skogafoss

Best Icelandic Waterfalls

Best Icelandic Waterfalls



Here are the best Icelandic waterfalls, with a focus on those that are easily accessible. According to our humble opinion B-). Based on the overall experience, i.e.:

9. GULLFOSS

gullfoss in the evening

Gullfoss at the time of our visit, i.e. 7 pm

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-20 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Gullfoss

In summer, Gullfoss is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Gullfoss

The waterfall is very easily accessible, which probably explains why it’s usually so touristy. It’s also very picturesque. It wasn’t one of our favourites, though. We were already spoiled enough with all of the places we had seen already at that time. As someone on the Google maps had put it “3/5 Icelandic stars, that is 5/5 stars anywhere else”.

Tips about Gullfoss

Gullfoss is typically one of the most touristy places in Iceland. You’re going to notice it once you arrive at the gigantic car park next to the restaurant and a souvenir shop. However, we arrived in the evening during Covid-19 times. This meant an empty car park and a closed restaurant with a souvenir shop. And also – almost no tourists.

8. SELFOSS

selfoss east

The east viewpoint of the Selfoss waterfall

Summary

Distance from car park: 20-30 minutes
Time spent at: 10-15 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little / medium 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Selfoss

In summer, Selfoss is accessible by any 2wd car. I do recommend renting a cheap 4wd, though. Especially the eastern access is a rough gravel road.  Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

You may reach the waterfall from 2 different sides – the west and the east. Read below in our Tips section details about both of them.

Our experience with Selfoss

You have to reach Selfoss by walking, there’s no car park. Nevertheless, it’s a short walk of about 10-15 minutes from Dettifoss, again on either stony or normal path. After the waterfalls we’d already seen at that point, we were not that overwhelmed by Selfoss. It’s a nice series of many small waterfalls, so what’s interesting about it is its width. Needless to say, it’s still a very beautiful place to see.

Dettifoss with Selfoss were also the only places during the Covid-19 times where we met Asian tourists. I just wonder how many tourists are here usually, when there’s no Covid? Probably a lot of.

Tips about Selfoss

You have two choices about how to get to these well-known waterfalls. From the west or from the east. There are endless debates all over the internet about which side is the best. I will make it easier for you. Eastern side is the best. No discussion. Easy.

Ok, let’s be a bit more serious now. Yes, I think the eastern side is much better. Why?

  • The road leading there is more adventurous
  • View from the eastern side is much better
  • Most likely you won’t get wet (much) on this side
  • Car parks are smaller, but that should mean fewer tourists, right?

That’s why we went for the eastern side.

7. GODAFOSS

Godafoss before sunset

Godafoss before sunset

Summary

Distance from car park: 10 minutes
Time spent at: 10-20 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Goðafoss

In summer, Goðafoss is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Goðafoss

Godafoss is a waterfall on a bucket list of everyone driving the entire ring road. You’ll most likely find it in every Icelandic guide. That means we’re talking about a touristy place again. Reaching Godafoss is easy. You may leave your car at the Fossholl parking lot. From there you take a 10 minutes’ walk either from the south or from the north of the waterfall. We took the southern route and I can recommend it, views from there were very nice.

Tips about Goðafoss

We were lucky again to have beautiful sunny weather and arrived at the waterfall around the sunset time. Path to the Godafoss is paved and literally, everyone can make this little walk. Goðafoss is very nice and definitely worth visiting, though not our favourite Icelandic waterfall.

6. HAIFOSS

haifoss

Just Haifoss

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes
Time spent at: 15-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Haifoss

In summer, Haifoss is accessible by any 2wd car. I do recommend renting a cheap 4wd, though. The road 332 leading there is a rough gravel road, so you may save your car by using an SUV. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Haifoss

Once you reach the well-marked car park, Haifoss is just a few steps next to it, in a huge moss-covered green valley with many sheep around. Haifoss is supposed to be more touristy, due to its accessibility also by 2wd cars, and yes it was even during our visit. There were some 3-4 cars other than us parking at the car park, which seemed like a lot compared to our experience at that time.

