Iceland’s Most Famous Waterfalls

Iceland is known for its unique and breathtaking natural landscape, punctuated by various cascading waterfalls located throughout the country.

The waterfalls of Iceland attract many visitors to this unique geographic country. With numerous waterfalls across the landscape, Iceland has several notable waterfalls that are recommended tourist attractions. Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Svartifoss are some of the more popular sites to visit.

The Golden Circle- Gullfoss Waterfall

Gulfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss or Golden Falls is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions and perhaps the most famous of the country’s waterfalls. Located along the popular Golden Circle tourist route in Southwest Iceland, Gullfoss attracts visitors from around the world on a daily basis.

The magnificent double cascading waterfall is located in a canyon on the Hivita River. Set in an astonishing crevice measuring 105 feet deep, 60 feet wide, and stretching 2.5 km southward, Gullfoss is one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls.

Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, with an upper and lower section of falls. The flow of the water varies on a daily and seasonal basis.

Although strictly legend, Sigríður Tómasdóttir is credited with saving the waterfalls from being repurposed as a hydro-electric dam by threatening to throw herself into the turbulent waters. A memorial for Tómasdóttir is located above the falls from one of the many wooden viewing platforms.

 

Iceland’s South Shore- Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall © ashenwolf/Flickr

Skógafoss is located along the south coast of Iceland. Perched on a cliff face, Skógafoss is 60m high and 25m in width. A striking visual on the side of the highway, Skógafoss tumbles down the former coastline of Iceland, which over thousands of year has eroded over 5km from the sea where it began.

A breathtaking sight, the waterfalls are popular with tourists due to the frequent appearance of rainbows created by the large amount of mist cast off from the water. Local legend dictates that there is hidden treasure buried by the area’s first Viking settlers behind the falls.

A hiking trail located on the Eastern side of the falls is recommended for experienced hikers. The trail can be followed to the Fimmvörðuháls Pass, between the the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers.

Walk Behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall on the Ring Road

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall © ashenwolf/Flickr

Easily accessibly by car, Seljalandsfoss is located on the Ring Road (or Route 1) beween the city of Selfoss and Skogafoss, on the way to the popular Thorsmork nature reserve. Seljalandsfossisone of the most picturaesque waterfalls in Iceland due to it’s delicate appearance as it carves itself through the cliffs of the country’s former coastline.

Over 60 m high, Seljalandsfoss has a path leading behind the waterfalls and down to the pool below. The path is sometimes trecherous when wet and steep at parts, making it difficult for less mobile visitors.A grassy viewing area at the edge of the pool is an optimal site for photos.

Skaftafell National Park- Svartifoss Waterfall

Svartifoss Waterfall © Florian Gohon/Flickr

Svartifoss or Black Falls, is a must-see attraction when visiting Skaftafell National Park.

The waterfall gets its name from the large, dark, basalt columns that surround it. These columns were formed inside hot lava flows which cooled slowly creating the crystallized hexagonal forms. The base of the waterfalls is filled with notoriously sharp rocks created by falling chunks of the basalt columns.

The basalt forms found at Svartifoss have served as inspiration for many Icelandic architects. Their shapes are echoed in many buildings are Iceland, most notably the national Theatres and Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik.