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ICELAND: LAND OF FIRE AND ICE AND ALL THE WATERFALLS

Mary Kujawski
iceland waterfalls

The singing trio TLC warned me, but I didn’t listen.

I didn’t heed their advice even a little.

Nope.

No sir.

I went ahead and chased all the waterfalls in Iceland.

Every single last one that I could pack into my 7-day itinerary, that is!

You see, it’s indisputable: Iceland’s waterfalls are one of the most phenomenal features in its incredible landscape!

And they are countless in Iceland, around every bend as you drive and along all the paths as you hike.

Yes, they are truly everywhere…endless stunning waterfalls you simply can’t escape.

Sounds just terrible, right?!

As such, I have come across heaps of literature in my online research about Iceland’s waterfalls, many of the articles containing “Top 10” style lists.

You know the ones: lists that count down waterfalls from #10 until the one the author deems #1, “the best”, is revealed?

But that ain’t my style.

No way, no how.

You can’t rate waterfalls!

That’s blasphemy!

No, here’s the truth as I see it:

Every single waterfall I experienced in Iceland was a gift, each one a treasure that has left its own unique impression and indelible footprint on my heart.

So you can forget about ranking. You won’t find that here.

Instead, you’ll find a celebration of just a handful of the beauties I encountered in my travels.

Because Iceland’s waterfalls?

They are, in a word, magnificent.

SWEET. SECLUDED. SPIRITUAL:

Rauðamelsölkelda mineral spring/ Snæfellsnes Peninsula

iceland waterfalls
This was such a peaceful respite, we could have stayed there all day!

Okay, so there are bigger, flashier waterfalls in Iceland to be sure.

But this, right here, is a gem.

To get to Rauðamelsölkelda one has to make an additional short drive past the lot where people park to climb about the Gerðuberg cliffs.

We weren’t sure at first that we were going in the correct direction as we made our way towards the spring, as we didn’t see a single other person or car along the way.

“I hope this is right!”, my husband and I kept saying to ourselves nervously.

Turns out?

We were right.

Oh-so-right.

When we finally hiked our way towards and arrived at Rauðamelsölkelda, we had this little oasis all to ourselves, making this stop feel like a special secret only we were in on…brave explorers making a most excellent discovery!

(Okay, so I let my imagination get away from me a bit.)

This spring is quaint…peaceful…and ALL charm.

Definitely one of my favorite stops in all of Iceland!

THE-HOLY-CRAP-STOP-THE-CAR-STAT! WATERFALL:

Bjarnarfoss/Snæfellsnes Peninsula

iceland waterfalls
Hiking up to this waterfall is an adventure. Take your time: it’s steep!

No really.

We pumped the brakes hard when we came around a bend in the road on Snaefellsnes Peninsula and saw this.

Beep, beep…back her on UP.

We gotta get closer to that!

Even though Bjarnarfoss wasn’t initially part of our packed itinerary for the day, we knew this thing had to be climbed!

And we were just the climbers for the climb!

Obviously.

Pictures don’t do it justice for just how mammoth Bjarnarfoss is, a waterfall perched atop a craggy, steep cliffside. This is the kind of staggering beauty one just simply comes across willy-nilly driving through Iceland’s rugged and haunting landscape, as if it ain’t no thang.

But it is for sure a thang.

(You just can’t help how cool and ruggedly handsome you are, can you, Iceland?)

Yes, Bjarnarfoss belongs in your itinerary.

This one is calling your name.

Disclaimer: Please do not actually brake hard on the road when this waterfall comes into view! You will be tempted, but be safe and turn around where you can if you accidentally pass it.

It will still be waiting for you.

I promise.

WATERFALL WITH A WOWZERS BACKDROP:

Kirkjufellsfoss/Snæfellsnes Peninsula

iceland waterfalls
This is the stuff of dreams! And, Incidentally, an HBO television series.

This is one of the most photographed spots in all of Iceland, and for good reason! With a set of mini waterfalls in the foreground and iconic Kirkjufell mountain in the distance, it just perfectly encapsulates the rugged beauty of Iceland in a singular, gorgeous frame.

It doesn’t get more idyllic than this, folks!

And fun fact: Kirkjufell was even a filming location for Game of Thrones.

You know that when Hollywood catches on, you’ve probably got something pretty darn impressive on your hands.

So go on.

Visit it.

Ye shall be very impressed indeed.

THE UNEXPECTED AND UNUSUAL:

Hraunfossar/West Iceland

iceland waterfalls
The overlook is situated along a nice walking path that includes a few bridges that cross the rapid, churning water.

When I think of waterfalls, I think of the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss variety . The kind that cascade down from great heights and make a showstopping impression.

But Hraunfossar doesn’t play by those rules.

No ma’am.

Hraunfossar, which translates to Lava Falls, is a wide span of waterfalls that spring forth into the Hvítá river. The result is quite different from anything else we saw in Iceland.

