If you look at a map of the waterfalls of Iceland, you’ll notice they are like flowers in spring- waterfalls are everywhere you look! Honestly, we loved all the waterfalls – both the bigger, more well-known and named waterfalls, and the little waterfalls you would find streaming off cliffs and cascading down the mountainsides. There are somewhere around 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland – making it the country with the most waterfalls per square mile – crazy!
Of the many, many, MANY waterfalls of Iceland, we visited 12 different named ones. They all were unique and had something special to offer. Matthew described it as infinite variations on a theme – similar in many ways but all showcasing a distinct form and beauty.
Here’s the list in order of when we saw each waterfall of Iceland, traveling counter-clockwise around Iceland. (You’ll notice from this list that most names on this list end in “foss”. In Icelandic, “foss” means waterfall!)
You will also notice on our Iceland waterfalls map that some of the most famous waterfalls are clustered in the south of Iceland! While many of the popular, named waterfalls are concentrated there, you will see falls everywhere you go in Iceland; indeed, one of our favorite waterfall locations was tucked away in the eastfjords.
This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Interactive Iceland Waterfalls Map
As you consult the Iceland waterfalls map, you’ll see that Gullfoss (the Golden Falls) is quite close to Reykjavik and is part of the Golden Circle. The waterfall is really close to the parking lot; you just have a quick, 5 minute walk down a paved path to get to the viewpoints.
There is an upper and a lower viewing deck. Both offer nice views (and you can transfer between the two viewing decks via stairs), but if you want to get close to the falls, the lower deck is what gets you there. Restrooms and other facilities are found near the upper deck.
Gullfoss is very powerful, and has tons of mist – which you really feel on the lower viewing deck. When it’s sunny there will be a really nice rainbow over the falls, especially in the afternoon (unfortunately it was cloudy when we went).
The falls themselves were very wide and had a lot of different ledges along a first, smaller drop, culminating in a final large drop into a narrow ravine. The total height of Gullfoss is about 100 feet. We spent about 1 hour here just enjoying the view and solitude.
This waterfall is one of a string of waterfalls all within minutes of each other. What makes this waterfall really unique and fun is that it is “hidden” in a cave. Well, technically, you can see the top of the waterfall from the outside, but it disappears behind some cliffs. Which means the name is very appropriate as Gljufrabui means “one who lives in the canyon”.
To see the whole waterfall, you have to go into the cave. You wade through ankle to mid-calf deep water for about 10 yards to get into the cave, and then are back on land. The waterfall streams down around 125 feet into the cave — the whole thing is gorgeous and feels so surreal! In fact, Gljufrabui was one of my top two favorite waterfalls in all of Iceland!
Once you are in the cave it’s hard to avoid the mist, so plan to get wet or bring a raincoat! For another perspective there is a trail and staircase that takes you up about half the height of the falls. This is accessed from outside the cave. We didn’t do this ourselves, mostly because we didn’t know about it ahead of time.
If you are camping or campervanning, there is a campsite right at the waterfall that we were going to camp at. However, because of some changes in schedule, we didn’t end up camping here. MAN it looked nice though – it looked very well maintained with trees, large grassy fields, and a great view of the falls from the camp.
If you are just visiting the waterfall and not camping, there are no public bathrooms here. But if you check the Iceland waterfalls map, you’ll notice there are some just down the road at…
Seljalandsfoss (as far as I could tell this one is named after the river that makes it) is right down from Gljufrabrui and is a medium flow waterfall. It’s pretty tall – about 200 feet – but the really cool thing about Seljalandsfoss is you can go behind it! The path takes you all the way around the backside of the waterfall so you get a really great view. It is super pretty!
Honestly, when looking at descriptions and pictures of Seljalandsfoss before we left I thought it seemed a little overrated, but my expectations were highly exceeded!
This is another waterfall that you will not be able to avoid getting nicely misted! Note that there is a 700 krona parking fee here. There are public bathrooms as well.
These two waterfalls were also one of three times that Google Maps led us astray. It told us to take the red route, which it said you could then turn onto 249 with that little back track to get to the campground. But you can’t. There is a barrier blocking you. And you can’t take the purple route either, or at least you couldn’t when we went, as there was another barrier on the road around where the “x” is. So, what you actually have to do is the green route.
We made this handy dandy map to show you how to navigate these Iceland waterfalls:
Skógafoss (Forest Falls) is just another 20 minutes down the road from Gljufrabui and Seljalandsfoss. It is a very tall (200 ft), very strong waterfall, and might be the most famous waterfall of Iceland!
Because this waterfall has such a high flow, the mist here is extremely powerful -it really shoots out of the falls at you and creates its own, stiff wind. This is another great spot for rainbows on sunny days!
The parking lot is right at the waterfall, so you don’t have to walk far at all. The path takes you to the base of the falls, which is ostensibly the best viewing spot. If you want a workout and a different vantage point, there is also a tall staircase that takes you to the top. From the top, there is a path that continues inward to see additional falls, but we did not go beyond the top.
