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Iceland has the perfect climate for waterfalls. The many glaciers Iceland and their glacier rivers, plus frequent snow and rain, all feed each of the beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, making them arguably some of the most picturesque in the world. Iceland is home to hundreds of waterfalls, so here’s our pick of the top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland (listed in no particular order).
Located in Skaftafell national park, Svartifoss translates to ‘Black Waterfall.’ Once you reach this impressive Icelandic waterfall you’ll understand why. Incredible black basalt has formed hexagonal columns which form a cliff face of 25m with the gushing white waters of Svartifoss plunging over the basalt in a striking contrast. The base of the waterfall is littered with sharp, hexagonal rocks that have fallen from the cliff face. Svartifoss is just 1.5km from the nearest information centre and is accessible via an easy hike.
The Godafoss Waterfall, translating into ‘Waterfall of the Gods’, is steeped in history. As the story goes, idols of the old Nordic gods were thrown into the water in order to settle a religious crisis gripping Iceland.
Godafoss is generally considered the most famous of the three waterfalls located in the Skjalfandafljot glacier river in North Iceland. At 12 meters high and 30 meters wide, Godafoss creates an elegant curve of cascading water amongst pristine white snow. You can get to Godafoss by bus or car and once there, there are many trails to explore the area as well.
The Gullfoss Waterfall is by many considered as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the many attractions located on the Golden Circle in Iceland. This waterfall is part of the Hvita glacier river in Arnessysla in the south of Iceland. Utterly picturesque, the waters of Gullfoss dive down into a narrow river gorge, 32 meters below. It’s safe enough to get close to the waterfall’s edge, so visitors can feel the thrill of the waterfall’s spray on their faces.
Located just off Route 1 in the south of Iceland, Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. Few waterfalls offer as many picture perfect angles as Seljalandsfoss. It’s actually possible to walk behind the waterfall, giving you a spectacular angle of the 63 meter cascade above you and the plains that stretch to the horizon.
At 198 meters high, the Glymur Waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland and is not to be missed. The waters of Glymur spill from the river Botnsá in Botnsdalur valley in Hvalfjordur. One of Iceland’s prettiest fjords, the hike to Glymur through Hvalfjordur is challenging yet rewarding experience. Taking approximately 2 hours each way, the trail takes hikers to new heights before reaching the impressive climax of the waterfall. You can read more about the hike in our Best Treks and Hikes in Iceland article.
A series of waterfalls, the Hraunfossar waterfalls are springwater showers tumbling from the Hallmundarhraun lava rocks. As a whole, the falls take on an ethereal beauty. Clear water washes over the red-black rocks and falls into clear pools below. It’s possible to drive right up to these waterfalls. The Hraunfossar waterfalls are just 2 hours from Reykjavík via route 1, route 50 and finally route 518.
The most powerful waterfall in Europe, the Dettifoss Waterfall cannot be missed. The immense force of Dettifoss brings to mind the power of the Nordic gods. The earth shakes below you and the water thunders over the precipice into Jokulsargljufur, Iceland’s largest canyon. Though only 45 meters high, the waterfalls stretch out for 100 meters and the average flow rate is 193m3 per second - yes, 193m3 per second!! The power of the waterfall creates a constant spray which refracts rainbows into the mist. Dettifloss is fed by the Fjollum river from the Vatnajokull glacier in Vatnajokull national park. It’s located 133km from Akureyri and there is an access road directly to Dettifoss.
Like icing flowing down a tiered cake, Dynjandi waterfall is an unusual, yet beautiful, sight to say the least. At 100 meters high, the waterfall flares out towards the bottom, spreading from 30 meters wide to 60 meters wide. It’s majestic beauty has won it the title of ‘Jewel of the Westfjords.’ There’s a short 15 minute hike to Dynjandi where you pass 6 smaller waterfalls. The climb is worth it for the amount of beautiful falls you will see. This waterfall is located by Dynjandisvogur bay and Arnarfjörður fjord. The waterfall is twenty kilometres east of Hrafnseyri and it is possible to drive up to the point where the hike begins.
Another popular waterfall along Iceland’s south coast, Skogafoss dwarfs visitors with it’s impressive size and beauty. 60m high and 25m wide, visitors can walk up to the base of the waterfall to truly take in the sheer size of it. Legend has it that a settler named Þrasi buried his chest of treasure somewhere in the waterfall. The waterfall is fed by the river river Skógá; wild salmon and char populate the waters while the spray creates perfect rainbows. The waterfall and river is found close to the village of the same name, just a few kilometers inland from the south shores of Iceland.
This small waterfall in Iceland packs a pretty punch. While people tend to think that ‘ bigger is better’ when it comes to waterfalls, Kirkjufellsfoss proves that theory wrong. This small but mighty waterfall is located in West Iceland, a 2.5km hike from Grundarfjörður town on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Kirkjufellsfoss is found in the Kirkjufellsá River, which is fed by water from the extinct volcano Helgrindur. If that doesn’t sound impressive enough, the Kirkjufell mountain provides the backdrop for the Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall creating a truly beautiful vista, especially when coupled with the midnight sun or northern lights.
We highly recommend that you visit a couple of the above listed waterfalls in Iceland. Iceland is truly spectacular when it comes to amazing waterfalls, due to its climate and the many glaciers in iceland. Aside from amazing waterfalls, don't miss out on Iceland's volcanoes as well, including the top things to see and visit in Iceland.