Skip to content
kolugljúfur gorge north iceland

Kolugljúfur Canyon in North Iceland

Sometimes it’s not the big, famous sites that are the most memorable. It can be the little things that you discover along the way. Kolugljúfur is a great example of this. Until I took a trip to the North recently, I had never heard of this hidden waterfall. But when out camping on the holiday weekend known as Verslunarmannahelgi (Merchants’ Weekend – a weekend at the end of summer when the entire nation goes camping at outdoor music festivals), I did a little searching for sites nearby, and I was not disappointed!

By the way, I found this hike using an app known as Alltrails. I’ve found it really useful in Iceland, since it allows you to search the area you’re in, just like in Google maps, for hikes. It’s a great tool if you’re planning an adventure, or if you’re already out in the country (like I was recently) and are just looking for something to do. Sometimes hiking trails in Iceland aren’t the best marked, and the app also has good maps of the trails themselves, with GPS coordinates, topography, and the ability to find the trailhead on Google maps. It also has a useful feature that allows you to download the map of the trail for when you inevitably lose reception on your wilderness journey.

Kolugljúfur canyon (Kolufossar is the name of the waterfall that run through the canyon) is located more or less right between Reykjavík and Akureyri. It’s just 5 or 10 minutes off the main road, so if you are driving to or from Akureyri from the capital, this is a great place to stretch your legs for a bit! From the main road near Hvammstangi, just look for road 715 (Viðidalsvegur). From there, it’s a short drive over a dirt and gravel road.

kolufossar waterfall north iceland

A Day Trip to Kolugljúfur Canyon

Kolgljúfur canyon is a great site because you can really spend as much time as you like here. If you’re really in a rush, the main falls and gorge are visible from the parking lot, so if you’re the kind of person who just wants to jump of out of the car, snap a picture, and move on, then you can definitely do that. 

For those who want to spend a little bit more time here, there are at least 30 minutes of walking trails around the gorge. One of the trails goes down to the floor of the canyon where the river is, and you might want to spend a little bit of time relaxing, picnicking, or taking pictures. I spent around two hours here just poking around and enjoying the sites! There are also picnic tables near the parking lot for travellers who want to spend a little more time enjoying the view.

kolugljúfur iceland
waterfalls north iceland

More Things To Do In North Iceland

Kolugljúfur is a really beautiful and unique area, but it likely won’t fill up your entire day. Like I said previously, this could easily be a scenic rest stop on a drive up to Akureyri, but you could definitely make a day trip out of it as well.

Here are some ideas of things to do near Kolufossar:

  • You can visit Blönduós, the largest town in the area. In Blönduós, you can find a handicraft museum, the Sea Ice Exhibition Centre and the textile museum, the only one of its kind in Iceland.
  • Nearby Hvammstangi is also known as the “seal capital” of Iceland. You can bring your camera and binoculars and head down to the beach, and they also have a seal centre that provides interesting information on these chubby, watery mammals.
  • Most settlements in this area (including Hvammstangi and Laugarbakki) also have campgrounds. There are definitely worse ways to spend a vacation than relaxing in the peace and quiet of rural Iceland. Also, a tip: when camping in rural Iceland, check out the local swimming pools! It’s a great, cheap way to get a shower and relaxing hot tub soak.
  • Horse riding is also very popular in rural regions of Iceland, and many of our tour operators offer horse riding in North Iceland.
  • We also have many moe ideas of what to do in North Iceland here.
kolugljúfur gorge north iceland

Maybe it’s just personal taste, but I’ve always found the hidden waterfalls and little places off the beaten track to be more enchanting than Gullfoss, Geysir, and all the other names you’ve heard of. All of those sites are beautiful, yes, and nothing can match the raw power of the waterfalls Dettifoss, Skógafoss, and so on. But for me, there’s just something very special about sitting in a green, forgotten canyon away from it all!

Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

* indicates required

Related articles