If you have a vehicle rated for water crossings (F roads) or are willing to walk a few minutes, and want to see a waterfall off the beaten path, consider going to see Skútafoss. We tried to go up close to see it, but the road got too wet and bumpy for us to continue in our van. We went as far as we could, parked the campervan facing the falls, and slept there overnight. In the morning we woke up to a view of the falls in the distance!
This was a fantastic spot for wild camping – it was a nice, secluded place out in nature with no one around and no one for us to bother. It would not have been that far of a hike to continue, we just decided to enjoy what we could see and continue on from there as we were pretty tired that morning. It looked really pretty from a distance, though.
A cool feature of Skútafoss is that, similar to Seljalandsfoss, there is a small cave at the base of the fall and you can go a bit behind the fall. It’s not crazy tall or big (probably about 20 to 30 feet tall), but it has a pretty pool and the scenery around is a beautiful mountain valley.
There is a smaller fall closer to the road with an old building next to it, but this is not the main fall – the main fall is farther in, about ¼ mile farther (½ from the road). Do note that there is very limited cell service in this area if you choose to camp here.
While working our way through the mountains up to Seyðisfjörður, we saw a gorgeous waterfall off in the distance. When we got closer, we saw there was a little stop-off point and we quickly swung up to take a closer look.
The river itself is called Fossá (“waterfall river”) – because it has around 30 different waterfalls in its path! The cascade we saw was gorgeous! The water was a similar milky blue as we saw at The Blue Lagoon. Matthew said it was one of his top favorite waterfalls! The road continues up a bit and there are more falls you can explore and a campsite if you want to spend more time here.
The whole drive from Djúpivogur to Seyðisfjörður was incredible – there were so many different, beautiful features to see out of our windows. It seemed like we were always stopping and taking pictures of some beautiful vista.
Coming down into the valley to Seyðisfjörður (the town with the Rainbow Road) was probably the most waterfall-laden place I have ever been. These waterfalls aren’t going to be highlighted on any Iceland waterfalls map, but the combined effect was stunning. There were literally waterfalls every few hundred feet streaming down the canyon walls. There were even more on the valley floor, as the main river flowing into the valley cascaded several times. Every way we turned our heads there was another waterfall peeking out from behind some rocks or around the bend. It was insane!
We stopped at one waterfall in the river – Gufufoss (Steam Waterfall) – that had a pull-off point and an area to go down and explore. It was about 40 feet tall and so fun. We saw a rainbow in the falls here, which made Matthew extremely happy (“I love rainbow waterfalls!”) If you’re heading to Seyðisfjörður , definitely pay attention to all the waterfalls around you – it was a top highlight!
As we were doing the 3 mile hike to the Stuðlagil canyon, we unexpectedly came upon a very large waterfall right along the trail. This one was Stuðlafoss, and it had the same basalt columns as the Stuðlagil canyon itself. Which all makes sense as these names mean “Basalt Column Waterfall” and “Basalt Column Ravine”. The effect of the waterfall in front of those columns was striking!
It was extra fun to see this waterfall because it resembles another waterfall of Iceland we had wanted to see earlier in our trip but ran out of time – Svartifoss. Svartifoss is another waterfall lined with basalt columns found near the glacier hike we did. It was really fun to be able to see a basalt waterfall and it was quite powerful.
On our Iceland waterfalls map above, this waterfall is just marked as part of “Stuðlagil canyon” because really the only way to see or access it is by hiking to the canyon!
Read more: Our Top 8 Bucket List Spots in Iceland
Dettifoss and Selfoss are two waterfalls along the same river, not even ½ mile from each other. The same trail will take you to both! You can view Dettifoss/Selfoss from either the east or west side. To access either side requires a completely different drive and parking lot; it takes an hour to drive between the two. So you most likely will just want to pick one.
We had planned to go to the east side because Dettifoss gets less mist on the east side and you can get a better close-up view of Selfoss from the east. (I do think the view of Dettifoss was better from the west side, though.) Unfortunately, the road to the east side was inexplicably closed! So the west side it was for us, haha.
The west side still ended up being really enjoyable, though. Selfoss is further upstream than Dettifoss, so we went there first.
I really liked how Selfoss curved around a ridge and had several little streams going over the edge.
I also liked that because the water levels of the river were not at their highest point, we could get closer to the falls than if water levels had been higher. The trail technically stops at a certain point, but we could see that because water levels were low, there was a lot of dry ground to walk on (and others had gone too) – so we actually went all the way behind the falls! This ended up being my favorite spot at these two falls!
While Selfoss is relatively gentle (about 30 feet tall), Dettifoss roared with power. It’s over 150 feet tall and is known as the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe! It was so loud and generated a huge amount of mist and wind! Dettifoss roughly means “Collapsing Waterfall” and the waterfall lives up to that image of a building implosion. It had a LOT of force behind it!
