Don’t make the same mistake that we made when planning a trip to Iceland – We didn’t plan enough! And because of it missed out on some of the best things to see in Iceland. Including a few of the best Iceland waterfalls.
The best known waterfall in Iceland is perhaps Gullfoss Falls, on the Golden Circle route. The falls have a unique shape with two tumbling falls at 90 degree angles to each other on the Hvita River.
Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss are also well known waterfalls here. But these popular (and often busy) falls are not the only places to experience the power and beauty of cascading waters.
This post will focus on 10 of the less touristy waterfalls in Iceland!
What to Pack? Before traveling to Iceland, make sure to read my Iceland Packing List guide so you so that you are prepared for the unique elements this nation has to offer.
10 Iceland waterfalls that you will not want to miss
1. Háifoss, Iceland
Háifoss is the third highest waterfall in Iceland (122m) (not counting those recently found around the Mosárjökull glacier).
It is located on the edge of the Highlands of south Iceland, and deserves its name (the tall falls). It is located on the Fossá River, a tributary of the longest river in the country. Along with its close neighbour, Granni falls, this is a spectacular sight.
According to legend, an ogress lived here and caught trout from this waterfall. To fully appreciate its grandeur, consider hiking down into the valley below.
2. Bruarfoss, Gimsnes
Less crowded than other more accessible waterfalls close to the road, Bruarfoss is famous for its fabulous blue colour. You’ll have to walk 2-3 hours (around 7m round trip) to reach this waterfall, off the Golden Circle to the south west of the country. But it is definitely worth making the effort.
There are several smaller waterfalls to see along the walk, and when you reach this waterfall, you will find it an attractive sight. The waterfall is named (bridge waterfall) for a stone arch that fell hundreds of years ago. But the blue colour of the glacial waters makes for some truly stunning photographs.
3. Kvernufoss, Iceland
Hidden away in a gorge on the east side of the more popular waterfall Skógafoss, this beautiful 30m high waterfall in southern Iceland is often overlooked. But it is easy to visit and not far from the ring road. So it is definitely one to include on your itinerary.
Take a scenic half hour walk from this more famous waterfall to reach it. Partially concealed by moss-clad cliffs of lava rock, it is a visually appealing sight. In summer, you can walk behind it to enjoy views out through the veil of water.
4. Gljúfrabúi, Iceland
Located at Hamragarðar in South Iceland, this waterfall is a less well known waterfall close to the better known (and much busier) Seljalandsfoss (which you will discover later on this list). The name translates as ‘Canyon Dweller’ and it is hidden behind a high cliff looking out over the south coast and the Atlantic ocean.
Thousands visit the more famous waterfall, less than a kilometre away, each year. But few take the effort to wade through the waters of the stream that runs through a cleft in the cliff to reach this spectacular hidden gem.
Both this and its more famous neighbour are fed by the waters of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. (The volcano beneath it made headlines when it caused disruption to air travel in 2010.
5. Kirkjufellsfoss, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Church Mountain falls are located close to the distinctive Kirkjufell mountain, on the northern side of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Head along a side road to the bridge above this short but attractive waterfall and you can take a picture of the picturesque falls with the unique mountain as a backdrop.
This is one of the most popular and iconic photo spots in Grundarfjörður. (Not one of the less touristy waterfalls but so good that I had to still include it)
This waterfall, on the northern part of the Sprengisandur Highland Road, is a 20 drop on the Skjálfandafljót river. This attraction in northern Iceland is well and truly off the beaten track, though not that far from popular Mývatn. But make the effort to reach this more remote location and you will be rewarded with a truly stunning sight. The short but attractive falls are surrounded by amazing basalt columns.
7. Faxi Waterfall
Just 7m high, but 80m wide, this waterfall is located on the Golden Circle, just 20km from Gulfoss in Southern Iceland. It has been described as a smaller and less powerful version of those larger and far more famous falls.
This waterfall is on the Tungufljót river and is in a rather scenic location. On the Golden Circle, this place is not free from visitors. But is less crowded than some better known waterfalls on this route. It is easily accessible all year round.
Rather different from other Icelandic waterfalls, this site in western Iceland is a series of hundreds of smaller cascades that flow over rocks into the Hvita River. These flow out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes underneath the Langjökull glacier.
The name, ‘lava waterfalls’ tells you what you need to know. These are the waters that eventually flow downstream to become Gulfoss Falls. But though these falls are often included on tours of western Iceland, they are less visited than those more famous attractions.
9. Seljalandsfoss, Thorsmork
Though this is one of the better-known Iceland waterfalls, it is certainly not one to miss. Located on the south coast, close to the ring road, this is a popular spot.
It is one of the most visited and photographed sights in the country, so don’t expect to have it to yourself. But make the effort to admire the 60m drop as you circle around the cascading waters. The tall cliff from which it falls was once the coast. But now looks out over a stretch of lowlands.
10. Hengifoss Waterfall
The ‘hanging falls’ are located next to Lagarfljót lake in east Iceland and (again excepting those around Mosárjökull glacier) are the second highest in the country (128m high).
An uphill hike of around an hour or so will lead you to this spectacular gorge in the Fljotsdalur valley. For the best photos, hike here in the morning and start early in the day. Along the trail, you can also see Litlanesfoss, Aldeyjarfoss and Svartifoss, which you can see by walking to the edge of the gorge. But continue on, and you can see the main attraction.
Hengifoss is notable for the cliffs behind it, which show rock layers of red clay between basalt layers. – evidence of volcanic eruptions in the Tertiary period.
Of course, there are plenty of other Iceland waterfalls to discover. So these 10 examples are just the tip of the iceberg in this amazing country of ice and fire. Which waterfalls in Iceland are your favorite?