Waterfalls In Iceland
“Nature is the art of god.” Dante Alighieri
There is no shortage of waterfalls in Iceland. They are literally everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes. The reasons for Iceland having so many great waterfalls, likely numbering in the thousands, are largely climate related. The country’s northern latitude means that it has lots of rain and snow, and it also has a number of glaciers. Combine these facts with the mountainous and volcanic landscape, and you have a country that is just epic for waterfalls. Here are a few that I’ve seen.
This is a stunning series of small waterfalls flowing out of the lava. Together, they form an amazing outpouring, woven like delicate lace within the creases of the lava. It’s not big nor powerful but the effect of a group of mini waterfalls coming straight out of a lava field creates something unique. It was formed by an eruption under the nearby glacier of Langjökull, the second largest ice-cap in Iceland.
You will find another beautiful waterfall there called Barnafoss running through a narrow rocky gorge. The waterfalls are located in West Iceland, around 125 kilometers from Reykjavík.
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It is also the largest in Europe in terms of volume.
The waterfall is so powerful that it makes the surrounding rocks vibrate, and the vibration can be felt by hand. It is 100 meters wide and has a drop of 45 meters into the canyon below.
Dettifoss is located in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, around 554 km from Reykjavík. It’s source is Iceland’s largest glacier Vatnajokull.
Like many things in Iceland, Goðafoss of course has a legend. As the story goes, in the year one thousand, a local chieftain decided that Icelanders should adopt Christianity. He threw all of his statues of Pagan gods into the waterfall and the waterfall was appropriately named Goðafoss, which translates to the “waterfall of the gods”. It is more famous for its beauty than its power. The source is the Skjálfandafljót River (don’t ask me to pronounce this or many other Icelandic words) from a glacier. Godafoss is in the far north of Iceland.
Seljalandsfoss is one of the crown jewels of Iceland waterfalls and tourists flock to this waterfall located in the south of the country. It is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano under the glacier Eyjafjallajökull (still can’t pronounce this one and they say it a lot). What makes this waterfall unique is that you can walk behind it. It’s supposed to be a remarkable experience. I opted to stay dry that day.
This is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland and is accessible on the Golden Circle route. This two tier waterfall cascades down 32 meters into a gorge in the Hvítá River and you can stand close enough to feel the cool water spray on your face. It was formed by a series of enormous glacial floods around the end of the last ice age. Gullfoss is located around 115 kilometers from Reykjavík. In addition to being a beautiful waterfall, Gullfoss has a strong history. In the early 20th century, many foreign investors wanted to harness the waterfall to produce electricity. Investors were planning to build a hydroelectric power plant, which would have totally destroyed the waterfall. Sigríður Tómasdóttir (an investor’s daughter) was very strongly against the project. She threatened to throw herself into the waterfall in protest.The project didn’t materialize, thanks to Sigríður and her lawyer (who became the first president of Iceland), Gullfoss was protected for the people of Iceland to enjoy.