There are several viewpoints of the waterfall, all next to each other so you will have enough space to admire the waterfall from and make some nice pictures. Despite the weather being cloudy already, we were able to make some nice pictures anyway.

Tips about Haifoss

The road leading to Haifoss (332) is the gravel road which you will be able to drive fast on with any 4wd car because it doesn’t have any potholes just a lot of gravel on it. That’s also why it’s not marked as an F-road. With a 2wd car, you would need to slow down, however.

5. DYNJANDI

dynjandi waterfall trail

Dynjandi waterfall trail

Summary

Distance from car park: 10 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-45 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little to medium
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Dynjandi

In summer, Dynjandi is accessible by any 2wd car. I do recommend renting a cheap 4wd, though. Westfjords’ roads near Dynjandi may get tough to drive in rough weather. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Dynjandi

Probably the most beautiful waterfall in Westfjords (and one of the best in Iceland as well) – that’s Dynjandi waterfall. The huge car park and the entire infrastructure around the waterfall suggest that Dynjandi waterfall is apparently a very touristy place during normal times. Not during Covid-19 times, though. When we reached the parking lot at 8 am, we were the only car parking there. Just us and the beautiful Dynjandi.

There are several smaller waterfalls below Dynjandi and you will meet them along your trail towards Dynjandi. The actual Dynjandi definitely belongs to the top Icelandic waterfalls we’ve seen. Its unique shape makes it more than just memorable.

Tips about Dynjandi

I had read before, that the hiking trail towards Dynjandi takes about 45 minutes to complete. That’s not true. It takes only some 10-15 minutes of light hiking to arrive at the base of the waterfall. Maybe there’s a trail continuing even further to the upper part of the waterfall (which takes 45 minutes to complete), I don’t remember any though.

4. SVARTIFOSS

svartifoss viewpoint

The closest viewpoint to Svartifoss after sky finally cleared a bit. Still, we are wet in the pic as you may see.

Summary

Distance from car park: 20-30 minutes one way
Time spent at: 15-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to

In summer, Svartifoss is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Svartifoss

This was a touristy day and we were aware of it, as we were visiting the most touristy part of an Iceland – the south. Svartifoss waterfall is famous mostly thanks to the Vikings series. Once we reached the car park of the Skaftafell national park, we realized what “touristy” actually means here. The car park and entire infrastructure around the entrance of the park were huge compared to all other sites we’d seen before. So we did park our car along 40 other cars and went for the Skaftafell trail towards Svartifoss.

The trail takes some 20-30 minutes to reach the Svartifoss waterfall and it’s a fairly easy one. Here is a map of the Skaftafell area. You’re going to probably meet a lot of fellow tourists, as we did, along the path. When we reached the Svartifoss, however, there were just 2-3 couples together with us and shortly thereafter we were there all by ourselves. The weather was so-so with cloudy sky and slight fog. Still, Svartifoss was really beautiful and worth seeing.

Tips about Svartifoss

There are many other hiking trails in the Skaftafell national park, so if you are into hiking you have several options to go for. Since Svartifoss is supposed to be the highlight of the entire area, we again didn’t go for any other trail and went just for Svartifoss. After seeing it and enjoying the views we turned back towards our car.

3. SKÓGAFOSS

Bottom part of Skógafoss

The bottom part of Skógafoss waterfall (and a wedding in the background ☺) at 8 pm

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes (lower part), 7 minutes (upper part)
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Skógafoss

In summer, Skógafoss is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Skógafoss

The entire area around Skógafoss is just incredibly pretty. There’s a campsite just next to the waterfall so if you have a chance to camp in here, definitely go for it! The next time we visit Iceland we would definitely camp in here. Waking up to the sound of bursting water and seeing the magnificent waterfall right after getting out of your tent must be an unforgettable experience.

With regards to the waterfall itself, you may walk literally into its bottom part. We were surprised that in most of the cases there were no barriers restraining you from going as close to the waterfall as you want. Which of course means, you have to take care of any danger for yourself.

