#seljalandsfoss

The Golden Circle is a term or a description for one of the most popular tourist route in Iceland. The drive is based on three natural wonders not far from Reykjavík the capital of Iceland. Most of the time the tour starts and ends in Reykjavík and is driven in a day. The first stop is at Þingvellir which is a sacred place in Iceland where Almannagjá gorge and Öxarárfoss waterfall play a significant role. Þingvellir also has profound historical meaning in Iceland as it was the meeting place for Alþingi, the oldest parliament in history.  Secondly, there is Geysir, the hot spring area where the geyser Strokkur erupts every ten or fifteen minutes.  Thirdly and most importantly there is Gullfoss waterfall the most impressive waterfall in Iceland.  A waterfall that is often mentioned on lists of top ten most fascinating waterfalls on the planet. The distance from Reykjavík through the town Mosfellsbær and Road Nr. 36 to Gullfoss via Þingvellir and Geysir is approximately 120 kilometers or 75 miles.

Almannagjá at Þingvellir National Park

Almannagjá gorge is an important place in Iceland, both geologically and historically

How to drive the Golden Circle?

Tourism in Iceland has exploded in recent years, and so has the Golden Circle drive.  Sometimes during summer, the road is packed with busses, and rental cars as are the parking lots by the three natural wonders.  Usually, the buses depart from Reykjavík between eight and nine in the morning and arrive at the three natural wonders at a similar time. This is for many reasons a very convenient time to start and drive the tour as it fits well with lunchtime at Geysir or Gullfoss.  If you are not intimidated by crowds you should start at the same time, otherwise start your tour early, around 6 am or 6:30 am.  A stop at any of the three attractions takes about half an hour to 45 minutes. The road is an asphalt road and easy to drive in any car, small or large.  It is a two-way lane so keep in mind that the road is a bit narrow but reasonably easy to drive.  The exception is in winter when the weather is sometimes quite harsh, and the road from Reykjavík to Þingvellir is either closed or very slippery and challenging to drive. If you are traveling in winter, you should always check the weather and road conditions anyway.  You should also consider the time of year and season when planning a trip to Iceland as there is a considerable difference between seasons.  Here you can read about the best time or season to visit Iceland.

Þingvellir National Park is a place you can visit all year round

Þingvellir National Park is a place you can visit all year round but exceptionally beautiful in autumn colors

Why drive the Golden Circle?

All of the three attractions on the Golden Circle route are more than worthed to visit.  Þingvellir is one of a handful of places in Iceland where you can see the North Atlantic rift system that stretches from the south pole up through the Atlantic ocean through the island Iceland. When you are in the gorge Almannagjá, you are between the European and American tectonic plates and at the spot where they drift apart.  For those interested in history Þingvellir is also the most prominent place ins Iceland as it played an essential role in the judiciary and lawmaking process from the days of settlement throughout many centuries.  It is also the place where Icelanders decided to abolish heathenism and take up christianity in the year 1000.  Geysir is one of the best known hot springs in the world, and the English term geyser comes from the old hot spring Geysir, the big brother of Strokkur that still erupts today.  Gullfoss, of course, is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the planet and is one of the natural wonders that are equally interesting to visit in summer and winter as well as in autumn and spring. So even though there are considerable differences between seasons in Iceland, these three natural wonders are all accessible and exciting all year round, which is probably one of the reasons the route is so hot.

Strokkur geyser erupts every 10 to 15 minutes or so and reaches a hight of 25 to 35 meters

Strokkur geyser erupts every 10 to 15 minutes or so and reaches a hight of 25 to 35 meters

Is the Golden Circle a circle?

