Kvernufoss Waterfall Guide (South Iceland Hidden Gem)

Up until recently, the Kvernufoss waterfall hike was one of the best-kept secrets in southern Iceland.

Even still today, very few people visit this incredible waterfall, and they’re really missing out!

In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about hiking to Kvernufoss, including details about hiking behind this magnificent waterfall.

I’ve been to southern Iceland three times. The first time, I sadly went right past this waterfall and missed it without even knowing! But on my next two trips, I made sure that Kvernufoss was on our itinerary.

Tucker and I both agree that this is one of our absolute favorite waterfalls in Iceland. While part of me wants to keep it a secret, I don’t want you to miss out on this hidden gem.

So, let’s start with a quick-start guide and some fun facts, and then I’ll be sharing a more detailed guide to Kvernufoss.

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The beautiful Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow in the mist from the falls.

A Few Fun Facts About Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss means “Dweller in the Gorge,” which is a very fitting name, as this hidden waterfall is tucked away in one of the most stunning gorges in all of Iceland.

It is roughly 30 meters high (98 feet) and is one of the few waterfalls in all of Iceland that you can walk behind.

While that is a big draw to this waterfall, another is that very few tourists visit here, even though there are tons of them right next door at Skogafoss!

Visiting Kvernufoss is free, although you will need to pay for parking nearby at the Skogar Museum.

A view of the trail to Kvernufoss in Iceland from the distance with the river winding along next to the trail.

Where is Kvernufoss Located?

Kvernufoss is found on the south coast of Iceland, just off of Route One, also known as the Ring Road, between Selfoss and Vik.

It’s located just outside of the small Icelandic village called Skogar.

This area is actually a big tourist hot spot due to Kvernufoss’s famous neighbor, the Skogafoss waterfall.

The majestic Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow formed in the mist at the base of the falls.

There isn’t much in the village of Skogar, as the population is only around 25 people, but there are a small handful of restaurants and hotels that cater to the tourists.

How to Get to Kvernufoss

There are three main ways to get to Kvernufoss. By car, by bus, or by private tour.

How to Get to Kvernufoss by Car

To reach Kvernufoss by rental car, you’ll need to drive along Route 1 until you reach Skogar.

Here are the distances from the main nearby towns.

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 156 kilometers (2 hours, 6 minutes)
  • Distance from Selfoss: 99 kilometers (1 hour, 17 minutes)
  • Distance from Vik: 34 kilometers (27 minutes)

Turn onto the main road through Skogar and drive past the turn-off for Skogafoss on the left side.

Just before Guesthouse Kverna, turn right, which will take you to the Skogar Museum, where you will be parking.

The car park at Kvernufoss with vehicles parked and mountains in the distance.

You can pay the parking fee using the Parka app, which is commonly used at many Iceland destinations, and the cost is 750 ISK, which is a little over $5 USD.

If you don’t want to download the app, you can also pay online at Parka.is. There is a QR code that you can scan at the parking area to easily access the website.

Tucker just paid on the app, though, and it was easiest for us.

The parking fee sign at Kvernufoss for the Parka app. It shows that the price for a family car is 750 ISK, a small bus is 1.500 ISK, and a large bus is 3.500 ISK.

How to Get to Kvernufoss by Bus

If you do not want to drive in Iceland on a road trip, you can take public transport to Kvernufoss, although it’s not super easy.

The main reason is that all of the buses drop off at Skogar Campsite, right next to Skogafoss, which is still a 20-minute walk from the Skogar Museum.

It is totally doable if the weather is good enough and you’re up for the extra distance.

Just know that you won’t be dropped off or picked up directly at the start of the hike for Kvernufoss.

How to Get to Kvernufoss by Private Tour

The third option is to take a private south coast tour that has a stop at Kvernufoss.

There aren’t a lot of tours that include a stop at this waterfall, but this guided tour does. It also includes stops at nearby waterfalls, the Sólheimajökull Glacier, and the epic black sand beach near Vik.

