Myvatn / Skjalfandafljot, Northeast Region (Norðurland eystra), Iceland

About Godafoss

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2007-06-28

Waterfall Latitude: 65.6831
Waterfall Longitude: -17.55075

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Godafoss (more accurately Goðafoss; pronounced “GO-thuh-foss”) was one of the more famous waterfalls we encountered while driving the Ring Road through the Mývatn District of Iceland’s Northeast Region.

It was a wide 12m tall waterfall on the Skjálfandafljót River that was segmented into two main components while possessing an arcing semi-horseshoe shape, which we noticed when we viewed it from its top.

Godafoss_066_06282007 - Goðafoss

Although both times we’ve visited this waterfall were under some dreary overcast (and rainy) conditions, we could still see the color in the river, which I’m sure would be amplified when the sun would come out.

We were able to experience this waterfall from both sides of its banks.

Experiencing Goðafoss from the East Side

The east bank seemed to provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of how we were able to view the falls.

We thought this side was better.

Godafoss_037_06282007 - Julie near the base of Goðafoss from the east side
Julie near the base of Goðafoss from the east side

Yet strangely enough, since most of the tourist traffic seemed to be on the opposite side of the river (the west side), Julie and I plus a photographer couple pretty much had the whole east side to ourselves!

From a small car park near a restroom area on the east bank, we were able to hike upstream a short distance until we had a choice of paths to take.

One choice was going down to the river level to view the falls from its base.

The other choice was to go up to a bluff where we could see the falls from its top (as pictured at the top of this page).

Godafoss_072_06282007 - Geitafoss further downstream of Goðafoss on the Skjálfandafljót
Geitafoss further downstream of Goðafoss on the Skjálfandafljót

Since the walks were short, we were able to do both.

When we walked in the downstream direction closer to the Ring Road, we noticed there was a footbridge (providing convenient access to the west bank) as well as a more frontal view of Geitafoss, which was a smaller waterfall further downstream of Godafoss.

Experiencing Goðafoss from the West Side

The west side seemed to yield fewer views, but there was less walking involved to see the falls.

There was a much larger car park on this side, and it seemed that most of the tour bus traffic was there probably for this reason.

Godafoss_074_06282007 - Looking across Goðafoss from the west side
Looking across Goðafoss from the west side

We took a much shorter walk right up to the brink of the falls, but we really couldn’t do a whole lot to improve the views from this side.

We also didn’t want to get too close to the edge of the cliffs and risk falling into the icy cold and turbulent Skjálfandafljót River.

Goðafoss and Icelandic History

From what I understand, this curling horseshoe-shaped waterfall had a fairly key role in Icelandic history.

Apparently back in the year 1000, the lawspeaker at the time Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði had the unenviable task of choosing the official religion of Iceland.

Godafoss_080_06282007 - Julie at the brink of Goðafoss on the west side perhaps re-creating where Þorgeirr might have stood as he decided whether or not to chuck his Norse deities into the waterfall or not
Julie at the brink of Goðafoss on the west side perhaps re-creating where Þorgeirr might have stood as he decided whether or not to chuck his Norse deities into the waterfall or not

Perhaps under the pressure of Christianity’s convert or die methods, Þorgeirr chucked his icons of Norse deities into the falls (which, by the way, is translated to mean “waterfall of the gods”) but secretly maintained allegiance to the Norse deities.

Given that the falls was very close to the Ring Road, it didn’t surprise us that it was a very popular spot both with self-drivers and tours.

But even still, we didn’t feel like the tourist crush was overwhelming. And since the waterfall was so easy to visit, there were opportunities to re-visit this place just in case the weather might improve (though it didn’t for us).


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

Godafoss_001_jx_06282007 - A house by the east bank car park with a water closet (WC)
Godafoss_002_06282007 - Looking across the brink of Geitafoss as we made our way towards Goðafoss' east bank
Godafoss_003_jx_06282007 - Approaching Goðafoss with some people standing on atop each bank of the river giving us ideas on where we ought to check out the falls
Godafoss_025_06282007 - Approaching Goðafoss from the level of the river on its east bank.  Note the person on the topright providing some sense of scale
Godafoss_024_06282007 - Looking along the banks of the Skjálfandafljót towards Goðafoss
Godafoss_052_06282007 - Julie near the bottom of the east bank of Goðafoss
Godafoss_054_06282007 - Contextual top down look towards Goðafoss from the east side
Godafoss_061_06282007 - Julie precariously standing atop a bluff with a more top down view of Goðafoss from its east bank revealing its curved semi-horseshoe-shaped characteristic
Godafoss_012_jx_06282007 - Some wildflowers blooming near the top down view of Goðafoss
Godafoss_086_06282007 - Julie walking towards the brink of Goðafoss from the west bank
Godafoss_084_06282007 - View of Goðafoss from its brink at its west bank getting us closer to the falls than from the east side
Godafoss_082_06282007 - Looking down at Goðafoss from its brink on the west side

This waterfall is well-signed and right off the Ring Road between Akureyri and Mývatn (about 50km east of Akureyri and 49km west of Reykjalið).

The turnoff for the west bank car park is about 1.1km on the Ring Road east of the turnoff for Route 842.

The turnoff for the east bank area is about 300m further east of the west bank turnoff just on the other side of the bridge.

So given how close it was to drive (or walk) from one bank to the other, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t visit both sides to get the full experience.

For geographical context, Reykjalið was 101km (under 90 minutes drive) east of Akureyri and 479km (under 6 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

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Sweep of the falls as seen from its western bank

Focused on the scene at the base of the falls along its east bank

Looking down at the impressive falls from the east bank

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Tagged with: skjalfandafljot, myvatn, akureyri, gods, christianity, northeast region, nordurland eystra, iceland, waterfall, popular, thorgeir

Visitor Comments:

Spot the Harlequin ducks (Godafoss) October 26, 2009 10:45 pm by George Holderness - I got up close to the west side of the falls for a good panorama and plenty of noise too. I was surprised to see that a good flow of water escapes from just above the top of the falls and flows off to the west. Here on that day (although no guarantees are offered)… ...Read More

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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

3.5 is harsh! August 4, 2019 7:35 am by Ida Koric - Hi folks, I don't know how hard it is to get a 5 on your rating scale, perhaps the rain dampened your experience, but this waterfall is spectacular, in every way. Does popularity lower the rating? It's nice to have a place to oneself, but the visual impact of the geology itself is stunning. ...Read More

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