The island of Iceland, known as “the land of fire and ice”, holds over 10,000 waterfalls! In this post, we are going to cover 14 of the best waterfalls in Iceland that need to be on your Iceland bucket list!
The Icelandic word for waterfall is “foss” and it is commonly included in the names of the waterfalls. I have included the English translations of each of these waterfalls as well as the driving distance from the capital city of Reykjavík.
The most famous waterfalls in Iceland
There are quite a few famous waterfalls that Iceland is known for. Some of them boast spectacular views, and others are famous because of their sheer volume and size.
Seljalandsfoss – “selling the land of waterfalls”
Perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss is an impressive sight to behold! It boasts a height of 61 meters (200 feet) and is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind.
Being one of the most popular waterfalls on the famous Golden Circle Route in Iceland, it is often flooded with tourists. We recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid the majority of the tourists and have more of the waterfall to yourselves.
As we mentioned already, you can hike all the way around Seljalandsfoss. One thing to keep in mind is that you will most certainly get soaked if you do! The rocks are quite slippery as well and require some light climbing so be prepared if you decide to make the trek behind and around the waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss is located in Southern Iceland and is a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Fun fact: You may recognize the Seljalandsfoss waterfall if you watch the Amazing Race…it was used as one of the waypoints in the Amazing Race season 6!
Gullfoss Falls – “golden falls”
In volume, Gullfoss Falls is the largest waterfall in all of Europe! This powerful waterfall is located just a few minutes from Geysir which makes it an easy addition.
One thing that’s unique about this waterfall is that you will view it from above instead of below. You can either choose to view the falls from the lower viewpoint, or the upper viewpoint. There is a parking area for both locations.
There is a walkway and platform built above the falls that allow you to take in the view without being in any danger of the rushing water. Keep in mind some of the viewpoints are only open seasonally due to dangerous icy conditions.
It is impossible to view Gullfoss at the base of the falls as it disappears into the Hvítá river canyon far below.
Gullfoss Falls is located in Southwestern Iceland and is a 1-hour and 35-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Skógafoss – “forest waterfall”
Although its name would suggest that it is located in a forest, that is not the case. Skógafoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland and is popular due to its size. This impressive waterfall is 25 meters wide (82 feet) and has a height of 60 meters (197 feet).
Although it is almost equally as high as its neighbor Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss is significantly wider. You cannot walk behind Skógafoss, but you can walk right up to the base of the falls.
If you are visiting Skógafoss, be prepared to get wet. The off-spray from the falls is quite persistent and paired with the often windy conditions of the area, it’s a perfect recipe for you to get soaked!
If you would like, you can also view Skógafoss from above. There is a trail that leads you to the top of this waterfall, but it involves a staircase with about 370 steps.
If you so choose, you can continue on past the top of the staircase for a beautiful walk through the Skógar Valley where you can view over a dozen additional waterfalls!
Skógafoss is located in southern Iceland and is a 2-hour and 4-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Goðafoss – “waterfall of the gods”
Another one of the top waterfalls in Iceland is Goðafoss. It is conveniently located on the Ring Road and is also considered part of the Diamond Circle.
Goðafoss is popular due to both its size and history. When the Vikings declared Christianity the official religion of Iceland in 1000 AD, their lawspeaker, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, threw his idols over the falls to symbolize the decision. Since that time, the falls have been known as Goðafoss.
You can view this famous waterfall in Iceland from both the East and West Banks of the river. The west side is paved and easily accessible from the parking lot. The right side allows you to get closer out on the rocks, but be cautious of slipping!
Goðafoss is located in Northern Iceland and is a 5-hour drive from Reykjavík.
Öxarárfoss – “axe falls”
Located in Þingvellir National Park, Öxarárfoss is one of the most-visited waterfalls in Iceland. Although it’s not the biggest waterfall in Iceland, it is still beautiful and is a popular stop for any golden circle tour.
One thing that makes Öxarárfoss unique is that it was actually artificially created many years ago. This human-made waterfall was moved hundreds of years ago as a way to channel water into the ravine.
Its location in Thingvellir National Park makes it an ideal stop for tourists already exploring the surrounding area. The park itself is gorgeous!
