Iceland is famous for its dramatic mountains, breathtaking volcanic and glacial scenery, and one of its most celebrated phenomenons, waterfalls. The Land of Fire and Ice is home to over 10,000 of these gorgeous cascades.
Whether you’re exploring the lush southern coast or hiking off the beaten path, waterfalls abound. From large, thundering falls to world-famous and more remote cascades, Iceland’s waterfalls are some of the most impressive in the world.
Here are some of the best waterfalls to visit on a vacation to Iceland.
Perhaps one of the country’s most famed waterfalls, Gullfoss is a powerful spectacle in the southwestern region of Iceland. Discover the meaning of “Golden Falls” on your visit to Gullfoss, where you’ll marvel at the thundering series of two giant cascades that are said to shine a golden tint in combination with the sunlight hitting the glacial water. It’s likely to get sprayed by the mist from Gullfoss and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a rainbow when the sun peeks out to complete this otherworldly scene.
Be mesmerized by the glacial water hailing from Langjökul as it makes its way through the Hvítá river to plummet hundreds of feet into the deep canyon. Gullfoss will leave you breathless with wonder.
Located along the well-visited “Golden Circle” route, it’s easy to combine a trip to Gullfoss with other fine examples of Iceland’s nature at sites like the Geysir Geothermal Area and Thingvellir National Park.
Visit one of the most powerful and voluminous cascades in all of Europe while exploring the lesser-traveled northern Iceland. This natural treasure is perched within the scenic Vatnajökull National Park, which is among the best national parks in the world. The thundering falls that flow approximately 150 feet into the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon will take your breath away.
You’ll hear the waterfall roaring before it even comes into view. Enjoy a refreshing spray as you hike along the canyon to take in the magnificence of Dettifoss from various vantage points. Depending on which route you take, you can see the waterfall from overlooks on both sides, giving you the opportunity to see Dettifoss from all angles.
Marvel at this giant waterfall while traversing the Diamond Circle route, which also includes Lake Mývatn, Ásbyrgi Canyon, and the quaint fishing village of Húsavík.
Read: What to Pack for Iceland
Hraunfossar, whose name means “Lava Falls,” is located in Iceland’s western region. This series of over 100 cascades is located near another well-known waterfall, Barnafoss, making it possible to visit both with ease.
Watch as the water streams through the lava field from the Hvita River, creating a mystical and beautiful scene. Uncover the interesting folklore history involving trolls that this natural attraction holds. Walk along well-marked paths to admire various perspectives of Hraunfossar and the surrounding views. This is one of Iceland’s most unique waterfalls.
4: Barnafoss Lava Waterfall
The neighbor waterfall to western Iceland’s Hraunfossar, Barnafoss is another unique set of falls tumbling from the Hvita River. Gaze at the contrasting dark lava rocks and rushing bright blue glacial waters flowing into the valley from the overlook platforms.
Learn about the ancient legend tied to this waterfall via informational plaques as you walk the paths and admire the volcanic landscape. Take the opportunity to visit the settlements of Borgarnes and Reykholt, where you’ll be able to discover their rich Icelandic history and culture.
Venture into the famous Thingvellir National Park in southwestern Iceland for the chance to view one of the park’s starring attractions. Öxaráfoss, also known as the “Axe Falls,” is actually a man-made waterfall.
Walk the short pathways leading to viewpoints of Öxaráfoss, where you can learn about the history of its creation as you take in the 65-foot chute. The waters plummet from the Öxará River over basalt rock formations and into a rocky pool below for a dramatic vista.
One of the most impressive Iceland waterfalls is Seljalandsfoss, located on the southern edge of the country. Just outside the village of Hella, you don’t have to go far from the Ring Road to experience this natural wonder in Iceland.
Prepare to be awe-struck by the nearly 200-foot falls fed by the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. The loop trail will grant you access to unique vantage points—you can even venture behind the waterfall. Peer out from the large cave-like space with the falls thundering down in front of you.
Sunrise and sunset here is something out of a movie, and if the late afternoon rays make an appearance, you might even have the chance to see a rainbow. This misty experience isn’t to be missed.
This striking Iceland waterfall is an iconic landmark in the country. You’ll find this famous site on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, with the well-known Mount Kirkjufell (also referred to as “Church Mountain”) as the backdrop.
Walk the trail next to the waterfall that takes you over a small bridge for a beautiful alignment where the waterfall and mountain complement each other. Although Kirkjufellsfoss itself isn’t one of the most impressive or largest waterfalls in Iceland, it provides an unforgettable scene in combination with its namesake mountain.
