Iceland Waterfalls - Top 10Published: 20. August 2015
Have you ever typed "Iceland Waterfalls" into Google and spent way too much time looking at photos? I wouldn't be surprised. If not, you probably should.
People love waterfalls. Indeed, people like them so much that I often joke about how obsessed people can be with running water. It's just water, right? Wrong. The minute you actually experience one of the most amazing waterfalls Iceland has to offer, you'll realize that it's definitely something more than just falling water.
If you are looking for stunning waterfalls, Iceland is a great place to visit. But is there anything special about Icelandic waterfalls in particular? Some of them are amazingly powerful and others are really tall. Sure. But what makes waterfalls in Iceland truly special is the fact that they are surrounded by stunning Icelandic landscapes. So, if any country can make you fall in love with water, it's Iceland.
But if your time in Iceland is limited, which ones should you go see? Don't panic, I got your back. Below you can find a list of my favorite 10 waterfalls in Iceland. The ranking is not based on popularity or any impressive statistics. You can probably find that list on Wikipedia or something. These waterfalls are simply the waterfalls that I would most want to go see today and would recommend to my friends and family. To be honest, I haven't actually seen all of these waterfalls. Some are on this list because of recommendations from trusted friends and I've been wanting to see for a long time.
Goðafoss is my absolute favorite waterfall for many reasons. The name roughly translates into "Waterfall of the Gods" and it is located in the north. If Dettifoss (see below) is "the beast", Godafoss is "the beauty". Good thing my digital camera doesn't have film, because I can photograph this beauty for hours.
Dynjandi is the largest waterfall in the Westfjords and a true jewel. The fact that it's located in the Westfjords, one of my favorite areas in Iceland, is a part of the reason why it takes the no. 2 spot. It also has a unique look, flowing down the cliff in a wide stream. It requires a short hike to get there, but you should just look at that as added bonus when you're in the Westfjords. For some reason, I have never made the trip to see it, but it's definitely at the top of my bucket list for this year.
This is the beast. It's difficult not to be impressed by the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You don't even have to see it to feel it's power. You will hear the rumble and practically feel the earth start shaking long before you get to it. I'd suggest approaching it from the west for a better view. It's very difficult to photograph, so I usually just set put my camera away and enjoy the moment.
Háifoss ("Tall Waterfall") is tall indeed. The 122-meter high waterfall is the second highest in Iceland and is well worth seeing. What I like about Háifoss is that it's off the beaten track and you won't have to fight 1,000 tourists for the best view. Just like Dynjandi, you can't access it with a regular car, so be prepared to make a short hike.
What makes this waterfall so special are the black basalt columns that surround it. The approximately 45-minute hike required to get to it is absolutely beautiful and not too difficult. Just like Dynjandi, Svartifoss ("Black Waterfall) really stands out from other waterfalls with its unique look. The contrast between the black basalt columns and the white flowing water is perfect for photography.
Glymur is the highest waterfall in Iceland. My favorite part of exploring this waterfall is actually driving through Hvalfjordur ("Whale Fjord") and making the hike to it. The hike is a little bit tougher than for some of the other waterfalls, but again, well worth it. I tried reaching it earlier this summer, but there was so much water in the river that it couldn't be crossed. But the trip was well worth it just the same, as we hiked through caves and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. I'll try it again another day.
Gullfoss ("Golden Waterfall") is the most popular waterfall in Iceland for a good reason. It's pretty, powerful, and easily accessible. The only reason I put it in 7th place is because you will immediately be reminded of the Icelandic tourism boom. If you have the time, it's definitely worth checking out but don't expect it to be the most authentic experience you'll have with Icelandic nature during your trip.
Aldeyjarfoss has been on my bucket list for a long time. Unlike some of the other waterfalls on here, Aldeyjarfoss is actually not that impressive when it comes to height or power. What makes this waterfall interesting are its surroundings, which is very similar to Svartifoss. Getting there is about a 2-hour detour from Road 1, but unless you are seriously running out of time, you should definitely go. Even though the drop is not impressive, the alien-looking desolate landscape more than make up for that. If I had to use one word to describe this waterfall, it's "dramatic". But all of this is based on what others tell me and I will have to experience it for myself as soon as possible.
Just like Aldeyjarfoss, this Brúarfoss impresses for reasons other than power and height. It's basically many small waterfalls that fall into a deep blue gap, with emphasis on blue. Watching the water flow in this amazing blue color can be highly mesmerizing. You might be thinking it, but no, the color you see in those photos is not Photoshop.
This might be the least recognized waterfall on this list, but I don't think it should be. Fagrifoss directly translates into "Beautiful Waterfall" and it definitely deserves its name. The main reason Fagrifoss is not seen by more travelers is probably because it takes some effort to get to it. But if you make the hike, approach it from the east for the best view.
Iceland Waterfalls: Honorable Mentions
Skógafoss is a must-see waterfall and probably the one I've seen the most often. Not only is it really beautiful, but it's also super easy to get to from Road 1.
Seljalandsfoss is another must-visit attraction. My favorite thing about this waterfall is being able to walk behind it. How cool is that, right?
Even though the mountain in the background gets most of the glory, the waterfall is definitely worth seeing in itself. It is located just outside the charming small town of Grundarfjordur in the west of Iceland. No matter how excited you are to see the waterfall, don't just rush through the town without giving it a second look. Take your time, experience the true Iceland, and you won't regret it.
But what do you think? Am I missing something or do you have questions? Shoot me an email at thorsteinn(at)happycampers.is and let me know!