One thing you should know about Iceland is there are waterfalls EVERYWHERE. Literally everywhere. There are around 10,000 in the country (say what?!), and they all have names. I swear Iceland sees a small trickle of water down a cliff and is like, “We must name our new discovery!!!”. So if you see a sign with “foss” on it, know it is most likely a waterfall, and you should drive to it. We found some incredible waterfalls by following those signs.
As I said above, there are waterfalls everywhere, and this post doesn’t capture all of them because there are just too many! However, I talk about my favorite waterfalls we found in our travels around Western Iceland!
Obviously, I have to begin this post with my favorite waterfall of all time. If you read my 7 Must-See Sights in Western Iceland post, you will know of my love for this beautiful, beautiful waterfall. Háifoss is the fourth tallest waterfall in Iceland, although some people consider it the second tallest behind Glymur. Recently, there were two waterfalls found in Morsárjökull Glacier that took the titles of the tallest and third tallest waterfalls. Háifoss, in my opinion, is the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland. Well, the most beautiful waterfall we saw on our trip.
The coolest thing about Háifoss is your position to view it. You get to gaze down at this 400-foot waterfall on a cliff across from it. It is pretty epic. I mean… just look at the picture above! How epic is that? It makes you feel SO small, which I love. There is also a small waterfall next to Háifoss called Granni, which means “neighbor” in Icelandic. Clever Iceland, clever.
There is a way to get to the bottom of Háifoss, but we, unfortunately, did not hike it. I can’t imagine how beautiful and epic it would have been to experience this waterfall from the bottom. If you do want to hike down to the bottom, you begin the hike in Stong. It’s about 6 miles and from what I heard, is not tough. You follow the river upstream until you get to the waterfall. Easy peasy!
Hiking to the bottom of the waterfall is probably easier than driving on the road to get to Háifoss. There is a small but visible sign off the Ring Road pointing onto a road leading to Háifoss. This road is RELENTLESS, so be prepared. Pothole after pothole after huge rock for FOUR miles. You have to take slow, and you have to have a 4x4. I would not recommend trying to drive on this road, or any F road for that matter, without a 4x4. We saw someone attempt to in a small car, and they bottomed out pretty quickly. I talk about renting a 4x4 in my 5 Tips and Tricks for Your Trip to Iceland post.
Why not follow up the fourth tallest waterfall with the SECOND tallest waterfall?! Glymur is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland behind Morsi. Glymur comes in at a whopping 643 feet. Hiking to the top of Glymur is one of the most popular hikes. It’s 5 miles round trip and will take you about 3 hours to complete.
The hike to Glymur is SO much fun. You go through a cave (it’s pretty cool), hike some very, VERY steep inclines, and cross TWO rivers!! The first river crossing is really fun! There are a rope and log to help you cross. You’ll have to take off your shoes, but don’t worry! It’s not difficult to cross, and you will thank me later for telling you to take off your shoes. After crossing the river, you will encounter the steep inclines. This can get sketchy. However, there are ropes for you to hold on to while climbing up. They make a huge difference. Especially when you get closer to Glymur. The mist from the waterfall makes everything slippery, so I honestly don’t think I would have made it up without the ropes!
If you read my 3 Overrated and 3 Underrated Attractions in Iceland post, you will know how I feel about Glymur. I just…. *sigh*. I just thought it was going to be more epic. I would suggest going to see Glymur before Háifoss if you can, so your hopes will not be high. Mine were super high after seeing Háifoss, and let me tell you… I was disappointed with Glymur. You can barely see the waterfall, and even when you can, you can’t see the entire thing because it is set back in a crevice. Don’t get me wrong, it is very beautiful, but I was expecting more.
But I’m not going to complain because 1. I already did in my 3 Overrated and 3 Underrated Attractions in Iceland post, and 2. the hike is SO COOL! The hike makes up for the waterfall. Once you get to the top, make sure to take in the views behind you. They are gorgeous! You are really high which is exhilarating, and on top of that, you are next to a HUGE canyon. B-E-A-Utiful. We spent more time enjoying the canyon views than the waterfall views.
After you are done taking in the views, it’s time for the climb down. Although, the climb down starts with climbing further up! I saw people go down the way we came up, but with it being super sketchy already, I didn’t think it was worth going that way. It’s more of a single file type of trail anyways. You have to head up to the tippity top of Glymur and cross over it before you can head back down. Now folks, this is where the second river crossing is, and it is more difficult than the first. The water is deep and freezing, so if you want to go barefoot, you may go numb. The rocks on the riverbed are also very smooth and slippery, so it’s hard to get your footing. The current doesn’t help either. We attempted to find a shallow part but failed, so we resorted to crossing in our hiking boots, and I don’t regret it! Although my feet were soaked for the hike down, we made it across the river easily. The hike down is a lot easier than the hike up, so it’s no biggie if your feet are a little wet!
On to the next one! Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall you all probably have seen. It is the classic Iceland waterfall that you can walk behind! See, now all of you are like “oh yessss, I have totally seen that waterfall”. Yup, classic, picturesque Iceland waterfall right here.
