Godafoss

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

About Godafoss


Hiking Distance: almost roadside; up to about 4.5km for full experience
Suggested Time: as little as 15 minutes or up to 2 hours or so

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2021-08-13

Waterfall Latitude: 65.6829
Waterfall Longitude: -17.5507

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

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 12m tall and 30m wide waterfall on the Skjálfandafljót River (cutting through the Barðadalur Valley) that was segmented into two main components with smaller segments while possessing an arcing semi-horseshoe shape.

Godafoss_066_06282007 - Goðafoss
Goðafoss

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

The operative word with our visits to Goðafoss was “accessible” as we easily experienced it from both sides of its banks, which I’ll describe individually later in this write-up.

The first time we visited the falls in late June 2007, we actually drove to each side and experienced the waterfall in short order thanks to short walking paths along the banks of the Skjálfandafljót River.

When we came back in August 2021, it appeared that the walkways and lookouts were even more developed so my Mom and I just walked to both sides to get the full experience and not get too lazy.

Experiencing Goðafoss from the West Side

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

If you were driving the Ring Road in a clockwise manner, the west side of Goðafoss would be what we’d encounter first.

In my mind, this was the “convenient” side as it had a large car park (see directions below) along with wide walking paths and picnic tables.

Heck, the viewing area at the farthest end of the west side of the river was even paved, where I swore that we used to be able to drive even closer to this side of the falls on our first visit here back in late June 2007.

In fact, I recalled on that first visit that most of the tour bus traffic was on this side so their passengers wouldn’t have to walk as far.

Godafoss_005_08132021 - Context of the newly built-up concrete walkway and viewing area for Goðafoss on the west side of the river
Context of the newly built-up concrete walkway and viewing area for Goðafoss on the west side of the river

In any case, it was a mere 200m to walk from the far corner of the car park to an info board near the furthest of the sanctioned lookouts beyond the end of the concrete part of the path.

Back when the railings and lookouts weren’t established on our first visit, we managed to get all the way to a view where we could look across the brink of the waterfall.

However, there seemed to be infrastructure established on our August 2021 visit that discouraged going that far.

Going further downstream in the opposite direction, there were more built-up viewing areas and rest benches to at least give us partial frontal views of the Goðafoss Waterfall.

Godafoss_046_08132021 - Looking down at the context of the Hansensgat (Hansen's Hole) natural arch and the top of Geitafoss beyond it as seen from the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Looking down at the context of the Hansensgat (Hansen’s Hole) natural arch and the top of Geitafoss beyond it as seen from the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River

We never really got a full contextual view from the west side lookouts because there always seemed to be cliffs on concealing the far right side of Goðafoss.

We had the option of returning to the car park from here or exploring a bit further downstream beyond the start (or end) of the concrete section, where we were treated to less busier perspectives of the gushing Geitafoss.

Right beside this side of Geitafoss was a deep alcove as well as a natural arch above it called Hansensgat or Hansen’s Hole.

We then had the ability to backtrack to the car park to complete a roughly 1.5km loop or go to the footbridge over the Skjálfandafljót River to cross over to the east side.

Experiencing Goðafoss from the East Side

Godafoss_037_06282007 - Julie near the base of Goðafoss from the banks of the east side of the river during our late June 2007 visit
Julie near the base of Goðafoss from the banks of the east side of the river during our late June 2007 visit

The east bank seemed to provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of how we were able to view the falls, and in my opinion, I thought it was the more interesting side.

Indeed, starting from the east side of the bridge over the Skjálfandafljót River near the Fosshóll Farm, we were able to see the 5m Geitafoss (Goat Falls) as well as a partial view of Goðafoss.

Continuing upstream along the river, the path briefly skirted alongside the turbulent river upstream of Geitafoss before joining up with the main paved footpath.

Throughout this stretch of the walk, I noticed evidence of the basalt lava that was deposited here some 8000 years ago from the Trölladyngja Mountain.

Godafoss_072_06282007 - Geitafoss further downstream of Goðafoss on the Skjálfandafljót as seen from just beyond the east side of the bridge
Geitafoss further downstream of Goðafoss on the Skjálfandafljót as seen from just beyond the east side of the bridge

The basalt was the erosion-resistant layer that both channeled the Skjálfandafljót River as well as gave rise to the elevation difference resulting in waterfalls like Goðafoss and Geitafoss.