Tips about Skógafoss

You may also climb a few stairs to get to the upper part of the waterfall, which we again definitely do recommend (especially in good weather) because you will be rewarded with a really nice view. Near the upper part, you will probably meet some sheep and you will see the path continuing more deeply into the national park. We didn’t go further as Skogafoss was supposed to be the highlight anyway.

2. DETTIFOSS

tourists at Dettifoss

Observe tourists on our side (east) and the other side (west) of the Dettifoss

Summary

Distance from car park: 5-10 minutes
Time spent at: 10-15 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little / medium 
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Dettifoss

In summer, Dettifoss is accessible by any 2wd car. I do recommend renting a cheap 4wd, though. Especially the eastern access is a rough gravel road. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

You may reach the waterfall from 2 different sides – the west and the east. Read below in our Tips section details about both of them.

Our experience with Dettifoss

We visited Dettifoss on Day 7 of our packed 2-week trip. Dettifoss is close to many other beautiful sights in the Mývatn area, which we definitely recommend visiting too! We arrived at the eastern bank of the waterfall (see below, why the eastern one).

It will take you some 5-10 minutes to walk from the eastern car park on a stony but perfectly safe trail to reach the waterfall. Dettifoss is one of the most beautiful Icelandic waterfalls we’ve seen. Mostly, because its massive water volume is really impressive. It’s also said to be the most powerful Icelandic waterfall, and one of the most powerful ones in Europe as well. For those interested, there’s a nice website summarizing all waterfalls here. We were also lucky enough to catch Dettifoss with a rainbow over it.

Tips about Dettifoss – Which side to choose?

You have two choices about how to get to these well-known waterfalls. From the west or from the east. There are endless debates all over the internet about which side is the best. I will make it easier for you. The Eastern side is the best. No discussion. Easy.

Ok, let’s be a bit more serious now. Yes, I think the eastern side is much better. Why?

  • The road leading there is more adventurous
  • View from the eastern side is much better
  • Most likely you won’t get wet (much) on this side
  • Car parks are smaller, but that should mean fewer tourists, right?

That’s why we went for the eastern side.

1. SELJALANDSFOSS

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss at 7 pm

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes
Time spent at: 20-60 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

How to get to Seljalandsfoss

In summer, Seljalandsfoss is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

The car park in front of the waterfall is a paid one (7eur). Nobody had been checking the tickets at the time, however, we didn’t want to risk getting any infamously high Icelandic fines (e.g. 10 000 USD here) so we headed to the ticket machine. Over there my girlfriend realized that somebody had left their used parking ticket for someone else to use again, which seemed a really nice gesture, although I’m not sure whether this is, in reality, good or not (depends on, whether the area is being maintained using the fees collected from the parking or whether just someone is getting rich by renting a piece of ground for parking).

Our experience with Seljalandsfoss

Anyway, Seljalandsfoss was amazing. We were lucky enough that the sky cleared just before our arrival and we could experience the waterfall playing with the sun and an accompanying rainbow. And yes, Seljalandsfoss is the waterfall you can walk behind, and yes it’s a beautiful experience to do it. During Covid times, there were some 5-8 people around the waterfall area at the time of our visit, so we had the waterfall almost entirely to ourselves. We are not sure whether it’s because this was our first Icelandic waterfall or because of the really beautiful weather, but we feel like Seljalandsfoss was our favourite waterfall in entire Iceland.

Tips about Seljalandsfoss

Oh, and an important note – take a raincoat! It’s a waterfall so expect a water splashing everywhere, especially if you are planning to walk behind it (which you should!).

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Day 2 – Ring road near Reykjavik

Day 2 – Ring road near Reykjavik


Reykjavik

7:00-13:00

We decided to begin our second day with a visit to probably the most famous Icelandic museum – the Icelandic Phallological Museum. But the museum was open only from 10 am, so we firstly visited Reykjavik campsite.

