A Tour of the Best Waterfalls in Iceland

Best Waterfalls In Iceland

Iceland is a place where waterfalls abound. With all the glaciers and rivers, it’s no surprise that the country boasts over 10,000 waterfalls, each more beautiful than the last. If you love waterfalls and are looking for the best waterfalls in Iceland, this article will help you round out your list and find the most impressive waterfalls throughout the country.

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Best Waterfalls In Iceland


Many visitors to Iceland head to the Golden Circle as their first stop. One of the stops on this tourist route is Gullfoss, or “Gold Waterfall.” The waterfall cascades down 32 meters with two tiers, providing a breathtaking view. Whether summer or winter, this is one of the most famous Iceland waterfalls to visit.

Gullfoss Waterfall

At one time, Gullfoss was almost dramatically changed when a hydroelectric power plant was proposed in the area. Fortunately, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the landowner’s daughter, fought against the power plant, preserving this beautiful waterfall. The Golden Circle just wouldn’t be the same without Gullfoss.


Another stop on the Golden Circle route, Öxarárfoss, “Ax River Waterfall,” is found in Þingvellir National Park, the historical location of the world’s oldest parliament. After hiking between the tectonic plates, visitors are rewarded with a view of this beautiful waterfall that is just as impressive frozen as it is in the summer.

Öxarárfoss Waterfall


Although not an official part of the Golden Circle, Brúarfoss, also called “Bridge Waterfall,” is recognized as Iceland’s bluest waterfall. The falls aren’t particularly high, falling just a few meters, the color of the water has earned this waterfall the distinction as one of the best waterfalls in Iceland. This waterfall is now easier to access with convenient parking near the bridge.

Brúarfoss Waterfall

Many travelers now choose the closer parking lot, but if you choose to hike the previous trail, you will find several other waterfalls along the 3.5 km hike. You will be treated with the bonus of two additional waterfalls: Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss.


Another Icelandic waterfall gem near the Golden Circle is Faxafoss, also called Faxi Waterfall or Vatnsleysufoss. While this waterfall is just  7 meters high, it spans 91 meters across, making it an impressive waterfall to add to your itinerary. When the surrounding landscape turns green for the summer, the water offers a fantastic contrast.

Faxafoss Waterfall

The natural beauty of Faxafoss makes it a must-stop during your Golden Circle journey. You can view this waterfall from the front or walk down the path to view it from below to the side. Many visitors notice the salmon ladder located to the left of the falls, adding a unique touch to the waterfall. 


One of the most famous waterfalls along the South Coast is Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall that cascades an impressive 60 meters to the pool below. The waterfall is easily visible along the Ring Road, and visitors can walk behind it in the summer months. The path behind the falls is too dangerous during the icy winter months.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

If you walk down the path further, you will encounter Gljúfrabúi, which means “Dweller in the Gorge.” This waterfall earned its name because it is hidden in a cave that requires walking through the river for some truly impressive views.


As you travel along the Ring Road, you’ll find another waterfall on the list of the best waterfalls in Iceland, Skógafoss, or “Forest Waterfall.” This waterfall is 60 meters high and 25 meters wide and is one of the most accessible waterfalls. Visitors can walk relatively close to the falls or climb the 527 steps to see the falls from the top.

Skógafoss Waterfall

There is also a legend that goes along with Skógafoss. The folklore claims there is a chest filled with gold and other treasures found beyond the waterfall. In the 17th century, the chest was found and someone tried to pull it out, coming away with a ring that served as the handle. This ring can be seen in the Skógar Museum nearby.

Waterfall Way

Brave individuals can wander up the steps of Skógafoss and walk part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. During the first portion of this trail, you will encounter numerous waterfalls until you reach the footbridge.

The waterfalls you can expect to see along this trail include Hestavaðsfoss, Fosstorfufoss, Steinbogafoss, Fremri-Fellsfoss, Innri-Fellsfoss, Rollutorfufoss, Skalabrekkufoss, and Kæfufoss. 


If you’re not up to walking up the stairs to view the waterfalls beyond Skógafoss, Kvernufoss is an excellent alternative. Located a short walk from the Skógar Museum, this semi-hidden waterfall falls 30 meters into the gorge. Visitors can walk behind the falls, taking in the beautiful views, particularly when the vegetation is green for the summer.

It’s important to note that Kvernufoss is on private property. While hikers are welcome to visit, please be respectful, stay on the trail, and leave the area as you found it.


Háifoss, or “High Waterfall,” is found at the edge of the highlands near Hekla in the Þjórsárdalur valley. The waterfall is currently Iceland’s fourth-highest waterfall at 122 meters. It’s recommended to use a 4×4 to access this waterfall as the road is quite rough and may damage low-clearance vehicles. 

