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There’s no way to talk about Iceland without talking about waterfalls. When in Iceland, all you need to do is close your eyes, spin around in a circle, and walk for a bit to stumble upon a cascade of water and mist that would be at home in any issue of National Geographic. The water cycle is not just a natural phenomenon here — it’s a visual spectacle, one that feels inherent to the existence of this uniquely beautiful country.
But, of course, this begs the question: which Iceland waterfalls should be on your “must-see” list? Well… that’s a tough one. Some are big, some are small, some are surrounded by beautiful scenery, some sit in lonesome, stark locations — you get the idea. Everyone has their own preferences. Still, if you’re looking to brush off TLC’s advice and go chasing waterfalls, we’ve got a few in mind that should satisfy even the pickiest sightseer. Here are 11 incredible Iceland waterfalls.
Isolated, moody, and quiet, the Westfjords region of Iceland is one that many travelers skip out on. You have to take a detour off of the Ring Road to get there, and many of the sights require a fair amount of driving to get to. This isn’t to say that the Westfjords aren’t worth visiting — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The intensity and mysterious feel of this corner of the country is amplified by the comparative lack of crowds, and its stark beauty is best seen by a visit to Dynjandi.
Everyone has their favorite, but we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that Dynjandi might be the most stunning waterfall in all of Iceland. Yeah, we said it! At 330 feet, it’s the largest waterfall in all of the Westfjords, but more important is its unique visual appearance. Water snakes over a series of ledges, creating a spiderweb pattern with an unbelievable level of detail. Fine mist from the falls creates a hazy fog around the area — catch it on a cloudy day and its beauty is nearly ghostly. With a delicate fjord in the distance only adding to the ambience, Dynjandi is an absolute must-see. Oh, and did we mention that there are five smaller waterfalls that you pass on the short hike up to Dynjandi? Talk about bang for your buck…
The picturesque Kirkjufell mountain is one of Iceland’s most iconic sights, appearing in countless photographs, paintings, and even TV shows. But the hill itself is only half the story. Part of what makes this spot on the Snæfellsnes peninsula so special is Kirkjufellsfoss, the waterfall that sits conveniently near Kirkjufell. Together, they make an absolutely classic destination… and a perfect spot to snap some pics for Instagram.
In terms of size alone, Kirkjufellsfoss isn’t that notable. In fact, if you solely look at the waterfall itself, it doesn’t really stand out from the thousands of others in Iceland. But it’s the context that makes it so special: the mossy landscape that glows with eons of growth, the quaint bridge that crosses over the top of the falls, and the views of Kirkjufell and the sea in the distance. In a way, it’s a location that seems to capture the essence of Iceland: water and land combining to create a paradisiacal scene that suggests subtle, ancient power.
Okay, let’s talk about a real heavy hitter. Dettifoss is often called the most powerful waterfall in Iceland, and it’s easy to see — and feel — why. Any visitor to the falls is bound to get drenched in mist within just a few minutes! Even if you stand far away from the falls themselves, the sheer power of the water will likely leave you soaked. Remember to bring a rain jacket or a poncho.
Dettifoss is found in northern Iceland, just about 45 minutes off of the Ring Road. Although its height of 144 feet means that it’s not the tallest around, a width of about 330 feet makes it feel truly gargantuan. A short and sweet hike leads to a viewpoint that lets you look down into the canyon where the water plummets to, offering an unbelievable sense of scale. Additionally, Dettifoss’ location on the popular Diamond Circle route means that you can easily visit other nearby attractions like Ásbyrgi and Dimmuborgir while you’re in the area.
There are two kinds of Iceland waterfalls. The first is the kind that you need to search out, hike to, and work for. The second is the kind that just seems to magically appear in front of you, a perfect cascade of water tracing its way through the hills. Rjukandafoss firmly falls into that second camp. Just a short ways off the Ring Road near Egilsstaðir, this waterfall has an easy, natural grace to it that makes it a worthy stop on any Icelandic road trip.
Although Rjukandafoss is nearly roadside, it receives very few visitors. You can enjoy a real moment of tranquility while staring up at it as it drops over 300 feet down to the river below. The hilly nature of the surrounding environment means that there are a few other falls in the other area as well, so it’s definitely worth walking around and exploring a bit.
Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss
One of the finest two-for-one deals in all of Iceland is the trek that leads to Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss. Each with its own distinct appearance, these two eastern Iceland waterfalls are certainly worth the uphill trek! There’s also a lot of mythology based on the area surrounding these two falls — the nearby lake, Lagarfljót, is said to contain Loch Ness Monster-style creatures. It’s definitely a compelling spot for anyone traveling in Iceland.
Litlanesfoss, invisible from the road, is close to 100 feet tall and pours out of a bowl of rock ringed by impressive columns formed by basalt. The contrast between the soft abstraction of the water and the geometric exactness of the columns is a sight to behold! Walk a bit further up through the grassy hills and you’ll find Hengifoss, one of Iceland’s tallest falls at more than 400 feet. It sits in the back of a canyon and offers an incredible view for those who make it all the way up the trail.