Continuing further upstream along the west side of the river, we then encountered sanctioned lookouts on the cliff rim overlooking the semi-circular shape of the brink of Goðafoss as well as getting right to the waterfall’s brink.

There was also steep steps leading down to the rocky banks of the river for a more frontal in-your-face look at the Goðafoss itself.

After having our fill of Goðafoss, we could backtrack to Fosshóll, an even closer car park and picnic area just 450m from the upper lookout, or go all the way back to the car park on the west side.

Godafoss_106_08132021 - Looking over the brink of the east side of Goðafoss before heading back towards the car park near Fosshóll
Looking over the brink of the east side of Goðafoss before heading back towards the car park near Fosshóll

The entire experience would be on the order of 4.5km round-trip though we took advantage of Julie driving from the west side to the east side while Mom and I walked around.

That helped to reduce our overall amount of walking to less than 3km in total.

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”).

However, being a pagan man at heart, he secretly maintained allegiance to the Norse deities even though he outwardly did what he thought was the right thing to do to avoid this issue resulting in bloodshed.

Authorities

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

Godafoss_001_08132021 - When we came back to Goðafoss for the first time in 14 years since 2007, we started from the west side and this was a swing gate that was pedestrian only. I swore that we used to drive this stretch to an even closer car park to the falls
Godafoss_004_08132021 - Looking across a pair of picnic tables with a nice view towards Goðafoss on the west side of the river
Godafoss_007_08132021 - This was perhaps the first of the comprehensive view of Goðafoss that I was able to get from the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_016_08132021 - Going further downstream along the Skjálfandafljót River, I was able to see a little more of Goðafoss
Godafoss_019_08132021 - Looking across the Skjálfandafljót River towards the context of some people checking out the base of Goðafoss as seen from the west side
Godafoss_022_08132021 - Continuing to walk further upstream towards the brink of Goðafoss where the concrete section ended
Godafoss_024_08132021 - Looking back downstream along the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River from somewhere near the brink of the Goðafoss Waterfall
Godafoss_025_08132021 - An even closer look at the width of Goðafoss with a lone segment on the right side preceding the main part
Godafoss_027_08132021 - Context of the furthest of the sanctioned lookouts fronting the Goðafoss Waterfall as seen in Auguts 2021
Godafoss_039_08132021 - Looking back at the context of the wide walkway with the concrete path and Goðafoss along the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_042_08132021 - Walking further downstream along the west side of the Skjálfandafljót River with Fosshóll visible in the distance
Godafoss_044_08132021 - Looking across the Geitafoss Waterfall from the west side with the Fosshóll Farm in the distance
Godafoss_047_08132021 - Looking down towards the footbridge across the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_049_08132021 - Looking across the gushing Geitafoss Waterfall as we were near the footbridge over the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_050_08132021 - More frontal look at Geitafoss with neighboring dark lava and the alcove next to it as we were still making our way to the footbridge over the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_056_08132021 - Looking directly across the footbridge over the Skjálfandafljót River as we were about to cross from the west side to the east side
Godafoss_059_08132021 - Looking downstream from the footbridge towards the bridge of the Ring Road over the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_060_08132021 - Looking directly upstream at the Geitafoss Waterfall with its neighboring alcove from the footbridge spanning the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_065_08132021 - Looking back at the context of the car park on the west side of Goðafoss from the east side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_066_08132021 - This was the August 2021 view of the combination of Geitafoss and Goðafoss as seen from the east side of the footbridge over the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_072_08132021 - Looking across the river at the context of Geitafoss and the car park for the west side of Goðafoss
Godafoss_081_08132021 - Looking ahead at the context of the riverside walk leading closer to the east side of Goðafoss
Godafoss_082_08132021 - Looking over the brink of Geitafoss downstream towards the footbridge spanning the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_084_08132021 - Now on the paved path leading closer to the lookouts for the east side of Goðafoss
Godafoss_097_08132021 - Broad long-exposed look at the full extent of Goðafoss as seen from the east side, which included the lone segment on the far right of this picture
Godafoss_008_iPhone_08132021 - Looking over the brink of the east side of Goðafoss from the furthest of the lookouts that I was able to safely go on the east side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_007_iPhone_08132021 - Broad view of the horseshoe-shaped brink of the Goðafoss Waterfall
Godafoss_107_08132021 - Looking back at the main lookout for the east side of Goðafoss which shows how far away from the Fosshóll buildings I was at
Godafoss_108_08132021 - Descending steps towards the eastern banks of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_109_08132021 - Checking out the rocky surface of the east side of the Skjálfandafljót River as I pursued the bottom of Goðafoss
Godafoss_111_08132021 - Broad look at the Goðafoss Waterfall from the banks of the east side of the Skjálfandafljót River
Godafoss_115_08132021 - Looking downstream along the east banks of the Skjálfandafljót River where I got a closer look at the lava rocks and cliffs that were said to have been 8000 years old
Godafoss_116_08132021 - This was a partial view of Goðafoss from the spot where I viewed those lava rocks
Godafoss_117_08132021 - Back on the paved walkway on my way back to the east side car park for Goðafoss
Godafoss_001_jx_06282007 - A house by the east bank car park with a water closet (WC) as seen on our first visit in late June 2007
Godafoss_002_06282007 - Looking across the brink of Geitafoss as we made our way towards Goðafoss' east bank in late June 2007
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 as seen in late June 2007.  Note the person on the topright providing some sense of scale
Godafoss_024_06282007 - Looking along the banks of the Skjálfandafljót towards Goðafoss in late June 2007
Godafoss_052_06282007 - Julie near the bottom of the east bank of Goðafoss in late June 2007
Godafoss_054_06282007 - Contextual top down look towards Goðafoss from the east side as seen in late June 2007
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. That was in late June 2007, but when we came back in August 2021, you're not supposed to go where Julie was at anymore
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 in late June 2007. If you look at this picture compared to our more recent photos, it's clear that they really developed the west side of Goðafoss
Godafoss_084_06282007 - View of Goðafoss from its brink at its west bank getting us closer to the falls than from the east side. This was taken as of late June 2007
Godafoss_082_06282007 - Looking down at Goðafoss from its brink on the west side as of late June 2007