The trail to walk behind Seljalandsfoss was unfortunately closed when we visited, so we weren’t able to experience it, but it was still a beautiful sight from the front! If you do decide to trek behind the falls, make sure to bring a raincoat because you will get SOAKED. In fact, I would suggest always having a raincoat handy if you decide to go anywhere by this waterfall. Because it is among the largest waterfalls in Iceland- measuring up to about 200 feet- it gives off A LOT of mist.
Unlike Háifoss and Glymur, Seljalandsfoss is extremely easy to get to. You can see it from the Ring Road, so all you have to do is pull off and take a gander over. No crazy F roads or hiking trails here! With that said, this makes this spot a HUGE tourist attraction. I would suggest coming here earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds.
If you keep driving past Seljalandsfoss, you will come across a hidden gem of Iceland. Gljúfrabúi is a waterfall that resides in a cave, so if you aren’t looking for it, you may miss it! The coolest part about Gljúfrabúi is you can walk right up to it in the cave. You probably have seen this waterfall in pictures as well! Because it of its proximity to Seljalandsfoss, it has become more and more popular.
Not too far past Seljalandsfoss on the Ring Road is another classic Iceland waterfall - Skógafoss. This is another waterfall you definitely have seen before! It is just as tall as Seljalandsfoss but is 82 feet wide! Skógafoss is a BIG and powerful waterfall, so you will get soaked when you walk near it. Raincoats people!! Such a necessity in Iceland. Also, similar to Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss is right off the Ring Road, so it is another huge tourist spot.
The cool thing about Skógafoss is you can walk right up to the bottom of it OR walk up the side of it using a conveniently located staircase. There are about 530 steep steps to get to the top, so make sure you have your stair stepping pants on! Skógafoss, in my opinion, is WAY more epic when viewed from the bottom, so if you don’t want to trek to the top, don’t worry.
Oh, you like rainbows do ya?? Well, you are in luck! Anytime the sun is out, there is a rainbow around Skógafoss. Sometimes there is even a double rainbow! It makes for a beautiful sight.
Skógafoss wasn’t as powerful of a waterfall for you?? Well, don’t you worry. Gullfoss is an iconic Iceland waterfall located on the Hvítá River which is fed by the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull. It is easily accessible off of the Ring Road near the Great Geysir. The waterfall cascades down in two sections - one 36 feet high and the other 69 feet high - into a 1.6-mile long canyon. It is the largest volume falls in Europe, so take THAT as powerful! Doesn’t get much better than that!
Gullfoss in Icelandic means “Golden Waterfall”. Because the water is glacier fed, it carries a lot of sediments which gives the water a golden color on a sunny day. You can also see thousands of rainbows on a sunny day! You can get up close and personal to this beautiful waterfall by following a path from the parking lot that brings you alongside it. You cannot view Gullfoss from the bottom like the other waterfalls I have mentioned, but you can experience the epicness from the top.
Not all of the waterfalls in Iceland have to be big to be beautiful. Bruarfoss is a perfect example of that. Just a few minutes away from Gullfoss lies a beautiful waterfall with bright blue waters. Because it is glacier fed and multiple streams are converging into a deep crevice in one place, the water takes on a bright blue color. And yes, the water is actually that blue. No Photoshop here folks! Just the natural beauty of this amazing waterfall.
Bruarfoss is considered a hidden gem because it is difficult to find. The path to get to Bruarfoss is in a small neighborhood, so parking is very limited. We must have gone at the right time because we were one of four cars parked by the path entrance, and that was all that could fit there. Once you find the path, you have to jump over a broken barbed wire fence, cross a bridge, and climb a steep hill before you can finally see the breathtaking falls. I’m not going to lie… we got lost but luckily found another person on the path who seemed to know where he was going, so we followed him.
There is a bridge overlooking the waterfall that makes for a great spot to take pics or just to take in the beauty of this place. There is also a small path you can take to get under the bridge. This is where we spent most of our time after we were done taking pictures. Because Bruarfoss is difficult to find, and the parking lot is small, it can be very peaceful here. It’s a nice change of pace being away from the crowds that gather at most of the other waterfalls in Iceland!
If you have ever seen an advertisement for Iceland, you have definitely seen Kirkjufell. It is an iconic mountain in Iceland and is also one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland because of its isolated position by the sea. It also has a small but beautiful waterfall next to it named Kirkjufellafoss. Both are located on the Snæfellsness peninsular in the northwestern part of Iceland.
Kirkjufellafoss is on the smaller side, but it is not any less beautiful! Especially with its neighbor Kirkjufell. If you want an iconic Iceland picture, these two will make it happen for you!
There is a small parking lot near Kirkjufellafoss that will be PACKED. Everyone wants the iconic picture especially during sunset, so be prepared. There are two hikes on Kirkjufell - one around it and one to the top - if you are interested! BUT NOTE - the hike to the top of Kirkjufell is VERY difficult, and there have been a few fatalities on it. There is also a path that brings you on top of Kirkjufellafoss, beside it, and behind it! And as if this spot couldn’t get any better….. there are HORSES!! If you have read my 3 Overrated and 3 Underrated Attractions in Iceland post, you will know of my love for Icelandic horses.
The waterfall is on someone’s property who happened to be nice enough to allow a parking lot be built on their land, so make sure to take good care of this spot! And every other spot of course.
What waterfalls are your favorite? Or if you haven’t been to Iceland and are planning to go, which waterfall are you most excited to see?