Iceland is often referred to as the land of Ice and Fire. I’d dare to say that is true as the country is full of beautiful glaciers and powerful volcanoes. But, I’d add one more quality to it. Iceland is the land of Ice, Fire, and Waterfalls.
Whether it is small or big, no matter where you are in the country, there’s probably a waterfall (or "foss" in Icelandic) within eyesight. During my trip around Iceland, I saw innumerable waterfalls; all beautiful and worth admiring. But, some of them stood out more than others and here I want to share with you six not to miss waterfalls in Iceland.
This waterfall might not be big or that impressive on its own, but what it lacks in size, it makes up with a pretty unique scenery. Kirkjufellsfoss falls in front of Kirkjufell (Church Mountain), which is a landmark in its own right and the most photographed mountain in Iceland.
This mountain rises 463 meters above sea level in an unusual, long, conical shape; and when you combine that iconic isolated mountain with the seascape behind and the beautiful waterfall in the foreground, you have a dream spot for professional and amateur photographers alike.
Not many travelers make it all the way to the remote region of the Westfjords, but if you do, make sure not to miss Dynjandi Waterfall. This is not only the biggest waterfall in the Westfjords, but it is also one of the most beautiful in the country. The falls cascade a total of 100 meters, which is then followed by six smaller falls until it reaches the sea.
Unlike most waterfalls in Iceland, Dynjandi doesn’t drop in a free fall column. Instead, it cascades through the rocks and spreads as it flows down. For an even better experience, watch the sunset from here or spend the night camping at the base of the falls!
Svartifoss (Black Falls) is among the most famous waterfalls in the country. In fact, its black basalt rock columns were the inspiration behind the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik. The combination of this thin veil of water falling 20 meters in front of what seems like gravity defying natural columns makes this waterfall a must-see in Iceland. To reach it, you must hike about 45 minutes each way from the parking lot at Skaftafell’s entrance.
Seljalandsfoss is probably my favorite waterfall in Iceland. This is one of the best-known waterfalls in the country since it is easily visible from Route 1 (the famous Ring Road), and it looks just as stunning from afar as it does from up close – and behind! Different from other waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss has a cave behind it that allows you to walk right behind it. From there you will feel the cold mist of the falls, accompanied by the beautiful view of the 60 meter drop, the Seljalands River and the farm lands ahead. Don’t miss doing this "cave" walk. If it is a sunny day, you might catch a glimpse of a rainbow or see a stunning sunset.
Another popular waterfall not too far from Seljalandsfoss (just 30 km away). Skógafoss might look quite traditional compared to the other falls, but behind this waterfall there’s an interesting story.
Legend says that around the year 900, Þrasi Þórólfsson, the first Viking settler at Skógar (Eystriskógar), buried a treasure chest behind the falls; and the first man to go behind it will find it. The legend continues by saying that locals found the chest years later, but were able to grasp only the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church.
Besides its interesting history, Skógafoss carries some impressive numbers. It is 60 meters high and 25 meters wide, making it one of the largest falls in Iceland (based on water volume).
Gullfoss Waterfall (Golden Waterfall) is one of the most beloved falls in the country due to its peculiar, picturesque two-stage cascade that totals a drop of over 30 meters. But, the zig-zagging drops are not the only impressive thing here – the amount of water rushing through that canyon is something worth witnessing. The power of that falling water is so strong that the mist flies dozens of meters up in the air. On a sunny day, it makes the perfect screen to reflect a rainbow in front of the falls.
Gullfoss forms part of the famous Golden Circle, a popular and easy day trip from Reykjavik.
Ready to go waterfall hopping in Iceland?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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