Iceland’s Most Majestic Waterfalls

Discover Iceland's Greatest Waterfalls

Strange plumes of smoke rising from the ground, craggy lava fields, erupting geysers, colossal glaciers, perpetually sprouting rainbows; these are just a few of the reasons why I’m obsessed with Iceland.

I could be here all day writing about the gazillion other reasons why I love this small yet unimaginably diverse country, but I’m going to draw your attention to just one single reason: waterfalls in Iceland.

Iceland is a paradise of waterfalls, they may not be among the world’s tallest, but they are some of the most visually striking ones I’ve ever seen, as well as the most powerful, so this makes them infinitely more exciting than the usual types that spring to mind.

I really want you to see them, so here’s a list of the ones which I think are particularly special:

Svartifoss

Svartifoss waterfall, IcelandA geologist’s dream. Nestled inside Vatnajokull National Park, Svartifoss is notable for its distinct balsalt (volcanic) columns. Its unique appearance inspired the building of Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik, so for this reason it’s one of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland, an example of the omnipresence of Mother Nature throughout the whole country, even in urban areas.

Svartifoss, Vatnajokull National Park

Hallsgrimskirkja Church and Svartifoss waterfall

Can you see the similarity?

Gullfoss

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland

This waterfall is part of the Golden Circle tour which makes it the most visited waterfalls in Iceland. At first, all that can be made out is the ferocious waters that seemingly disappear into the abyss below, but as you carry on walking, the entirety of the falls comes into view. A huge cavern of water, 61ft wide, engulfs the water from above, as it crashes and churns down into it. To describe the waterfall as powerful would be an understatement!

Dynjandi waterfall

Dynjandi waterfall, Iceland
Dynjandi Waterfall © Westfjords.is

Due to its location on the Westfjords, one of the least visited areas of Iceland, Dynjandi is not popular to tourists, but to the locals it’s known as the most beautiful waterfall in the whole of Iceland. Dynjandi plunges over a 100m-high clifftop into the fjord at Dynjandisvogur inlet, a triangular cascade is created roughly 30m wide at its top spreading to over 60m at its bottom.

Dettifoss

Dettifoss waterfall, Iceland

Dettifoss-waterfall-iceland Dettifoss © NorthIceland.Is

Dettifoss or ‘The Beast’ is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in the whole of Europe. At 44m high and 100m wide, 96,500 gallons of water pass through it every single second, and the mist created from its powerful ferocity can be seen several miles away. Dettifoss recently featured in Ridley Scott’s film ‘Prometheus’ for you film buffs out there!

Godafoss

Godafoss, Waterfalls in Iceland Godafoss © NorthIceland.Is

‘The Waterfall of The Gods’ (pronounced go-thuh-foss) is located in the river Skjálfandafljót in northeast Iceland. Shaped like a horseshoe, the waterfall is 12m high and 30m wide and is often described as being one of Iceland’s most beautiful. Godafoss also played a huge part in Iceland’s history, when local chieftain Þorgeir,  threw statues of the pagan gods into a waterfall after Iceland became a Christian nation.

Skógafoss

Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland

This often photographed curtain waterfall needs no introduction. It is a MUST visit site along South Iceland. Let’s hope there’s a rainbow waiting here for you too!

Hjálparfoss

Hjalparfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Not as impressive as some of the others on this list in terms of size, but the landscape in this area is one of the most beautiful! This waterfall plunges into a unique concave pool of emerald green water. Conveniently situated near Mount Hekla, you are walking nearby one of Iceland’s most active Volcanoes!

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss Iceland
Seljalandsfoss © David Frey

Ok, I’m not the best person to be talk about this waterfall, but I know others who love it. It’s great because you have the ability to walk behind it, and also climb up the stairs that weave along the mountainside to gain another perspective. Had I not arrived here in the pouring rain (hence why I’m not using my own photo) then I might have more enthusiasm for it, but I did arrive in the pouring rain and I let the matter get in the way of enjoying what looks like a great climb and photo opportunity – shame on me! (It rains a lot in Iceland so you can’t let the weather get in the way of your sightseeing!)

Háifoss

Haifoss waterfall Iceland

This place blew my mind! Firstly it’s Iceland’s second highest waterfall but there are also several other waterfalls nearby (including the wonderfully named ‘Granny’) so the noise at this place is immense! My pictures don’t give you a true perceptive of this place, unless I had the luxury of a helicopter it’s impossible to get an aerial view of how cavernous it really is. However, the photo below gives you an impression, and hopefully inspire you to visit for yourself!
Haifoss, waterfall, Iceland

Have you visited any of these waterfalls in Iceland? Can you add more to this list?

Tip: Just in case you had not already guessed, ‘foss’ in Icelandic means ‘waterfall’, so if you’re driving along and notice the suffix attached to a word it’s always worth taking a detour in your car!



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Iceland’s Most Majestic Waterfalls' have 24 comments

  1. April 11, 2015 @ 6:39 pm Hugo Cura

    Great list! It’s really hard to decide on a favourite Icelandic waterfall.

    Having visited twice over the past year, I’m not really sure how I missed Háifoss, but has now been added to my next trip.

    A pretty cool one is Gljúfrabúi, next to Seljalandafoss.

    Reply

    • April 12, 2015 @ 5:03 pm admin

      Gljúfrabúi looks lovely! It just goes to show how many stunning waterfalls there are in Iceland, a list of 9 or 10 simply isn’t enough!

      Haifoss is quite out of the way compared to the other waterfalls I guess, but it’s really worth the trip when you’re next in Iceland!

