Maelifell / Budir / Snaefellsnes, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Bjarnafoss

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-06-23
Date last visited: 2007-06-23

Waterfall Latitude: 64.84815
Waterfall Longitude: -23.40526

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Bjarnafoss was a tall waterfall tumbling right behind the small farming hamlet of Buðir.

I had read there was a legend saying that underneath the waterfall stood the “Lady of the Mountains” (Fjallkonan) though we weren’t particularly looking for this so we couldn’t see for ourselves.

Bjarnafoss_003_06232007 - Bjarnafoss

However, we did notice upon closer inspection that there were basalt columns near the bottom of the main section of the falls.

That was further evidence to us of the interplay of lava and ice, which seemed to be a very common theme throughout our visit to Iceland.

I guess the lava connection shouldn’t have been surprising because nearby the falls was the Mælifell volcano.

Apparently the cliff where the falls made its plunge was also part of the slope of that volcano.

Even though we didn’t know it at the time, we probably should have found a way to walk or drive further south (possibly on the Buðarvegur) to get a more contextual look at both Mælifell and Bjarnafoss together.

Bjarnafoss_001_06232007 - Bjarnafoss in context with the Mælifell volcano
Bjarnafoss in context with the Mælifell volcano

Instead, all the photos you see on this page reflect more closeup views of the falls from right off the road 54.

As I was trying to figure out the meaning of the name of this waterfall, the closest word I could find in my Icelandic dictionary was “bjarndyr” meaning “bear” (even though the more familiar word “björn” also meant “bear”).

Thus, I suspect this falls could be translated to mean “Bear Falls” though I wonder how that came about given that there were no bears that we know of that exist in Iceland.


Bjarnafoss resides in the West Region near Akranes, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Snæfellsbær. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Bjarnafoss_002_06232007 - Looking upstream towards the Bjarnafoss waterfall and Buðir
Bjarnafoss_008_06232007 - More zoomed in direct look at the Bjarnafoss waterfall and its cascades further downstream
Bjarnafoss_024_06232007 - Bjarnafoss with part of Mælifell volcano behind it and some wildflowers blooming in front of it as seen from a Buðir farm
Bjarnafoss_019_06232007 - Closer look at Bjarnafoss
Bjarnafoss_025_06232007 - Julie checking out Bjarnafoss from a farm
Bjarnafoss_003_jx_06232007 - Another contextual look at Bjarnafoss and some stringy cascade backed by the Mælifell volcano
Bjarnafoss_005_jx_06232007 - Later in the day after we had gone all the way around the west end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we returned to Bjarnafoss later in the afternoon and this was what we saw

We saw this waterfall at the junction of route 54 and 574 on the western end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

It is roughly 20km south of Ólafsvík along the Routes 29 and 54.

Alternatively, the west approach along route 574 is about 99km northwest of Borgarnes or 166km (over 2 hours drive) north of Reykjavik.

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Tagged with: maelifell, budir, snaefellsness, west region, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, olafsvik, fjallkonan, farm

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