Best Waterfalls in Iceland

21 Best Waterfalls in Iceland (2023)

Planning a trip and wondering what the best waterfalls in Iceland are? You’ve landed in the right place.

Waterfalls are one of the major draws to Iceland, and there’s no wonder why – Iceland is a small country, but it has over 10,000 waterfalls. This number is only an estimate as there’s no official record – that’s how many there are!

So while you’re in Iceland, whether you’re travelling on your own or with kids, be sure to indulge in this natural beauty by seeing all the waterfalls you can. We have suggestions on the best waterfalls in Iceland for you to visit, and everything you need to know about visiting them.

Waterfalls in Iceland
Waterfalls in Iceland
Waterfalls in Iceland

Good to Know: The word “foss” in Icelandic, means ‘waterfall.’ So all waterfall names end with the word ‘foss.’

So, lets jump in – the best waterfalls in Iceland to consider for your next trip!

Best Waterfalls in South Iceland

South lceland is where most tourists in Iceland tend to stick to, and there are a ton of great waterfalls ot see just in this area. Here are the best waterfalls in Iceland, and everything you need to know about visiting them as a tourist

1. Skogafoss

Skogafoss is a stunning waterfall located in South Iceland. Known for being one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, it has an impressive width of 25 meters and drops 60 meters. It is conveniently located off Ring Road making it a perfect place to stop while driving from Reykjavik to Vik.

Skogafoss Iceland

Skogafoss is easy to access; you can walk right up to it and parking is available. The waterfall is open 24/7, but because it is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, arriving before 9 am or after 6 pm is best to avoid the larger crowds.

Next to Skogafoss is a staircase that you can climb for amazing views of the top of the waterfall. This is also where the Waterfall Way trail begins, and by hiking about 1-2 miles you’ll come across several other small waterfalls. Just make sure to turn back around after going about 1.5-2 miles, as the trail doesn’t loop back and continues on to become a strenuous one-way day hike to Thórsmörk. Whether you want to do some hiking or just admire the falls, Skogafoss is one of the top waterfalls in Iceland to visit.

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2. Kvernufoss

We recommend adding the short hike to Kvernufoss when you visit the more famous Skogafoss next to it. Kvernufoss is a lesser known waterfall off the Ring Road in South Iceland. This 30-metre waterfall is hidden away in a scenic gorge of sparkling emerald green water. You can hike behind the cascade to get a gorgeous keyhole view of the whole valley through the falls. It is one of the Iceland outdoor adventures you don’t want to miss.

Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland

The 10 minute hike into Kvernufoss starts at the Skogar Museum parking lot east of Skogafoss. You can pay for parking on an app. Then climb a style over the fence and cross a field to start the well-marked trail. Soon the splendid green mossy canyon will surround you. At the head of the canyon is the less visited but no less spectacular Kvernufoss falls. If you visit on a sunny day, the canyon winds scatter the droplets of the falls into a stunning rainbow.

If you have time, visit the Skogar open air museum at the beginning of the Kvernufoss hike. This cultural heritage collection of regional artifacts and traditional turf houses is a fascinating peek into Icelandic culture and architecture.

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3. Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is located on the south coast of Iceland and is an easy 2-hour drive from Reykjavik. This is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland with a height of 60m. But the unique thing about these falls is that you can actually walk behind them! The pounding of the water cascading in front of you and the spray on your face make for an exciting experience and some truly magical pictures.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland

Navigating there is simple as you can follow Hwy 1, otherwise known as the Ring Road and it is accessible right from the road. There is no entrance fee to the falls however if you are driving, there is a parking fee of 800 ISK. If you are planning to walk along the path behind, make sure you have good walking or hiking shoes as it can be very slippery. Also, the spray will make conditions wet so be sure to dress appropriately and bring something to keep your camera or phone dry. If you are making the trek behind the falls plan to be there for about an hour.

There are loads of waterfalls in Iceland, but Seljalandsfoss is one you must see!

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4. Svartifoss

Located in south Island, in the area around Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park, Svartifoss is a must visit on any south Iceland itinerary. Svartifoss is one of the most visually interesting waterfalls in Iceland, renowned for its unique basalt column formations that surround the cascading waters. The columns resemble the pipes of an organ and are said to have inspired the stair-stepped facade of the famous Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavik.

Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland

Svartifoss, which means “Black Falls” in Icelandic, was formed by slow cooling lava resulting in the unique rectangular pillars.

