A Complete Guide To Visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland

Embark on a breathtaking journey through Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a natural wonderland of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and meandering rivers.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Are you ready to uncover the breathtaking beauty of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon with us? Nestled in the heart of Iceland, this majestic canyon is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes waiting to be explored.

Our vibrant team, bursting with energy and a deep love for Iceland, holds the keys to this enchanting world. We're not just guides; we're your friends who have wandered every path and uncovered every secret, and we're here to ensure your journey is as magical as the land of fire and ice itself. 

Dive into our blog as we share insider tips, must-see spots, and everything you need to make Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon your next adventure destination. Trust us, this is one experience you won't want to miss! 

Overview of Fjadrargljufur Canyon in Iceland

So, what's the scoop on Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, or as it's also known, the Feather River Canyon in Iceland? Well, let's just say it's like stepping into a fairytale. Nestled in southeast Iceland, this marvel doesn't just charm with its name—it's every bit as enchanting as 'Feather River Canyon' suggests. 

Stretching around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) and plunging about 100 meters (328 feet) deep, Fjaðrárgljúfur is a masterpiece of nature with its towering steep walls, a winding river that dances through it, and a blanket of green that seems to glow, especially when not cloaked in winter's snow. This slice of heaven got a major popularity boost, believe it or not after Justin Bieber decided it was cool enough for his music video called 'I'll Show You.' Since then, around 2016/2017, visits have skyrocketed by about 80%.

fjadrargljufur canyon

And if you're trying to wrap your tongue around 'Fjadrargljufur,' you're not alone. It's pronounced Flath-raor-gliu-vur, and even we locals find it tricky. But hey, 'Feather River Canyon' rolls off the tongue just fine.

Where Is Fjaðrárgljúfur Located in Iceland?

Nestled near the charming village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur in South Iceland, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a jewel waiting to be discovered. Just about 248 kilometers (154 miles) from Reykjavík, the capital, it's perfectly positioned for those embarking on an Icelandic road trip. 'Where is this fjord-filled canyon?' you might wonder.

Well, its proximity to the main Ring Road makes Fjadrargljufur Canyon in Iceland not just accessible but a compelling detour for anyone wanting to soak in the country's raw beauty. This location is a dream for travelers seeking that seamless blend of adventure and awe-inspiring landscapes, making it an ideal scenic stop on your journey around Iceland's famed Ring Road.

How Fjaðrárgljúfur Was Formed?

Iceland's Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was formed through a series of natural events that read like a saga from the island's rich folklore. This serpentine-shaped geological wonder traces its origins back to the Ice Age, boasting approximately two million years of history.

The canyon's formation began with glaciers carving through the land, a process that dominated the last ice age. As these glaciers retreated, they left behind lakes trapped by resistant rock barriers. Over time, the lake water sought new paths, flowing towards the current location of Fjadrargljufur, gradually carving out the canyon we see today. 

Thousands of years of relentless water flow have sculpted the palagonite and rocks, giving Fjadrargljufur its breathtaking appearance.

feather river canyon iceland

What Are the Main Features of Fjadrargljúfur Canyon?

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a masterpiece of nature that leaves visitors in awe with its captivating beauty. Here are the main features that make it a must-visit destination:

  • Steep Walls and Serpentine Shape: The canyon boasts dramatic steep walls that curve and twist, creating a serpentine shape that's both majestic and mysterious.
  • Lush Vegetation: Blanketing its sides, the lush vegetation adds a vibrant splash of green, contrasting beautifully with the stark rock faces.
  • Fjaðrá River: The heart of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, this crystal-clear river meanders through the canyon floor, adding to its serene and picturesque quality.
  • Spectacular Waterfalls: Small, enchanting waterfalls are hidden throughout, offering delightful surprises for explorers.
  • Breathtaking Viewpoints: Various viewpoints along the rim provide awe-inspiring panoramas of the canyon's full glory.
  • Rich Biodiversity: The area around Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers.

fjaðrárgljúfur canyon iceland

Why Is Fjadrargljufur Canyon a Popular Tourist Destination?

Simply put, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland has captured hearts worldwide thanks to its surreal beauty and mystical landscapes. Its popularity soared after featuring in a Justin Bieber music video, drawing nature lovers and adventurers alike. Its unique geological formations, stunning vistas, and accessible hiking trails make it a bucket-list destination for any Iceland itinerary.

Hiking in Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Venturing into Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon offers more than just breathtaking views; it's an invitation to step into a world of adventure. Hiking here means immersing yourself in the heart of Iceland's natural wonders. Let's lace up those hiking boots and discover what makes this place a hiker's paradise.

Hiking Trails in Fjadrargljufur Canyon

The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike is an experience not to be missed by nature enthusiasts. With a well-paved trail underfoot, hikers of all levels can enjoy a gentle uphill climb, appreciating continuous canyon views from the very start.

