I know we write a lot about waterfalls. From an outsider’s point of view, it may be hard to understand why. Once you set foot in Iceland, you’ll get it. Iceland’s nickname is the Land of Fire and Ice, but I would add water as well. You will find the most unbelievable waterfalls, watercourses, and streams running through the wild soil of Iceland. There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland and today, we’ll talk about one of the most stunning ones. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder but when thousands of visitors call Seljalandsfoss Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall, maybe they’re right.
Iceland is full of surprises. Its landscapes, whom the forces of nature shaped and molded throughout thousands of years, are dotted with seemingly innumerable waterfalls. When traveling to the South Coast of Iceland, you’ll witness how nature becomes art. If you love landscapes mixed with waterfalls, then be sure to come in the season when things are thawed out. The waters run wild and clash at the bottom, creating mesmerizing rainbows and hypnotic sounds. Most of you don’t speak Icelandic, but it won’t take too long until you figure out that “foss” means waterfall. You will see this word everywhere, also in the name of the cascade we will talk about today: Seljalandsfoss.
Seljalandsfoss – The Result of Geothermal Activity and Glaciers
As we already know, “foss” means waterfall but what about Seljalands? Its name translates to “the liquid river waterfall.” Seljalandsá is the name of the river that flows in this area, and it ends up creating a 60 meter (196 ft) drop off a former sea cliff. All of these waters come from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. This name might ring a bell for some of you, as in 2010 the volcano that lies beneath the ice cap erupted. There hasn’t been any volcanic activity lately, but we still have the ice feeding this river. It’s now one of the most visited waterfalls in the country.
Having a volcano nearby means this area is quite restless in terms of geothermal activity. It’s been that way for millions of years. Iceland itself is the result of these natural forces. The island lies right on the meeting point of two tectonic plates, so the ground here is very much alive. The surface has changed considerably, and its current appearance is radically different from what it used to be. Nowadays, you can come to the waterfall with your rental car, walk a couple of meters and you will immediately see the fall. Many years ago it was not possible, as the cascade was falling directly into the ocean.
The plateau you will walk on was once completely covered by the ocean, the area worked as a breakwater extension with ancient cliffs going along the edge of the sea. But throughout the millennia and due to the geothermal activity beneath the ground, the ocean has retreated. The weight of glaciers also played its part in this transformation as they helped to push the ground down. Erosion eventually filled the area with sand, which created a new shore. The cliffs no longer tower over the ocean.
Seljalandsfoss – What Makes This Waterfall Unique
This cascade is not a mighty one like Dettifoss or Godafoss. It does not have a great volume of water plunging over the edge like the others. It’s also not extremely tall. So, what is special about it? Why is it so unique?
Well, the cliffs they fall from are shaped in such a way that you can go inside the cave. This chance to go behind the cascade affords you the opportunity to see the waterfall from behind. You will be able to have a 360 panoramic view. If you are an Instagram lover, then this is the place to go. The pictures you can take here are amazing. You’ll gain thousands of likes and new followers! If you’re like me and not really that into pictures, it’s fine. The views are absolutely breathtaking as well. The roaring sound as you walk behind the falling water is captivating. Watching the horizon behind a translucent curtain of water is probably something you won’t be able to do easily. But here in Iceland, anything is possible! Plus, it’s free. And as they say when anything is free, the price is right!
Seljalandsfoss – How to Get There and Tips
It’s quite easy to get to this waterfall. You only need to take the Ring Road or Road N1 and drive Southeast, heading towards Vik. The waterfall is around 128km or 79 miles away from Reykjavik. Depending on both the weather and road conditions, it can take up to 1h 44 minutes to get to the waterfall. This waterfall is a very touristic area so several signals and post signs will guide you along the way. Chances of getting lost are zero to none. When coming from Vik, it’s about 60 km (37.5 miles) away and takes around 44 minutes on the Ring Road.
Now that you know that you can walk behind the waterfall, it is important to bear a couple of things in mind. If you happen to visit us during the summertime, this area will surely be busy. It is a very popular tourist attraction in a very touristy area of Iceland. People will most likely be queueing to walk behind the waterfall and take their best picture. Try to come early in the morning or at lunchtime, it will be less crowded. If you are lucky enough to come during the shoulder season or low season, then you don’t really have to worry about the place being packed.
Seljalandsfoss – Iceland’s Most Beautiful and Captivating Waterfall
Regardless of the season, you must be well prepared and wear the appropriate clothes and shoes. Checking conditions in the area is also important. The water is constantly falling, that means the surrounding area is usually wet. Depending on the season it can be muddy and slippery. During the cold months, ice can form, and you can easily slip. Wearing waterproof jackets and pants is also a must because as you walk into and around the cave, the mist can seep through your clothing. A visit to Seljalandsfoss is totally worth it, have a great time!