There is a 1000 ISK ($9 USD) parking fee which can be paid at the visitors centre when you arrive. Getting to the waterfall involves an easy, kid-friendly hike on a mostly gravel path surrounded by lush greenery. Visitors can either do a 3.5 mile loop, or turn around and take the same path back to the trailhead, which is slightly shorter. 

Plan for at least two hours to hike to Svartifoss. Like many of the majestic falls in Iceland you can walk directly up to the cascading water, which empties down into a small stream surrounded by boulders and large rocks. Although the national park is open year round, it is best to visit this waterfall in summer. Weather conditions in winter or even early spring and late autumn can result in slick roads, footpaths, and closed areas.

Submitted by Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

5. Brurfoss

Bruarfoss is known for being the bluest waterfall in Iceland. It’s fed by glacial water that gives the waterfall a beautiful blue colour. This waterfall is within the Golden Circle, and about a 1.5 hour drive from Reykjavik. 

The only way to reach Bruarfoss is by hiking a 4.4 mile (round trip) trail from the parking lot to Bruarfoss and back. The walk takes about 1 hour each way. On the way to Bruarfoss, you can stop at Midfoss, another small waterfall that is fed by the same river. The trail to Bruarfoss and back starts out very wide, narrowing as you go. Although it narrows, it’s still very easy to follow it. The trail is mostly flat, so it isn’t challenging, but be prepared for a muddy path if it’s been raining. Most of the trail follows along the Brúará River, with beautiful views of mountains and glaciers in the distance. 

When you get to Bruarfoss, you’ll see a bridge that you can walk onto for the best views of the waterfall. Once you’ve spent enough time enjoying Bruarfoss, turn back to take the same trail back to the parking lots.  Parking at the start of the Bruarfoss trail is free. There is a sign with information at the trailhead, but no other amenities, so plan accordingly. While hiking to Bruarfoss, remember what not to do in Iceland: don’t hike off of the trail, and don’t leave litter along the way (bring it back to your car and dispose of it properly).

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6. Foss á Síðu

It’s not one of the big, powerful waterfalls in Iceland, but it is definitely one of the prettiest: Foss á Síðu is a fairytale-like waterfall in south-east Iceland. It has a narrow stream of water that falls over vertical cliffs. In the summer months, the banks and cliffs on either side of the fall are a glorious green, so it’s especially worth checking out if you’re visiting Iceland in summer.

Foss á Síðu waterfall in Iceland

Foss á Síðu is very close to the Ring Road between Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and Lómagnúpur mountain (both of which you should also look out for, as they’re stunning natural landmarks). You’ll be able to see it from the road as you approach.

It’s one of the easiest waterfalls in Iceland to see. There’s no hike involved, and no entry fees. While you can’t walk up right next to the waterfall, because it is on private farmland, you can get close enough to get a great view from the farm gate at the end of a short lane that runs off route 1 (the ring road). There’s parking next to the café on the other side of the road: Hamrafoss Café, which is also a nice place for a bite to eat or a drink. 

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7. Haifoss

Haifoss sits in the Southern portion of the Iceland and stands at an astounding 400 feet tall. It is also conveniently located near the smaller, Granni Waterfall in Fossárdalur Valley, allowing you to visit two incredible waterfalls at the same time. This waterfall derives most of its power from the Fossa River, which flows down into the gorge to create this magical waterfall. 


However, what really makes Haifoss unique is that while it is the fourth-largest waterfall in the country, it rarely receives visitors. And that’s because you need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get here. 

To get to the parking lot near the waterfall you’ll have to go over a very bumpy road. Therefore, this spot is best accessed in the summer when roads are totally clear. Then, from the parking lot, it is a short hike to the waterfall and the viewing platform at the top.  However, if you’re feeling energetic you could always hike the waterfall by following the River Fossá.

 Pro Tip: You can also try hiking to the bottom of the waterfall to enjoy a totally unique perspective of one of the most unique places to visit in Iceland.

Submitted by Victoria from Iceland Trippers

8. Gluggafoss

Gluggafoss is located in South Iceland, just over halfway between Reyjavik and Vik. Its one of the lesser known waterfalls, and you have a very good chance of having this little gem all to yourself. You can simply park your car in the small park lot provided and you can walk right up to the waterfall. If you look closely, you can see that Gluggafoss isn’t just one waterfall – its two.

Gluggafoss Waterfall in Iceland

When you approach the Gluggafoss to the left, there is a little cave. From there, you have a view of the waterfall behind (pictured, right.)

