10 beautiful (and less visited) Icelandic waterfalls
Foreign guests visiting Iceland will likely stop to admire the renowned Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss during their stay. While all three waterfalls are incredibly beautiful, Iceland has an abundance of lesser known waterfalls that are just as stunning, but far less crowded. So, ignore TLC’s advice and DO go chasing waterfalls, rather than sticking to the rivers and the streams that you’re used to, because what you’ll find is bound to overwhelm you with its raw power and serene beauty.
Location: Vesturbyggð, Westfjords
Dynjandi is the remote Westfjords’ most famous waterfall. It has a cumulative height of 100 metres (330 ft) and its width spreads to over 60 metres (197 ft) at its bottom. Bellow the massive main waterfall is a series of five smaller rapids. The waterfall’s name, Dynjandi means ‘thundering’, and you’ll understand why it got that name when you pay it a visit.
Just like Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland, visitors are able to walk behind Dynjandi’s cascade and really take in its beauty from all angels.
Location: Bárðardalur, Northeast Iceland
Goðafoss, meaning ‘the waterfall of the god’, is located near the Sprengisandur highland road. It flows from the river Skjálfandafljót and falls from a height of 12 metres (39 ft).
The horse-shoe shaped waterfall played an important role in Iceland’s religious history: The pagan lawspeaker Þorgeir Þorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði had the undesirable task of determining whether Icelanders become Christians or continue to practise paganism. After mulling over the matter under a fur blanket for 24 hours, Þorgeir decided in favour of Christianity, under the promise pagans could still practise their religion in private. Þorgeir then proceeded to toss his icons of Norse gods into the Goðafoss.
Location: Borgarfjörður, West Iceland
Although not very high, Hraunfossar is a very impressive 900 metre (2952 ft) long strand of cascades that pour into the magnificent Hvítá river.
The waterfalls were formed by rivulets streaming out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field and are a popular subject for avid nature photographers.
Location: Hvalfjörður, West Iceland
With a cascade of 198 metres (650 ft), Glymur is Iceland’s second highest waterfall. Located at the bottom of the scenic Hvalfjörður fjord, the waterfall is not easily accessible, requiring visitors to hike around 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) before reaching what’s considered the best viewing spot. But we assure you, it is worth it the rigorous hike.
Location: Þjórsárdalur, South Iceland
Hálparfoss is one of many waterfalls located in the lava fields north of Hekla volcano. The beautiful waterfall derives its name from a nearby area called ‘Hjálp’, meaning ‘help’, which is where wearied travellers found rest and water for themselves and their horses after having journeyed across the country along the Sprengisandur highland road.
Location: Fljótsdalshreppur, East Iceland
This impressive waterfall has a drop of 128 metres (420 ft), making it Iceland’s third highest waterfall. It’s surrounded by basaltic strata, with red-coloured clay visible between the basaltic layers, adding to its appeal. It takes around 45 minutes to hike up to the waterfall, an enjoyable route that will bring you past numerous other smaller rapids.
Location: Northeast Iceland
Selfoss is a waterfall on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the northeast of Iceland. The river drops over a number of waterfalls, one being Dettifoss, Europe‘s most powerful waterfall, before flowing into Öxarfjörður fjord.
Selfoss has a drop of 11 metres (36 ft) and is incredibly wide.
Location: Strandir region, Westfjords
Djúpavíkurfoss is a lovely waterfall located in Djúpavík, a gorgeous town that used to bustle with life but now only has a handful of residents. The waterfall plunges off a nearby mountain cliff and flows towards Djúpavík’s old, abandoned herring factory.
It’s sometimes dubbed ‘Eiðrofi’, or ‘Oath-breaker’. As legend has it, a young girl threw herself into the waterfall after finding out about her beloved’s betrayal.
Location: Vatnajökull National Park, Southeast Iceland
Svartifoss, or Black Falls, is not one of Iceland’s highest or widest waterfalls, but what sets it apart from other waterfalls are the black hexagonal basalt columns surrounding it. These dark lava columns are also what gave the waterfall its name. It takes around 40 minutes to hike up to Svartifoss, a partially steep but effortless trek.
Location: North Iceland
Aldeyjarfoss is one of many waterfalls on the river Skjálfandafljót (which flows from the northern side of Vatnajökull glacier) and went mostly unnoticed until the energy company Landsvirkjun unveiled its plans to build a dam on Skjálfandafljót. Following national attention and campaigning by both locals and environmental activists it has become a more popular tourist destination.
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