This 60-meter-tall waterfall is a stunning view, at any time of day and any time of the year. Fed by a trouble-making glacier on top of a recently active volcano, Seljalandsfoss allows you to view it from every possible angle. Though we strongly suggest not being underneath it… You won’t have to travel far from Reykjavík to get here, and it is on the route to many other sightings, making it a nice stop on your way around the island.
There are around 10 000 waterfalls all over Iceland. These are often the results of the melting of the glaciers on the island (which cover more than 10% of Iceland). Most waterfalls are quite spectacular in their own way, but some attract more visitors than others. Seljalandsfoss is one of them, so we made sure to compile all you need to know about this spectacular waterfall in one article.
Iceland is known for its many impressive waterfalls. And although Seljalandsfoss might not be as large in volume or width as Godafoss or Dettifoss, the 60-meter drop is far from unimpressive. Seljalandsfoss Falls has an ace up its sleeve that puts it in the top 10 waterfalls in Iceland. This waterfall will offer you an opportunity that few others will be able to match!
Viewing waterfalls from the front is so last year. Seljalandsfoss is up-to-date with what the people want. Here you can walk behind the waterfall and feel the powerful masses of water thunder down in front of you.
The cave structure behind the waterfall will shield you from the falling water. But know that you might still be drenched by the tiny droplets of spray that are formed from the water hitting the bottom of the fall. An umbrella won’t do you much good behind Seljalandsfoss, so make sure to bring waterproof clothing.
Standing behind this waterfall, you will look out on the southern plains of Iceland and all the way to the ocean. If you move a little bit north on the path from the waterfall, you might even be able to see the Westman Islands in the distance.
If you continue north, you will also reach the neighboring waterfall Gljufrabui. This place is often considered a hidden gem among waterfalls. It is much smaller and not nearly as impressive, but contains some interesting features that are worth the short hike.
How Seljalandsfoss Was Formed
A very long time ago, Seljalandsfoss was not a waterfall, but simply the outlet of a stream into the North Atlantic Ocean. The coast of Iceland used to be way further inland, but as the island developed geologically, the coastline receded to where it is today. The coastal cliffs of yesterday have become the stage for the many tremendous waterfalls of today.
The stream that feeds Seljalandsfoss comes from the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Yes, the same “fjall” (=mountain) that had an eruption in 2010, shutting down air traffic all over Europe and parts of North America. If you go upstream, you will find several minor waterfalls along the way, but none will be as impressive as Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
Since Seljalandsfoss is attracting so many visitors every year, the Icelandic government proclaimed that the area now needs its own visitor center. This is in line with the many initiatives taken by the government to protect nature in Iceland from careless tourists.
The building plans were met with great resistance from the local landowners, and no visitor’s center has been approved yet. Landowners argue that a large visitor’s center will inhibit the natural scenery.
Seljalandsfoss has been featured in the American TV show The Amazing Race. There, the waterfall was the waypoint for the first leg of the trip in season six.
The waterfall has also been the backdrop for the song I’ll Show You by Justin Bieber. Plus, it can also be seen in season three of Star Trek: Discovery¸ and in the movie The Juniper Tree from 1990.
Where to Find Seljalandsfoss
This spectacular waterfall can be found in the southern part of Iceland. It is north of Landeyjahöfn where you can take the ferry to the Westman Islands. Seljalandsfoss is conveniently close to Ring Road 1, making it a natural stop on your trip around the island. You can also make it part of your Southern Iceland itinerary.
Reykjavík to Seljalandsfoss
The road to Seljalandsfoss from Reykjavík is easy as pie. You can follow Ring Road 1 all the way from Reykjavík, which will take you roughly two hours if you drive non-stop. There will be plenty of stops along the way to enrich your journey, such as the man-made caves of Hella and the vibrant town of Selfoss.
Close to Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss is at the very tip of Eyjafjallajökull, making it an area filled with hiking trails, glacier tours, and a myriad of cool waterfalls. If you continue along Ring Road 1, you will head towards Vatnajökull National Park, with everything that they offer. If you head north along Road 250, you will quickly reach the highlands and the F-roads that go up into the mountains.
The Best Time to Visit Seljalandsfoss
The shortest answer to this question is that there is no bad time to visit Seljalandsfoss. The experience will differ depending on which time of year and day you visit the falls. See below for more info on what to expect at these different times.
If you are looking to have a pleasant and not-so-cold experience close to the waterfall, we suggest heading to Seljalandsfoss falls in the summertime. This will increase your chances of getting that sweet Iceland summer sun to warm you up after you have been properly splashed by the mist from Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This is the time when you will also encounter the largest number of other visitors, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip.
When you go in the summer, you will be able to go to the waterfall early in the morning as well as late at night. This means scenic views, with the Icelandic midnight sun shining behind the waterfall and giving the entire area an astonishing glow. Early in the morning and late at night is when you will be able to avoid larger crowds and get some nice pictures that won’t feature strangers.
The summertime is also the only time of the year when you could possibly have a quick dip in the stream from the waterfall or at least one of the calmer areas downstream. The water is glacier runoff, so expect the waters to be just about as cold as you could imagine water to be. This also means that if you go upstream, the water will be clean enough for you to drink straight from the stream!
Generally, a period when people are not that fond of visiting thundering waterfalls, the Seljalandsfoss winter period is not to be scoffed at. The spectacular view of the partly frozen waterfall is something to behold.
This time of the year, you will not have to battle hoards of visitors, but you will likely have to battle the elements. The mist from the waterfall will make everything slippery and icy, so you will need to be careful if you want to get close to the fall. Some of the ice is so clear that you can barely see it on the ground. Here, there is no guide to give you the proper gear, so either bring studs for your shoes or be very cautious when you walk around.
You won’t have to worry about the lighting in the wintertime, as the waterfall will be lit with floodlights when it gets dark. These lights might not be the fanciest on earth, but they make Seljalandsfoss look as pretty as ever. Just be careful on the road, as winter driving usually occurs in low light conditions.
Fall and Spring
If you are in the market for the most powerful falls that Seljalandsfoss can offer, fall and spring will be the seasons for you. Early to mid-spring will be your best bet, since this is the period when all the snow and ice on Eyjafjallajökull starts to melt for real. That really gives Seljalandsfoss a proper push in terms of water volume.
These shoulder months are not as popular with visitors as summer and winter, making your chances of having a private waterfall viewing greater than in other periods of the year.
Seljalandsfoss is a spectacular waterfall, regardless of which time of year and day you are here. It is as close to Ring Road 1 as it can be, and not far away from the capital at all. That is why renting a car in Reykjavík is a great option for a day tour as well as a long road trip.