The Top 19 Best Waterfalls in Iceland

Iceland, with its stunning landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and rugged terrain, is a haven for nature lovers. Among its many natural wonders, waterfalls stand out as some of the most awe-inspiring sights. From powerful cascades thundering down cliffs to delicate streams trickling through moss-covered rocks, Iceland boasts an abundance of breathtaking waterfalls waiting to be explored. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the top 19 best waterfalls in Iceland, offering insights into their beauty, significance, and the folklore that surrounds them.

Why Does Iceland Have So Many Waterfalls?

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland

Iceland’s unique geography, characterised by volcanic activity, glaciers, and abundant rainfall, creates the perfect conditions for the formation of waterfalls. The island’s numerous rivers and streams flow from glaciers and highland areas, carving their way through valleys and canyons, often plunging over steep cliffs to create magnificent waterfalls. With over 10,000 waterfalls scattered across the country, Iceland truly earns its reputation as a land of incredible natural wonders just waiting to be discovered. 

What is the Best Part of Iceland to See Waterfalls?

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland during winter

While waterfalls can be found throughout Iceland, some regions are particularly renowned for their abundance of cascades. The South Coast and the Westfjords are two areas known for their impressive concentration of waterfalls, offering visitors a plethora of breathtaking sights within a relatively small area. 

Additionally, the famous Golden Circle route, which includes attractions such as Gullfoss and Þingvellir National Park, provides easy access to some of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls.

What Should I Bring When Visiting a Waterfall in Iceland?

Packing a suitcase to travel around Iceland

Visiting Iceland’s waterfalls requires some preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Be sure to dress warmly and wear waterproof clothing, as weather conditions can change rapidly, and you may encounter spray from the falls. Sturdy hiking shoes are essential for navigating uneven terrain, especially if you plan to explore trails around the falls. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the awe-inspiring beauty of these natural wonders, along with snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated during your adventures.

How Many Waterfalls Are There in Iceland?

A waterfall in the Icelandic Highlands during summer

While it’s difficult to provide an exact count due to the ever-changing nature of Iceland’s landscape, estimates suggest that there are over 10,000 waterfalls scattered across the country. These range from small, hidden gems tucked away in remote valleys to towering cascades that attract visitors from around the world. With such a vast number to explore, there’s always a new waterfall waiting to be discovered in Iceland’s pristine wilderness.

The Top 19 Best Waterfalls in Iceland

The iconic waterfall canyons of Iceland's waterfalls

Now, let’s dive into our list of the top 19 best waterfalls in Iceland, each offering its own unique beauty and charm.

19. Brúarfoss

Bruarfoss waterfall in Iceland's Golden Circle

Brúarfoss, known as the “Blue Waterfall,” captivates visitors with its vibrant turquoise waters and picturesque surroundings. Tucked away in the Golden Circle region, this hidden gem rewards intrepid explorers with its serene beauty and photogenic cascades.

18. Haifoss

Haifoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Haifoss, located in the scenic Highland region, is Iceland’s third-highest waterfall, plunging an impressive 122 metres into the rugged gorge below. Surrounded by dramatic cliffs and sweeping vistas, Haifoss offers a breathtaking glimpse into Iceland’s untamed wilderness.

17. Hafragilsfoss

Hafragilsfoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Situated in the northeast of Iceland, Hafragilsfoss is a powerful cascade that thunders down into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. With its sheer drop and roaring waters, this waterfall is a testament to the raw power of nature, leaving visitors in awe of its majestic beauty.

16. Þórufoss

Thorusfoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Located near the town of Selfoss, Þórufoss is a hidden gem nestled within a tranquil woodland setting. While not as well-known as some of Iceland’s other waterfalls, Þórufoss enchants visitors with its secluded location and serene atmosphere.

15. Öxarárfoss

Öxarárfoss waterfall in Iceland's Golden Circle during winter

Found within Þingvellir National Park, Öxarárfoss is a graceful waterfall that flows over ancient lava formations, creating a mesmerising contrast between fire and water. Easily accessible via a short walk from the park’s visitor centre, Öxarárfoss is a must-see destination for nature lovers.

14. Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Tucked away in a remote valley near the village of Skógar, Kvernufoss offers a tranquil escape from the crowds, allowing visitors to experience Iceland’s natural beauty in solitude. The waterfall’s gentle cascade and lush surroundings make it a perfect spot for contemplation and reflection.

13. Skogafoss

Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

One of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls, Skogafoss captivates visitors with its towering height and thunderous roar. Located along the South Coast, this majestic cascade is easily accessible from the nearby town of Skógar, making it a popular stop for travellers exploring the region.

12. Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland from behind the waterfall during summer

Seljalandsfoss is famous for its unique feature that allows visitors to walk behind the cascading waters, offering a truly immersive experience. Situated along the South Coast’s Ring Road, this stunning waterfall is a favourite among photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

11. Goðafoss

Goðafoss waterfall in Iceland during winter

Known as the “Waterfall of the Gods,” Góðafoss is steeped in history and legend, making it a culturally significant site in Icelandic folklore. Located in the north of Iceland, this majestic cascade is said to have played a role in Iceland’s conversion to Christianity in the year 1000.

10. Barnafoss

Barnafoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Barnafoss, or the “Children’s Waterfall,” is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, with folklore telling tales of tragic events surrounding its name. Located in western Iceland, this scenic waterfall offers visitors a glimpse into Iceland’s rich cultural heritage and natural wonders.

9. Selfoss

Selfoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Selfoss, located upstream from Dettifoss in Vatnajökull National Park, is a series of smaller cascades that collectively create a mesmerising spectacle. While overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Selfoss enchants visitors with its tranquil beauty and secluded surroundings.

8. Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi waterfall in Iceland'd Golden Circle

Hidden within a narrow canyon near Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi offers a unique and immersive experience for adventurous visitors. Accessible via a short hike through a moss-covered ravine, this hidden gem rewards intrepid explorers with its enchanting beauty and secluded atmosphere.

7. Hraunfossar

Hraunfossar waterfall in Iceland during summer

Hraunfossar, or the “Lava Falls,” is a series of cascades that emerge from beneath a lava field, creating a striking contrast between the dark volcanic rock and the crystal-clear waters. Located in western Iceland, this unique waterfall is a testament to the island’s geological diversity and natural wonders.

6. Svartifoss

Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Svartifoss, or the “Black Waterfall,” is renowned for its stunning basalt columns that frame the cascading waters, creating a mesmerising sight against the backdrop of Iceland’s rugged landscapes. Situated within Vatnajökull National Park, this iconic waterfall is a favourite among hikers and nature enthusiasts.

5. Hengifoss

Hengifoss waterfall in the East of Iceland during summer

Hengifoss, one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls, captivates visitors with its striking red rock layers and dramatic surroundings. Accessible via a scenic hiking trail in the Eastfjords, this majestic cascade offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Dettifoss

Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, commands attention with its thunderous roar and sheer force as it plunges into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon below. Located in Vatnajökull National Park, this awe-inspiring cascade is a true testament to the raw power of nature, leaving visitors in awe of its majestic beauty.

3. Gullfoss

Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland during summer

Gullfoss, or the “Golden Falls,” is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, captivating visitors with its double cascade plunging into a deep gorge. Located along the Golden Circle route, this breathtaking waterfall is a must-see destination for anyone exploring Iceland’s natural wonders.

2. Glymur

Glymur waterfall in Iceland during summer

Glymur, Iceland’s second-highest waterfall, offers a thrilling adventure for those willing to embark on a scenic hike to reach its remote location. Tucked away in the Hvalfjörður fjord, this majestic cascade rewards intrepid explorers with stunning views and a sense of accomplishment as they stand in awe of its beauty.

1. Dynjandi

Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland during summer

Dynjandi, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Westfjords,” is a majestic cascade that tumbles down a series of rocky terraces, creating a mesmerising display of beauty and power. Accessible via a scenic drive along the remote Westfjords, this iconic waterfall is a highlight of any visit to Iceland.

Is There Any Icelandic Folklore Based on Waterfalls?

The Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik with Esja in the background

In the rich tapestry of Icelandic folklore, waterfalls emerge as mystical realms, where otherworldly beings like elves and trolls are said to dwell. These supernatural inhabitants, concealed behind the veil of cascading waters, supposedly guard hidden treasures and weave enchantments that ensnare unsuspecting wanderers. Such legends lend an air of intrigue and mystique to certain waterfalls across Iceland. Here are tales associated with a few of these captivating cascades.

The Myth of Skogafoss

Skogafoss weaves a tale dating back to the arrival of Þrasi Þórólfsson, Iceland’s first Viking settler in Eystri-Skogar during the 10th century. Legend has it that upon reaching Iceland’s shores, Þrasi, a formidable sorcerer, buried a chest laden with gold within a cave concealed behind the thundering veil of Skogafoss. 

An old Icelandic rhyme recounts:

“Under Skógafoss’ falling stream,

Þrási’s casket many deem.

A chest of wealth awaits the hand

Of the first brave soul to find this land.

In the 17th century, the sons of Ámundi Þormóðsson embarked on a quest to uncover this fabled treasure. They succeeded in locating the chest, but as one of the men reached for its golden handle ring, the chest slipped from its resting place and vanished into the depths below the falls. The golden ring, displayed for years on the door of Skogar church, now finds its home in the halls of Skogar Museum.

The Lore of Dettifoss

Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland with a rainbow in front of the falls

Dettifoss, known as the ‘Shelter of the Gods,’ boasts a horseshoe-shaped canyon attributed to Sleipnir, Odin’s mighty steed from Norse mythology. Legend has it that Sleipnir, galloping across the sky, left his imprint upon Iceland’s terrain, shaping the canyon with his hoof. This canyon is believed to serve as the capital of the álfar, or hidden people, whose homes, churches, and halls purportedly lie concealed within moss-clad boulders and rocky crags.

The Legend of Goðafoss

Góðafoss waterfall in Iceland during summer from the base

Goðafoss, or the ‘Waterfall of the Gods,’ serves as the backdrop to a pivotal moment in Iceland’s religious history. A thousand years ago, lawmaker Þorgeir Þorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði decreed Christianity as the predominant religion of Iceland, casting aside paganism. In a symbolic act of conversion, Þorgeir cast his statues of the Norse gods into the depths of Goðafoss, cementing the transition to Christianity.

The Folklore of Haifoss

The long stream from Haifoss waterfall in Iceland

Haifoss, shrouded in legend, is said to have been the dwelling place of a fearsome ogress. Legend tells of a young boy, part of a group of travellers, who inadvertently disturbed the ogress while she fished for trout in the river below. Enraged by the perceived affront to her domain, the ogress emerged from her lair under the cover of night, intent on dragging the boy to his demise. However, his companions rallied to his aid, engaging in a harrowing struggle to free him from the clutches of the vengeful ogress, ultimately sparing his life.


Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland under a blue sky

Gullfoss, dubbed the ‘Golden Waterfall,’ harbours a tale akin to that of Skogafoss. According to local lore, a wealthy farmer named Gygur, unwilling to let his riches fall into the hands of others after his passing, cast a chest of treasure into the swirling waters of Gullfoss. Could it be that the iridescent rainbows that dance amidst the cascading torrents serve as a beacon, guiding seekers to the long-lost treasure concealed within the depths of the falls?


Skogafoss waterfall from the side during summer in Iceland

Iceland’s waterfalls are not only breathtaking natural wonders but also symbols of the island’s rugged beauty and rich cultural heritage. From towering cascades plunging into deep gorges to hidden gems tucked away in remote valleys, each waterfall offers its own unique charm and significance. Whether you’re exploring the iconic sights along the Golden Circle or venturing off the beaten path in search of hidden treasures, Iceland’s waterfalls are sure to leave you spellbound and inspired by the raw power and beauty of nature. So, pack your camera, lace up your hiking boots, and prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey to discover the top 19 best waterfalls in Iceland.

Explore the best local tours

Discover Iceland's wonders with our curated tours! Book now for an unforgettable, breathtaking adventure.