Don’t listen to TLC, you should totally chase waterfalls. And that’s exactly what we did for a week in Iceland! Iceland has some pretty unique geological properties that set the stage for some pretty epic waterfalls! Iceland was formed by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The island has over 130 volcanoes (don’t worry, they’re not all active)! Additionally about 11% of Iceland is covered in glaciers. The land of fire and ice makes for thousands of glacial melt rivers, and with those rivers come beautiful waterfalls. While we only saw a handful of them, we wanted to share our top 5.
1. Skogafoss- located a 2.5 hour drive from Reykjavik, Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. If you want to dodge the crowds, follow the stairs to the right of the waterfall to the Fimmvorduhals trail. We only had time to hike a portion of the trail along the Skoga River but the portion we did see was stunning. The full hike is about 25 km and takes 12-14 hours with 26 waterfalls along the way!
Hiking along the Skoga river, stopping at one of the many waterfalls along the way
2. Godafoss- though Godafoss was quite the trek from Reykjavik, this site was worth the drive. I had been itching to get here since we decided to take our trip to Iceland. According to the sagas, Godafoss- or waterfall of the gods- was named when a religious man named Thorgeir marked the conversion of Iceland to Christianity by throwing the Pagan statues into the falls. The name is fitting for other reasons as well though! We made a stop in the nearby town of Akureyri (Eric took to calling the town Ukulele as he found it easier to pronounce) The city is considered the northern capital of Iceland and it is adorable.
The beauty of Godafoss
3. Seljalandfoss- one of Iceland’s most photogenic waterfalls is located in the southern region of Iceland. This waterfall is unique in that you can actually walk behind it providing for a unique photographic perspective. Be prepared to get wet though! Our rain sleeve came in handy for the camera. Be sure to make the short hike to the left of the falls to find Gjlufrabui, a hidden waterfall in a cave!
Behold the power of Seljalandfoss!
Gjlufrabui is a little gem hiding in a cave nearby Seljalandfoss
4. Svartifoss- located within Vatnajokull National Park. The name Svartifoss means Black Falls, a fitting name as this waterfall has a beautiful black basalt column backdrop. Basalt columns are hexagonal and form from the cooling of lava. The 1.5 km hike to the falls is just as beautiful as the waterfall itself. We were in Iceland during the fall as the leaves were changing, the shades of orange, red, and yellow were stunning throughout our hike.
Svartifoss or “Black Falls” named for it’s basalt columns
Old Power station along the hike
Stopping along the hike for a selfie
5. Gullfoss- located within along the Golden Circle, Gullfoss is a very energetic water. It is stunning to witness the power that the water has had in carving rock. In the 20th century, investors wanted to harvest the hydroelectric power of the falls, which would have irreparably harmed the falls. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, daughter of Tomas who owned the falls, was so vehemently against these plans that she threatened to kill herself by throwing herself into the falls. Thanks to her fervor, we can still enjoy these falls today. If you catch the falls on a sunny day you might even see a rainbow appear in the mist!
Gullfoss which translates to Golden Falls
Have you been to Iceland? Which falls are your favorites? If you’re planning a trip, be sure to put these falls on your list! Don’t forget to subscribe to our email list so you never miss a blog post! The link is at the bottom of our website.
Until our next travels,
-The Wandering Michiganders