If you’re driving in Iceland, it seems like everywhere you look, there’s a waterfall! There are thousands and thousands of waterfalls all over the country, from towering cascades to dribbles over lava rocks. This guide has 11 of the best waterfalls in Iceland – places that should be on your Iceland itinerary!
Some of the waterfalls are easy to reach falls to places that require a bit of hiking – so this post will include the best waterfalls in Iceland, along with some tips for what to bring, and more!
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About These Best Waterfalls in Iceland
In Icelandic, the word “foss” means waterfall – so if you’re driving around and see something that ends with foss on the map, you’re near a waterfall! There are tons of gorgeous roadside waterfalls, so I definitely recommend looking around while you’re driving.
This guide has 11 of the best waterfalls in Iceland – and I tried to balance popular spots with lesser known places! The popular spots are definitely worth checking out, but you’re likely to see crowds – while the secret waterfalls are places where you’ll find a lot more privacy.
Leave No Trace at The Waterfalls in Iceland
Anytime you’re outdoors, whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced adventurer, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair.
While I firmly believe everyone deserves to enjoy these amazing spots, do your part to make sure the waterfalls in Iceland stay clean and beautiful! Iceland is a popular tourist destination, so overcrowding really takes a toll on nature, especially when people don’t follow LNT. People not respecting the land has led to a lot of places and waterfalls in Iceland being closed – so to make sure we can keep enjoying them, follow these principles!
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature, as much as it’s possible to do so. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you visit the waterfalls in Iceland!
- Plan ahead and prepare – before you visit any of the waterfalls in Iceland, make sure you know what to expect. If there’s a hike, make sure you’re ready for it.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – when you’re at any of the waterfalls, make sure to stay on established trails. Avoid stepping on grass and plant life!
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. Most of the waterfalls in Iceland don’t have trash cans, so pack out anything you bring in.
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock or leaf, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the area won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – campfires are not allowed at most of the waterfalls in Iceland.
- Respect wildlife – never approach wildlife, and never feed the animals! There isn’t much wildlife in Iceland, but there are a lot of sheep – they’re really cute, but give them plenty of space. Don’t stress them out!
- Be considerate of other visitors – you’ll often be sharing the waterfalls with other travelers. Be respectful, and yield to uphill hikers on the trail.
What to Bring to These Waterfalls in Iceland
When you visit some of the best waterfalls in Iceland, here’s what you’ll need!
Some of the best waterfalls in Iceland require a hike to get to – and even if it’s just a short walk, the frequent rain often means mud, so good traction is a must!
My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof! I also love hiking in my Luna Barefoot sandals, and I wore them to pretty much all of these waterfalls in Iceland.
Rain boots are another great option for muddy or wet conditions, and are definitely the easiest to clean.
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Iceland is known for wild weather, so layers are always a good idea! But when you get close to a waterfall, you’re going to get wet – so it’s best to have a waterproof jacket on.
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option. For the cold, I love my Columbia puffy jacket – it’s lightweight and water resistant, but keeps me warm. It’s also water resistant! For added warmth and layering, a Patagonia fleece is always a good addition.
Rain pants are, of course, helpful for rain, but they will also help you stay dry when you’re up close to a waterfall!
The Marmot Precip Full-Zip Pants are light and packable, but if you plan to spend time in the snow too, the Stoic Insulated Snow Pants will be perfect for both rain and snow. You can also get some bib pants for more coverage – the Helly Hansen Pier Bib Pants are waterproof and wind proof!
If you’re hiking to a waterfall, you’ll need a bag to carry your stuff, but even if there’s no hike, there might still be a few things you want to bring with you.
When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite. If you aren’t bringing very much and just want a day bag, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack for carrying everyday essentials!
Anytime you’re exploring outdoors, especially if there’s a hike, it’s important to stay hydrated. Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
The Best Waterfalls in Iceland
Here are some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland – these make a great addition to any trip!
Gullfoss is a stop in Southern Iceland, not far from Reykjavik, and it’s a really incredible waterfall. It plunges dramatically into a canyon, and though it’s definitely a popular place, you’ve got to see it! There’s no hike required, but it is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the upper viewpoint.
To see Gullfoss, you can drive, or you can take a tour from Reykjavik instead.
Haífoss translates to “High Waterfall,” and it was once thought that this was the tallest waterfall in the country – until three bigger waterfalls were discovered, making this one fourth! Still, this waterfall, surrounded by a gorgeous canyon, is an incredible sight, and it’s on the way to the next destination, so make a pit stop. You can see it from above without walking far from the parking lot, but if you want to go down to the base of it, there’s a hike you can take.
Seljalandsfoss is an incredible waterfall in Iceland, and you can even walk behind it! You’ll definitely get wet, so make sure to pack some rain gear. This is a popular stop along the Ring Road, but not far from here, you’ll find a secret waterfall….
This is the secret waterfall not far from Seljalandsfoss! Once you’ve seen that one, I recommend taking the 10 minute walk down the path to the lesser known Gljufrabui! Getting up close requires wading through the canyon, but you can see it through the canyon walls.
Skógafoss (+ Secret Waterfalls Nearby!)
Skógafoss is one of the most well known waterfalls, and for good reason – it’s incredibly powerful, and you can walk up to the base of it. There is also a set of stair that will take you to the top for a different view, and though it’s a lot of stairs, I really recommend doing this! Once you’re up there, you can keep going on the path to see some more secret waterfalls – with much fewer people around.
Kvernufoss is just a few minutes away from Skógafoss, but it’s much less popular, so you’ll have a lot more privacy. This is (in my humble opinion), one of the best waterfalls in Iceland, and you can even walk behind it! The hike is short and pretty easy, so it’s a great stop after you’ve seen Skógafoss.
This waterfall is located at the end of the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike – and the trail makes it one of the best waterfalls in Iceland! You’ll walk along a path with several overlooks over the canyon, and it ends with a waterfall that cascades down into the canyon.
Hangandifoss (Múlagljúfur Canyon)
Hangandifoss is a really beautiful waterfall – a narrow but powerful stream falls into the canyon, with views of a glacier. You can see this waterfall along the way on the Múlagljúfur Canyon trail, and I definitely recommend that you keep going for an amazing view of the canyon!
This waterfall in Iceland is unique – there’s a cave behind it that you can walk into! A short trail will lead you to a view of the waterfall, and if you descend down to the base of it, you can go behind the falls and into a rocky cave.
Goðafoss is located right off the Ring Road, and it’s one of the best waterfalls in Iceland if you want great views without having to hike or go too far off the beaten path! There’s a nice walking trail around the waterfall, and you can see it from above before climbing down to the base.
This is an iconic spot for photos, but on the day I was here, you couldn’t see the mountain at all! Still, the waterfall is beautiful, and on days where you can see the mountain, it’s a unique cone shape that looks amazing in the backdrop. If you’re visiting the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, this is definitely a waterfall that you should check out!
Best Waterfalls in Iceland Map
Here’s a map of all the best waterfalls in Iceland that I mentioned in this post! The hiker icons represent waterfalls that require a hike to get to, while the rest are places that are easily accessible and at most a short walk away from the parking area.
More Adventures Near the Best Waterfalls in Iceland
- Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Iceland
- Guide to Camping in Iceland
- Iceland Road Trip Itineraries
If you’ve been to any of these best hot springs in Iceland and have any tips, or if you’re planning a trip and have any questions, leave them in a comment below!
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