With an unspoiled landscape teeming with cascading streams, Iceland provides a unique opportunity to experience nature in its purest form. This list covers some of my favourite Icelandic waterfalls, from Gullfoss in South Iceland to Dynjandi in West Iceland. So come explore these natural treasures and discover why Iceland is one of the best places on Earth for waterfall-watching!
Reasons for Visiting Iceland for its Waterfalls
Iceland’s waterfalls are some of the most spectacular in the world. They range from dramatic cascades to gentle streams and are often framed by stunning landscapes.
The contrast between the movement of the water and the stillness of nature surrounding it makes waterfall-watching a popular activity. The sight and sound of cascading water in all its different forms can evoke a sense of peace, awe, exhilaration or amazement.
It is also visually stunning how quickly changing light and shadows play on the falling water. It can create a vibrant mosaic that constantly changes with time, providing a serene and calming experience for onlookers and photographers.
With easy accessibility and plenty of nearby activities, visiting Iceland’s waterfalls is a great way to explore the country’s incredible natural beauty.
South Iceland’s Best Waterfalls
South Iceland is an incredibly beautiful region, boasting some of the country’s most stunning landscapes and incredible waterfalls.
Though you can find waterfalls nationwide, most of the more famous ones are on the South Coast. The variety of waterfalls in South Iceland is awe-inspiring, making it well worth a visit to experience them up close. From the Golden Circle’s Gullfoss waterfall in the Southwest to the stunning Svartifoss in the Southeast, this area offers astonishing beauty, unlike any other region.
Gullfoss – Iceland’s Golden Waterfall
Iceland’s most famous waterfall is probably Gullfoss. This epic, three-stage waterfall, located just 30 miles northeast of Reykjavík, is one part of the Golden Circle. In fact, it even lent its name to it as “Gullfoss” means “Golden Falls” in Icelandic.
At the edge of the Hvítá River, this popular waterfall comes alive with powerful sheer drops and a thundering noise that can be heard from miles away! You can experience this majestic scenery from two observation platforms. The upper one provides amazing views of the whole fall from above, while the lower one will give you a great close-up view of the water disappearing into a misty valley.
Öxarárfoss – Waterfall between Continents
The beautiful waterfall Öxarárfoss is situated at Þingvellir National Park, one of the three stops of the Golden Circle route.
The waterfall falls down Almannagjá, a dramatic gorge that acts as a natural divider between two tectonic plates, the Eurasian to its East and the North American to its West. As such, Öxarárfoss is neither in North America nor Europe but a rift valley between the two continents.
Brúarfoss – Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall
The waterfall Brúarfoss is a stunning cascade of icy blue water located within the Golden Circle region in Southwest Iceland. It is an impressive sight, especially when seen against the greenery and mountain scenery of the area.
The path to Brúarfoss waterfall is 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and takes around two to three hours to complete. However, it is worth the effort as it is a magnificent sight. Brúarfoss’ beautiful colours come from glacial deposits, giving it its unreal hue when mixed with sunlight. You will therefore find that photographing this place produces stunning results!
Faxi – A Less-Busy Waterfall on the Golden Circle
Close to Reykjavík and Golden Circle sightseeing route is the beautiful Faxi Waterfall. It is a great stop on a day trip or a road trip around Iceland’s wonders.
With its 7-meter (23 ft) high plunge and spectacular views from all sides in this serene countryside, Faxi is the perfect option for those looking for a tranquil alternative to the nearby Gullfoss Waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss – The Waterfall You can Walk Behind
One of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss is an absolute must-see for any visitor. Located on Route 1, The Ring Road, it is a stunning 60m-high waterfall with a unique feature. There is a cave behind the falling water, which you can enter.
The walking path behind Seljalandsfoss is accessible from the main viewing area. It takes you up close to the mighty cascade as it plunges into a shallow pool below. The views here are breathtaking, and with some luck, you can witness some majestic rainbows dancing in the spray.
Gljúfrabúi – The Hidden Waterfall
Not far from Seljalandsfoss is a little paradise called Gljúfrabúi (“Canyon Dweller”), a picturesque and powerful waterfall hidden in a secluded canyon. You can reach this impressive waterfall by trekking along a path from Seljalandsfoss until you hear what appears to be a rumble of distant thunder.
