Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of Iceland’s breathtaking Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It’s the one with the cascade peeking out from the right-hand corner of the frame with a graceful, reddish-orangey brown rock arch overhead. Gorgeous hues of pinks, purples, and oranges streak the sky in the background as a lush green valley rests below the colored firmament. It looks like something out of a postcard or travel brochure. The iconic waterfall is one of the most photographed places in Iceland, and rightfully so. This particular cascade stands out in a land known for its stunning natural landscapes and gorgeous waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is affectionately known as “The Beauty”, in striking contrast to powerful Dettifoss waterfall’s moniker “The Beast”.
The Cave and Accessing Seljalandsfoss from Behind
A unique characteristic of this waterfall is that you can actually go behind it. There is a cave that you can access which allows you to see the falls from the back. The 60 meter (197 foot) falls are pretty impressive when viewed from the front. However, the picturesque scenery uncovered when viewing the majestic wonder from behind is what makes this waterfall such a favorite photography subject. Not only are there beautiful views when you climb into the hollow opening behind it, but you also get to hear the rushing roar of water from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and feel the delicate spray of mist on your skin. Be sure to wear waterproof clothing and if you carry a camera with you, use plastic or some sort of covering to protect that as well.
To go all the way around the waterfall, you’ll need to do what’s known as the Seljalandsfoss Hike or the Seljalandsfoss Walk. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and will involve a bit of climbing and stairs. Don’t be intimidated by the lack of flat terrain, however; the hike isn’t too strenuous.
Exercising Caution and Respecting The Signs
Unfortunately, not all visitors to Seljalandsfoss have been treating the area with respect or following the rules. Some tourists ignore signage or tread outside of marked access paths. A few people who have done this in previous years have fallen and been badly injured. There’s no need for accidents or broken legs, so just follow the signs and respect the people and environment around you.
Chairman of the Seljalandsfoss owner’s union and local farmer Kristján Ólafsson actually said they were forced to begin charging for parking in order to afford a security guard, ensure safe access for visitors, and make sure there are toilets on site. Cars coming to the waterfall have to pay 700 ISK ($6 USD or 5€) and coaches pay 3,000 ISK ($26 USD or 23€).
How To Get There
Seljalandsfoss is a popular option for a day trip from Reykjavik. It is also easy to access from the Ring Road. You’ll need to drive east on Route 1 from Reykjavik for about 128 kilometers (80 miles). Depending on the weather, this will take between an hour and a half to two hours. Turn left onto Road 249. Shortly afterward take a right on to the road which leads you to the parking area. You can see the ancient sea cliff from where you leave your car. Start making the trek with everyone else.
Seljalandsfoss: Iceland’s Most Beautiful Waterfall
This is one of Iceland’s most iconic sites and most visited natural attractions. Seljalandsfoss definitely needs to be on your list of things to do when you visit Iceland. The beauty and majesty of this one-of-a-kind waterfall is one of the many reasons Iceland has become a favorite in recent years among tourists and travelers alike. Pack a good, sturdy rain jacket, a reliable pair of waterproof boots. Get ready to experience Iceland’s “beauty”, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, with all of your senses.