The waterfall has a pretty straight edge that goes at a slant to the shoreline. There are several viewpoints along the edge of the falls to enjoy. At the farthest point, facing the closest to the falls, you are directly in the mist coming off and it is INTENSE! For both of these falls, you view the waterfalls at the top of the waterfalls, and the cliffs leading down to the river are steep! It makes for a cool view, but definitely be careful.
Other things to note are:
- The east side has no facilities and a much smaller parking lot that can get filled up, whereas the west side has 24 hour bathrooms and a much larger parking lot.
- Speaking of which, we were really impressed with the bathrooms at Dettifoss – they were actually latrines, but were super, super nice, very clean, and had NO smell.
- With all that mist the waterfalls produce, if it’s sunny you can get a great rainbow. Visit the east side in the morning and west in the afternoon for the best rainbow effect.
In north-central Iceland you’ll find a relatively short waterfall that was nonetheless delightful. While Goðafoss (waterfall of the idols) was only 40 feet tall. This was probably, along with Gljufrabui, my other top favorite waterfall of Iceland of the named waterfalls on our waterfalls in Iceland map. Just goes to show, it isn’t the size, but how you use it 😉.
The falls were a graceful horseshoe cascading into a deep pool that made for a mesmerizing, churning roil. I loved it! If you are in the north of Iceland, definitely don’t miss Goðafoss.
12. Reykjafoss (Fosslaug waterfall)
Reykjafoss (Smokey Falls), was the last Icelandic waterfalls we visited, and we technically didn’t even come for it – we came for the hot pot right next to it! “Foss” means waterfall, and “laug” means hot pot – literally a hot pot at the falls. And that’s what it was! It was definitely a unique experience relaxing in the 106 degree water just feet from the 40 degree river as it tumbled down a 60 foot, multi-step cascade.
This was another time that Google maps led us astray. When we searched for directions to Fosslaug, it took us to the west side of the river, but the pool is on the east side. You get closer by searching for Reykjafoss parking, but that also isn’t quite right. Instead, you go even farther than that location and park right by a horse pasture, then walk for about 10 minutes. Here’s another handy map of this Iceland waterfall to show where to park:
Two Waterfalls of Iceland We Wanted to See, But Ran Out of Time
Bruarfoss (waterfall bridge) is located not far from Gullfoss (the first waterfall on this list, close to Reykjavik). The directions we got in Google maps made it seem like you could get to it by going through the little town that is right next to it. You cannot access it that way, though. The roads into community are gated so only residents can drive in. This was the final time Google led us astray.
Instead, you have to go southwest of town to a parking lot by the river and you then hike 1.5 miles to reach the main falls. There are two smaller falls along the way to sweeten the deal. Still, we did not have the time that morning to fit that long of a hike in when we had thought we could park right by the falls, so we passed on it. The pictures look really cool though – the water is supposed to be a really beautiful milky blue and if we had known what to expect for the time requirement in advance, we would have made an effort to fit it into our schedule.
Tip: If Google maps leads you astray, we found that switching our maps to satellite view and looking at the area that way helped us find where we needed to actually be going. It took an extra minute or two to figure it out, but we were able to figure out where to navigate by doing that.
Oh, Svartifoss. I wanted so badly to see you. The trailhead to Svartifoss is located in the Skaftafell National Park entrance (where we did our amazing glacier hike). Unlike many of the waterfalls of Iceland, this one actually required at least an hour to hike to and from it, and we just ran out of time before our scheduled glacier hike (and after the hike we were too worn out).
The pictures look amazing – the 60 foot falls tumble between these dark, stark basalt columns providing a dramatic contrast. Hence the name, the black falls. If you are able to schedule it in, this is definitely one to hit.
Essential Gear for Visiting Waterfalls
A Good Rain Jacket With a Hood
You really need a good rain jacket for Iceland and especially when visiting waterfalls – most of them have a pretty good mist and the rain jacket does a lot to keep you dry. I liked this yellow one because the color really pops in the pictures!
All the pictures of Matthew and I together were taken with our phone and a tripod. I love having pictures of the two of us but also don’t like asking people to take our pics all the time (plus, since we were there during the night, there was no one else around!). This tripod collapses small enough to fit in our backpack. It also comes with a Bluetooth remote that syncs with your phone so you don’t have to use the self-timer!
The waterfalls of Iceland are incredible and ubiquitous! Make sure to consult our Iceland waterfalls map and have a good time chasing waterfalls!
- Our Iceland Budget: How We Did An Affordable Trip
- What It’s Like Seeing the New Iceland Volcano
- Our Top 8 Bucket List Spots to See in Iceland
- The Ultimate Guide to Traveling by Campervan in Iceland
- The Best Hot Pots Along the Ring Road
- A Detailed Iceland 7 Day Itinerary on the Ring Road