Head to northern Iceland to experience another of the country’s rich natural wonders, Godafoss, found near the Diamond Circle route. About half an hour outside of the city of Akureyri, you’ll have the opportunity to view what is referred to as “Waterfall of the Gods.”
A short walk on a paved path will lead you to a view of the over 100-foot-wide Godafoss. Admire the vivid blue of the water and large-scale cascade that pours almost 40 feet down into a large pool along the Skjálfandafljót River.
You can take in the waterfall vista from either side of the falls, with viewing platforms available on both edges. Walk along the trails to get different vantage points of Godafoss’ beauty. This is one of the best waterfalls in Iceland to visit.
Discover the unique character of the Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, located in the southern region of Iceland. Meaning “Canyon Dweller,” this amazing cascade is hidden behind a cliff within a cave that’s accessible with a short but narrow hike in shallow water and rain gear. The rocks can be slippery, so waterproof shoes with good traction are recommended.
Absorb the magical scene inside the cavern as the water splashes down. Stare in awe at the large boulder sitting right in the middle of it all, and take in the mossy surroundings along dark cave walls of this hidden place.
10: Glymur Waterfall
Trek to one of the tallest Iceland waterfalls for an adventure with a big reward. Located just an hour from the capital city of Reykjavik, Glymur is the perfect half-day endeavor. This moderate hike is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and has a little bit of everything, making for a thrilling and diverse trek to reach the 650-foot falls.
Enjoy the stunning scenery as you traverse through and along the edge of the striking Hvalfjörður fjord. Embark on a true adventure as you travel the trail through a cave, over a river, and along the moss-adorned canyon that makes this one of the best hikes in Iceland.
When you reach Glymur Waterfall, the views will take your breath away. Spend some time taking in the awe-inspiring vistas and watch the seabirds dip and dive near the waterfall as you experience one of Iceland’s top natural sites.
This south Iceland waterfall is one of the country’s most popular attractions, and as you admire its stunning beauty, you’ll understand why. Dropping almost 200 feet against the backdrop of lush greenery, Skogafoss is a thundering wonder that can be seen from the Ring Road, Iceland’s main highway.
Water flows from the Skógá River over the cliff and onto the volcanic black sand. You’ll be amazed at the power of this cascade as you approach it for a closer look.
Hike up the staircase to the right of the falls for various vantage points of the falls as well as sprawling views of the surrounding area, including out to the Atlantic Ocean. Listen to the sounds of nature as seabirds fly around their scenic home. This waterfall is popular with photographers as there are often rainbows that appear when the light hits at the right angle.
Two rivers meet to create this pair of waterfalls about an hour and a half from Reykjavik near the famous Golden Circle route. The Fossá and Þjórsá rivers join forces to create this natural attraction, also referred to as “Helping Falls.” Historically, it provided a resting point with natural resources in a remote region that travelers and their horses needed along the difficult route through the Icelandic Highlands.
Watch as the water cascades over a lava field into an idyllic pool within the picturesque Þjórsádalur Valley. Marvel at the waterfall and the backdrop of rugged rocks and lava fields formed from past eruptions by the resident Hekla Volcano. A short walk makes this double chute accessible and a highlight for people of all skill levels to visit. If you go during the spring and summer months, you’ll be surprised at the number of gorgeous wildflowers, such as the colorful lupin.
Northern Iceland is host to the astounding Aldeyjarfoss, known for its characteristic basalt columns. The waterfall drops 65 feet from the Skjálfandafljót River into a rushing pool surrounded by unique black rock formations. Since it’s a lesser-known cascade, you may even have it all to yourself.
Stand in wonder as water flows over the Báðardalshraun lava field created over 9,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption. Visit from either the south or north side, where you can hike, take photos, and enjoy the scenery from different perspectives. Get a lower, closer view of Aldeyjarfoss on the southern edge, or hike a bit on the northern side to get a view from above.
One of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Kvernufoss is a hidden gem on the country’s southern coast. Located near the famous Skogafoss, this waterfall is set further back from the road, leaving it less noticeable to visitors.
Hike into the lush gorge with the sound of the falls guiding you. Follow the relatively easy trail to reach the postcard-perfect Kvernufoss in about 20 minutes. One of the best things to do in Iceland in the summer is to take the path that goes behind Kvernufoss for the ultimate view from behind the almost 100-foot waterfall drop. Enjoy the remote, isolated atmosphere of this less well-known waterfall and listen to the tranquil sound of local seabirds and rushing flumes of water.
If you’re ready to feast your eyes on some of the most extraordinary waterfalls on the island of Iceland, a luxury cruise is a fantastic way to explore these natural wonders. Browse cruises to Iceland on our website and book your next adventure today.