This Godafoss Waterfall is well-signed and right off the Ring Road between Akureyri and Laugar.

I’ll first describe the route from Laugar before describing the route from Akureyri.

Drive_to_Godafoss_004_iPhone_08132021 - We were already starting to see Goðafoss in the distance as we were driving west on the Ring Road not too far from Laugar
We were already starting to see Goðafoss in the distance as we were driving west on the Ring Road not too far from Laugar

From Laugar, we’d drive north on the Ring Road (Route 1) for 3km to an intersection where we then turned left to continue on the Ring Road.

We then drove nearly 10km to the turnoff for Goðafoss, which was the first turnoff immediately after crossing the road bridge above Skjálfandafljót.

On the approach, we were already able to see the waterfall from the Ring Road when the weather wasn’t foggy.

Finally, we drove the last 300m to the spacious car park on the west side of the river.

Myvatn_Nature_Bath_009_08132021 - Looking back at the car park for the west side of Goðafoss
Looking back at the car park for the west side of Goðafoss

Conversely, we also could have turned left onto the Barðadalsvegur Eystri Road by Fosshóll right before the bridge over Skjálfandafljót, which was about 300m east of the turnoff for the west side car park.

Once on the Barðadalsvegur, we then drove nearly the final 300m to a car park on the right that was for exploring the east side of Goðafoss.

In either case, the drive from Laugar to Goðafoss should take no more than 15 minutes.

As for coming in the other direction from Akureyri, we could follow the Ring Road east for at least 28km to either of the aforementioned car parks for Goðafoss.

Godafoss_120_08132021 - Looking towards the car park for the east side of Goðafoss, which was just south of the buildings by the Fosshóll Farm
Looking towards the car park for the east side of Goðafoss, which was just south of the buildings by the Fosshóll Farm

The drive would be slightly extended had we opted to avoid the toll tunnel and driven the longer Route 83/84 around the tunnel instead.

For geographical context, the nearest town was Laugar, which was 47km (over 30 minutes drive) east of Akureyri, 36km (about 30 minutes) west of Reykjahlið (or Mývatn), 201km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Egilsstaðir, and 434km (over 5 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

Find A Place To Stay



Booking.com

Shaky video showing the context of the waterfall as seen from the lookouts on the west side


Checking out Geitafoss and parts of Godafoss from the footbridge


Back and forth sweep from an elevated lookout from the east side


Downstream to upstream sweep before going back and forth with a zoomed-in pan as seen from the base on the east side


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

Related Top 10 Lists

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Booking.com


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

Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

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

Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


The Process of How I Earn Income Sharing My Passion Through Lived Experiences

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.