If you are lucky enough to visit Öxarárfoss in the winter, there is an ice shelf that forms across the river at the bottom of the falls. The first time I visited I was able to see the ice shelf, but the second time it had already melted for the season.
You will need to hike a short way to reach the falls. The trail is partially boardwalk and partially dirt/gravel. If you are visiting in winter, consider wearing crampons as the snow and ice are known to be quite thick on this trail.
Öxarárfoss is located in Southwest Iceland and is a 46-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Svartifoss – “the black waterfall”
Perhaps one of the most gorgeous Iceland waterfalls of all is Svartifoss. This majestic waterfall is only 20 meters (65 feet) tall, but the height is not what sets it apart from the other famous Icelandic waterfalls.
Svartifoss cascades over a wall of dark tinted basalt columns which is where its name comes from. This waterfall is located in Vatnajökull National Park in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and is a must for any south coast tour.
To reach Svartifoss, you will have to hike just under 3 miles round trip. It is a moderate hike and is quite steep at times. Be sure and leave yourself plenty of time and bring a lot of water. If you are planning to take pictures of the falls and enjoy them, 2 hours should be a good amount of time for this hike.
The basalt columns at Svartifoss reminded me of the basalt columns on the black sand beach near Vik. If you enjoy basalt columns as much as I do, then this waterfall hike is a must!
Svartifoss is easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls Iceland has to offer and is my favorite of the south Iceland waterfalls.
If you’re looking for other things to do in this area, we highly recommend taking a glacier ice cave tour!
Svartifoss is located in Southeast Iceland and is a 4-hour and 15-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Dettifoss – “the collapsing waterfall”
Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe. It is found on the Golden Circle tour route and is a popular stop for those who choose to venture into Nothern Iceland.
Most people chose to visit the west side, although the east side is known for having better views and less off-spray. The west side has a paved road and parking lot while the east side is a gravel road and parking lot.
You can also add Selfoss to this stop if you don’t mind walking an extra 1km (0.6 miles). Selfoss is smaller than Dettifoss but still a beautiful waterfall and is worth the time.
The roads to get to the east and west sides are not open year-round, so be sure to check road closures before venturing to Dettifoss.
Dettifoss is located in Northern Iceland and is a 7-hour drive from Reykjavík.
Lesser-known beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Although not as widely known, these stunning waterfalls are still worth a stop!
Aldeyjarfoss “Aldey Island falls”
Aldeyjarfoss is an off-the-beaten-path waterfall and has significantly fewer visitors than many of the other popular falls in Iceland. To reach this waterfall, you will need a 4×4 vehicle. You will be traveling on gravel roads for over 30 minutes. It is best to visit in the summer.
You can view Aldeyjarfoss from both the North and South Banks. The southern view is the best and most popular since you can view the entire waterfall.
Aldeyjarfoss is set amongst beautiful basalt columns giving it a unique and stunning backdrop. There is even a basalt cave right next to it! Although similar to Svartifoss, the basalt columns at Aldeyjarfoss are a different color and are shaped differently.
If you get a chance and have the ability to visit Aldeyjarfoss, be sure and add this hidden gem to your list! It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland!
Aldeyjarfoss is located in Northern Iceland and is a 5-hour and 40-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Kvernufoss – “Dweller in the Gorge”
A lesser-known neighbor of Skógafoss and a secret gem of Iceland is Kvernufoss! This waterfall is set back in a beautiful gorge. It is one of the most peaceful waterfalls we visited in Iceland.
There is just under a one-mile hike to get to the waterfall round trip. The path winds through the stunning gorge before reaching a dead end. We enjoyed the hike just as much as the waterfall it lead us to!
Kvernufoss is one of the top-5 tallest waterfalls in Iceland reaching 30 meters (100 feet). This is yet another waterfall that you can walk behind although the path is quite slippery and can be treacherous. You will most definitely get soaked if you get very close to Kvernufoss!
If you are looking for a peaceful hidden gem in Iceland that you will likely have all to yourself, then Kvernufoss is the perfect place for you.
Kvernufoss is located in Southern Iceland and is a 2-hour and 6-minute drive from Reykjavík.