The path is thoughtfully marked with roped-off sections and fences, ensuring both hiker safety and environmental restoration. As you ascend, branching overlook trails beckon, leading to breathtaking overlooks that demand a pause for admiration. 

Around 1.6 km (1 mi), the trail culminates at the magnificent Mögárfoss Waterfall Observation Platform, where the mighty Mogar waterfall can be witnessed in its full splendor before it's time to retrace steps, carrying memories of the canyon's lasting impression.

Hiking Difficulty Levels

The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike presents an easy to moderate-challenge, welcoming an array of enthusiasts. Its manageable paths invite first-timers and seasoned hikers alike, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all, set against the backdrop of Iceland's striking landscapes. No wonder it's such a popular hiking trail in Iceland

Iceland fjaðrárgljúfur canyon Hike

Hiking Tips for Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

To ensure a memorable and safe experience while exploring Fjaðrárgljúfur, consider these essential tips:

  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The path is friendly, but good footwear will make your journey smoother.
  • Check the Weather: Iceland's weather can be tricky. A sunny morning can turn rainy, so be prepared.
  • Stay on the Path: Help preserve Fjadrargljufur's beauty by sticking to marked trails.
  • Bring a Camera: You'll want to capture the breathtaking views, so don't forget your camera.
  • Pack Snacks and Water: Keep your energy up and stay hydrated to fully enjoy your adventure.
  • Respect Nature: Take only photos, leave only footprints.

fjadrargljufur canyon hiking route

Best Time To Visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Exploring the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland is a year-round possibility, yet thoughtful timing can enhance your trekking experience. Here are the optimal times to visit:

  • Summer (June to August): Experience the canyon's full splendor with blooming flora and mild weather, making it the preferred season for most hikers.
  • Shoulder Seasons: Spring and autumn offer fewer crowds, though be mindful of muddy trails in spring and colder temperatures in the fall.
  • Winter: Winter in Iceland offers a unique perspective with fewer tourists but prepare for cold winds and potentially icy paths.

Keep in mind that the canyon's rangers may close the paths during certain periods for ecological restoration. Always check the local notices for Fjadrargljufur to ensure the trails are open and to help protect this natural treasure.

How To Get to Fjadrargljufur Canyon on the South Coast

Getting to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is part of the adventure, and lucky for you, there are 2 convenient ways to make your journey. Whether you're driving yourself, catching a ride, or exploring other options, the stunning landscapes of Iceland await your arrival. Let's explore how you can get there!

Car rental Iceland

How To Get to Fjadrargljúfur Canyon by Car

There's nothing quite like the freedom of having your own vehicle to explore the stunning landscapes of Iceland at your own pace. Interested in renting a car in Iceland? It's the optimal way to ensure ease and control over your itinerary. Just follow the Ring Road, then take a left at Road 206, Holtsvegur, and voilà, you're on a short 3-kilometer (1.8 miles) drive on a gravel road straight to Fjadrargljufur Iceland's parking area.

Remember, winter adventurers should opt for a 4x4 to tackle the icy conditions confidently. Once there, you'll find two main parking lots: the lower parking lot at the trail's start, equipped with a bathroom, and another right in front of the walkway, offering immediate access to the canyon's majestic views.

There's also a parking lot on the left side, 1.4 km (0.9 mi) after turning onto road 206 from F206 Lakavegur. Parking costs 1,000 ISK (about €7 EUR) per car, payable via the Parka App, making your visit to Fjadrargljufur as seamless as the canyon's breathtaking landscapes.

 Fjadrargljufur canyon iceland view point

Tour Operators That Offer Transportation to Fjadrargljufur Canyon

2Go Iceland Travel provides an immersive opportunity to discover Iceland's dramatic landscapes with a comprehensive full-day tour. Their excursion includes:

  • South Coast Revelations: A journey that introduces the staggering beauty of Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and a less-visited waterfall nearby Seljalandsfoss.
  • Coastal Escapades: Exploration of the hauntingly beautiful black sandy stretches at Reynisfjara black beach.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Summer tours offer the chance to observe colorful puffins in their natural habitat.
  • Iconic Film Sites: Visit locations featured in esteemed films and series like 'Noah,' 'Star Wars Saga,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'Batman,' and others around Vík.
  • Jökulsárlón Lagoon: Options to enjoy a boat ride amidst the stunning icebergs and meltwater of Vatnajökull National Park.
  • Majestic Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon: This core part of the tour showcases the grandeur of Fjaðrárgljúfur alongside other majestic South Coast attractions.
  • Full-day Adventure: A 14-hour tour covering extensive ground, with multiple scenic stops for an unforgettable experience.

