The waterfalls of Iceland are some of the most memorable stops you will make in a country that is full of incredible landscapes.
Each one has its own unique characteristics. From the shape of the water flow to the surrounding lush greenery or volcanic black rock. Or just the raw power of the flow of water that roars when you get near.
In this video, we will be counting down the 11 best waterfalls in Iceland! And I guarantee you that every single one of them is deserving of a place in your Iceland road trip itinerary.
Table of Contents
Waterfalls By Region
Below is a quick overview of where you will find each waterfall. This is a useful shortcut once you know which region you will be visiting.
Every region is easily explored in a rental car or campervan on a self-drive itinerary, but if you are looking for an organized tour click on the links for each region to check out what is available for that area:
- Golden Circle: Gulfoss
- South Coast (Ring Road): Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Fossálarfoss
- Snæfellsjökull National Park: Kirkjufellfoss
- Northern Ring Road (and Diamond Circle): Dettifoss, Selfoss, Fosslaug, Kolufoss, Goðafoss
- Westfjords: Dynjandi
Subjective Disclaimer: I also wanted to point out that this list is entirely subjective and opinions are likely to differ. I have also not visited every waterfall in Iceland – but i hope to one day!!
If you know of a waterfall that should have made the list then let me know! I hope to return again one day and I’ll make sure I check it out.
Check out the video below if you prefer to watch than read, and want to see the footage of these glorious destinations!
Top 11 Waterfalls in Iceland
Skogafoss is the king of Icelandic waterfalls and has a touch of magic about it. This is my favorite waterfall in Iceland for three reasons.
The first is that from a distance it is a peaceful and tranquil scene with a thick sheet of water falling gracefully between lush greenery. You can see it from the ring road and it will catch your eye immediately.
The second is the accessibility of the falls. You easily can walk right up to the base where you are face to face with the powerful flow of water, crashing into the ground with a thud from 200 feet in the air.
Last of all, there is a campsite close to the base where you can settle in for the night with the falls in full view. The whitenoise of the churning water is constant and the view amazing every time you look up… and what a view to wake up to!!
Next to the waterfall is a staircase that takes you to a viewing platform overlooking the lip of the waterfall. Here you get some great views back over the valley and out to the coast.
Skogafoss is also the gateway to Waterfall Way, which is an 8km hike with 25 additional waterfalls for you to marvel at. You just keep on walking inland from the viewing platform and follow the stream of water.
I have not yet done this hike but I hope to one day.
In a close second, we travel to the opposite side of the country to Goðafoss in the north. This is another place that is very accessible with the falls being a stone’s throw from the ring road.
Also known as the waterfall of the gods, Goðafoss is barely 30 feet tall. But what it lacks in height, it makes up for in power, beauty, color, and the sheer volume of water.
The beautiful turquoise water that flows in gives this waterfall a unique glow that complements the unique shape of the falls.
You can drive between each side of the falls with parking lots located at both, but you will get the best views from the east bank parking lot side.
Here there is a viewing platform that sits right over the lip of the falls and is the closest point to view the area. Nearby you can also climb down to water level to get closer to the crashing water at the base, and the glowing blue river that carries the water downstream.
It is a stunning place!
At no. 3, we are venturing into the Westfjords region in the northwest of Iceland. This area is characterized by mountainous terrain overlooking incredible waterways, and the Dynjandi waterfall is perfectly located to showcase both.
From the parking lot, there is a walkway that takes you up a gentle slope and past seven other smaller waterfalls. It is an easy and very scenic walk.
But Dynjandi is clearly the star of the show! It sits tantalizingly at the top of this incline and the flow of the water gets louder as you approach the face. Once you reach the top, if you turn around you will be treated to an equally stunning view over the fjords.
Back to the waterfall itself, the face starts narrow and expands out evenly on both sides to a much wider base as the rock also bulges out. It reminds me of a middle-aged man’s beer belly… But I may be alone in that abstract interpretation.
One of the best parts is that this is an isolated part of the country with much less tourist traffic. It is not unusual to have Dynjandi almost to yourself.
Allowing you to really take your time and absorb the beauty of this incredible place.
We now head back to the south-west of the country and along the popular golden circle route, to the amazing Gullfoss waterfall which is number 4 on our list.
At nearly 750 feet wide, this is another epic display of raw power at a scale that you really just have to see for yourself.
The falls are characterized by the massive tiers that resemble a staircase making its way into a crevice over 100 feet deep – where the water looks to just disappear!
