Are you looking for dreamy southern Iceland waterfalls? The stuff legends are made out of? Check out these 7 beautiful Icelandic waterfalls perfect for your 7-day itinerary. Bookish stories, GOT references, and Icelandic myths included.
When you decide to visit a country, are there certain features that you actively seek out? For Italy, I hunt down the wine and ghostly ruins. In Germany, my itinerary obsession zeroes in on Glühwein and Christmas markets. In Ireland, show me all of the books.
For Iceland, I had three goals:
- Catch the Northern Lights
- See glaciers for the first time
- Chase all of the southern Icelandic waterfalls
We visited Iceland in February and looking back at pictures, I just have to laugh. Hello, giant snow bank.
Thankfully, no waterfalls froze completely on us. However, they are a tad snow-covered.
Warning: There are no extra fancy shots here. The weather chilled these Floridians to the bone, and I definitely almost slid into some steams. But, this is really how you will see Iceland in the winter. No over-editing or sugar-coating here. Just snow coating…relentlessly.
Also, please know that I didn’t wear the traditional bright yellow coat recommended for picture-taking and IG because I could care less. I choose to blend in like a polar bear. And maybe that’s why my IG account is becoming extinct.
An Added Bonus:
Soon after we returned from Iceland so did one of my blogging friends, Keri of Quiet Girl Loud World. Be sure to check out her bio and blog at the end of this post. We both had unique adventures and decided to team up to share our 7 favorite southern Iceland waterfalls with a bookish and dreamy flair. These Iceland waterfalls are the stuff legends are made of, literally.
P.S. Keri’s contributions are marked with **.
7 Southern Iceland Waterfalls You Don’t Want To Miss
While some of these waterfalls cascade a little farther beyond south Iceland, this is the order you can see them from west to east:
Bjarnarfoss > Öxarárfoss > Gullfoss > Seljalandsfoss > Gljúfrabúi > Skógafoss > Fardagafoss
About a 2.5-hour drive from Reykjavik, you can spot this waterfall on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from road 54. Bjarnarfoss falls from a cliff that overlooks a farm.
There is a parking area closer to the falls and a walking path around the lower portion of the falls and river. If you want to go to the main waterfall, the path is much steeper and not advisable in the winter.
Myths say that Fjallkonan, the Lady of the Mountain, stands under the falls with the water cascading over her shoulders. She is the personification of Iceland and its values as a nation. I love a lady with influence.
Legend has it that the name Bjarnarfoss comes from a wealthy farmer named Bjarni who one day turned away a vagrant in need of a place to stay. The next day all his livestock lay dead in the field. He proceeded to lose his mind and throw his money into the waterfall. Seems like a dark story, but I do love a good legend.
Found within Thingvellir National Park, Öxarárfoss is easy to access and has its own parking area. The waterfall drops from the Öxará River onto a bed of large rocks. In the winter, this southern Iceland waterfall is mostly frozen and covered in ice. A wooden footpath makes Öxarárfoss easier to walk around and take photos.
As you approach the falls through a massive fissure, you may be reminded of a place you have seen before. Game of Thrones featured part of the area.
Do you recall following Arya and the Hound as he took her to the Eyrie to sell her back to Aunt Lysa? Öxarárfoss looks especially familiar on a bleak day. You can have a nice laugh like Arya when you learn that Lysa Arryn is in fact, not there (or just smile because Öxarárfoss is so stunning).
Öxarárfoss is a must stop as you explore the Golden Circle. Just past Öxarárfoss, find Silfra and Thingvellir Church. If you are a diver, consider going for a dive between two tectonic plates at Silfra.
You will not run out of things to do in this National Park.
Find out all you need to know about visiting Thingvellir National Park.
Like Öxarárfoss, Gullfoss lands in Iceland’s popular Golden Circle. Gullfoss translates to “golden falls.” Visiting Iceland’s Gullfoss waterfall is free, and know that Gullfoss steals the reputation for one of Iceland’s most well-known waterfalls.
Waterfall chasers will find multiple stairways and viewing points for the falls. You definitely won’t get lost looking for Gullfoss as you can hear this beast from virtually anywhere.
Although the stories and myths behind Gullfoss are largely untrue, look for the plague–a stone memorial–of Sigríður Tómasdóttir. Legend and some truth have it that her father wanted to harmfully exploit the falls for power and electricity. In protest, she threatened to chuck herself down them. Who doesn’t love a passionate feminist?
You’ll also find Gullfoss on a British band cover, in multiple movies, and even a music video. I like to think of Gullfoss as the MTV of waterfalls. Know that Geysir, the Secret Lagoon, and Kerid Crater are also close by.
