Nykurhylsfoss (Fossarfoss, Sveinsstekksfoss)

Berufjordur / Eastfjords, East Region (Austurland), Iceland

About Nykurhylsfoss (Fossarfoss, Sveinsstekksfoss)

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2021-08-09
Date last visited: 2021-08-09

Waterfall Latitude: 64.75308
Waterfall Longitude: -14.48299

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Nykurhylsfoss (Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss) was kind of a hidden, off-the-beaten track waterfall in Fossárdalur on the Fossá River as it twisted and tumbled its way to the Berufjörður in Iceland’s Eastfjords.

That said, during our August 2021 visit, we did seem to notice an appreciable amount of curious visitors stopping by whether they were looking to break up a long drive or noticing other people parking off the Ring Road (see directions below).

Nykurhylsfoss_041_08092021 - Nykurhylsfoss (also known as Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss)
Nykurhylsfoss (also known as Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss)

While there seemed to be some degree of confusion about visiting this waterfall (for reasons I’ll get to shortly), once we figured it out, it was actually a quick stop with a nice view across the fjord.

I think the confusion stems from the fact that there was a conspicuous car park and picnic area on the south side of the Fossá River near a bridge that was gated off.

With several cars parked here, it would compel people to want to stop by and have a look, and that certainly happened with us.

Well, it turns out that this car park and picnic area was for the Nykurhylur Pool, which didn’t feature a waterfall, but a sign here indicated a folklore associated with it.

Nykurhylsfoss_011_08092021 - Looking ahead at the Nykurhyls Pool, where the mythical nykur once inhabited and drowned its victims
Looking ahead at the Nykurhyls Pool, where the mythical nykur once inhabited and drowned its victims

Basically, this pool was named after a mythical creature called a nykur which was a horse with backwards hooves.

It tries to lure people onto its back for a ride, but once a person is on, it can’t get off, and the nykur goes into the lake to drown its victims.

So this explains how the falls got the name Nykurhylsfoss (though I’m still unsure about the Sveinssteksfoss name), but what about the waterfall itself?

Well, it turns out that it’s possible to walk across the gated bridge over the Fossá River and then walk up the steep unpaved road to a lookout where the waterfall can finally be seen.

Nykurhylsfoss_014_08092021 - Looking down at the context of the car park for the Nykurhyls Pool surrounded by the Klif Cliffs and Berufjörður
Looking down at the context of the car park for the Nykurhyls Pool surrounded by the Klif Cliffs and Berufjörður

The round-trip distance of this walk would be about 1km.

However, the easier way to go would be to drive up the road on the north side of the Fossá River (eventually leading to the Eyjólfsstaðir Farm) and park at the car park right around the first bend.

From there, we were able to get a nice view over and across the Berufjörður before walking on the short descending path onto a bluff where there was a designated lookout finally revealing the two-tiered 15-20m Nykurhylsfoss.

Between the car park and the lookout, I also noticed that there was a fence with an entrance that went into a very steep and overgrown trail.

Nykurhylsfoss_028_08092021 - Context of Nykurhylsfoss and its overlook
Context of Nykurhylsfoss and its overlook

I didn’t pursue this trail all the way, but I’d imagine it eventually went to the top of the waterfall.

There are more waterfalls further upstream on the Fossá to extend a visit here beyond a short stop to break up the long drives through the Eastfjords of Southeast Iceland.

I’m sure pursuits further up the valley will be met with even greater solitude now that Nykurhylsfoss seems to be getting some degree of tourist traffic (at least as of August 2021 when we finally made our visit).


