Waterfalls in Iceland You Cannot Miss
Updated: Sep 14, 2019
Iceland is paradise on earth! No doubt about that. With it’s over 12,000 beautiful waterfalls located all around the country, it makes it very difficult and a daunting task for visitors to choose just one. It is a hard task to decide which of the waterfalls to visit without actually having a feeling of missing out on the best amongst them. There is no shortage of these breathtaking (mystical) waterfalls gushing out from the Icelandic mountains. Are you ready to start your rental car in Iceland and hit the road?
Why are there so many waterfalls in Iceland?
The fact that Iceland is a country in northern latitude means that it’s a country with lots of snows and rains.That of course includes numerous glaciers as well. The weather in Iceland creates the beauty you see across the island. The waterfall numbers in hundreds and thousands both big and small. And that alone can make your Icelandic travel a memorable one.
It’s quite an impossible task to mention all the famous waterfalls located in this country. However, to help you choose the favorite waterfalls in Iceland; this article will be your best guide. Let's find out where they are located and how you can easily navigate the locations. This way, you won’t miss out on your visit to Iceland.
Top 3 Must-See Waterfalls in South Iceland
Here are the 3 must-see waterfalls located in the south of Iceland. These are close to the city and actually can be a perfect day tour.
Your visit to Iceland is not complete if you didn’t get to see one of Iceland most iconic and favorite waterfalls. This waterfall is located in the Hvítá river canyon in the south-west of Iceland. It’s a very beautiful hotspot for tourist and stands as one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland.
This waterfall brings some interesting story that you will likely hear from your tour guide. However, if you don’t have a tour guide with you, here is the story that is linked to the Gullfoss Waterfall:
Some time back in the early 20th century, foreign investors intended to take over this waterfall. They were secretly hoping to turn the waterfall into a hydro-electricity power plant. When the people got wind of the plan that the real owners were about, they fiercely fought against the takeover. They try to prevent the selling of the waterfall by all means. Because of the importance of this spot to the people, the daughter of one of the owners,named Sigridur Tomasdottir, became a movement leader. Sigridur embarked on a long and strength-sapping journey to Reykjavik on foot (120 kilometers) to get support for her cause.
After so many days of looking to get support, she returned home miserable. It almost seemed like she was about to lose the waterfall forever. However, it took the intervention and help of Sveinn Bjornsson her lawyer who was later to become the first president of Republic of Iceland. Both were able to annul the contract and since then, Gullfoss became a property of the Iceland government.
Up to this day, you will see Sigridur’s memorial sculpted by Rikhardur Jonsson right by the waterfall. So, if your stay in Iceland is for a short period, Gullfoss waterfall is a beautiful place to visit. Because of its closeness to the town and the story attached to it, it is a must-see point. The waterfall is located close to the Iceland Golden Circle Drive. This route starts and ends right outside of Reykjavik. It is only 1h 30 minutes away from the capital city.
An interesting thing of this waterfall is the 2 stages of waterfall on Gullfoss. The first tier is the shortest, measuring about 11 meters tall (36 feet) while the second drop is approximately 21 meters tall (69 feet). The canyon walls that cover the waterfall by both sides measure up to 70 meters by height (230 feet) which actually descend into the Gullfossgjúfur canyon.
During winter, the Gullfoss has a stunning view that will leave you breathless. The waterfall freezes over to become an undulating wave of shimmering ice. On a sunny day, you are treated to a colorful rainbow follows by billows of water drops from the thundering falls.
Another favorite spot for tourist in my country is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall located in the south region of the island.
This is one of the most famous waterfalls for tourist coming to Iceland and also dubbed one of the must-see waterfalls in Iceland. According to the National Land Survey of Iceland, this breathtaking famous waterfall is 65 meters tall above the ground.
When visiting the waterfall, know that there is a path that leads you behind the waterfall. Bear in mind that you need to bring your raincoat, else you will get soaked from the water drizzle. To catch the rainbow on this waterfall make sure you are visiting on a sunny day and also make sure your camera is well protected from the water. Now you are ready to take snapshots from behind the waterfall.
However, if you are visiting the waterfall during the winter time you might not be that lucky to go behind the waterfall. The path leading behind is often closed to tourist because it gets too slippery and dangerous.
The waterfall is about 120 kilometers from Reykjavik – which is not that far. So, you can use a day to visit the waterfalls in the southern coastal areas of Iceland and still return to Reykjavik the same day.
Something we must highlight about this waterfall, is that before you get to it, you can easily spot it from distance off the Ring Road.The closer you get to it, the more you are fascinated by its beauty. And during the winter season, the waterfall can actually lit up the whole area.
Another close-by waterfall in the southern area is the Skógafoss waterfall. It is about 30 kilometers away from Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall has been one of my favorite waterfalls ever since I visited it as a child with my uncle. I can still remember not wanting to leave and begging to stay a bit longer. Even up to this day, I still look forward to visiting this beautiful waterfall with my own children.
Skógafoss is about 62m high and 25 meters wide. Getting closer to this powerful waterfall can be very mesmerizing and fascinating. If you are planning to take photos here, you should protect your camera from the water drizzle as you can easily get drenched when coming closer.
If you also want to have a better panoramic, there are staircases that go up to the top of the hill above Skógafoss. From there, you can actually see how breathtaking and powerful this waterfall looks.
In fact, as of my last count, there are 527 steps that will take you above the waterfall. Although, I am always out of breath when walking up the stair! I might have missed a couple of stairs though. If you decided to walk up the hill, let me know if I missed any.
If you are the type of person who is afraid of height, know that you can still enjoy the waterfall from the ground. If you are coming down the stairs, please be careful because it’s a long way down and a slip can really make your adventure a nightmare.