Kvernufoss waterfall is located in South Iceland and cascades down 98 feet (30 meters) from cliffs made of lava rock. It is considered one of Iceland’s hidden gems because even though it is located near Skogafoss waterfall, one of the most popular sites in Iceland, it tends to be overlooked by visitors.
Even though the Kvernufoss waterfall tends to be overlooked by travelers and is rarely mentioned in South Iceland travel guides, a few guided tours take travelers to this spectacular location.
For example, a small-group day tour or South Coast waterfalls and Glacier hiking tour is perfect for the traveler who wants both popular attractions and hidden gems, while a 3-day private photography tour is ideal for serious photographers looking to perfect their craft and capture the beauty of locations like Kvernufoss.
South Iceland is a hugely popular location due to its proximity to Reykjavik and the wealth of natural beauty featured here. Some of the most visited spots in the country are located in this region, including the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the Reynisfjara black sand beach, and Skogafoss waterfall.
Photo from Wild South Coast 12-Hour Tour with Waterfalls, Glacier Hiking & Transfer from Reykjavik.
About Kvernufoss Waterfall
Kvernufoss waterfall is located in South Iceland near the Skogar Cultural Heritage Museum. While the nearby Skogafoss waterfall is one of the top attractions in the country, Kvernufoss is more of a hidden gem.
Many tourists skip Kvernufoss, so those who choose to visit this beautiful waterfall are likely to have a quiet experience.
Waterfalls are one of the essential sights when visiting Iceland, meaning that many of the popular ones can be very crowded. Kvernufoss waterfall is an excellent destination for travelers who want to avoid crowds.
Due to the hike required and the fact that Kvernufoss is often not even mentioned in many South Iceland travel guides, there’s a good chance of being one of few people at the waterfall.
Kvernufoss is also particularly loved by photographers because it is possible to take amazing photographs without getting any people in the shot, even when using long exposures. The roaring water framed by the lava rock cliffs is genuinely picture-perfect.
Features of Kvernufoss
Kvernufoss is located in Kvernugil gorge and is partially concealed by the moss-coated black volcanic rock cliffs, making the spot particularly visually appealing. The Kverna river cascades 98 feet (30 meters) over the cliff, an awe-inspiring sight.
The Kverna river, not to be confused with the Kverna river on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, is a spring-fed river that cuts through South Iceland. Over the years, the Kverna has created the Kvernugil gorge.
Kvernufoss is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland where walking behind the falls is possible. One can carefully follow the trail into a cave behind the water to see Kvernufoss from a different angle.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, another popular stop in South Iceland, is one of the only other waterfalls where visitors can go behind the falls.
The rocks around the waterfall and in the cave behind it can be slippery, so hikers should exercise caution here. It is possible to reach the waterfall in all seasons, but extra care must be taken in the winter months, and crampons may be required to navigate the icy trails.
Due to the amount of spray created by this powerful waterfall, it is possible to see rainbows around the falls on sunny days. Waterproof clothing is recommended, especially if planning to go behind the waterfall.
Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.
How to Get to Kvernufoss
Kvernufoss is located in South Iceland, approximately 97 miles (156 kilometers) from Reykjavik and 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Vik i Myrdal. Parking is available at the Skogar Cultural Heritage Museum. While the waterfall itself has no entrance fee, there is a parking fee at the museum.
To reach Kvernufoss, take the hiking trail starting at the museum. The hike is considered easy and is 0.9 miles (1.4 kilometers) there and back. The entire hike will take around an hour to complete.
While there aren’t signs leading hikers to Kvernufoss, it is easy to find the trail. From the parking lot, look for a small metal ladder going over the fence and then take the path to the river. Then, following the river to the left, there are some rolling hills to navigate.
After about 20 minutes of walking, hikers will enter the Kvernugil gorge, where the roaring waterfall can be heard before it is seen. Continue on the path behind the waterfall for another spectacular view. The trail is not a loop, so follow the same route back to the parking lot.
Kvernufoss waterfall is a great location to include in a day of sightseeing from Reykjavik. South Iceland is filled with fantastic sights and attractions.
Since the parking lot for Kvernufoss is at the Skogar Cultural Heritage Museum, a stop here is an obvious choice. The museum features a technical museum, a folk museum with over 15,000 artifacts, and an open-air museum with traditional turf-roof houses.
The closest natural attraction to Kvernufoss, and one of the reasons it is so often overlooked, is the impressive Skogafoss waterfall. Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 197 feet (60 meters), and is one of the top stops on the Ring Road route around the country.
Just outside the nearby town of Vik i Myrdal is the beloved Reynisfjara black sand beach. This popular attraction features striking black volcanic sand and the unique Reynisdrangar sea stacks. Vik itself is also a well-loved stop and is a quaint, photogenic village.
The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is often called the “Crown Jewel of Iceland,” and it isn’t difficult to see how it got that name. Massive ancient icebergs float in the lake, which is also home to a wealth of wildlife, such as seals and arctic terns.
The Vatnajokull glacier, another one of the top attractions in South Iceland, is the largest glacier in Europe and a memorable stop for travelers. There are many opportunities to see this glacier, including glacier hiking at Skaftafell.