Iceland, an isolated island in the North Atlantic, a place sometimes referred to as “the land of fire and ice”, is one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful countries. From volcanoes and lava fields to glaciers and rivers, this is where you’ll find a unique mix of landscapes. What the island is most famous for, however, is the beautiful Iceland waterfalls that you’ll find all over the country.
Many of them lie on, or a short detour off, the iconic Iceland Ring Road. This epic road loops its way around the island, passing by most of Iceland’s major attractions. There’s plenty of information on this phenomenal drive to be found on the internet. In this post, we’ll focus simply on the beautiful Iceland waterfalls you’ll see on the way. Join us for a magnificent adventure in one of the world’s most rugged countries.
Top 10 Most Beautiful Iceland Waterfalls
Located in western Iceland, on the minor road 518, the Hraunfossar waterfalls are unique in the sense that they’re not a part of a river. Instead, they’re formed by spring water flowing out of a lava field. The waterfall’s name literally means “lava falls”.
The Bruarfoss is one of those less-known Iceland waterfalls. It lies just off Route 37 on the Golden Circle, the popular day-long road trip from Reykjavik. A series of wonderful small cascades, this waterfall is in the Bruara River. Less overwhelming than other waterfalls in this list, Bruarfoss’ beauty lies in its setting and sheer number of small cascades plunging into a gap in the landscape.
In Vatnajökull National Park in the northeast of the island, you can see Dettifoss, said to be Europe’s most powerful waterfall. The water originated from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier and has a milky color due to a high density of sediments. Situated on Route 864, this waterfall is accessed after a half hour’s walk from the parking lot.
Also in Vatnajökull National Park, you’ll find Selfoss. Although this waterfall is not impressively tall by any means—it’s about 11 meters high—, it’s the shape and the surrounding landscape that makes it so attractive. Shaped like a horseshoe and set in a typically Icelandic landscape of lava rocks and moss, this waterfall is incredibly picturesque.
Svartifoss lies just off Route 1—aka the Ring Road—in the southeast of Iceland. Its name meaning “black waterfall”, Svartifoss is truly one of the most exceptional Iceland waterfalls. Pouring over a ledge of hexagonal basalt columns, it was the inspiration for the design of Reykjavik’s imposing Hallgrimskirkja church.
Located in the far north of the island, just off Route 1, Godafoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. Its name, “waterfall of the gods”, comes from a saga in which an Icelandic leader solved a religious disagreement by throwing idols of ancient Nordic gods into the waterfall.
Skogafoss is one of the top attractions in southern Iceland. It lies on the Ring Road and is one of the greatest Iceland waterfalls. Tumbling down 60 meters from a cliff, this imposing fall is well-known for its single or even double rainbows on sunny days.
Kirkjufellsfoss lies a bit out of the way on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, but is definitely worth the detour. This is not a large waterfall, though. It’s rather small, yet superbly picturesque because of its location next to the ocean and a distinct coastal mountain. This is without question one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the country.
Most people agree that Gullfoss, “golden waterfall”, is one of the most beautiful Iceland waterfalls. It lies on, and is one of the main attractions of, the Golden Circle tour. This mighty fall thunders into a deep canyon and is visible from a few different vantage points. Don’t miss this one. It’s super accessible and absolutely spectacular.
A massively popular waterfall, Seljalandsfoss lies not too far from Skogafoss and is probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland. This narrow and high waterfall is so wonderful because you can actually walk behind it, which always results in amazing photos, especially around sunrise and sunset.