One of Iceland’s many attractions is its dramatic (and unspoiled) landscape, which of course includes some pretty impressive waterfalls.
Epic waterfalls are found throughout Iceland and you’d be best advised renting a car, or at the very least embarking on tours to see the best ones.
This blog will focus on 5 incredible waterfalls you can find in Central and Southern Iceland, including a very secret one!
Are you ready?
1. Gullfoss (‘Golden Falls’)
Perhaps the star of the Golden Circle, tens of thousands of people head to Gullfoss during their Icelandic adventures every year, with tourism numbers consistently on the rise.
For that many people to be interested, this one has got to be pretty special, right? Why yes, yes it really is.
As you head down from the Visitor Centre, you’ll need to climb down some steps to see your first proper glimpse of Gullfoss, otherwise known as ‘Golden Falls’, and I can bet your first words (or thoughts) will be “Wow!”
Thanks to long wooden walkways (and lots of steps), it’s possible to see Gullfoss from a number of different angles, allowing you to exclaim “Wow!” maybe 5 or 6 times over.
To see Gullfoss at its best, I’d recommend visiting during the colder months. During the Summer, the water turns a muddy brown (hence the name of ‘Golden Falls’) due to various types of sediment winding its way through the crevasse.
But during the cold months, you’ll find the water to be a cool blue colour and ever so beautiful!
2. Skógafoss (‘Forest Falls’)
Found close to some black sand beaches – one of which being epic Sólheimasandur beach – is Skógafoss, which comes from the Icelandic for ‘Forest Falls’. No-one is quite sure where this name came from though as there are no forests, woods or trees near it!
Anyway, it’s possible to get very up close and personal with this waterfall when down on the ground as there’s nothing stopping you from going right up to it – apart from maybe the powerful water soaking you as soon as you step 20 feet within its range!
The water’s pretty cold by the way!
When we visited in March last year, the temperatures were so cold that ice crystals had formed both on the ground and on the rocks near the waterfall.
Anyway, my point is this waterfall is awesome up close.
It’s also fantastic to see from above. You’ll need to climb over 500 very steep steps in order to get to the viewing platform, but once you’re up there, you’ll get a very unique angle of this superb waterfall!
And speaking of very unique angles…
3. Seljalandsfoss (‘Selling the Land of Waterfalls’)
Seljalandsfoss, which is not too far from Skógafoss actually, is on this list of incredible Icelandic waterfalls because you can walk behind this one!
Although there will be closed fences and warning signs about ice and slipping during the Winter and cold months, it’s technically still possible to walk behind it. I’m not convinced anyone really listens to those signs. Just whatever you do, hold onto the railings and tread carefully… it’s going to properly hurt if you do fall!
That said, it’s awesome to walk behind waterfalls and see them from an entirely different point of view. And Seljalandsfoss, at over 60 feet tall, is one total beauty!
4. Öxarárfoss (‘Axe Falls’)
Found within stunning Thingvellir National Park and a couple of miles’ walk from the Visitor Centre is Öxarárfoss, sometimes known as ‘Axe Falls’.
This one is perhaps not as famous as the others as it’s a little difficult to find. But once you do find it, you’ll be amazed at this little but still perfectly formed waterfall. It’s so clean that you can even drink out of it if you want to… that’s what I did!
And hey, someone else must have liked it as it is also a ‘Game of Thrones’ filming location!
To find out more about this particular waterfall, how to find it and what else there is to see within Thingvellir National Park, check out this mini guide!
5. Gljúfrabúi (‘Canyon Dweller’ or ‘Dweller of the Gorge’)
And finally we come to Gljúfrabúi, the ‘Canyon Dweller’ or ‘Dweller of the Gorge’.
This is the secret waterfall I alluded to at the beginning of this blog. But what makes it so secret?
Well, the only way to see it is to either climb over some very steep rocks and cliffs, or trudge through knee deep (freezing!) water. Found in the middle of an open-topped cave, this is where you’ll find one of Iceland’s deepest secrets.
Now, if rockclimbing or wading through rivers isn’t really your thing, you can still catch a glimpse of this waterfall by peeking through the two rock crevices in front of it (like we did)… your only trouble will be that you can only see the bottom of it from this angle, so you kind of miss all of its beauty.
Perhaps another reason why Gljúfrabúi is so secret is because it’s not signposted, not often referred to in blogs, (I had to read over 10 dedicated Iceland blogs before I could even find its name!) and it’s also often eclipsed by its very famous neighbour – none other than Seljalandsfoss.
So, next time you decide to walk behind Seljalandsfoss, spare a thought for its lesser known neighbour and come and pay this secret waterfall a visit too!
If you’re thinking of adding these waterfalls to your own Iceland itinerary, I’ve included a simple map below for you:
Over to you now – which incredible Iceland waterfall will be first on your list? And what are some other Icelandic waterfalls you’d recommend I investigate? Feel free to drop a few lines in the comments below…
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