Article and photos by Einar Páll Svavarsson, local photo and private guide
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. Most of the most beautiful waterfalls are easy to visit as they are in proximity to the Ring Road or other easily accessible roads in the countryside. And most of the waterfalls are a joy to visit and more than one have appeared on lists of top ten most beautiful waterfalls on the planet on international travel lists or lists of natural wonders.
So how do we pick ten from hundreds of waterfalls and claim that they are more impressive, more beautiful, and more interesting than others. Especially if we could undoubtedly name 20 to 30 more waterfalls, in addition to the ten, that are easily accessible and enjoyable to visit. There are a number of things that are important when evaluating a waterfall. The volume of water, the height of the waterfall, the width and overall form, the geological base, the surrounding area, the landscape, is the water source a spring fed river or glacial, is it photogenic and does it have an interesting history?
With all those premises in mind, we reduced our list to 40 waterfalls and traveled to all of them and evaluated them based on the above criteria. All with the aim to introduce and photograph the most attractive waterfalls in this beautiful country. A country that is packed with waterfalls.
1 - Gullfoss
The waterfall Gullfoss has it all. It is a beautiful waterfall with a high volume of water fed by the mighty glacial river Hvítá. It has a height of approximately 35 meters and falls on two separate steps into a deep canyon. The overall landscape and surrounding are stunning, and it is so perfect for photographing that it is almost difficult to take a bad shot at Gullfoss.
For more information about Gullfoss and location on the map of Iceland click Gullfoss
2 - Dynjandi
If there is a serious competitor for Gullfoss when defining the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland, it is Dynjandi, sometimes referred to as Fjallfoss. In addition to being a stunning natural wonder, it is a joy to visit. It is also a very friendly waterfall, and contrary to Gullfoss has a low volume of water from a spring fed river but spreads over a cliff in the fall. The short phat leading up to the waterfall also has seven waterfalls for your enjoyment. Unlike most of the popular waterfalls in Iceland Dynjandi is not easily accessible as the waterfall is located in the Westfjords. It is placed in Arnarfjörður fjord which is difficult to visit during winter and we only recommend a visit to Dynjandi in the months from June through September.
For more information about Dynjandi and location on the map of Iceland click Dynjandi
3 - Skógafoss
The main reasons for the huge admiration of Skógafoss is its rectangular shape, the constant volume of water and the stunning landscape surrounding the fall. It is almost the definition of the perfect tourist attraction waterfall. The water in the river Skógá is a combination of glacial river and spring fed river which makes the water cleaner than waterfalls that are mainly from glacial rivers. Skógafoss is also easily accessible from the Ring Road in Iceland.
For more information about Skógafoss and location on the map of Iceland click Skógafoss
4 - Dettifoss
Sometimes referred to as the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss is in a very powerful glacial river Jökulsá. Viewing such a massive force is an experience in addition of being in a spectacular surrounding in the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Dettifoss is also quite photogenic and you can view the fall from both sides of the river. Whichever side you choose caution is always needed as conditions can change with weather, especially in winter.
For more information about Dettifos and location on the map of Iceland click Dettifoss
5 - Háifoss
Located at the edge of the Icelandic Highland near Þjórsárdalur in the Southern Region, Háifoss waterfall is the second highest waterfall in Iceland. Although placed in a somewhat narrow and steep canyon it is visible from above and is easy to enjoy and photograph from top to bottom, contrary to Glymur the highest waterfall in Iceland. Access is not complicated, but not simple either. You need a good 4X4 vehicle as the road leading to the parking lot above Háifoss is a simple dirt road seldom maintained.
For more information about Háifoss and location on the map of Iceland click Háifoss
6 - Seljalandsfoss
There are many reasons why Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It is an exceptionally photogenic, both from the front and the back or behind. The overall landscape around the waterfall is beautiful at the root of the mountains Eyjafjöll and the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. It is a very friendly waterfall that you can enjoy for hours and is never intimidating as the fall is has a consistent flow of water. Seljalandsfoss is also easily accessible all year round from the Ring Road Nr. 1.
For more information about Seljalandsfoss and location on the map of Iceland click Seljalandsfoss
7 - Goðafoss
One of the best-known landmarks in a fascinating part of Iceland, the Northeast region, is the waterfall Goðafoss. The fall is almost on the Ring Road Nr. 1 at a place that is also a perfect stop. It is fed by a large river with a massive volume of water and is also a stunning from any point of view. It is much like Seljalandsfoss one of the most photogenic natural wonders in Iceland. It is also easy to walk to the east and the west side of the waterfall and spend an hour or two to view and explore this remarkable construction of mother nature.
For more information about Dynjandi and location click Goðafoss
For more information about Goðafoss and location on the map of Iceland click Goðafoss
8 - Svartifoss
One of the natural wonders that have proved to be extremely popular in Iceland among visitors is the geological formation basalt columns. In most cases, the basalt column structure is like a work of art by mother nature, just stunning. So when you have a river falling down an extraordinary basalt column cliff, you must have something unique. This is the reason why Svartifoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Although it requires a walk for an hour and a half from the magnificent Skaftafell it is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland.
For more information about Svartifoss and location on the map of Iceland click Svartifoss.
9 - Hjálparfoss
Hjálparfoss is simply a beautiful waterfall from any angle. Highly photogenic and a joy to visit. It is surrounded by an excellent combination of stunning geology and vegetation with a magnificent overall background. It is easily accessible although a bit out of the main roads and popular road trips.
For more information about Hjálparfoss and location on the map of Iceland click Hjálparfoss
10 - Klifbrekkufossar
Like many of our magnificent waterfalls in the Highland, it is very difficult if not impossible to visit Klifbrekkufossar during winter. The waterfall is actually a series of small waterfalls located at the bottom of a narrow fjord in the East Region in Iceland, Mjóifjörður fjord. To get there you need to drive over a mountain pass with a magnificent view. The road is usually closed for months during winter. But once you get in front of the waterfalls it is almost mesmerizing.
For more information about Klifbrekkufossar and location on the map of Iceland click Klifbrekkufossar