There are no washrooms or any other amenities here – just peaceful nature for you to enjoy for a few moments before continuing back to the Ring Road.

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9. Faxi Falls

Located in southern Iceland, about an hour and a half drive away from Reykjavik is the beautiful Faxi Waterfall. It is one of the unique waterfalls that many miss as most visitors check off the Gullfoss. However, it is just a short detour on the Golden Circle route

Faxi falls Iceland

The waterfall is best explored by car. There is a small parking lot where you can park your vehicle. The parking fee is 700 ISK. You will also find washrooms and a small restaurant near the waterfalls. The restaurant is called the Vid Faxa, and the dining room offers views of the falls as well. The area in and around the falls is known for salmon fishing and hikes in the summer.

Faxi is a wide waterfall with one drop, and it gets its waters from the Tungufljót River. The waterfall is fed by glaciers and other smaller lakes. In order to access and view the falls, there is a boardwalk and a well-maintained path. A quick walk leads to the viewing area, where you can take in the view from the falls. 

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Best Waterfalls in West Iceland

West Iceland includes Thingvellir National Park, which has a few waterfalls, as well as other waterfalls along the west coast

1. Oxararfoss 

One of the most accessible and most photographed waterfalls in Iceland is Oxararfoss, located right in Thingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle. The waterfall is 44 feet (13 meters) high and about 20 feet (six meters) wide. Being in Thingvellir, this waterfall has played an important part in Icelandic history, is mentioned in many of the sagas, and was used for bathing during the annual Alþingi/Icelandic Parliamentary meetings that began in 930 AD.

Oxarfoss waterfall iceland

To reach the waterfall, take Road 36 (the Golden Circle) into the national park. From there, take Road 361 to the south, and the first fork to the right. There are several parking lots here to begin the hike, but P3 offers the shortest walk. There is a nominal charge for parking at the pay kiosk.

The hike is about ¼ mile uphill. The trail is easy and well marked, but is not accessible for people with mobility challenges. Once at the top of the hill, there’s a short walk along a wooden boardwalk to view the falls.

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2. Gulfoss

Gullfoss is a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik, and popular for visitors year-round. In the winter, (November through February) Gulfoss is one of the few Icelandic waterfalls that is typically frozen.

The name Gulfoss means “golden waterfall” and the legend says that it got its name from a viking throwing his treasure into the falls. Many Norwegian vikings settled in Iceland as well as the northern Scottish Islands which were called Scandinavian Scotland.

In a country full of waterfalls, Gullfoss is the biggest and most impressive. It has two cascades with a total drop of 32 metres. As the water tumbles down the spray generated is so powerful you might get drenched, especially on windy days, (so don’t forget your waterproofs!)

There is a lot more water in the summer than in the winter but that doesn’t necessarily mean summer is the best time to visit. One of the benefits of visiting in the colder months is fewer tourists. During the summer months try to arrive early or late in the day since it can be very busy.

The waterfalls are a 10-minute walk from the car park. Around the falls there are several walkways and viewing platforms where you can view the falls from different angles. Stick to the path both to protect the fragile environment and because the ground can be slippery.

Good to Know: Entry and parking is free but there are two car parks. The lower car park is for people with disabilities and buses only. Next to the main car park is a shop and restaurant with toilets.

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3. Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is located in western Iceland, specifically on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You can plan a trip here no matter whether you are in Iceland for a weekend or an entire week, for it is only two hours and 30 minutes northwest from the capital city of Reykavjík. You might recognize the mountain just behind Kirkjufellsfoss in the picture below if you are a Game of Thrones’ fan. The mountain, known as Mt. Kirkjufell, was featured in the series as Arrowhead Mountain. 

Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

While there is no entrance fee for Kirkjufellsfoss, there is a small parking fee. Unless you are hitchhiking to the waterfall, you do not really have an option other than to park in the lot and pay the small fee of 700 ISK (~$5). Moreover, the waterfall is open to visitors 24/7. However, it is recommended to only visit during daylight hours so you can see the waterfall in all its glory. There is a rope to section off the bottom section of Kirkjufellsfoss; please respect the area and do not go beyond the roped-off areas as they are trying to restore the vegetation.

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4. Glymur

Glymur is the second highest waterfall in Iceland. It is likely the tallest waterfall you will see while in the country. The highest waterfall is in Skaftafell and is not easy to reach. On the other hand, Glymur is just one hour away from Reykjavik in the Western Region. This waterfall is only accessible via a hike.