Why visit the Reykjavik campsite? Because you can make use of tons of things travellers are leaving there when departing from Iceland (e.g. half-empty gas canisters) – at least that’s what we were told. Things were a little bit different during “covid times” as the campsite on the day of our visit (2.8.2020) was just starting to implement new measures for social distancing. This even resulted in the camp being closed for that day. In reality, this, together with a significantly lower number of tourists, meant that things left for sharing in the campsite were scarce and the campsite was not worth the visit this time. Under different circumstances, it may be worth it, however.

We quickly left and spent the rest of the time until the museum was open doing food shopping to prepare for the next 3-4 days in the nearby Krónan chain, which was said to be cheap (well, nothing is actually really cheap here in Iceland, but you must have read that everywhere already).

Our friend wrote a nice article about finding cheap food in Reykjavik (and whether it actually exists).

Icelandic Phallological Museum

10:15-11:30

Distance from car park: 3-10 minutes (depends where do you leave your car)
Time spent at: 60-90 minutes (depends on your affection towards phalluses)
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
reykjavik phallological museum

Reykjavik phallological museum, during Covid-19 pandemic

Icelandic phallological museum is really unique and funny, that’s why we opted for a visit despite not planning to go to museums. The ticket costs 2200 ISK (14Eur, 16 Usd) and especially because of its uniqueness we think it’s worth it. We came for the opening hours and during Covid times there were around 10 other visitors. You can find information about parking in Reykjavik here.

Kleifarvatn lake

13:00-13:15

Distance from car park: 0 minutes
Time spent at: 5-20 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Kleifarvatn lake

Kleifarvatn lake near the Seltún geothermal area on our way from Reykjavik towards Keflavik

Next, we had to pick up our 4×4 Lotus car rental from the airport and still had some additional 2 hours of spare time, so after a coffee break, we headed to our first Icelandic countryside experience – Kleifarvatn lake. The area around the lake is really nice and you may take some really nice pictures there in good weather. It’s a nice introduction to Icelandic landscapes but it’s not that stunning compared to other Icelandic highlights. The area is easily accessible by car with a few parking spots.

Seltún geothermal area

13:15-13:25

Distance from car park: 0 minutes
Time spent at: 10-30 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Seltún geothermal area

Seltún geothermal area on our way from Reykjavik towards Keflavik

Just next to Kleifarvatn lake lies a so-called Seltún area. Again it’s a very nice introduction to Icelandic geothermal activity, although it seemed a little touristy even in Covid times, probably because of its proximity to an airport and Reykjavik. It’s worth visiting though.

After Seltún we headed to Grundavik for a not very tasty lunch at the gas station and then to a car drop-off in Keflavik followed by pick-up of our Dacia Duster by Lotus car rental. We were very satisfied with the entire rental process (I would say Lotus was the best car rental in my life), hence I decided to write an article about it with a sincere positive review for Lotus.

Seljalandsfoss

18:20-19:00

Distance from car park: 5 minutes
Time spent at: 20-60 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss at 7 pm

Our plan was to camp in Vik and we wanted to make a few important stops along the road. The first of them has been the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

Parking

The car park in front of the waterfall is a paid one (7eur). Nobody had been checking the tickets at the time, however, we didn’t want to risk getting any infamously high Icelandic fines (e.g. 10 000 USD here) so we headed to the ticket machine. Over there my girlfriend realized that somebody had left their used parking ticket for someone else to use again, which seemed a really nice gesture, although I’m not sure whether this is, in reality, good or not (depends on, whether the area is being maintained using the fees collected from the parking or whether just someone is getting rich by renting a piece of ground for parking).

Waterfall

Anyway, Seljalandsfoss was amazing. We were lucky enough that the sky cleared just before our arrival and we could experience the waterfall playing with the sun and an accompanying rainbow. And yes, Seljalandsfoss is the waterfall you can walk behind, and yes it’s a beautiful experience. During Covid times, there were some 5-8 people around the waterfall area at the time of our visit, so we had the waterfall almost entirely to ourselves. We are not sure whether it’s because this was our first Icelandic waterfall or because of the really beautiful weather, but we feel like Seljalandsfoss was our favourite waterfall in entire Iceland.