While this is not the most affordable option, it can be a great way to see multiple highlights of Iceland’s south coast without the stress of driving yourself!

The Hiking Trail to Kvernufoss

Here are some quick facts about this trail:

  • Rated as an easy hike
  • 1-mile round-trip
  • Out & back trail
  • 25-45 minutes total

The trailhead for this hike starts right at the car park, and the first part follows a well-maintained trail through a pasture on private property.

Two girls walking along the trail to Kvernufoss

When we did this hike in 2022, there was a stile (a small metal ladder) you needed to climb over the fence with that kept the horses boarded here from getting out.

However, when we returned again in 2024, the stile had been replaced with a gate, making this hike even more accessible.

As with all trails and roads in Iceland, please make sure that you close the gate after entering and exiting.

After a short walk, you will come to the Kverna River, which you will be hiking alongside until you reach the waterfall at the end of the trail.

I loved this short hike almost as much as the waterfall itself!

The stunning greenery of the Kvernugil Gorge, with the peaceful river winding through, was absolutely breathtaking!

A stunning view of the Kvernufoss waterfall in the gorge with the trail heading to the falls.

You will easily see how this is one of the most beautiful photo places in Iceland.

In fact, the only thing that spoiled it just a little bit was the insane wind that we encountered. It made it difficult to walk straight, but it was still worth it.

There are a few small hills that you will encounter on this easy walking path, but once you reach the last small hill and come around the corner, you’ll be met with a breathtaking view of Kvernufoss!

I’ll never forget the first time I saw this waterfall. I was amazed, stunned, and awed all at once!!

The beautiful Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow in the mist from the falls.
The beautiful Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow in the mist from the falls.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy this hike on a sunny day, you can often catch a rainbow in the mist coming off of the waterfall as well, which makes it even more stunning.

There are a few places where you can stop for pictures or just to enjoy the view, and then, if you wish to, you can continue on to hike up to the cave behind Kvernufoss.

A girl standing in front of and facing the beautiful Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow in the mist from the falls.

How to Hike Behind Kvernufoss

For a different perspective of Kvernufoss, I highly recommend taking the extra time to walk behind it!

Although the trail up until this point was a relatively easy hike, I would rate the part going behind the waterfall as moderate.

This is only because the area is more rocky and uneven, and it can also be extremely slippery due to the spray from the waterfall constantly soaking the surrounding area.

A girl scrambling over rocks on the way back down from hiking behind the Kvernufoss waterfall.

To reach the cave behind the waterfall, continue the hike down and to the left. You’ll need to be careful of the loose rocks and watch your footing.

Then, continue to hike up and around until you reach the impressive cave. It was so much bigger than I expected!

You can choose to go up as high as you want to, but the further you go, the more muddy and rocky it gets.

We absolutely loved being behind the waterfall and spent at least 20 minutes grabbing pictures and just taking in the sheer magnitude and beauty of Kvernufoss!

A girl standing behind Kvernufoss waterfall with her hands stretched up to the sky.
The view from behind Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland.

I was very grateful for my waterproof hiking boots and my waterproof coat, though, as Tucker and I both got pretty wet hiking behind the falls.

Good hiking shoes and a waterproof jacket are a must for this short trail, and you may want to also consider waterproof pants, although we did not find them necessary.

A girl standing with her arms up in front of Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland.

You can watch our quick video that shows what it’s like to hike behind the waterfall below:

I would recommend leaving yourself 45 minutes to an hour for the entire hike, depending on if you want to walk behind it and how much time you plan to spend taking pictures.

We were there for a full hour, enjoying the falls and the area behind them. After all, this is one of our favorite Iceland waterfalls, so we wanted to spend a lot of time there!

Of course, as the famous Iceland quote so eloquently puts it, “There’s no better place to find yourself than sitting by a waterfall and listening to its music.” – Roland R Kemler

The majestic Kvernufoss waterfall set in a gorge in Iceland.

Facilities and Amenities Near Kvernufoss

Most of the facilities and amenities near Kvernufoss can be found at the Skogar Museum, where you will be parking.