When you finish your drive at Gullfoss, you might wonder where you should go from there? What does it imply that it is a circle?  If you started around eight in the morning, you are probably done viewing the three natural wonders and finished with lunch around one at noon. One option is to drive the one and a half hour drive back to Reykjavík, but then it's not a “circle” but a trip back and forth. For the ride back through a different route, you have some options. Here we are going to recommend the most interesting one for you to get the most out of your day.   When you drive back from Gullfoss on Road 35 called Biskupstungnabraut, you take a left turn after 6 kilometers or approximately 4 miles on Road 30 called Skeiða- and Hrunamannavegur. After driving another 6 kilometers, you come to a bridge over the river Hvítá or White River. This is the same river that you saw falling in Gullfoss a few kilometers north.  By the bridge is an interesting stop calls Brúárhlöð. It is worthed to stop at the parking lot on the east side and admire the how the river has formed the canyon at this spot for hundreds of thousands of years. After Brúárhlöð we recommend that you continue on Road 30 to the small hamlet of Flúðir. This is a 20 kilometers or approximately 13 miles drive to the south of Brúárhlöð. At Flúðir you have an opportunity to visit the old pool, Gamla laugin, and dip into a geothermal pool. It is also a good place to stop for snacks,  refreshments, and restrooms. 

Gullfoss is one of the best known landmarks and attractions in Iceland

Gullfoss is one of the best known landmarks and attractions in Iceland

Drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfall

From Flúðir hamlet you continue south on Road 30 Skeiða- and Hrunamannavegur and drive 30 kilometers or 19 miles to Road 1 the Ring Road in Iceland. The drive is quite scenic, and if the day is bright, you will have a good view of both Hekla volcano and the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano on the east side of the road. When you reach the intersection at Road 1, you take a left turn to the east and drive the 54 kilometers or 34 miles to the intersection of Road 1 to Road 249 Þórsmerkurvegur.  Here you drive less than one kilometer to reach the parking lot for Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The waterfall is one of the most visited natural wonders and attractions in Iceland and for a reason.  It is not only a beautiful waterfall but also a waterfall that you can walk behind.  It is indeed a spectacular experience and a relatively easy walk.  In winter though you need to remember that the path behind the waterfall is quite slippery.  If you are not in a great hurry to go back to Reykjavík, another spectacular waterfall Gljúfrabúi is within walking distance of Seljalandsfoss.  It is a waterfall inside a gorge or a cave. 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectacular and wonderful place to visit

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectacular and wonderful place to visit

The drive back to Reykjavík

Heading back after an eventful day you take the Ring Road Nr. 1 to the west to Reykjavík. You are most likely in the afternoon, and most people are a bit tired after all the stops and viewing of natural wonders and attractions. You should not underestimate the energy it takes for an average person. The drive back to Reykjavík is 130 kilometers or 80 miles. Along the way, you drive through four small towns and villages, Hvolsvöllur, Hella, Selfoss, and Hveragerði on the Ring Road Nr. 1. All of the towns have restaurants and convenient stores so you can easily stop for snacks and restrooms along the way.   If you drive straight back to Reykavík you will have the opportunity to dine at some of the spectacular restaurants that you find in Reykavík city center and hit the sack for a convenient good night sleep at some of the many great hotels in the city. 

Reykjavik is one of the most interesting places in Iceland

Reykjavik is one of the most exciting places in Iceland - a place of departure and arrival for the Golden Circle tour

The whole drive as we recommend here is 370 kilometers or 230 miles. In comparison, the drive back and forth from Reykjavík to Gullfoss waterfall is 240 kilometers or 150 miles. The whole trip shouldn't take more than 9 to 10 hours even at a slow pace. There are plenty of places and opportunities along the way for restroom stops and food, and if the skies are reasonably clear, it is also a beautiful scenic drive. 

The Golden Circle drive is a great way to view and experience some of the most interesting natural wonders Iceland can offer and is also available and relatively easy to drive all year round.  It is a great option to spend a day when visiting Iceland and staying in Ryekjavík for a few days or a stopover.  In the summer there is also the option of visiting the highland and join us on our spectacular Hit Iceland Landmannalaugar highland and Golden Circle tour

Interested in waterfalls?
Here you can book a guided tour with Hit Iceland to Gullfoss, the Golden Circle and six other waterfalls.

Golden Circle and the seven waterfslls

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Gullfoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Map of Golden Circle drive in Iceland

Some of the most popular attractions in Iceland are sometimes described as overcrowded. This is true during the high season in summer and often during the peak hours on a busy day in other seasons.

Some of the most popular attractions in Iceland are sometimes described as overcrowded.

Iceland is packed with waterfalls. So if you are a waterfall fanatic or if you just love to visit magnificent waterfalls you should take a trip to Iceland. If you travel around the country on your own time in a rent a car or a camper, you will run into a waterfall sooner than later.

