Rjukandi Waterfall Travel Guide
Rjukandi waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, easily accessible from the Ring Road.
Explore this breathtaking attraction by taking a self-drive tour in Northeast Iceland. Travelers can add a quick stop at the waterfall on this 11-Day Self-Drive Tour of the Ring Road and Eastfjords or through this One-Week Summer Self-Drive Tour of the Ring Road.
Rjukandi waterfall, Rjúkandafoss in Icelandic, is often regarded as a hidden treasure because most travelers misjudge it as an ordinary roadside waterfall. While viewing it from the road is possible, the best way to experience its majestic beauty is up close.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Jerzy Strzelecki. No edits made.
About Rjukandi Waterfall
Where is Rjukandi Waterfall Located?
Iceland has thousands of waterfalls scattered throughout every region, but only a few are well-known. For example, there is Skogafoss waterfall on the South Coast, Gullfoss waterfall in West Iceland, and the mighty Dettifoss waterfall in the northern region.
The region of East Iceland is particularly renowned for these features, notably Haifoss waterfall and Litlanesfoss waterfall. Travelers to the area will enjoy exploring the Rjukandi waterfall because of its astonishing height and the fact it is a quieter spot.
The waterfall sits between the scenic towns of Egilsstadir to the east and Akureyri to the north. Egilsstadir is the nearest location to the attraction, just 31 miles (50 kilometers) away.
More importantly, the waterfall is just along the famous Ring Road route, making it accessible for all tourists to see and explore.
Features of Rjukandafoss Waterfall
The attraction, sometimes locally referred to as Rjukandafoss waterfall, is one of the tallest in the land of fire and ice. The waterfall has an overall height of 305 feet (93 meters), a reason why it is visible from the road.
Rjukandi cliff’s rocky structure divides the cascading water into multiple drops, having two main flows. Visitors of the attraction will see these twin falls dropping from the top and joining again near the bottom. The bigger one falls from 196 feet (60 meters), while the smaller waterfall cascades from 109 feet (33 meters).
Some sources estimate the waterfall to have an overall 456 feet (139 meters) height, which includes all the other drops in the stream down the valley.
The Ysta-Rjukandi river, two sister rivers that combine into one, feed the cold waters of the Rjukandi waterfall. These sister rivers come from snowmelt from the nearby Sandfell mountain.
What Makes Rjukandi Waterfall Special?
The Rjukandi waterfall borrows its name from the Icelandic term “rjuka,” which means “steam or blow away.” The name is fitting, as the waterfall has plenty of mist that looks like smoke due to the dramatic fall of the cold waters.
For some tourists, the waterfall looks like it is upside-down. The mist created by the high drop of the cold waters and the windy weather in the area helps create this stunning illusion. If you’re visiting on a sunny day, it is possible to see small rainbows around the waterfall.
Furthermore, Rjukandi waterfall’s excellent location in East Iceland makes it more extraordinary. Apart from being along the ring road, it is also within the famous Jokuldalur valley.
Jokuldalur is a glacier valley in the Eastern Highlands of Iceland known for its excellent river systems, canyons, waterfalls, and wildlife. The mighty river of Jokulsa a Bru or Jokla, which spans 93 miles (150 kilometers), runs throughout this great valley.
Rjukandi waterfall and the Jokuldalur valley are very near the capital of Iceland’s eastern region, Egilsstadir. Tourists can enjoy fantastic amenities in the town, from an airport to restaurants and hotels.
Hiking to See Rjukandi Waterfall
If you decide to partake in viewing the Rjukandi waterfall, you must prepare for short hiking and trekking. Since the East Iceland attraction is near the road, the trail is less than a kilometer both ways.
The terrain is easy to pass through, with the only challenge being rocky and steep in a few areas. The easy landscape makes it ideal for families and kids to visit.
While there is limited walking on the path to the Rjukandi waterfall, patrons planning to participate should still wear proper foot attire. Hiking boots or sturdy athletic shoes to help keep grip are essential for safety, as the path can sometimes be slippery.
Since remote Iceland is known to have colder temperatures, bringing gloves, hats, appropriate jackets, and other clothing for warmth during colder weather is vital. Monitoring the weather before planned arrival is also wise.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more challenging hike, an alternate path goes to the top of the attraction.
How to Reach Rjukandi Waterfall?
Rjukandi waterfall is 364 miles (586 kilometers) from Reykjavik. While there are no direct guided tours to the waterfall, it is possible to see the attraction through self-drive tours. These driving tours present a convenient opportunity for travelers to customize their itineraries.
In addition, travelers have plenty of options, from a shorter 7-Day Self-Drive Tour to a more extended 13-Day Winter Northern Lights Tour.
Meanwhile, the fastest route to the waterfall is flying from Iceland’s capital to Egilsstadir. From this town, travelers must drive on the ring road, west towards Myvatn. Near the Ysta-Rjukandi bridge, a sign will take you to the waterfall’s parking lot.
Visiting the Rjukandi waterfall can be a drive-by or a pause to walk up.
Attractions Near Rjukandi Waterfall
Beyond the beauty of the Rjukandi waterfall, there are other East Iceland attractions around the area to visit on your adventures.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by ArniGael. No edits made.
A neighboring sight to see, Studlagil canyon, is about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the falls. The powerful and turbulent currents of the Jokla river created this geological wonder over the centuries.
After the construction of a hydroelectric plant in a nearby valley, the river’s flow was changed, resulting in the calmer waters known today. After the water levels dropped, Studlagil canyon became well beloved by tourists for its beauty and irresistible photo opportunities.
Vok Baths and Spa
Another awe-inspiring tourist attraction in the area is the Vok Baths and Spa. The spa is unique in offering floating infinity pools for geothermal bathing, a perfect place to relax in the cold Icelandic weather.
Vok Baths include two onshore hot pools, a relaxing sauna, a cold water spray tunnel, a tea bar, and a restaurant. This attraction is a perfect destination to stop at for the day and can suit groups from couples to families.
The Urridavatn lake is also nearby, so more of Iceland’s incredible landscapes can be admired and enjoyed in the same place.