Háifoss Waterfall

Visitors to Háifoss can hike along the valley edge for a fantastic view of this waterfall and the neighboring Granni, which means “neighbor” in Icelandic, or they can hike down into the valley for a different perspective.


Rauðárfoss, or “Red Waterfall,” is a unique option among the best waterfalls in Iceland. The iron in the ground gives the waterfall its red coloring, making it an impressive sight for visitors near Kirkjubæjarklaustur. This waterfall is slightly off the beaten path but not difficult to access.

Rauðárfoss Waterfall

While you’re in the area, you may wish to visit nearby Systrafoss and Stjórnarfoss. Both waterfalls are in close proximity just outside Kirkjubæjarklaustur and can round out your waterfall viewing for the day.


Many visitors will quickly recognize Svartifoss, or “Black Waterfall,” because of the striking basalt columns that frame this impressive waterfall. This waterfall is found along the trail through Skaftafell, part of Vatnajökull National Park, located along the Ring Road. Along the trail, visitors will also pass Þjófafoss and Magnúsarfoss.

Svartifoss Waterfall

Visitors to Svartifoss will enjoy the photogenic nature of the white water cascading down the black columns, making it one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country. The hike is about 3 km round trip and is relatively easy, though there is significant gain in the trail.


If you’re looking for one of the best waterfalls in Iceland on the East Coast, Klifbrekkufossar comes in as one of the most spectacular waterfalls. This waterfall actually consists of seven separate falls that snack down the mountainside. Visiting this waterfall will require a winding side trip away from the Ring Road toward Mjóifjörður.

Klifbrekkufossar Waterfall

It’s important to note that Klifbrekkufossar is typically only accessible during the summer months as the road can be quite treacherous during the harsh eastern winters. 


Visitors to Egilsstaðir will find themselves near Fardagafoss, or “Journey Waterfall,” if they’re looking for a nice hike through a rocky ravine. The 20-meter waterfall is tucked into the ravine with a cave behind it. Brave hikers can walk behind the falls, but it can be difficult to reach the area. Chains bolted to the rocks are available to assist.

Fardagafoss Waterfall

Fardagafoss features several interesting stories. One involves a terrifying giant who kept gold in the cave behind the waterfall. Another story details outlaws who used the cave to hide out. Folklore dictates that the cave was once a tunnel that led to the fjord or Gufufoss through the mountain.


One of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland is Hengifoss, located in the east near Lagarfljót. This 128-meter waterfall is best recognized for the red striping in the rock walls, creating a fantastic contrast to the falling water.

Hengifoss Waterfall

As you hike one of two viewpoints for Hengifoss, you will pass a couple of smaller waterfalls, one of which is called Litlanesfoss, also called Stuðlabergsfoss, meaning “Basalt Column Falls.” This skinny waterfall cascades between basalt columns, making it an unexpected treat along the hike.


Stuðlagil Canyon is a popular stop in the northeast of the country for its basalt columns and beautiful blue water. However, while you hike around the canyon, you will find the impressive 

Stuðlafoss Waterfall

Stuðlafoss, or “Basalt Column Waterfall.” Although it isn’t the only waterfall featuring basalt columns, the varying heights of the columns give the waterfall a unique look.

Despite the popularity of the canyon, few visitors are aware of Stuðlafoss waiting just a bit down the path. Once you arrive at the waterfall, you will be treated to a panoramic view of the area and plenty of photographic opportunities.


Located in the northern part of Vatnajökull National Park, Dettifoss, or “Falling Waterfall,” is recognized as the second most powerful waterfall in Europe. This waterfall can be viewed from the east or west side with the west side more easily accessible without a 4×4. Both sides offer fantastic views of this beautiful waterfall.

Dettifoss Waterfall

A little further upstream, visitors can hike to view Selfoss, not to be confused with the town in the south. Selfoss is a horseshoe-shaped waterfall that is best viewed from the east but can also be seen from the west side. 


Perhaps the most famous waterfall in the north of Iceland, Goðafoss, or “Gods Waterfall,” is found easily along the Ring Road, making it a frequent stop for travelers. Visitors can choose between the east or west viewing platforms and can easily cross between the two via a footbridge downriver.

Goðafoss Waterfall

Goðafoss is rich in Icelandic history. It received its name from the time Iceland converted to Christianity. Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði Þorkelsson, a pagan priest and chieftain, was given the task of deciding between Christianity and paganism. He chose Christianity after a night of praying under the stars and threw the old idols into Goðafoss as a symbolic gesture.