Check out the Gullfoss Visitor Website Here.
If Self-Driving Iceland Isn’t For You, Book Your Next Tour:
One of the best parts of Iceland is driving around through all that eye candy. Mountains turn navy blue in the sunset, black sand beaches pop up through patches of white snow, and waterfalls are everywhere. Visitors can see Seljalandsfoss waterfall from Ring Road.
We spent a night in Hella, which I highly recommend.
When it’s not snowing and icy, you can walk up the steps behind the waterfall for even better views. In February and March, though, expect roped off stairs for your safety. Not that we didn’t watch many crazed photographers…cough, cough IGers, chance the ice. In fact, one guy almost plummeted off the side to his doom.
While there are no legends that I know of, one of the Amazing Race legs kicked off here.
We paid a small fee for parking in the lot and to use the bathrooms.
Gljúfrabúi, Also Known As Gljúfrafoss
Located slightly behind and to the left of Seljalandsfoss, some tourists accidentally overlook Gljúfrabúi known as the “canyon dweller” or “inhabitant of the gorge.” There are quite a few loose translations so I just go ahead and call it the buttcrack waterfall; I guess that says more about my class than anything else.
Gljúfrabúi and Gljúfrafoss are also the same waterfalls. Names get super confusing in Iceland, especially when they have the coolest pronunciations.
Follow the cleared trail from Seljalandsfoss–it’s less than a 10 to 15-minute walk. When not covered in sheets of ice–and even then–you can sneak between the crack to get up close and personal with one of southern Iceland’s hidden waterfalls.
Experiencing southern Iceland waterfall fatigue? Stop and rest for a few days. Book your Iceland accommodations:
Skógafoss waterfall holds a special place in my heart. One, because if you are lucky, you might just catch a rainbow over the falls. Our rainbow landed close by, and the floating birds added such an enchanting quality to the top.
Two, Skogar is a great little pitstop for food and beer. If you don’t stay in Hella and Vík like us, there are great lodging options here.
I read from Katla GeoPark that Skógafoss means “forest waterfall,” although I question everything in the winter.
Equally fun is the legend that Thrasi Thórólfsson hid a treasure chest below the falls. Arrrrrr. I guess this is probably more Viking than pirate. Apparently, greedy men tried to pull out the treasure chest and broke its ring, which now sits as the church handle. People swear that in the sun, you can still see a glimmer of gold. I’d believe it with those rainbows. Magical right?
For stair climbers, head right up to meet this beauty eye-to-eye. In the winter, it’s a tad slippery, and we wussed out. If this yogi can’t keep her balance, then trust me, it’s slippery. Many wore better hiking shoes or had those special shoe chains.
The waterfall Fardagafoss is a more than 7-hour drive from Reykjavik, and about 2 hours from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. While this one is more Eastern Iceland than Southern, I enjoyed it so much that I believe it warrants a visit if you have the time.
Fardagafoss was the least crowded of the southern Iceland waterfalls. If you want a waterfall all to yourself, this is a likely candidate. Just a few minutes from Egilsstaðir, on the road to Seyðisfjörður, you will find the parking area for Fardagafoss.
From the parking lot, the hike to the falls is about 30-minutes or so, maybe longer in the winter when the path is covered in ice (if you are willing to brave that). You can go down to the water via a path with a chain to hold onto, but again, ice doesn’t make that particularly safe.
The best story surrounding this waterfall is that of a female troll who lived in the cave behind Fardagafoss for centuries until it collapsed. She had a pot of gold that she hid in Gufufoss, another waterfall that you can find further down the road. Some say that you can see the handle of the pot through the falls at the right angle.
If you make it this far, spend some time in Egilsstaðir and make the drive to the artistic town of Seyðisfjörður. You will see more waterfalls along the way.
More Iceland Posts On TUL That You May Find Helpful:
Driving In Iceland In February
Is The Blue Lagoon Worth A Visit?
What Is Iceland Like In The Winter?
What Drinks Are Famous In Iceland?
What Should I Read Before Heading To Iceland?
Learn More About Iceland’s Christmas Tradition Of Book Giving
7-Day Iceland Itinerary For Independent Travelers
Are you ready to hop in your car or book a tour to Iceland after reading about these literally legendary southern Iceland waterfalls?
Looking for more Iceland inspiration? Check out my co-contributor Keri’s post on Eastern Iceland. She is a GOT’s fanatic with a quiet take on the boisterous world.