- Read next: 18 Things to do near Vik, Iceland
Kirkjufellsfoss – “church mountain falls”
This beautiful waterfall is known for its iconic setting near Kirkjufell or “church mountain”. Kirkjufell is the most-photographed mountain in all of Iceland and is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.
Kirkjufellsfoss can be found in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula of West Iceland. Its location makes it less visited than many of the other waterfalls in Iceland.
Fun fact: You may recognize this landscape if you’ve ever watched Game of Thrones. I have not personally watched the show, but I know that Kirkjufell is known as Arrowhead Mountain on the show and is used as a landmark.
This waterfall can be reached by an easy 0.6-mile, 15-minute walk. This is also a popular location to view the northern lights from.
If you hope to get the iconic picture of Kirkjufellsfoss with Kirkjufell behind it, you may have to be patient and wait for the clouds to break around the mountain.
Kirkjufellsfoss is located in West Iceland and is a 2-hour and 30-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Stjórnarfoss – “government falls”
Stjórnarfoss is a true hidden gem of Iceland! This beautiful waterfall is not far off of the Ring Road, but it still sees far fewer visitors than other nearby waterfalls.
It is located between Vík and Höfn near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. I stumbled across this waterfall by sheer luck on my first visit to Iceland and knew I had to go back during my next visit.
There is a small parking area across the street and it is just a short walk to get to the base of Stjórnarfoss. The area is quick rocky but you can get as close to the waterfall as you would like.
Stjórnarfoss is not as impressive as the highest waterfall or widest waterfall in Iceland, but what draws me to it is how peaceful it is. Both times I visited Stjórnarfoss there were hardly any other tourists. I could sit and watch these falls for hours!
Stjórnarfoss is located in Southern Iceland and is a 3-hour and 30-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Glymur – “noisy waterfall”
Glymur is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland at a whopping 198 meters (650 feet)! Until 2011, it was considered the highest waterfall in Iceland, but there was a newly formed waterfall named Morsárfoss that was discovered when an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull glacier started melting.
Even though it is no longer the highest waterfall in Iceland it is still very impressive and worth a visit.
The hike to reach Glymur waterfall is rated moderate and is 4.3 miles round trip. It involves multiple river crossings and is not well marked so make sure to pay close attention and stay on the right path. You will likely need about 3 hours to complete this hike so plan accordingly.
Glymur is located in Hvalfjordur fjord in West Iceland and is a 1-hour and 15-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Haifoss – “high waterfall”
True to its name, Haifoss is the fourth highest waterfall in Iceland. It is 122 meters (400 feet tall) and is an impressive sight to behold!
To reach Haifoss you will have to hike 2.7 miles round trip on a moderate trail. It is not recommended for children or inexperienced hikers but if you’re up for the slight challenge it will be rewarding!
You can also hike down close to the base of the waterfall but it is quite steep and you will get very wet.
The road to reach Haifoss is closed in the winter months so make sure to check for any road closures before starting your trip to Haifoss.
Haifoss is located in Southern Iceland and is a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Reykjavík.
Hraunfossar – “lava falls”
Hraunfossar is a series of multiple waterfalls that span a width of over half a mile! These stunning Iceland falls flow out of the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field which is where the name comes from.
If you are traveling through the area, these falls are worth a stop. The color of the water was mesmerizing, especially in contrast to the lava! You can walk along the trail directly across from the falls.
Barnafoss is also located in this area and both waterfalls can be viewed in the same walk. Barnafoss is a very rapid waterfall is an mesmerizing in its own unique way.
We stopped at Hraunfossar after our Into The Glacier tour as it was right on our way back from Húsafell. I highly recommend this day tour to anyone looking for something unforgetable to do in Iceland!
Hraunfossar is located in West Iceland and is a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Reykjavík.
The best Iceland waterfalls map
If you are a more visual person like I am, the below waterfalls in Iceland map may help you plan your trip. As you can see, the waterfalls mentioned in this post are quite spread out and it will take multiple days to explore them all.
If you are planning a trip around the Ring Road then you should be passing almost all of these waterfalls.
I hope that you have enjoyed our list of the best waterfalls in Iceland! Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!