There are multiple walkways that allow you to get very close to the front of the falls, or you can admire from a distance and walk along the top of a nearby ridge to take in the full view of the falls, and the surrounding river.
From the car park, you can also see a huge glacier in the distance.
At number 5, we are going from scenic beauty to raw power! Dettifoss is one of the most intimidating, yet endearing sites you will ever see.
While it is not the tallest waterfall, at just 144 feet high, it has a nearly 330-foot face with monstrous volumes of water pouring relentlessly over the edge.
The violent crash of the water below creates a loud roar and an incredible spray that will get you wet even from hundreds of meters away.
The best part is you can get right up close to the face of the waterfalls with multiple viewing platforms allowing you to marvel at this natural wonder.
It is far from the prettiest site you will see in Iceland, but it can’t be beaten for the raw power of Mother Nature on display… And I absolutely loved it!
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous places in Iceland and is best known for the stunning photos taken from behind the curtain of water looking out across the lush green landscape.
It is the walkable pathway behind the falls that makes this such a popular place with tourists.
The water runs down from a nearby glacier and looks like it just falls off a shelf that runs for many miles along this stretch of road.
This description may understate the near 200-foot drop that creates this curtain of water falling from the edge of this… shelf. The scale and surrounding beauty is sure to make this one of the most memorable stops.
It is also a landmark that starts one of the most remarkable stretches of road anywhere in the world. You spot this from a distance when approaching on the ring road, and for the next few hundred kms you see nothing but beauty.
At no. 7 we are headed into the Kolugljúfur Canyon to find this stunning waterfall named Kolufoss.
The falls are underneath a suspension bridge that runs over the canyon providing an outstanding view of the falls. The car park is right next to this so another very accessible destination.
If the view from the bridge is not enough, you can venture a little further without too much effort and test your rock climbing skills to get up close and personal with the face of the waterfall.
At just over 25 feet it is another modest waterfall, but you have such great access that it is an incredible experience!
There are also multiple viewing platforms for the canyon, and if you want a more adventurous day out you can hike into the canyon itself.
It is a must-see on any Northern Iceland itinerary.
Just 100 kms to the east is the equally beautiful Fosslaug waterfall.
Located on private property, you will need to walk for around 10 minutes from the car park through a paddock full of Icelandic horses. Eventually you will get to a ridge that overlooks the front of the waterfall.
From here you get a great view that allows you to appreciate the breadth of the falls as the water cascades down from a narrow lip and spreads out across multiple tiers on a 60+ foot journey down to the river below.
If you walk all the way to the lip of the falls you will also find a hot spring upstream just a little where you can have a swim.
The only disappointing element is that I could not find a way to get down to water level at the foot of the falls. Not being able to get close to the roar of the water hitting the base makes me feel like I am missing out on the best bit.
A visit to Kirkjufellfoss is not really about the waterfall. The main feature is Kirkjufell Mountain, but when you combine this with the falls you have one of the most perfect landscape shots you will find anywhere.
The mountain is the landmark that first made me take notice of Iceland as a country and one of my favorite places to have visited. It is also the perfect way to finish a day trip to the Snæfellsjökull National Park.
The waterfall is just a bonus!
This is one of the most tranquil sites in Iceland and despite being right next to the ring road in the south, it is such a low-key place it would be easy to drive right past it.
Here you will find a broad stream of water running down a very modest slope in comparison to everything else on our list.
This is not among the epic and powerful waterfalls on our list, but it is one of the most beautiful.
Always overshadowed by its monstrously large neighbour Dettifoss, the much smaller Selfoss stands at just 36 feet in height.
But what gives Selfoss its unique beauty is the cascading water across a 330-foot wide cliff face with the majority of the falls lining one side of the rocky terrain.
This creates a stunning scene where the river is flanked by a series of falls in the foreground that lead up to a keyhole-shaped junction.
Most will visit this site as an afterthought after seeing Dettifoss, it is a worthwhile visit all on its own.
For a country nicknamed “The Land of Fire and Ice”, I think that this under sells what the waterfalls bring to Iceland’s beauty.
You can almost mark your Iceland road trip itinerary by what waterfalls you would like to see, and fill in the gaps with all the other incredible experiences in Iceland.
Photos and videos can only tell you so much about what to expect. Once you hear the roar of the water flow, see the mix of colors, and see these beautiful sights for yourself you will then understand why I feel so strongly about this.