Oh, and an important note – take a raincoat! It’s a waterfall so expect water splashing everywhere, especially if you are planning to walk behind it (which you should!).

Skógafoss

19:30-20:15

Distance from car park: 2 minutes (lower part), 7 minutes (upper part)
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Bottom part of Skógafoss

The bottom part of Skógafoss waterfall (and a wedding in the background ☺) at 8 pm

Our next stop was Skógafoss. The beautiful weather held on and the entire area around Skógafoss is just incredibly pretty. There’s a campsite just next to the waterfall so if you have a chance to camp in here, definitely go for it! The next time we visit Iceland I would definitely camp here. Waking up to the sound of bursting water and seeing the magnificent waterfall right after getting out of your tent must be an unforgettable experience.

With regards to the waterfall itself, you may walk literally into its bottom part. We were surprised that in most of the cases there were no barriers restraining you from going as close to the waterfall as you want. Which of course means, you have to take care of any danger for yourself.

Upper part Skógafoss

The upper part of Skógafoss at 8 pm in the evening

You may also climb a few stairs to get to the upper part of the waterfall, which we again definitely do recommend (especially in good weather) because you will be rewarded with a really nice view. Near the upper part, you will probably meet some sheep and you will see the path continuing more deeply into the national park. We didn’t go further as Skogafoss was supposed to be the highlight anyway.

Reynisfjara beach

21:00-21:15

Distance from car park: 2 minutes
Time spent at: 15-40 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, just beware dangerous waves
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Reynisfjara beach

Reynisfjara beach at 9 pm in the evening

We arrived at our last stop just before 9 pm and again there were maybe 1-3 other cars other than us visiting the place. Reynisfjara was one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen around entire Iceland so it’s definitely worth a visit. All – the beach itself, the sea waves (which may be deadly, so keep a safe distance) and the nearby rock formations are stunning. Beware the strong wind, which we had a chance to experience, and I guess it may be even much stronger.

Basalt columns Reynisfjara beach

Basalt columns at Reynisfjara beach

Vik camping

21:40-

We arrived at the Vik camping quite late, after 9 pm and it turned out we literally arrived at the last minute. The camp manager told us the camp is full and they cannot allow any additional visitors to camp, because of the new Covid restrictions imposed by the government just a few days ago. After a short begging-talk, the manager told us we are the last car to be let in. Luckily. The campsite is really nice and so are the surroundings of the small Vik village. It’s useful to keep some 1000-2000 worth of Icelandic krona coins, because showers are the only thing in Iceland that cannot be bought by your credit card, and they do cost some 200-400 ISK.

Rooftop tent in Vik camp

Going to sleep in a rooftop tent in Vik campsite

After we had paid for the camp (10eur/person is a universal price for camping in Iceland) the manager closed the registration office and stuck a note on the door saying “campsite is full, no more guests allowed”. Since the campsite has no gate or ramp, more campers kept coming into the camp and seemed not to be bothered by a manager’s note found on the doors. Well, this is how a mess around Covid looked like in Iceland sometimes. We had seen the next day in the morning that the late-comers at least had to pay for the camping.

Skipped places

  • Gljúfrabúi waterfall
  • Solheimasandur plane wreck
  • Dyrhólaey
  • Further exploration of the area around Reynisfjara/Dyrhólaey

Since our day was already packed enough with stops, we decided to skip the above-mentioned sights. Gljúfrabúi waterfall mainly because Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss were supposed to be more stunning. Solheimasandur plane wreck didn’t seem worth time walking for us and it turned out we were able to see another plane wreck just by accident later on during our trip in Iceland. Dyrhólaey cliffs seemed to be a nice stop for a visit, but we’ve already seen similar cliffs in other countries and we planned to see a supposed-to-be-more-beautiful Látrabjarg cliff later on. Hence, we do not regret skipping any of these.

There are also some beautiful Virtual Reality tours of the Icelandic south coast to help you get inspiration and an overview of the area!

Videos



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