Nykurhylsfoss (Sveinsstekksfoss or Fossárdafoss) resides in the East Region near Djúpivogur, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Múlaþing. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Drive_to_Nykurhylsfoss_007_iPhone_08092021 - We were getting close to Nykurhylsfoss as we were following along the Berufjörður
Nykurhylsfoss_003_08092021 - When we first showed up to Nykurhylsfoss, we actually mistakenly parked for the Nykurhylur. This was a look back at the short access road to get to this picnic area and car park during our August 2021 visit
Nykurhylsfoss_012_08092021 - Then we finally figured out that we should have driven to this car park on the other side of the river instead
Nykurhylsfoss_017_08092021 - Looking across the head of the Berufjörður with some of the stubborn fog lifting during our August 2021 visit
Nykurhylsfoss_023_08092021 - Looking down the Fossá towards the Ring Road from the overlook near the car park for Nykurhylsfoss
Nykurhylsfoss_026_08092021 - Descending the unpaved road towards the lookout area for Nykurhylsfoss
Nykurhylsfoss_033_08092021 - Finally starting to get our first glimpses of the Nykurhylsfoss
Nykurhylsfoss_042_08092021 - Looking downstream from the Nykurhylsfoss lookout towards the Nykurhylur Pool
Nykurhylsfoss_049_08092021 - Direct look against the early afternoon sun towards Nykurhylsfoss from its lookout
Nykurhylsfoss_055_08092021 - Another look back at the context of the Nykurhylsfoss lookout, which was busy with more tourists that I would have expected in this part of Iceland
Nykurhylsfoss_059_08092021 - When I was exploring the path behind the livestock maze fence, I realized that the path was rather steep and overgrown, but I suspected that it ultimately went to the top of Nykurhylsfoss
Nykurhylsfoss_063_08092021 - Looking back at the context of the lookout area for Nykurhylsfoss from the overgrown scrambling path
Nykurhylsfoss_068_08092021 - Returning to the car park for the Nykurhylsfoss
Drive_to_Folaldafoss_002_iPhone_08092021 - Just to give you an idea of the road that we had to take to ascend to the car park for Nykurhylsfoss, here's a look back down the same road as we were returning to the Ring Road up ahead

The nearest town of any significant size to Nykurhylsfoss (or Sveinssteksfoss or Fossárdafoss) is the small coastal town of Djúpivogur so I’ll describe the driving directions from there.

Starting from Djúpivogur, we’d drive back towards the Ring Road (roughly 1.3km) before turning right onto the Ring Road.

Nykurhylsfoss_025_08092021 - Context of the unpaved road and the car park closest to Nykurhylsfoss
Context of the unpaved road and the car park closest to Nykurhylsfoss

Then, we’d drive on the Ring Road for a little over 14km before crossing the road bridge over the Fossá River and turning left onto a road signed for Eyjólfsstaðir.

From there, we’d drive the remaining 500m up the steep hill to a car park on the left just past the bend at the top of the steep hill.

Overall, this drive would take around 15 minutes.

It’s worth noting that if the steep, unpaved slope might be a bit much for the rental car (even if using low gear), then there are alternatives.

Nykurhylsfoss_002_08092021 - This was the car park for the Nykurhylur Pool
This was the car park for the Nykurhylur Pool

The first alternative involves parking at the Nykurhylur Pool, which is what most people mistakenly do anyways since it’s easier to spot while driving the Ring Road.

Its turnoff is south of the road bridge over the Fossá River though you have to go around back onto the Ring Road to get there since the smaller bridge is gated off.

As for the second option, I’ve also seen people park by the gated bridge though there’s very limited space there as there’s hardly enough space to make a three-point turn if there are already cars parked here.

Just to give you a little bit of perspective on distances, Djúpivogur is about 104km (about 90 minutes drive) east of Höfn, 85km (about 90 minutes drive) south of Egilsstaðir, 297km (about 4 hours drive) east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, 331km (about 4.5 hours drive) southeast of Akureyri, and 552km (over 7 hours drive) east of Reykjavík.

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Slow deliberate back and forth sweep from the overlook revealing both the fjord and the falls against the sun

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Tagged with: eastfjords, djupivogur, fossa, fossardafoss, sveinssteksfoss, iceland, ring road, berufjordur, mulathing

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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.
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