The falls are located in a gorge hidden by a narrow boulder. You’ll have to wade in a shallow stream to enter the canyon, so remember to bring waterproof clothing! Once inside, the view of this beautiful natural wonder appears, with its crashing sound, picturesque atmosphere and lush green foliage.
Skógafoss – See a Double Rainbow
One of the biggest waterfalls on this list at 60 meters high (200 feet), Skógafoss is genuinely one for the books when it comes to Icelandic waterfalls. It’s easily accessed from Reykjavík, located on Route 1, just a short drive from Seljalandsfoss, and is the starting point for the famous Fimmvörðuháls Trail.
Visiting Skógafoss in Iceland should be on the bucket list of any traveller. It is majestic and powerful, with its white foam splashing thunderously off the cliff side onto a flat land below, allowing visitors to walk right up to the cascading water.
If you’re lucky, you’ll visit at just the right time to capture an incredible double rainbow that arcs over the falls, as if nature wanted to give this specific location even more wonder and majesty.
Háifoss & Granni – Neighbouring Falls
The two-tiered waterfall, Háifoss is located in the southern highlands of Iceland. It is approximately 122 meters (400 feet) high, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland. In fact, the name of this waterfall translates to “High Waterfall”, and until the 20th Century, it was believed to be the tallest one in Iceland. However, since then, more waterfalls have been discovered or formed due to global warming, bumping Háifoss further and further down the list of tall waterfalls.
The falls arise from a glacial river that runs across a wide valley and then splits in two, creating the Háifoss waterfall and the closeby Granni Waterfall, whose name translates to “Neighbour”. Both these mighty falls create clouds of mist that add to their majestic beauty.
Sigöldugljúfur – The Valley of Tears
Located in the Southern Highlands of Iceland, Sigöldugljúfur Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural attractions in the country. Its rugged cliffs are punctuated with numerous cascading waterfalls, creating stunning views. The whole scene has earned the nickname “Valley of Tears”.
The canyon is home to countless small waterfalls, but two larger ones can be found here, namely Hrauneyjafoss and Sigöldufoss. En route to the canyon is another gorgeous cascade worth a visit, Hjálparfoss.
Sigöldugljúfur is located in the barren Highland region of Iceland, so getting to it requires a 4×4 car. You can visit on a Self-Drive tour or on a guided tour. We recommend the latter option since it allows you to skip driving on the Highlands’ unpaved roads and gravel paths.
Svartifoss – A Unique Hexagonal Column Formation
Located in Vatnajökull National Park in the Southeast corner of Iceland, Svartifoss is a waterfall renowned for its geological composition. Its iconic feature is its surrounding dark lava columns with strikingly geometric hexagonal shapes.
The jet-black basalt columns gave the waterfall its mesmerizing appearance and name, “Black Waterfall”. The columns and the waterfall itself have inspired countless artists, most notably the architect, Guðjón Samúelsson who used it as a reference for the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík.
East Iceland’s Best Waterfalls
East Iceland is home to some of the country’s best waterfalls, with towering rises and plunging torrents of water cascading down crags and precipices.
From one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls to a geothermal cascade, East Iceland offers an array of natural wonders that will amaze any adventurer. So whether you’re looking for a tranquil waterfall experience or an adrenaline-filled hike to one of our country’s highest cliffs – there are plenty of awe-inspiring experiences waiting for you in East Iceland!
Hengifoss – A Waterfall Cascading Down Black & Red Cliffs
Hengifoss is a stunning waterfall located in Iceland. The waterfall stands at a towering height of 128 m (420 ft), making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the country.
It is known for its dark basaltic strata rocks streaked with layers of red clay, creating a striped pattern in the cliff face. Surrounding the falls are spectacular canyons and cliffs, creating a fantastic atmosphere that attracts people from all over the world.
If you’re an avid hiker, you will want to take advantage of the absolute beauty of Hengifoss Waterfall. The hiking trail is one of the most popular routes in East Iceland, and it takes around 1 hour to reach the waterfall. Along the way, you’ll pass another picturesque waterfall, Litlanesfoss, which is surrounded by black basalt columns, similar to Svartifoss Waterfall.