It’s as if the rock wall itself has sprung leaks, the effect like a dam about to burst.

It is an impressive sight, indeed!

And the water? The pure white flows make their way into the gorgeous, turquoise river below, making this a vibrant vision amongst the stark and vast Hallmundarhraun lava field.

So different.

So delightful.

A series of waterfalls beating to its own drum.

IMPRESSIVE AND ICONIC:

Gullfoss/Golden Circle

iceland waterfalls
Stunning, stunning, stunning.

My oh my was I pumped to see this one for myself as we made our way along the Golden Circle. How to even begin to express how enormous in size and staggeringly powerful this series of cascading waterfalls are?

In summary, it is simply EPIC.

Yes, this one leaves an impression.

As you walk the path heading towards the falls and look ahead, you’ll see tiny moving shapes making their way along.

You’ll realize that those tiny moving shapes?

Those are people.

So.

If you want to feel tiny and insignificant and in awe of our beautiful planet?

You’ve come to the right place.

SHEER BEAUTY:

Seljalandsfoss/South Coast

iceland waterfalls
You are simply enchanting, Seljalandsfoss!

Seljalandsfoss is a South Iceland must.

Why, you ask?

By golly, just look at her!

There’s just something so welcoming and soft about this waterfall despite its immense size. It has this air of quiet confidence and feminine allure.

Seljalandsfoss knows she’s gorgeous, but she’s not stuck up or stingy.

Oh no.

She beckons you and will even let you walk behind her falls, which is one of her more unique and unforgettable features.

You see, she’s just lovely and kind like that.

So, if you’re in the mood for a quintessentially beautiful waterfall?

The epitome of stunning?

Seljalandsfoss is your lady.

MAGICAL AND MESMERIZING:

Gljufrabui/South Coast

iceland waterfalls
Is this real life?

This one has a special place in my heart, friends.

Just a short walk down the way from Seljalandsfoss, this waterfall is not to be missed!

Do you hear me?

I’ve had friends who went all the way to Iceland, saw Seljalandsfoss, and then?

Then they left.

They didn’t know there was another incredible waterfall just steps away!

The horror!

And it can be easily missed, because one has to traverse part of a stream and make way through a rocky opening in order to get a view of this hidden gem.

But boy, once you do, you will be seeing stars, for finding yourself at the feet of the Gljufrabui is a gift you won’t soon forget.

It’s just waiting to envelope you in its magic!

GEOMETRIC GROOVINESS:

Svartifoss/Vatnajökull National Park

iceland waterfalls
A feast for the eyes!

This waterfall right here is a twofer!

It takes about an hour to hike to Svartifoss within Skaftafell, so not only do you get to enjoy a scenic and satisfying trek but you’ll meet this gorgeous and geologically interesting waterfall as your reward!

It’s quaint and quirky!

And I love how it’s doing its own thing.

A bit of a rebel, this one.

And those black basalt formations are just the coolest, no?

Some incredible photo ops await you here. And a heart-thumpin’ hike to boot!

MIGHTY AND MAGNIFICENT:

Skógafoss/South Coast

iceland waterfalls
Note the human-to-waterfall size differential. Incredible!

There’s no getting around it.

Skógafoss will take your breath away.

Also?

The spray from its falls will saturate you.

But don’t sweat it, because more than anything?

More than anything you will feel humbled by its powerful presence.

Yes, this is classic Iceland.

Through and through.

You can hike to the top of Skógafoss, which provides a completely different viewpoint and a spectacular overlook. There are even more waterfalls awaiting your exploration if you follow the provided path.

It’s a bit of a climb, but oh-so-worth-it.

Yes, you can’t come to Iceland and not see this one.

When people think of Iceland, they think of grandeur like this.

PURE ROYALTY:

Foss á Síðu/South Coast

iceland waterfalls
A quiet and queen-like confidence.

Regal and refined.

That’s Foss á Síðu for you.

You’ll find this solitary elegant beauty just hanging out all nonchalantly in the backyard of a private farm, simply minding her own business.

But she certainly attracts admirers, and I think you can see why!

She just commands a bow of respect, don’t you think?

The homeowners have been kind enough to allow visitors to their property line in order to view this stunner.

Respect their land and follow their signage and you’ll be in for a treat!

THERE’S MORE WHERE THESE CAME FROM…BELIEVE YOU ME!

iceland waterfalls

It’s truly remarkable to make your way through Iceland and discover waterfall…after waterfall…after waterfall, each with its own unique personality and identity.

Iceland.

It is a land of remarkable beauty.

And a world of waterfalls.

Chase them.

Nordic Green Travel knows Iceland and by extension, its waterfalls! Let them create a custom itinerary for you that includes all the highlights and hidden gems, waterfall or otherwise, that you wish to see. Or, choose from one of their fantastic self-drive tours. You can peruse your options here.

About the author

Mary Kujawski