Iceland is known for its natural beauty, from volcanos and glaciers to the colorful northern lights, but its waterfalls are some of the largest and most magnificent waterfalls in the world.
Iceland has large cliffs and a jagged volcanic landscape that combines with massive amounts of flowing water to create jaw-dropping waterfalls. There are several famous waterfalls in Iceland that are must-sees, but there are also smaller waterfalls that you are likely to see in every direction as you drive throughout the country. Here we’ve compiled a list of the most spectacular waterfall in Iceland.
Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, is one of the must-see attractions along the famous Golden Circle route in southwestern Iceland. This two-tiered waterfall drops 32 meters (105 feet) into a narrow, deep canyon, creating an impressive spray of mist that often produces rainbows in sunny weather.
You’ll find a footpath leading from the car park to a viewing platform where you can experience the waterfall in all its glory. When touring the Golden Circle, as well as the Gullfoss waterfall, you can visit the renowned Geysir hot spring and Þingvellir National Park.
Skógafoss in southern Iceland flows over what used to be ocean cliffs. The waterfall is 60 meters high and more than 25 meters wide, so it is impressive, especially when there is a large amount of water flowing. It is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country.
Due to the large amount of spray coming off Skógafoss, there are often rainbows produced, which makes for beautiful photographs. You can view the waterfall from different vantage points with access below and from higher points. Skógafoss is easily accessed from the Ring Road.
This towering cascade in South Iceland is impressive to look at from a distance, but its wow factor lies in the footpath leading behind the tumbling water. It means you can admire Seljalandsfoss from multiple angles and enjoy the exhilarating experience of walking behind it. It’s no wonder why so many feel that this is one of the best waterfalls in Iceland!
If you visit Seljalandsfoss, make sure to wear good hiking shoes and a waterproof coat. There are a lot of sprays, and the path can be slippery in parts.
Iceland pushes the natural extreme with everything, and its waterfalls are no different. Morsárfoss, in southeast Iceland, is the country’s tallest waterfall, measuring 228 meters high, but it could be up to 240 meters, as part of it is concealed.
The new record waterfall was confirmed by scientists in 2011. The Morsárfoss waterfall is not only high, making for a dramatic water drop, but there are smaller waterfalls cascading around it. The waterfall is framed by the glacier above and below it. It is difficult to get to, and you are not advised to hike to it, as it requires expert-level glacial hiking. Your best options for viewing it are from afar.
After exploring Seljalandsfoss, you could discover another unusual waterfall nearby. Walk a little further on to reach Gljúfrabúi, or Gljúfrafoss (“Dweller of the Gorge” in Icelandic). Many call it “the hidden waterfall”.
Living up to its name, Gljúfrabúi is something of a hidden gem in Iceland. You have to wade into a small stream and enter a narrow opening in the cliff to find these mysterious falls. Once you enter, you’ll be surrounded by mossy rock on all sides, with the water pouring in from an opening high above. It feels like you’re in a scene from a fantasy movie here.
Dettifoss in northern Iceland is one of the biggest and most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe. The falls drop 44 meters, but it is the sheer volume of water that makes this waterfall so impressive. Dettifoss is located inside the Vatnajökull National Park in northeast Iceland, so it is easily accessible to the public.
The appearance of water at Dettifoss is a grey-white color due to the runoff from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier. One of the most impressive sensory experiences at Dettifoss is the thunderous roar of the water crashing into the gorge. While this waterfall is accessible, you will want to check road conditions if you are traveling outside of the summer season.
Meaning Black Falls in Icelandic, Svartifoss is named for its cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns. They may remind you of those seen at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland or Reynisfjara beach in southern Iceland.
Svartifoss waterfall is located in Skaftafell, a nature reserve that forms part of Vatnajökull National Park. When visiting this region you might also like to try glacier hiking. Or soak up the beautiful landscape, characterized by canyons, hanging valleys, and glacial rivers. You’ll need to hike to reach this waterfall. From the Skaftafell visitor center, it’s about a 5.5-kilometer round trip on a marked trail.
The massive Háifoss in southern Iceland is one of the tallest waterfalls in the country. It drops 122 meters, cascading down protruding rock and crashing into a canyon. The steep rock around the waterfall is a stunning landscape since it is located near the Hekla volcano.
You can reach Háifoss by heading east on the Ring Road out of Reykjavik. There is a parking lot near the top of the falls and several hiking trails in the area to access different vantage points. There are several waterfalls in the area that you can visit on the same day.
As you circle back towards western Iceland, you will have the chance to head to the Westfjords. Venture to this remote region, and you will be rewarded with beautiful, lesser-visited nature spots, including mountains, fjords, and cliffs where puffins nest in the summer.
During your time here, check out Dynjandi, a waterfall that’s often likened to a bridal veil or a multi-layered wedding cake. The water spills over multiple layers of rock across a width of 30 to 60 meters, making it the largest fall in the Westfjords. On the 15-minute hike to reach Dynjandi from the parking area, you’ll pass six other waterfalls that are worth a look too.
The draw of the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is that behind the wide, cascading water is the added scenery of the majestic Kirkjufell Mountain. The waterfall is in western Iceland on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
The variations of scenic interest, depth, and color make this waterfall one of the most spectacular to visit and photograph especially during the midnight sun or beneath the northern lights. You can get to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall from Road 54, which goes around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. There is a parking lot and walking trails that lead to the waterfall.
These are just 10 of the countless waterfalls in Iceland you could visit on your trip. You could explore Iceland in summer to make the most of long daylight hours and marvel at waterfalls in remote parts of the country. Or take a winter trip to Iceland for the chance to see these natural gems surrounded by frost and snow and to chase the northern lights.