Stuðlafoss– A Majestic Waterfall near an Impressive Ravine
Stuðlagil Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Iceland. It is located near Egilsstaðir in the Eastfjords and offers beautiful landscapes for anyone who visits. There are two routes to the canyon: the first is from an observation platform on the North side, and the second is a hike which will take you to the beautiful Stuðlafoss Waterfall.
The waterfall and canyon’s most striking feature is the countless hexagonal basalt columns that dominate the area. Stuðlafoss waterfall stands tall amongst these giant pillars that were created in volcanic eruption millions of years ago.
Laugarvellir – A Geothermal Hot Waterfall
Nestled in an idyllic green landscape, Laugarvellir is one of the more unique waterfalls on this list. This little piece of paradise is located in the Eastern part of the Icelandic Highlands, close to the ruins of the deserted Laugavellir Farm.
What makes this waterfall so special is that it is hot. Geothermally heated stream flows down small cliffs and into a small pond where visitors can bathe and use the waterfall as a shower. Just make sure to check the temperature before plunging in!
North Iceland’s Best Waterfalls
North Iceland is known for its beautiful natural landscape, which, of course, includes stunning waterfalls.
Home to some of the country’s most powerful and breathtaking cascades, North Iceland is a haven for those seeking peace and tranquillity surrounded by otherworldly nature.
Dettifoss – The Most Powerful Waterfall in Iceland
In the Northeast corner of Vatnajökull National Park, is th emighty Dettifoss Waterfall. It is also one part of the famous Diamond Circle route. The 100 metres (328 ft) wide cascade is considered to be one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls, with an average flow rate of 193 m³/s (6,816 cu ft/s).
It is surrounded by stunningly rugged nature and flows 45 meters (147 ft) down into a wild glacial river called Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The thunderous roar of the water and the mist coming off it create an ethereal experience that continues to mesmerise anyone who visits it.
The remarkable power of the waterfall has shaped the surrounding terrain and its beauty, captivating visitors from around the world, including Hollywood filmmaker Ridley Scott who used it in the opening scene of his 2012 sci-fi movie Prometheus.
Selfoss – An Often Overlooked Wonder
The Jökulsá River is also home to the beautiful Selfoss Waterfall, which you can find not far from Dettifoss on the Diamond Circle route in Vatnajökull National Park. Pro tip: when searching for the waterfall online, don’t confuse it with the Southern town of the same name!
Compared to the powerful, thundering drop of Dettifoss, viewing Selfoss is a calming and visually stunning experience, with its many cascading falls visible in one go. Although it’s not very tall, its powerful jet creates an impressive sound and spray which fills the air around it. Lush green hills and flowing farmland surround Selfoss, perfect for nature buffs and photographers alike.
Hafragilsfoss – Intimate but Powerful Falls
If you visit Selfoss and Dettifoss, consider a quick detour to the nearby Hafragilsfoss Waterfall. It will only add a few minutes to your road trip; however, it will likely be much quieter than Dettifoss and offer you more solitude during your visit.
Surrounded by majestic cliffs, Hafragilsfoss stands tall in the lauded Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Its 90-metre (295 ft) wide stream offers a powerful 30-metre (98 ft) drop and bellows with breathtaking might. Listen to the thunderous roar and feel the mist in the air – Hafragilsfoss is truly a sight to behold!
Goðafoss – The Waterfall of the Gods
Goðafoss is a stunning Icelandic natural landmark located near Akureyri in Northern Iceland. This horseshoe-shaped cascade of glacial water spills over a height of nearly 12 metres (40 ft) and is approximately 30 m (98 ft) wide – making it one of the largest waterfalls in the region. Its stunning setting makes it ideal for photos, hikes and reverence for its natural beauty.
The waterfall makes an appearance in the Icelandic Sagas. According to the Íslendingabók Saga, when Iceland became a Christian nation in the year 1000, a law-speaker threw his ancient idols into the pounding waters, symbolising the end of Norse paganism and giving the cascade its name “Waterfalls of the Gods”.
Kolufossar – Home of Trolls
Escape off the beaten path in Northwest Iceland to Kolufossar. They are an array of stunning waterfalls tucked away in one of Iceland’s most secret gems, the Kolugljúfur canyon.
Kolugljúfur Canyon takes its name from the legendary giantess Kola. According to folklore, Kola moulded the area with her daily activities, such as sleeping and cooking. Aside from mystical trolls, the region is home to various flora and fauna, offering visitors a truly unique experience.