10 most impressive, interesting, most beautiful stunning and best waterfalls in Iceland

Visitors who have traveled to Iceland sometimes send us photos, articles from their tour and videos to share. This is much appreciated and wonderful since we love hearing from people who travel our country and are prepared to share their experience. Almost all of the messages that we get are very positive and even up to a point where it is almost unbelievable. Sometimes when we are on the road, we ask people visiting Iceland about their experience.

Sjoerd van der Verff traveled to Iceland last summer from June 11th to June 24th in 2016

Few places that are popular tourist attractions in Iceland are photographed more than Seljalandsfoss waterfall. There are many reasons as anyone can see by doing a image search on Google. To begin with it is without doubt a beautiful waterfall and an astonishing creation of nature. It is located by the Ring Road in Iceland and is easily accessible for anyone who has a car.

Best time to photograph Seljalandsfoss

 

This waterfall is sometimes described as a treasure in the Icelandic landscape and the flora of natural wonders. It's nearby sibling Seljalandsfoss waterfall, only in a short walking distance away, is one of Iceland's most renowned attractions. Gljúfrabúi is, on the other hand, gaining more and more attention and most of the visitors viewing Seljalandsfoss also take the time to look at Gljúfrabúi.  Although coming from the same cliff, there are some striking differences between the two waterfalls.

A beautiful name and stunning waterfall

There is something wonderful about the Icelandic name Gljúfrabúi. It means Gorge Dweller.  It conveys the feeling of a peaceful being living in this cave-like place with water falling from the 40-meter cliff. The name is not very old and is believed to originate in a poem by Iceland's most beloved poets Jónas Hallgrímsson who was also a natural scientist.  And this is the reality of the waterfall rimmed in a narrow gorge producing its drizzle and this cold damp like a cold sauna. You need to be prepared to enter this wet world of the Gorge Dweller.  The crack is narrow and the open cave is muggy. It is not an easy entrance but once inside you might think of a cathedral for creatures from another world. Although mostly dark inside and under the waterfall there is a lot of vegetation on the rocks because of the constant moist. In addition to the inside viewing you can also climb the narrow path on the outside and up to the cliff in front of the waterfall and view it from above.  Both places require extreme caution and good hiking shoes.

Access to get there is easy

This waterfall, like Seljalandsfoss, is conveniently located a short distance from the Ring Road, Road Nr. 1, in the southern region in Iceland.  It is only one and a half kilometer from the intersection of Road Nr. 1 and Road Nr. 249 Þórsmerkurvegur, the road leading to Þórsmörk in the Icelandic Highland.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Gljúfrabúi waterfall on the map of Iceland

The crack is narrow and the open cave is muggy.

One thing that Iceland doesn't lack is water.

Five “two for one waterfall” in Iceland

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Iceland and the second-best known waterfall in our country, next to Gullfoss. It is a beautiful waterfall, and it also has an amazing quality that people love. It is a place where you can experience something amazing and a place where your childhood dream can come through. At the same time, it is a beautiful, mystical, and exciting place. It is much more than a waterfall to stand in front of and look at, and for all those reasons, Seljalandsfoss is probably the most favorite and feel-good tourist destinations in Iceland.
 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a beautiful waterfall, and it also has an amazing quality that people love
 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a beautiful waterfall, and it also has an amazing quality that people love

 

The origin of Seljalandsfoss waterfall

 

There is an almost endless number of waterfalls in Iceland. High and low, broad and narrow, and all with different volumes of water. It has been estimated that we have more than 1600 waterfalls that are higher than 2 meters. But where do they originate? There are mainly three sources of water for the rivers and streams in Iceland that feed the waterfalls. The glacial rivers, direct runoff streams, and spring-fed rivers. Many tourists and even Icelanders assume that the river Seljalandsá that feeds the waterfall Seljalandsfoss is a glacial river that originates in the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. One reason might be because the glacier is so visible when you are looking at the waterfall from a distance on the main road: the Ring Road nr. 1 when coming from Reykjavík. The river Seljalandsá is, on the other hand, a spring-fed river. Originating under the lava about seven kilometers up on the moors above the waterfall called Hamragarðaheiði. If the river were glacial, the waterfall would lose at least half of its beauty as the glacial river water is packed with ash, rocks, mud, and dirt. As a spring-fed river, it delivers this clean and beautiful water. The only exception is in spring when the melting snow from Hamragarðaheiði fills the river with soil and dirt and partly becomes a direct runoff stream. In contrast, the river Hvítá that feeds Gullfoss is, to a large extent, a glacial river and is seldom very clean and clear.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall during the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010

