Faxafoss Waterfall (Faxi) Travel Guide
Faxafoss (often called Faxi or Vatnsleysufoss in Icelandic) is a captivating waterfall boasting natural beauty and peaceful surroundings. Located on the Tungufljot River in South Iceland, the Faxafoss waterfall possesses a distinct allure that makes it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurers.
The name "Faxafoss" is derived from the Faxi River, which gracefully flows through the Icelandic landscape before plunging over Faxafoss' picturesque cascade. The waterfall is relatively small compared to some of Iceland's giants, standing at about 23 feet (seven meters) tall and 260 feet (80 meters) wide.
What it lacks in sheer height, it compensates with its tranquil ambiance and accessibility, making it a popular spot for photography and picnicking.
What You’ll See in Faxafoss Waterfall
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Abderrahman Ait Ali. No edits made.
Faxafoss stands out with its unique physical features and serene beauty. It stands approximately 23 feet (seven meters) in height and spans over 300 feet (91 meters) wide. Its most distinguishing feature is its relatively gentle slope, allowing visitors to approach and admire it up close.
You’ll see Faxafoss’ wide curtain-like cascade that creates a mesmerizing sight, thanks to its clear waters that gracefully descend over a series of rocky steps and ledges. In the summer, the surrounding landscape bursts into vibrant greenery, stunningly contrasting the white, foamy waters.
In the winter, Faxafoss often freezes, creating a breathtaking ice sculpture that attracts photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Interestingly, you’ll see a salmon ladder toward the waterfall’s left side when you face its cascade. This ladder was built to help the salmon during the breeding season for their upstream migration.
Examining the salmon ladder, you’ll notice a series of pools and cascading steps. These elements aid the salmon to reach the area for spawning. If you’re visiting during the breeding season, you can observe the salmon using the ladder to leap their way up.
Where is Faxafoss Waterfall Located?
Faxafoss waterfall is situated in southwest Iceland, along the famed Golden Circle sightseeing route.
Faxafoss waterfall is about 65 miles (104 kilometers) from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. The drive to Faxafoss waterfall will take roughly one hour and 25 minutes in clear conditions.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by joiseyshowaa. No edits made.
What Makes Faxafoss Waterfall Special?
What makes Faxafoss truly remarkable is its stunning natural beauty, accessibility, and quiet charm. The waterfall's picturesque setting amidst lush meadows and dramatic cliffs provides a serene backdrop for admiring Iceland's nature.
Skalholt, situated about 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Faxi, served as one of Iceland's most significant religious and cultural centers during the Middle Ages, housing a cathedral and serving as the Episcopal seat for centuries.
Meanwhile, Reykholt, located approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Faxi, was a renowned center of learning and culture during the medieval period. It was the home of Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician whose contributions to Icelandic literature are unparalleled.
Reykholt was a hub for intellectual and literary pursuits, attracting European scholars.
During the medieval period, travelers and scholars passing through Iceland often visited all three sites, contributing to the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and culture. The proximity of Faxi to Reykholt and Skalholt made it a natural stopping point for travelers, further enhancing the connection of these important locations.
Guests who love adventure will also find the outdoor activities around Faxafoss waterfall appealing. The area offers hiking, photography, and birdwatching opportunities, with scenic trails for exploring and discovering Iceland's natural beauty.
Getting to Faxafoss Waterfall
The easiest way to get to Faxafoss waterfall is through a five-minute detour from the Golden Circle route. Upon reaching the junction of Route 35 and Route 37, take the former route south and head toward Reykholt. Keep watch for a signage on the road’s left side that says “Vid Faxa.”
Following the arrow, you’ll reach a parking area around 100 meters away. The site offers an overlooking view of Faxafoss waterfall. Head to the short path leading to a picnic table and viewing deck.
Nearby Attractions to Visit
A trip to Faxafoss waterfall also merits a stop at some of the region’s most fascinating attractions. The waterfall is around seven miles (12 kilometers) from the Geysir Geothermal Area, home of the Great Geysir and Strokkur.
Moreover, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) is Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most captivating waterfalls. Interestingly, many consider Faxafoss a mini version of the Gullfoss waterfall, mainly because of its magnificent cascade.
Another nearby waterfall worth checking is the Bruarfoss waterfall. Located about 9.7 miles (15.6 kilometers) from Faxafoss waterfall, the Bruarfoss waterfall is considered one of Iceland’s hidden gems. It features turquoise waters flowing through cascades, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle.
Last but not least is the Thingvellir National Park, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from Faxafoss. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich in geological formations and historic cultural sites.
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