      Reply

      • April 15, 2015 @ 8:28 pm Hugo Cura

        Going inside Gljúfrabúi is amazing!

        Haifoss is a bit out of the way, but I’ve passed next to it and skipped it. Silly me.

        Reply

  2. April 11, 2015 @ 8:55 pm Kyle Marc

    looks awesome Shing!!! Hope you are good

    Reply

    • April 12, 2015 @ 4:59 pm admin

      Hi Kyle! Nice surprise to see you here 😀 Hope all is well at your end! 🙂

      Reply

  3. April 12, 2015 @ 5:39 am Priya

    Iceland is high on my list. The Icelandic waterfalls look so amazing!

    Reply

    • April 12, 2015 @ 4:58 pm admin

      Hope you make it there, and manage to see some of the waterfalls on this list Priya! 😀

      Reply

  4. April 12, 2015 @ 1:49 pm Emil Georgsson

    Did you visit the place Gjain that is about few houndred meters below Háifoss. Probably the most beautyful place in iceland well hidden treasure.

    Reply

    • April 12, 2015 @ 4:53 pm admin

      Yey! I’m happy to read someone else who loves Gjain, actually someone who even knows about Gjain!!

      I was debating whether to put it in this list but I didn’t feel like it fitted in, partly because Gjain feels more like it’s own little magical microcosm, don’t you think? But now that you’ve mentioned it I think I’ll write a little footnote about it after the text on Haifoss 😉

      I wish I could visit there at the beginning of summer when the flowers are in full bloom, instead of the beginning of autumn under grey skies haha.

      Are you from Iceland?

      Reply

  5. April 12, 2015 @ 7:40 pm Richard

    I think Dynjandi looks the best from the photos. I’ve only been to Gullfoss in winter when it was too cold to stay outdoors for too long, but it was a highlight for me. By the way, if you’re around there’s an Iceland travel programme on Channel 4, 8.30 on Monday…

    Reply

    • April 15, 2015 @ 6:29 am admin

      Gullfoss was the highlight of the Golden Circle for me too Richard! Thanks for the heads up about the programme, I watched it and enjoyed the bit about hakarl the most! 😀

      Reply

  6. April 14, 2015 @ 5:32 am Lucian

    These are indeed some amazing waterfalls and the photo with the rainbow and waterfall… now that’s a true winner in my eyes!

    Reply

    • April 15, 2015 @ 6:30 am admin

      Rainbows and waterfalls are two of my favourite things so I was in heaven 😀

      Reply

  7. April 15, 2015 @ 12:37 pm Laura

    I’ve found your post on Iceland really useful for my up and coming trip!

    This is a bit of a random question, but i’m wondering what time of year you went? I’m going the end of April and curious about what clothing I should wear, especially footwear! I’d like to avoid walking boots if possible but i’m not sure the weather will be up to it yet.

    Thanks!

    Laura

    Reply

    • April 18, 2015 @ 4:10 pm admin

      Hi Laura! I’ve been to Iceland at various times of the year. The last photo was taken at the end of September and you can see that I’m just wearing normal boots. Unless you intend on going Glacier hiking you’ll be absolutely fine in just regular flat trainers or boots.

      In terms of clothing, layering is key. Pack some thermals and an insulating jacket. By April the weather should by okay, however, Iceland no matter what time of the year has erratic weather, so expect sunshine, rain, and wind!

      Let me know if you have any more questions and have a fantastic time, it’s impossible not to! 😀

      Reply

  8. April 16, 2015 @ 3:57 pm The Guy Who Flies

    Hey Shing,

    These are absolutely fabulous. Stunning images which would complete any trip.

    I’ve been to Niagara a couple of times and I think these places would equal or surpass that place. I also really love that picture of you between the rainbow and waterfall – magical!

    Reply

    • April 18, 2015 @ 4:22 pm admin

      Hey! I’d love to see Niagara falls, as well as a few in South America! Someday….

      Haha, I couldn’t find the pot of gold though! 😉

      Reply

  9. April 19, 2015 @ 7:57 am Laura

    Thank you so much for your reply! Very helpful and great to know we won’t have to wrap up too much. We’re really excited to go and will def be using your blog as a guide.

    Laura

    Reply

  10. May 2, 2015 @ 7:01 am Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun

    I’m obsessed with those basalt columns, and yes, I can absolutely see the inspiration in that church!

    Reply

    • May 7, 2015 @ 8:39 pm admin

      I’m obsessed with basalt columns too Heather! I really want to go to Giant’s Causeway!!

      Reply

  11. May 10, 2015 @ 5:07 pm Todd @ Visit50

    Godafoss looks so impressive! I really need to get an Iceland trip booked. It’s so close (I’m based in New York) and so beautiful!

    Reply

    • September 27, 2015 @ 4:46 pm Shing Yoong

      Hi Todd, they’re all so impressive, eh? Godafoss is very beautiful but it is no where near as powerful as Dettifoss!

      You should definitely use New York’s super vantage point to get there. No excuses 🙂

      Reply

      • September 27, 2015 @ 8:28 pm Todd @ Visit50

        Yes sounds good! I’m currently on an extended trip through Europe – 9 countries so far this trip. Loving it! I’m about to post some of my photography of Visit50.com and on IG.

        People say Iceland really needs visits in opposite seasons – warm weather to see the country, but the northern lights in the winter. Thoughts?

        Reply

  12. June 15, 2016 @ 9:09 pm Andrea

    Yes godafoss gull floss and there are about eight on my list for June this year which I have not seen

    Reply


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2016 Shing Lin Yoong | All Rights Reserved | Designed by Paradigm Creations | Links