Seljalandsfoss waterfall during the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010

 

The unique features of Seljalandsfoss

 

Seljalandsfoss is a striking and majestic 62-meter-high waterfall. It is also unique and probably on the list of 10 most photographed natural wonders in Iceland. And always on the list of 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Not only is the waterfall captivating, but you can also walk behind it on an easily accessible walking trail. When you walk the path, you are actually walking around the waterfall—a kind of three-dimensional experience. The experience and feeling is a kind of mysterious. Many tourists have told me that they dreamed about this experience in their childhood. It is part of some fairy tale or an adventure story, so most people find the walk to be fascinating, even though it is a bit wet. Thus, a light rain-resistant layer is required on the track, at least the part behind the waterfall. The trail is often slippery, a bit narrow, and also a bit steep. Once there, you will get a bit wet (not soaked) from the drizzle and ever so light breeze from the falls. During winter, the whole surrounding and the trail behind the waterfall is very slippery and requires crampons. Sometimes during winter, over some time, the track behind the waterfall is closed because of the danger from falling iceless. Though the trails are wet and a bit slippery venturing behind Seljalandsfoss is by no means dangerous. You have to be careful with your step, and hiking shoes are preferred.

Seljalandsfoss is a striking and majestic 62-meter-high waterfall. It is also unique and probably on the list of 10 most photographed natural wonders in Iceland

Seljalandsfoss is a striking and majestic 62-meter-high waterfall. It is also unique and probably on the list of 10 most photographed natural wonders in Iceland
 

 

Possibly the most photogenic waterfall on the planet and the best time to photograph

 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the whole surrounding area is a great place to take photos. From a distance, you see the river falling from the mountain cluster called Eyjafjöll (Island Mountains). Mountains and cliffs that define the waterfall. It is also interesting to visualize that at the end of Ice Age, about 10 thousand years ago, the waterfall fell straight from the cliffs to the ocean as our mighty volcanos had not yet formed the landform and soils below. As you approach, you can use distinctive features around the waterfall, like vegetation, the river, the slope on each side, and the track that leads around the waterfall to enhance your photo. It is also quite popular to take pictures from behind the waterfall. It is an extraordinary experience of being able to observe and capture the surroundings of nature's backstage. For those who are planning a photo tour visiting the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you should schedule your visit after 6 PM. This is crucial if you want the sun to shine on the area around Seljalandsfoss. You should also visit the waterfall in the timeframe between the middle of May until the beginning of September. Seljalandsfoss is excellent for photography, especially in the evening with the Midnight Sun shining from the West. 

For those who are planning a photo tour visiting the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you should schedule your visit after 6 PM
For those who are planning a photo tour visiting the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you should schedule your visit after 6 PM

 

 If you want to take a photo where the sun shines through the waterfall, you need to visit from 9 PM and 11 PM from June 15th and through July 115th. I know this sounds strange to many visitors, but remember that during summer, Iceland has sunlight for 24 hours.

The track behind Seljalandsfoss

The track behind Seljalandsfoss

 

How to go to Seljalandsfoss waterfall

 

Driving to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is rather simple. Most people start in Reykjavík and drive the 130 kilometers east on Road nr. 1 – the main road that circles around the island and is often referred to as the Ring Road. When you reach the intersection of Road 249, you are there. There is a parking lot, and you need to pay a parking fee. It is a good idea to park the car and walk from the parking lot to the service center. Although the service center is a bit primitive for an attraction of this magnitude, there are toilets and also a small shop and small coffee stand. Once you have parked the car, you can stay as long as you like. On a good day, you can walk the other neighboring waterfall, Gljúfrabúi. It is only around 10 minutes’ walk (650 meters) and enjoyable.

What happens behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Article and photos by Einar Páll Svavarsson tour and photo guide

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

It is quite popular to take photos behind the waterfall Seljalandsfoss