iceland are countless. Every year, new ones form from melting glaciers and almost every river has a few. They can be seen all over the country, many of them from the Ring-Road.
Here are some of the major waterfalls of Iceland.
Gullfoss 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.
Photo by Katherine Kiese
Glymur waterfall is Iceland’s second-highest waterfall, 198 meters high. For a number of years, it was the tallest waterfall in Iceland, and many locals still talk about it as such. But in 2007, a new waterfall emerged with melting glacial water, called Morsárfoss. Morsárfoss is still relatively unknown and is hard to reach, but has a drop of about 228 metres.
Glymur, however, is situated in Hvalfjörður fjord in the West. 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.
Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.
Hengifoss is 128 metres tall, making it the third tallest waterfall in Iceland. It is situated in East Iceland, not far from the capital of the East, Egilsstaðir.
The waterfall is a single drop, in amongst black lava cliffs with horizontal red stripes of clay in the rock face. The hike to the waterfall is a fairly easy one, although it takes about 40-60 minutes to hike all the way to the waterfall from the parking lot. On the way another waterfall can be admired, Litlanesfoss, and the stunning columnar basalts surrounding it.
Photo by Michael Luenen
Háifoss waterfall is Iceland’s fourth 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 lot nearby.
From Reykjavík it's a 2-hour drive along Route 1; turn left onto Route 30 after you've passed Selfoss and then turn right onto Route. 32. From Route 32 you can drive the gravel Route 332 all the way up to the waterfall and park. Check the road condition beforehand if you're driving, go with a 4x4 car.
Dettifoss 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 day-trip from Akureyri or nearby Mývatn. Here are some Dettifoss tours to choose from.
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!
Hraunfossar waterfall is a synonym for many spring water waterfalls running from Hallmundarhraun lava in the west of Iceland. Combined they form one of Iceland’s most picturesque features.
Hraunfossar is less than a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík; first, you head north on Route 1 but turn right onto Route 50 just before you reach Borgarnes. Route 50 then turns into Route 518 and that takes you all the way to these waterfalls.
Explore Hraunfossar waterfalls on this 5 Day Self Drive Tour | Wonders of West Iceland.
Above Skógafoss along the hiking trail are various waterfalls in all sizes and shapes for a few kilometres, 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 Ring Road and is featured in every South Coast tour available.
Svartifoss waterfall is situated in Skaftafell, within the Vatnajökull National Park. The columnar basalt that surrounds it is 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 Route 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!)
These waterfalls are just the tip of the iceberg – you can find countless others all over Iceland. It’s hard to pick out a favourite waterfall, but each Icelander has one.
Personally, Dynjandi waterfall is one of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland. It is 100 metres high and gradually spreads out from top to bottom. At the top, it is about 30 metres wide but at the bottom, it is about 60 metres 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 day!)
Here is a map of Iceland that shows you where the most popular, the most impressive, the tallest and the most picturesque waterfalls can be found in the country. But note, this is not an exhaustive list as there are countless other ones!
Which one is your favourite Icelandic waterfall? Tell us in the comments!