There are three main parts to the museum. The folk museum, open-air museum, and technical museum.

There are also clean toilet facilities, which are only for paying customers (you qualify if you pay for parking), as well as a surprisingly large gift store, a restaurant (Freyacafe), and lots of other interesting things to check out.

The Skogar Museum in Skogar Iceland.
Inside the Skogar Museum in Skogar Iceland.
Outside the Skogar Museum in Skogar Iceland.

Where to Stay Near Kvernufoss

There are a few options if you want to stay right in the small town of Skogar:

  • Kverna Guesthouse: Budget-friendly and very close to Kvernufoss.
  • Hotel Skogafoss: Better reviews and includes breakfast, but closer to the famous Skógafoss waterfall than Kvernufoss.

My recommendation, however, is to stay near Vik instead. There are plenty of accommodation options near Vik, but the two that we’ve personally stayed at and can recommend are:

  • Puffin Hotel Vik: Includes breakfast and is located in town. Basic but clean, and we enjoyed our stay.
  • Black Beach Suites: Private suites with a full kitchen with a gorgeous view of the black sand beach. This property is located outside of town, and we saw some amazing Northern Lights while we were staying there!
The colorful green and pink Northern Lights over the Black Beach Suites in Iceland.

Where to Eat Near Kvernufoss

You can find some really great restaurants in Vik if you decide to stay there, but there are a few restaurant options in Skogar as well.

  • Freyacafe (in the Skógar Museum)
  • Mia’s Country Van Fish & Chips (we didn’t think these fish and chips were anything special, and it’s only open for a few hours each afternoon)
  • Bistro Bar (part of Hotel Skogafoss and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
The outside of the Hotel Skogafoss Restaurant & Bistro Bar in Skogar Iceland

When is the Best Time to Visit Kvernufoss?

Now that you know how to visit Kvernufoss, let’s discuss the best time to visit this beautiful waterfall!

While you can enjoy this hike year-round, it’s really best in the spring and summer months.

I would recommend planning your trip to South Iceland sometime between March and September.

Additionally, if you’re able to visit early in the morning or late in the evening, there is a good chance you might be able to have this waterfall completely to yourself!

Unfortunately, our plan for the day put us here in the middle of the day, but even being there at a peak time, there were only a small handful of people on this hike with us.

A stunning view of Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland.

Especially compared to the hundreds of tourists that we saw over at Skogafoss!

Although the hike to Kvernufoss is open in the winter months, it is too dangerous to walk behind the waterfall in the coldest months when the area is covered in ice and snow, so please do not try to do so.

No matter when you decide to visit Kvernufoss, please practice responsible “Leave No Trace Principles” and do not be destructive.

The ecosystem in Iceland is very fragile, so it is important to always stay on marked trails and pack out any and all trash that you may have brought with you.

Other Things to Do Near Kvernufoss

There are plenty of other things to do near Vik and the surrounding area. Here are a few:

  • Skogafoss
  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Gljufrabui
  • Rutshellir Caves
  • Steinahellir Cave
  • Solheimasandur (Plane Wreck)
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
  • Dyrhólaey
  • Lava Show in Vik
  • Gígjagjá (Yoda Cave)
  • Horseback Riding
The basalt columns at Reynisfjara in Iceland

In Closing: Kvernufoss Waterfall Guide

I hope that you’ve found this guide helpful in planning your visit to Kvernufoss.

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, don’t forget to check out our other Iceland guides below!

Safe travels, and enjoy Iceland!

Much Love, Janae xoxo
Photo of author
Janae, alongside her husband, Tucker, has turned the world into her playground. Having lived and traveled in an RV for over four years, she has trekked through 22 US national parks, ventured across 28 states, and explored the natural beauty of 12 countries. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been when she witnessed Iceland's shimmering Northern Lights, explored the rugged terrains of Southern Utah, and traveled across Ireland for almost two months. A lover of adventure and couple travel, Janae's writings have been featured in notable travel websites and magazines, and she has collected an online community of over 30,000 passionate fellow travelers.
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