Slightly off the beaten path and into the northern highlands, visitors with a 4×4 vehicle can drive to Aldeyjarfoss, a 20-meter waterfall that cascades into a brilliant blue pond. This photogenic waterfall also features basalt columns, creating an impressive display for those who visit. It is thought the waterfall formed after an eruption centuries ago.

Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall

A little further down the road, you will find Hrafnabjargafoss, or “Raven Cliff Waterfall,” a five-meter-tall horseshoe-shaped waterfall. This waterfall is slightly hidden but delivers for those who take the time to find it.


A trip to Kolugljúfur Canyon is worth venturing off the Ring Road to explore a bit off the beaten path. In this canyon, you will find Kolufossar, an impressive waterfall that doesn’t often make the list but never fails to impress. The canyon may not be large in comparison to others, but its waterfall is no less worth a stop.

Kolufossar Waterfall

Koufossar is easily seen from the bridge that crosses the river, but visitors must not stop on the bridge. A parking area is just beyond the bridge to give visitors access to the bridge and the hiking paths along the canyon’s edge.


Dynjandi is the crowning jewel of the Westfjords, offering a magnificent collection of waterfalls, making it one of the best waterfalls in Iceland. Dynjandi, an Icelandic word for “thunderous,” perfectly describes the falls at the top. On the way up, visitors pass Bæjarfoss, Kvíslarfoss, Hrísvaðsfoss, Göngumannafoss, Strompgljúfrafoss, and Hæstahjallafoss.

Dynjandi Waterfall

Dynjandi carries interesting folklore based on the waterfall’s shape. It looks like a bridal veil, which once belonged to a giantess who was jilted by her lover. Her thunderous cry of heartbreak can be heard within the water’s roar. Other stories tell of a supernatural being called The Thunderer who lived within the waterfall.


Likely one of the most recognized and photographed waterfalls in all of Iceland is Kirkjufellsfossar, or “Church Mountain Waterfall.” This waterfall features several falls with the iconic Kirkjufell mountain in the background of most images. Although not a particularly impressive waterfall by itself, the surroundings make it a must-stop for those driving around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. 

Kirkjufellsfossar Waterfall


If you’re searching for waterfalls near Reykjavík, Barnafoss and Hraunfossar should top the list. Hraunfossar, or “Lava Waterfall,” is an interesting waterfall as the water falls down the side of the rocks after filtering through the lava field. Rather than one waterfall, water is flowing down an extended length of rock over 900 meters.

Barnafoss Waterfall

Downstream, you will find Barnafoss, or “Children’s Waterfall.” This beautiful blue waterfall moves quickly and comes with a sad story. According to the story, a widow left her two young children at home to attend church. When she returned, the children were gone, thought to have drowned in the river. The mother destroyed the stone arch over the river in her anguish.


Glymur is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland at 198 meters. Per Icelandic legend, a man who was turned into a whale by an elf woman sank a boat in Hvalfjörður. An old priest whose sons were killed in the event lured the whale-man up the river until he crashed into the waterfall, giving it the name meaning “loud, echoing rumble.”

Glymur Waterfall

Glymur is one of the best waterfalls near Reykjavík for hiking. It is a 7 km roundtrip hike that involves crossing the river via a log at the bottom and walking through the water at the top. This hike is somewhat challenging and should not be attempted in the winter. The log is only placed across the river during the summer months.


Hjálparfoss, or the “Helping Waterfall,” is a pair of waterfalls cascading down basalt columns with Hekla in the background. Eruptions from this volcano likely formed this impressive waterfall over the centuries, creating the beautiful experience visitors can expect today.

Hjálparfoss Waterfall

The water that flows through Hjálparfoss feeds into the second-largest hydroelectric dam in the country. The waterfalls mark the junction between the Fossá and Þjórsá rivers, which feature some of the best, most accessible fishing.


Nauthúsagil is a fairy-tale-like ravine on the south coast beyond Seljalandsfoss with plenty of moss and other vegetation that makes the ravine feel magical. Visitors can hike into the ravine following the river, sometimes getting a little wet, to reach a small waterfall. This waterfall has a chain embedded in the rock to climb to the upper portion of the ravine.

Nauthúsafoss Waterfall

As you venture beyond the first waterfall, you will be greeted by Nauthúsafoss dropping into the canyon from an opening in the rocks above. When returning to the opening of the ravine, use caution, especially when climbing down the chain, as the rocks can be slippery.

Waterfalls Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

This is merely a sampling of some of the best waterfalls in Iceland to add to your itinerary. With 10,000 of them, it’s difficult to see them all, but each one holds its own unique beauty. Which one is your favorite?

As you prepare your itinerary filled with waterfalls or other wonders of Iceland, booking a car is one of the best ways to see the country how you wish. 

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