With the best views on earth of the Northern Lights, active volcanoes, and otherworldly landscapes of glaciers and geysers, Iceland has no shortage of natural wonders. But perhaps its most beautiful feature of all is its range of extraordinary waterfalls. From misty, peaceful pools that bring to mind the fantasy worlds of Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, to some of the tallest and most powerful falls found in Europe, Iceland’s waterfalls will mesmerise you with their beauty. But with over200 named waterfalls in Iceland, which ones should take priority on your visit to the Land of Fire and Ice? Join us today as we list 5 of our favourites. And, while you’re here, please check out Our Range of Day Trips from Reykjavik that take travellers to some of the waterfalls we’ll discuss.
First on our list is the Gullfoss waterfall, Europe’s second most powerful waterfall, which sits picturesquely in a canyon of the Hvítá river. At Gullfoss the white waters roll over two enormous stone steps, before taking steep plunges into the dark waters below. These breathtaking falls have made their way onto album covers and into TV shows — a perfect place to take stunning photographs. A visit to the site is included on our Iceland Golden Circle Waterfall Tour. Today Gullfoss is also symbolic of Iceland’s green credentials, as it was here that Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the country’s first environmental activist, successfully fought to protect the falls from the interference of energy companies. Anyone who visits these magnificent falls today is thankful for her work.
One of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls, with a drop of 25 metres, Skógafoss is situated among enchanting green hills. Amazingly, the cliffs you see at Skógafoss once formed the coastline of Iceland! This cinematic site has been chosen as a shooting location for several famous productions, including Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. It’s easy to see why directors continue to bring their cameras here, the landscape tends to cast a spell over visitors. Throughout the day, a rainbow hangs over the falls, and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of double rainbows which are often visible here. It is said that an early viking settler in this region hid his treasure behind the Skógafoss falls. Out of sight for centuries, local people eventually spied the sought-after riches, but when they reached out to grab it, the chest disappeared and they were left only with the iron handle they had grasped — this very iron ring sits in the Skógafoss museum today. This waterfall is among the many highlights of our Iceland South Coast Tour from Reykjavik, a trip that will also include the unforgettable, hidden Gljúfrafoss waterfall, so often overlooked by visitors — it’s to be missed.
With Hraunfossar (meaning ‘lava falls’ in English) you encounter a chain of cascading waterfalls formed by volcanoes that now lie underneath the Langjökull glacier. The effect of this 900-metre stretch of waterfalls is to transport visitors to Iceland’s mythical past. Nowhere else on earth serves up landscapes quite like those found in Iceland. Look out for the vivid spread of colours at Hraunfossar, where the waters shine brightly in various shades of blue.
Just off Iceland’s famous Ring Road that loops the country, the Seljalandsfoss is another not-to-be-missed waterfall that we are sure to include in our Iceland South Coast Tour from Reykjavik. This splendid waterfall is unique in that visitors can enter a small cave behind the falls. The view from within the cave is remarkable, it’s a photographer’s dream. The falls are around 60 metres tall and give off a delightful, delicate mist — just be sure to have packed waterproof clothing for your journey to the cave!
Our final choice of waterfall is the mysterious ‘black waterfall’, Svartifoss. Upon approaching Svartifoss, your attention will immediately be taken with the strange hexagonal rock formations that stretch upwards behind the flow of water. These volcanic pillars may remind you of the famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, or the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, USA. It’s an uncanny sight that we’re sure you’ll never forget. On your return to Reykjavik, you will note that this very waterfall was the inspiration behind the capital’s iconic Hallgrímskirkja church.
This brings to an end our list of 5 waterfalls that are not to be missed on a trip to Iceland. We hope we’ve inspired you to start planning your visit! If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.