Iceland: The Waterfalls

In addition to lots of landscape, Iceland also has approximately one bazillion stunning waterfalls scattered about the place, usually located on or near a river. Here are some of them, more or less in the order as we experienced them whilst driving around the island clockwise from Reykjavík:


Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most popular because of its proximity to Reykjavík and its position on the “Golden Circle” tourist route (and probably also its prettiness). Its name means “Golden Falls”—all waterfalls end in “-foss,” the Icelandic word for waterfall.


Öxarárfoss, at Þingvellir. This is the point at which the Öxará River falls over a bit of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.


Goðafoss (“Waterfall of the Gods”). When some Icelandic chieftain or other decided that all of Iceland was Christian now (around the year 1000), he threw his pagan idols over these here falls.


At Detifoss, Europe's largest waterfall (by volume)

Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall (by volume). Unfortunately, we were the only ones there, so there’s nothing in the photo for scale to show how truly massive the falls are. Suffice to say: quite massive.




A progression of falls up a 1.5-mile (and super windy) hike to Hengifoss, the one with the fancy red stripey strata.


Svartifoss (“Black Falls”), so named because of the dark, hexagonal basalt columns.

Foss á Síðu

Foss á Síðu (“Falls at Síðu”), as seen from the Ring Road (I don’t think we even stopped for this one).

Systrafoss (Sister Waterfall) at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Systrafoss (“Sister Waterfall”) at a town called Kirkjubæjarklaustur (“church farm cloister”).


Seljalandsfoss, another famous falls (on the Seljalandsá River). Apparently, there is a trail allowing you to walk under this one, but a combination of bad weather, a museum we were trying to get to before it closed, and (let’s be honest) a bit of waterfall fatigue meant we didn’t quite make it out of the car for this one either. But very pretty from the parking lot!


Skógafoss, our last waterfall, with me for scale. The Internet tells me this one (on the Skógá River) falls over what were once Iceland’s southern sea cliffs (as does Seljalandsfoss).

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