Aldeyjarfoss – A Majestic, Unspoiled Gem
Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall is a hidden gem in the highlands of northern Iceland. It is one of the most dramatic and unspoiled waterfalls in the county.
Surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns, Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall is a majestic sight that is sure to take your breath away. Its ethereal beauty and the whisper of its pounding waters make it a must-see destination for anyone exploring the stunning Icelandic countryside.
West Iceland’s Best Waterfalls
West Iceland is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the country. From the majestic Kirkjufellsfoss and Glymur to the breathtaking Dynjandi Waterfall, this region is a paradise of thundering cascades.
Whether hiking for miles or just a quick sightseeing trip, West Iceland’s waterfalls will amaze you with their impressive size and magnificence. A trip to this pristine corner of Iceland promises to be an unforgettable journey into nature’s beauty.
Glymur – The Second-Highest Waterfall in Iceland
Located in the Hvalfjörður region of Iceland, Glymur is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. It is the second-highest waterfall in the country, towering 198 meters (or 651 feet) tall. Its majestic heights create an awe-inspiring roar that no visitor can resist.
Along with a small pool at its base, this waterfall creates a scene unlike any other. Getting to Glymur Waterfall requires a 3-4 hour hike through scenic nature, but it is well worth the trip. Whether you’re looking to take breathtaking photographs or simply admire its grandeur, Glymur makes for an unforgettable stop on any Icelandic adventure.
Hraunfossar & Barnafoss – Trickling Streams & Tragic Legend
Hraunfossar is a series of beautiful trickling waterfalls located in western Iceland. The small cascading waterfalls form when groundwater seeps through cracks in the Hallmundarhraun lava field, eventually reaching the river from Langjökull glacier. The contrast between crystal clear waters spilling into mossy green stones makes it incredibly picturesque.
A stone’s throw away from Hraunfossar is the spectacular Barnafoss waterfall. This is a more powerful torrent that rushes down a rocky gorge. It is famous not only for its beauty but also for its tragic history.
According to the legend, two children went to traverse the natural bridge just above the waterfall. Unfortunately, strong currents swept them away. The parents demanded the bridge be destroyed; with the mother so grief-stricken, she turned to witchcraft and cursed the bridge, damning any who crossed it to plummet to their death. Later, an earthquake destroyed the bridge and therefore lifted the spell.
Kirkjufellsfoss – A Beautiful Waterfall Framed by a Majestic Mountain
Kirkjufellsfoss is a beautiful 43-meter (140 ft) tall waterfall. You can findi it near the small town of Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. With its utmost beauty and the distinct backdrop of Mt. Kirkjufell, it is no surprise that it is one of Iceland’s most iconic locations.
The waterfall is a must-see stop for any visitor to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, no matter what time of year they visit. It is equally beautiful under the Midnight Sun or the dance of the Northern Lights.
Dynjandi – The Grandest and Most Impressive Fall in the Westfjods
The iconic Dynjandi Waterfall is located in the Westfjords of Iceland. It is considered one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. It stands proudly atop a 100 metre (330 ft) cliff and falls down in multiple cascades, each wider than the last, resembling a white veil.
Its name translates to “thunderous”, perfectly describing its grandeur. Standing at the bottom of this majestic creation of Mother Nature inspires a sense of awe and admiration, making it a must-see for any visitor to this part of Iceland.
Iceland Waterfalls Map
The Iceland Waterfalls Map is a valuable resource for tourists and travellers exploring the country’s many waterfalls. The map provides a detailed guide to the location, accessibility, and features of each waterfall. So it is easier for visitors to plan an itinerary and make the most of their trip.
With so many waterfalls to choose from, having a comprehensive map like this can help ensure that visitors don’t miss out on any of Iceland’s natural wonders.
Waterfalls of Iceland Summary
Iceland is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. These include famous falls like Gullfoss and Dettifoss, as well as lesser-known gems like Selfoss, Kolufoss, and Laugarvellir.
Each of these beautiful cascades has its own unique characteristics and appeals to different types of travellers. So whether you’re looking for a stunningly photogenic spot or simply want to admire the power of nature from up close – there are plenty of amazing waterfalls in Iceland worth exploring.