Glymur waterfall in Iceland

Glymur waterfall is open year round but summer is the best time to visit. There is a spacious and free parking lot at the trailhead. A 6.5 km (4.1-mile loop) trail brings you to the waterfall. Allow about 3.5 hours to complete this moderate trail. Take the loop counterclockwise to see the waterfall sooner. You will pass through a cave, cross a river via a log, and hike along a narrow canyon. 

You will get the first glimpse of Glymur waterfall about 1.2 miles into the hike. Continue hiking uphill to enjoy the waterfall from the top. Only the crest of Glymur is visible from that viewpoint. But you will have the whole valley all the way down to the fjord to enjoy. There is another river crossing upstream from the waterfall. The rest of the trail to the parking lot is easier since it goes downhill.

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Best Waterfalls in North Iceland

If you venture to the north of Iceland, here are the best waterfalls to check out in that area

1. Goðafoss

Get ready to be amazed by the gorgeous Goðafoss Waterfall, one of the best waterfalls in Iceland! Located in northern Iceland, this stunning natural wonder is a sight you have to include in your Iceland Ring Road Itinerary.

What makes Goðafoss Waterfall truly special is its rich historical significance. Legend has it that in the year 1000, the lawmaker of the Alþingi (the national parliament) decided to convert to Christianity and threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall. From then on, Goðafoss, which translates to Waterfall of the Gods, became a symbol of the Icelanders’ conversion to Christianity. So, not only is it a breathtaking sight, but it also holds a deep cultural significance.

Now, before you start making plans, here are a few things to know about Goðafoss. First, be prepared for the sheer power and volume of water cascading down the falls. It’s truly awe-inspiring, but also strong and wet! Second, make sure to bring your camera because this place is a photographer’s dream. Lastly, be ready for some muddy trails if you plan on getting up close and personal with the waterfall. So, pack your waterproof boots and get ready to enjoy one of the coolest places in Iceland. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

Submitted by Cristina of Honest Travel Stories

2. Dettifoss

This magnificent waterfall is located in northeast Iceland, about two and a half hours from Akureyri. It’s considered one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls, behind the Rhine Falls in Switzerland, with an average flow rate of over 6,800 cubic feet per second! On a sunny day, the heavy mist from the waterfall often creates a pretty rainbow. 

Dettifoss waterfall

One of the best parts of visiting this waterfall is that it’s not as popular as others, like Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss. Depending on the season, there’s a good chance that you might visit it with very few other people. The easiest way to get to Dettifoss is along the west side (the east side is beautiful, but it’s a dirt road which isn’t advisable in the winter) via a paved road and parking lot (parking is free). It’s a short half-mile walk from the parking lot to the upper viewpoint. One thing to note is that parts of the hiking trail are very rocky and uneven, so take your time, especially if it’s wet.

After visiting Dettifoss, there is another lesser-known waterfall just north of it called Hafragilsfoss. To get to it, use Google Map to follow along the river, park just off the side of the road, and walk the rest of the way. The main viewpoint for this waterfall is on the east side, but it’s still pretty from the west. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay nearby, check out the Grímstunga Guesthouse, a great hotel near Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1).

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3. Selfoss

If you are planning an Iceland ring road itinerary to visit the entire island, North Iceland attractions would definitely feature on it. And while visiting the North region, you would not miss Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall. There is another stunning waterfall in the area, Selfoss. This fall is upstream from Dettifoss, and a paved path exists between the 2 waterfalls and another paved path exists from a common car park directly to Selfoss. This area and the car park on the western side of the falls is easily accessible from Myvatn or Husavik town.

Selfoss Waterfall Iceland

My recommendation would be to see the beautifully set Selfoss before you go to the more powerful Dettifoss. Selfoss is much wider than its height. Here the river Jokulsa drops over a number of waterfalls over about 30 km creating a massive U shape. You can go close to the falls, but be careful of the slippery wet rocks. I was happy viewing the falls from the paved path and did not venture to the rocks beyond. 

This waterfall is not to be confused with Selfoss town (same name) in south Iceland. Selfoss is open throughout the year, though the flow decreases during winter. There are dry pit toilets at the car park but no other facilities.