Speaking of seeing multiple Iceland waterfalls all in one go, let’s talk about Svartifoss. One of the true jewels of the Vatnajökull National Park, Svartifoss is another spectacular waterfall that spills over a wall of basalt columns in the manner of Hengifoss. It’s surrounded by lush growth, a rarity in Iceland, and can be easily accessed with a well-maintained hiking trail thanks to the national park workers. You’ll also pass along several other falls along the way, including the popular Hundafoss.
Visiting Svartifoss is also a great way to see the unbelievable landscape of Vatnajökull National Park. From the trail to the falls, you’ll be able to see the mountains that rise above you, each capped with ice from the gargantuan Vatnajökull glacier. It’s a quintessential Icelandic environment that’s beautiful across all seasons.
Fjaðrárgljúfur might just be one of the most scenic locations in all of Iceland. This canyon in the south of the country looks like it came straight out of a fairytale, with vibrant green moss coating the surface of the cliff walls and a gentle river crawling through the gorge. Fjaðrárgljúfur has many claims to fame, but one of our favorite aspects of this natural wonderland is Mögáfoss, a waterfall that can be seen with a short hike along the lip of the canyon.
One of the most striking things about Mögáfoss is the unique geology that allows the falls to exist. Rather than tumbling blindly off the edge of a cliff, the water slowly slides down a series of more gentle slopes. It’s like a massive water slide created by Mother Nature herself. You probably wouldn’t want to slide down it yourself (and we doubt it would be allowed), but it’s still a sight to behold.
TV shows, movies, promotional drone videos that play as your computer’s screensaver when you leave it on for too long — Skogafoss can be seen everywhere. There’s a good reason, and that’s mainly because it’s laughably beautiful. It’s the kind of thing you stumble upon in nature that seems too good to be true, too picturesque to exist outside of the realm of pictures. Yet it is indeed real. Found in the quaint village of Skogar, Skogafoss’ fine mist and perfect plumes of water draw in visitors from all around the world.
Looking at the stats, it’s easy to see why Skogafoss is so popular compared to other Iceland waterfalls. It drops about 200 feet, is more than 80 feet, and is only about two hours outside of Reykjavík. But, somehow, that’s not all. The waterfall is accompanied by a metal staircase that allows you to walk from the bottom to the top, letting you view it from any angle you choose. It also serves as one of the endpoints of the Fimmvörðuháls trek, a famous hike that links up with the even more renowned Laugavegur trail. If it’s not already there, a backpacking trip either beginning or ending at Skogafoss definitely deserves a place on your travel bucket list.
Another waterfall easily accessible from the comfort of Reykjavík, Seljalandsfoss is quite impressive. It has a drop of nearly 200 feet and a picturesque setting in the plains of south Iceland, and that alone makes it deserving of a spot on this list. But the main factor that sets Seljalandsfoss apart from the other falls in Iceland is that you can walk behind it.
Behind Seljalandsfoss is a small, mossy cavern, and a walking trail goes right through it. This allows you to see the falls from every angle possible, including peering through the curtain of water out towards the landscape in the distance. It’s an incredibly unique visual experience, but just make sure to bring along some waterproof gear. You get pretty close to the falls, and you’ll want to hang around for a bit to get the perfect picture before heading back to the car.
Another convincing reason to spend some time exploring southern Iceland, the Reykjadalur Valley is home to a river that draws visitors from all over the world. Heated by geothermal energy tucked away under the surface of the Earth, the river has all the qualities of an excellent hot spring — in fact, the different areas of the river even feature different temperatures, so you can adjust the warmth whenever your mood shifts.
But the river itself isn’t all there is to the magic of the Reykjadalur Valley. The vibrant, hilly landscape is a sight to behold, but it also naturally creates beautiful, subtle waterfalls in the area. Djúpagilsfoss is one of them, and it’s visible as you hike towards the river for a quick soak. Although it may not be the main draw of the area, it’s a nice appetizer before the main course, so to speak.
This is it, folks: the most visited and most popular of all the Iceland waterfalls. Okay, we don’t really have any stats to back that up, but it’s probably true. Gullfoss is utterly iconic, and nearly everyone who travels to Iceland makes a stop at it. As part of the world-renowned Golden Circle circuit along with Thingvellir and the geysers of Haukadalur. It’s close to Reykjavík, just a short walk from the road, and generally absolutely crowded with people.
Do the crowds make Gullfoss a dud? Absolutely not. Sure, you may accidentally photobomb a few unsuspecting families’ photos, but the waterfall is so intense and powerful that you just need to see it if you have the chance. With multiple drops, a crazy average width of nearly 600 feet, and a spray to rival Niagara, Gullfoss is a ton of fun to visit. Don your poncho, snap some pics, and enjoy this Icelandic gem.
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