Southern Ring Road, South Region (Suðurland), Iceland

About Gljufrafoss

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-07-06
Date last visited: 2007-07-06

Waterfall Latitude: 63.62085
Waterfall Longitude: -19.98631

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Gljufrafoss (Gljúfrafoss; I think is pronounced “GLYOO-fra-foss”) was a waterfall where I had to be content with obstructed views due to its rather hidden position behind a mini narrow slot.

During my early Summer visit, I actually tried to brave the cold water and wade my way into the misty confines of the waterfall’s base, but the stream was so cold that my feet and ankles couldn’t handle the pain.

Gljufurarfoss_003_07062007 - Gljúfrafoss

Plus, the intensifying mist the closer I got didn’t help my cause either.

I probably barely lasted a dozen steps before I had to chicken out.

I believe this waterfall is also referred to as the “spooky” waterfall.

Given that there was quite a bit of the falls that wouldn’t be revealed without enduring the cold, I guess I could see why it sparked those kinds of associations.

Due to its proximity to Seljalandsfoss, it’s often overlooked (it looked like tour buses didn’t stop long enough to allow you to walk to this waterfall and back).

So it’s fairly easy to have a peaceful experience at the falls if you’re content to just see glimpses of it from closer to the road.

Gljufurarfoss_041_07062007 - Looking over someone camping between Gljúfrafoss and Seljalandsfoss, which is the one in the distance past the tent
Looking over someone camping between Gljúfrafoss and Seljalandsfoss, which is the one in the distance past the tent

But at least there’s that option to get closer to the falls if the conditions were right and/or the numbing temperatures could be tolerated.

Gljúfrafoss Nomenclature

I believe Gljufrafoss directly translates to mean “the falls from the canyon” (if I interpret my Icelandic dictionary correctly).

This waterfall is also sometimes called Gljúfrabúi, which translates to “canyon dweller”.

For many years, I had been incorrectly carrying the name Gljúfurárfoss.

However, after a reader pointed out my mistake and I double checked it against my LMI (Landmælinga Íslands) map, I’ve since made the correction.

Gljufurarfoss_007_jx_07062007 - That's me entering the spooky canyon to try to get close to Gljúfrafoss
That’s me entering the spooky canyon to try to get close to Gljúfrafoss

I guess I must have been crossed up thinking the concatenation of the words gljúfur (canyon) + ár (creek or stream) + foss (waterfall) was correct.

I recalled referencing Jökulsárgljúfur National Park (since renamed to Vatnajökull National Park) where I used the latter part of the word gljúfur and applied it incorrectly to this waterfall’s name.

I guess I should be more careful next time.


Gljufrafoss resides in the South Region near Vik, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Rangárþing eystra. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Gljufurarfoss_001_07062007 - Gljúfrafoss mostly hidden behind a narrow canyon with some people standing in front for a sense of scale
Gljufurarfoss_004_07062007 - Context of the informal footpath leading closer to Gljúfrafoss
Gljufurarfoss_009_07062007 - Julie approaching the narrow slot before Gljúfrafoss
Gljufurarfoss_021_07062007 - Julie near the opening of the slot canyon concealing most of Gljúfrafoss
Gljufurarfoss_026_07062007 - Getting closer to the spooky slot canyon of Gljúfrafoss
Gljufurarfoss_032_07062007 - Looking back towards Seljalandsfoss from around Gljúfrafoss
Gljufurarfoss_005_jx_07062007 - That's me about to go into the water to get closer to Gljúfrafoss mostly hidden behind that narrow slot canyon
Gljufurarfoss_009_jx_07062007 - Getting closer to the swirling mist at the base of Gljúfrafoss all the while having my feet numbingly cold from the icy water
Gljufurarfoss_016_jx_07062007 - Another look at Gljúfrafoss with a photographer setting up

Drive towards Seljalandsfoss, but then continue another 800m north on route 249 to the smaller car park for Gljufrafoss.

For context, the city of Reykjavík was 121km (90 minutes drive) northwest of Seljalandsfoss and 248km (3 hours drive) west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

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Bottom up sweep of the falls hidden behind the slot

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Tagged with: seljalandsfoss, ring road, south region, sudurland, southern iceland, iceland, waterfall, cold, wading, wade, thorsmork

Visitor Comments:

Wrong name on waterfall! November 18, 2018 7:13 pm by Anna - Hello, please use the correct name of this waterfall. It's Gljúfrabúi. I live in the neighbourhood. You can also try googling the correct name and see all the pages that come up. The name Gljúfurárfoss implies that the river is named Gljúfurá which is incorrect, the river is named Hamragarðaá. Thank you. ...Read More

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