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Best Waterfalls in East Iceland

Here are the best waterfalls to check out while you’re in the east part of Iceland

1. Henigfoss

Of all the waterfalls in Iceland, Hengifoss is arguably the most unique. Its distinctive contrasting red clay and black basalt layers make for an absolutely beautiful sight. It is also one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls, with a spectacular 118m drop. Hengifoss is located on the country’s eastern side and is a must-visit if you are planning a road trip around Iceland.

Henigfoss waterfall iceland

The hike to Hengifoss is around 5km / 3.1 miles return, however, there are other spectacular waterfalls along the route so there is always something beautiful to look at. From the car park, the hike follows the left-hand side of the falls leading you all the way to the base of the walls. The pathway is predominately paved or boardwalks, however, there are little patches where you are required to step across stones towards the end. Overall, it’s an easy to moderate hike and there are plenty of places to stop for a rest or to enjoy the view.

Hengifoss is accessible at any time of the day, however, it’s a popular spot so it’s recommended to arrive early if you’d prefer less people around. In summer, a coffee van is usually parked near the road where you can buy a warm drink and treat yourself to some post-hike waffles.

2. Klifbrekkufoss 

Nestled in the remote fjord of Mjóifjörður, in the East fjords, lies Klifbrekkufossar. What sets this waterfall apart is its remarkable setting amidst the breath taking landscapes at the head of the fjord.  The waterfall is broken into multiple falls that can be seen from a small pull in on the roadside. It sits in the centre of the cliffs with the road running down the side of the cliffs before the river crosses under the road at the bottom of the falls. It is possible to hike to the falls from the parking area although the paths are not clear.

Klifbrekkufossar waterfall in Iceland

The road leading to Klifbrekkufossar is a remote mountain pass – Road 953.  It can be a challenging drive even in a 4WD vehicle due to its steep inclines and narrow sections, but the effort is rewarded with the breath taking scenery that unfolds along the way.

It’s important to note that accessing Mjóifjörður and its waterfall is impossible during the winter months. The region experiences heavy snowfall, making the road impassable for vehicles between October and May and even in the summer conditions can be difficult.

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3. Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar is a series of small waterfalls in West Iceland that flow through a 900 metre stream from a lava field. This waterfall gets its name comes from the Icelandic word hraun, which means “lava” and the word for waterfalls (fossar). These waterfalls are in a remote location off of the Silver Circle, and you may have them all to yourself. They’re known for their bright blue colour.

Hraunfossar in Iceland

A short walk upstream from Hraunfossar, is another waterfall called Barnofoss. “Barn” in Icelandic and other Nordic languages, means “child,” so its name in means “waterfall of the children” in English. The name is said to come from a legend which is pretty morbid. According to the legend, there was a natural bridge over the Barnofoss waterfall and two children from a nearby farm fell to their deaths from the bridge. Afterwards, their heartbroken mother had the bridge destroyed; so there is no bridge there now.

Regardless, you can take a quick look at both Hraunfoss and Barnfoss while you’re in this area. To visit Hraunfossar, you will need to take a small detour in your car. There is a free parking lot and admission; there is just a bathroom which costs a small fee.

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Best Waterfalls in Iceland: FAQs

Here are the most commonly asked question about waterfalls in Iceland

What is Iceland’s biggest waterfall?

Dettifoss, in northeast Iceland, is the country’s biggest waterfall at 330 ft (100 metres) wide and a drop of 144 ft (44 metres) to put it into perspective, this is only 25 feet shorter than Niagara Falls. Dettifoss is also considered Europe’s most powerful waterfall with flow rate of 6,800 cubic feet per second.

Which waterfall in Iceland is best?

When there are 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, its hard to choose a single best of them all. However, there are a few waterfalls that are very large and dramatic, and easy to visit for tourists who don’t want to hike for hours or take a 4 wheel drive to get to a waterfall. These two waterfalls are Gulfoss, Seljandfoss and Skogafoss. They tend to be very popular for tourists and they don’t disappoint.

How many waterfalls are there in Iceland?

There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland – this is an estimate, because its hard to count an exact number when there’s that many of them.

Visiting waterfalls in Iceland

Best Waterfalls in Iceland: Conclusion

By now, you have an idea of some of the amazing waterfalls scattered across Iceland; some easily accessible along the main roads, and others that you might have to work a little harder to see.

Part of what makes the waterfalls in Iceland so magical is that many of them are not heavily visited, being located off the beaten track. One thing is for sure – if you love waterfalls, then you’ll be in the right place when you visit Iceland.