According to some estimates, there are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. If you’re visiting in winter some of them may prove more accessible than others. Wherever you go, stick to the beaten path and review the weather forecast (before heading out, we suggest consulting Safetravel.is for updates on road closures and weather conditions).
Whether you’re travelling in a rental car or with a certified tour operator, below you will find a few visit-worthy waterfalls that are relatively close to the Greater Reykjavík Area, and, therefore, comparatively convenient as far as wintertime travelling goes.
Gullfoss – the Golden Waterfall – is the most famous waterfall in Iceland. Contributing the “Gold” in Golden Circle (the most popular day tour in Iceland), Gullfoss is a two-tiered waterfall and one of the oldest tourist routes in the country. It’s just under a two-hour drive from downtown Reykjavík in Southwest Iceland and is, to engage in a bit of patriotic hyperbole, photogenic in the extreme (the waterfall appears briefly in the TV series Vikings).
If you’re interested in the Golden Circle day tour, with a stopover at the Secret Lagoon, click here.
Originating in the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, the Seljalands river plunges some 60 m (ca. 200 ft) to form the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Travellers can reach Seljalandsfoss via Route One. It‘ll take you roughly an hour and a half by car. Seljalandsfoss is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that visitors can observe from behind (no sexual innuendo intended) by way of a small cave – just like Justin Bieber in I’ll Show You.
In winter you’ll have to be extra careful though, as the ground behind the waterfall freezes over and gets exceedingly slippery. No one wants to conclude a fun day of exploring at the hospital.
Gljúfrafoss, or Gljúfrabúi, is a small waterfall situated a stone’s throw away from Seljalandsfoss (less than one km). Although the falls are partially obscured by a cliff rock, travellers can take a narrow path into a canyon where the water plunges into a small pool. It’s quite picturesque.
If you don’t want to be wet and cold for the rest of the day, consider wearing a waterproof jacket and pants, good shoes and crampons, because the rocks inside the canyon are especially slippery.
Less than a 30-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, you will find Skógafoss on the Skógá River. Skógafoss ranks among the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a width of over 15 metres and a drop similar to Seljalandsfoss. The waterfall has made a cameo in at least one high-profile popular culture moment, i.e. it served as the backdrop for Jon Snow and Daenerys’ kiss in season eight of Game of Thrones.
Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss are two of the main attractions on the south coast.
There are few waterfalls as close to the city of Reykjaík as Öxarárfoss, located in the Þingvellir National Park, little less than an hour away from town. The waterfall flows from Öxará river over the Almannagjá gorge. Öxarárfoss is one of the main attractions of the Þingvellir National Park. It’s roughly six metres wide and 13 metres high. During winter, the waterfall sometimes freezes over.
(Click here for information on other Icelandic waterfalls.)
Mainly Golden Circle tours by a minibus include Öxarárfoss waterfall .
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
- The paths to waterfalls may become rather icy during the winter. Therefore, we encourage anyone visiting in the wintertime to bring crampons (tour guides typically provide them). You also may want to rethink walking behind Seljalandsfoss to err on the safe side.
- Wear waterproof clothing as on windy days you can expect wayward spray from waterfalls.
- Be sure to put electronics – cameras, phones, watches – into waterproof sleeves (or leave them behind in the car).
Tours that include these waterfalls:
Golden Circle & south coast tour