Photography Tips for Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Capturing the ethereal beauty of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon can be an absolute delight for photographers. Let's explore some essential photography tips to make sure you snap that perfect picture.

fjaðrárgljúfur photography

Best Time To Take Photos of Fjadrargljufur Canyon

While Fjaðrárgljúfur is undeniably photogenic year-round, certain times offer uniquely splendid conditions for photographers aiming to capture the essence of the canyon:

  • Golden Hour: During the summer months, the golden hour imbues the landscape with a warm, ethereal glow, ideal for vibrant Fjaðrárgljúfur photos.
  • Midday Light: In winter, the midday sun is best for photography as it sits low in the sky, providing soft, even lighting across the icy canyon.
  • Late Spring: Capture the crispness of the blooming season when the lush, green moss contrasts brilliantly with the grey rock formations.
  • After Rain: Overcast conditions after rain can saturate the colors of the canyon, giving Fjaðrárgljúfur photos a deeper, more dramatic tone.

Don't forget to check out our article about other top destinations in Iceland for photographers for more inspiration! 

Camera Settings for Capturing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Perfecting your camera settings is crucial for crystal-clear Fjaðrárgljúfur photos that convey the canyon's grandeur:

  • Aperture: Use a narrower aperture (f/8 to f/16) to ensure a wide depth of field, capturing both the foreground and background in sharp detail.
  • Shutter Speed: For flowing water shots, a slower shutter speed (1/2 to 2 seconds) will create a smooth, silk-like effect on the river streams.
  • ISO: Keep the ISO as low as possible (100-400) to prevent unwanted graininess, especially in the soft light of the golden hour.
  • RAW Format: Shoot in RAW for more post-processing flexibility, ensuring those Fjaðrárgljúfur photos are nothing short of spectacular.
  • Manual Focus: Sometimes, auto-focus can get confused by the canyon's complex landscapes. Switch to manual to take control.

fjaðrárgljúfur Northern Lights

Composition Tips for Fjadrargljufur Canyon

When composing your shots of Fjadrargljufur, remember the following to enhance the visual impact:

  • Leading Lines: Use the snaking river of Fjadrargljufur as a natural leading line to draw viewers' eyes into your photo.
  • Rule of Thirds: Position key elements of Fjadrargljufur along the intersections of your camera's gridlines for a balanced composition.
  • Framing: Find natural arches or openings to frame the majestic Fjadrargljufur, adding depth to your images.
  • Perspective: Experiment with different viewpoints; getting low can make the Fjadrargljufur Canyon appear more grandiose.
  • Scale: Include a person or object in your Fjadrargljufur shots to give a sense of the canyon's scale.

Fjadrargljufur pics

Things To Do When Visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Now that you have explored the beauty of Fjadrargljufur Canyon, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the surrounding area:

  • Hike the Laugavegur Trail: This famous 55-kilometer (34-mile) trek takes you through some of Iceland's most stunning landscapes, including glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.
  • Visit Skaftafell National Park: Located on the southern coast, this national park is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, boasting magnificent glaciers, lush valleys, and glacial rivers.
  • Explore Vatnajökull Glacier: The largest glacier in Europe offers many activities, such as ice cave exploration, guided glacier hikes, and scenic flights over the vast ice sheet.
  • Marvel at the Northern Lights: During winter, head out to nearby rural locations for a chance to witness the mesmerizing phenomenon of the northern lights dancing across the night sky.
  • Relax in Hot Springs: After a day of adventure, unwind and rejuvenate in one of Iceland's many geothermal hot springs, such as Seljavallalaug.

Laugavegur Trail

Other Attractions in Skaftárhreppur County

Beyond the breathtaking Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skaftárhreppur County houses a treasure trove of attractions:

  • Kirkjugólf: Step onto this natural stone formation, often mistaken for an old church floor, mere kilometers from Fjaðrárgljúfur.
  • Systrafoss Waterfall: Witness the twin falls reminiscent of the canyon's serenity as they cascade into the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
  • Dverghamrar: Marvel at the peculiar columnar basalt formations that are sure to captivate anyone interested in the geological siblings of Fjaðrárgljúfur.
  • Stjórnarfoss: A less frequented waterfall that offers peaceful reflection, echoing the tranquility found in the vastness of Fjaðrárgljúfur.

Stornarfoss waterfall

Where To Stay and Eat Near Fjadrargljufur Canyon

There are several accommodation options near Fjadrargljufur Canyon, ranging from luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses and budget-friendly campsites. Some popular choices include:

Fjadrargljufur accomodation

Planning Your Next Visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, with its otherworldly beauty and grandeur, is a testament to Iceland's untouched natural wonder. It is a destination that offers both tranquility and adventure, captivating the hearts of all who visit.

Whether you're an avid photographer, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking peace, this canyon—rich in history and majesty—is a place that truly should not be missed. Come and witness its splendor: let Fjaðrárgljúfur be a highlight of your Icelandic journey.

Reserve a rental car in Iceland instantly!

Book Now