The Top 10 Best Iceland Waterfalls List showcases our personal favorites in the land of Fire and Ice. That said, we had a difficult time even coming up with this list because it’s completely subjective and limited to each person’s experiences.
Nevertheless, we based this list on our own personal experiences, which makes it different from most other lists you see in the internet. And since our experiences have led us all over this island country, this list showcases our take on the best of the best waterfalls in Iceland.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about South Iceland, North Iceland (including the Northwest and Northeast regions), East Iceland, or even West Iceland (including the Westfjords), we’ve surveyed just about all of the major ones, which you can see in our comprehensive Icelandic Waterfalls page here.
Nevertheless, with such a painful exercise of choosing just ten of the best waterfalls in Iceland, there’s bound to be snubs. Indeed, with popular waterfalls (some of which are quite famous) like Kirkjufellsfoss, Gljufrafoss, Hraunfossar, and Svartifoss not even making this list, that just shows you how many high quality Iceland Waterfalls that exist!
Furthermore, for each of the waterfalls named in this list, you can find out how to visit them by clicking on the picture, the waterfall name, or the “Visit this Waterfall” link. They take you to write-ups that delve deeper into that waterfall, including detailed descriptions, driving directions, pictures, maps, videos, nearby attractions, and more to help with your trip planning.
Anyways, despite our struggles, we managed furnish this list of our favorite Icelandic Waterfalls (albeit controversially). Not only does this list include the obviously famous waterfalls, but we’ve also acknowledged some of the lesser known waterfalls. So without further ado, we present the Top 10 Best Iceland Waterfalls in reverse order…
Just barely making it onto our Top 10 Best Iceland Waterfalls List, the conspicuous roadside location of this waterfall in Southern Iceland ensured its popularity. Indeed, tour buses certainly don’t miss this one!
That said, this falls also featured some things that made it more than an ordinary tall waterfall. For example, we got to go behind this waterfall. We even got to visit other nearby waterfalls like the spooky Gljúfrabui.
We also happened to show up when lots of wildflowers bloomed at the waterfall’s base, which added a little more color to the scene despite the gray weather.
If only the weather would have cooperated during sunset, we could very well have bumped this falls even higher on the list.
This popular wide river waterfall on the Skjálfandafljót played a role in Icelandic history.
During that time, the law speaker (named Þorgeir) for the alþing (assembly) in the year 1000 had to make a nontrivial decision whether to make Iceland Christian or not.
At a time when you either converted or faced death, the decision was made to make the country Christian and Þorgeir tossed his Norse deity idols into the waterfall.
Besides history, this waterfall also holds its own in scenic allure, which you can experience from both sides of the river and get up close.
It’s definitely a not-to-be-missed attraction.
There’s just something to be said about seeing Iceland’s tallest waterfall (196m) [or former tallest based on the discovery of a waterfall revealed by the recession of the Morsárjökull Glacier].
Sure we had to deviate from the tourist routes to reach the trailhead. Then, we had to earn ourselves a good view with an adventurous hike. Finally, we had to fight the butterflies in our stomachs to stand closer to the cliff’s edge for the best views.
Indeed, we had to persevere on this excursion, but it rewarded us richly with some of the country’s rawest and most stunning scenery within a day trip from Reykjavík.
In addition to the falls, we even got to hike through a natural double arch, watch birds gracefully flying and diving before the falls, and look forward to stunning views of Hvalfjörður on the return hike.
Indeed, this waterfall gave us the whole experience, which in turn gives it the edge over others that had similar scenic ratings.
This former 3rd highest waterfall in Iceland at 118m loomed high above the powder-blue lake Lagarfljót near Egilsstaðir.
In addition to its size, its underlying cliffs had interesting red stripes. This hinted at an interesting history of violent geological events that can still occur to this day.
Then, we savored the atmospheric all uphill hike along a deep gorge. Along the way, we witnessed Litlanesfoss. This bonus waterfall featured basalt columns in much the same way that Svartifoss did.
Indeed, this worthwhile excursion gave us views, exercise, a geology lesson, and a reason to spend a little more time in the country’s east.
This relatively unknown waterfall really surprised Julie and I with its dramatic location as it made a cliff dive right into the sea.
Indeed, we generally favor such scenically-positioned waterfalls.
And as we stood atop the cliffs on grass with blooming purple wildflowers while birds flew against the cold winds as if they hovered next to us, it really felt like we were one with our surroundings.
It was just us and Nature as it’s supposed to be.
With such a powerful experience, we just had to make room for this waterfall on our Top 10 Iceland Waterfalls List.
Given the wild and remote nature of the Westfjords, this waterfall caught us by surprise with its unusual shape and gaudy size.
Its 100m cumulative drop actually consists of multiple stages (each with a name). A well-established trail allowed us to walk to each one of them as we’d eventually make it up to the base of the uppermost and highest tier.
And as you can see from this photo, this waterfall definitely made it easy to take good photos, but that wasn’t all.
When we turned around and started heading back down, we suddenly saw an expansive panorama of the fjord before us. This view persisted for most of the descent back to the trailhead.
So given all of these things, Julie and I feel it was definitely worth going out of the way to see this one!
Said to be Iceland’s 2nd highest waterfall, we happened to see it accompanied by a companion waterfall called Glanni (Neighbor). Both waterfalls featured similarly-sized drops so they almost seemed like twins.
Nestled within a deep and rugged gorge in the desolate Þjórsárdalur Valley, we happened to catch this waterfall on a beautiful sunny day when the rainbow accompanying it wowed us!
In fact, I swore that we probably caught sight of this waterfall under nearly perfect conditions, which further added to our overall impression of this place.
And while getting here required a bit of some rough unsealed driving, we did notice some passenger cars that did manage to make it to the trailhead.
So given the rewards that this waterfall yielded, the trouble it took to get here was well worth it! It most certainly deserved a high spot on this Top 10 Best Iceland Waterfalls List.
The classic rectangular shape and accessibility made this waterfall an instant favorite.
In fact, it also happened to be Julie’s favorite waterfall among those that we visited during our trip to Iceland.
And she wasn’t alone as it was certainly one of the country’s most popular waterfalls. After all, it received nearly consistent foot traffic among people going to and from its base give that you couldn’t miss from the Ring Road.
In addition to experiencing this waterfall from its misty base, we got commanding views from its precarious top.
I even took it one step further and went upstream from the falls where I encountered countless more waterfalls along the Skogá River.
This monster is said to be Europe’s most powerful waterfall.
The wild glacial meltwaters of Jökulsá á Fjöllum have carved the massive canyon Jökulsárgljúfur within which had witnessed this 44m waterfall as well as three other big ones (Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss, and Rettárfoss).
And we couldn’t understate the power of this waterfall as we literally felt like the ground beneath us had trembled near the falls!
Indeed, we were both awestruck as well as fearful of the falls’ awesome might from both sides of the river, and its remoteness was fitting of the country’s raw beauty.
Easily Iceland’s most famous waterfall, this 32m waterfall plunges in two stages at nearly right angles to each other.
This unusual characteristic of the falls made it both unique and memorable, and from most of the vantage points, it really looked as if the Hvitá River plunged into an abyss.
We were fortunate to see this waterfall multiple times on our Iceland trips, and that included a partially sunny afternoon, where we saw arcing rainbows form in the wafting mist.
Due to its popularity, expect to share this waterfall with hordes of tourists as well as persistent midges.
We certainly did!