**Contributor Posts From Keri of Quiet Girl Loud World
Keri is the creator of Quiet Girl Loud World, a travel blog for the quiet folk. She loves her two cats, eating all of the desserts, and a good YA fantasy book. Her favorite places to travel are those with a good story, delicious food, and friendly locals.
Headed To Iceland Soon? Pin These Southern Iceland Waterfalls For Later:
Monday 15th of July 2019
How did I miss this post!? I love how real you are about your pictures...and thankfully you didn't slide into any streams! However, if you did... imagine the story! I love folklore stories so just imagining the troll at Fardagafoss and her secret pot of gold (how Irish) hiding inside the waterfall Gufufoss just makes me happy thinking about it! I would surely be trying to get that right angle to see the mythical handle in the waterfall.
Tuesday 16th of July 2019
Haha, I just saw an Instagrammer full out unleash the other day (@travelswithnell, or something close), and I loved her even more for it. She started saying how travel people on IG look like they are on another planet (the landscapes are so edited); she was also saying how IG makes us feel bad about ourselves, is pretty fake, and sets unrealistic expectations...you know...that certain type of IG that I talk about and gets me in SO MUCH TROUBLE LOL!! I totally agree, though, for the travel blogging/influencer world. When I went to Iceland, I had different expectations from people's photos and frilly write-ups. I knew that the pictures were edited, but holy shit were they edited. The Blue Lagoon is gorgeous and amazing, but I didn't recognize it. The same for the waterfalls...even the Northern Lights... I understand editing for artistic reasons (people who sell photography, for example) or to sell your digital photoshop editing course. But it's super disappointing in the world of general travel. Show me the real Iceland, please! And that, I can do. LOL!
I am absolutely in love with Iceland's legends, history, and myths. My husband and I are already talking about taking a trip back there.
Kal @ Reader Voracious
Sunday 7th of July 2019
I have a strange love for waterfalls, so this post has me hyped for Iceland like nobody's business (I also really need to see the Northern Lights)! Thanks so much for dedicating a post to waterfalls, and great photos EVEN IF YOU BLEND IN LIKE A POLAR BEAR!
<3 you, book bestie!
Monday 8th of July 2019
HAHAHAHAHA! I am dying. I definitely went for the polar bear look here. I rebelled because IGers swear you need to wear bright yellow to be "instagramable"--and clearly, I was like f*ck that nonsense lol! I have had this coat for maybe 10 years? The joys of living in Florida...
Hope you are loving your new host, site, and logos. I am heading over to check it all out AGAIN since I am sure your comments are enabled again. I missed them!
All the love book bestie!
Thursday 4th of July 2019
Great post!....and.........I really enjoyed the way you combined two perspectives to weave the tale of all of these waterfalls. I also loved this quote: "Legend and some truth have it that her father wanted to harmfully exploit the falls for power and electricity. In protest, she threatened to chuck herself down them. Who doesn’t love a passionate feminist?" LOL!
Thursday 4th of July 2019
Thank you so much, Kevin! I know, right? I love me a passionate and dramatic feminist that will stop at nothing for her beliefs!! I'm not sure that I would personally throw myself over a waterfall to prove a point, but hey, I can respect that.
Wednesday 3rd of July 2019
Yesssssss! Myths and legends and beautiful scenery is such a perfect bookish addition for your Iceland content! Not surprising that somewhere like Iceland is full of epic myths.
Even though I've been twice, this is just a reminder that there's so much more to see. Hopefully Iceland doesn't finally throw the towel in and bad foreigners thanks to all the selfish IGers literally destroying the wildlife. It's just unbelievable how disrespectful they can be. Not that I should be surprised after the innumerable selfies we've seen being taken at Auschwitz and other camps.
On a lighter note, Buttcrack Falls made me giggle!
Thursday 4th of July 2019
I would love to read the Icelandic Sagas sometime. Have you read or skimmed them? I'm also really entranced by Iceland's myths and superstitions. I read how they believe in "little people"--their words, not mine--which sound a lot like Smurfs to me. There is something so magical about a country that loves books, has the coolest legends, and then showcases the Northern Lights.
I still don't think that I've ever fully heard about your Icelandic adventures. And lack thereof...lol!
OMG, Iceland and the IG fiasco and unconscious tourism is KILLING ME. I decided for IG and my blog to be extra careful about geotagging, what I say, and what I share to preserve some of its beauty. We saw so many bad things happening in Iceland--you know the story about the guy almost plummeting to his death for the perfect pictures as well as all of the tourists who illegally kept pulling over to take pictures of everything. We almost got in a huge car accident from tourists breaking the law and being ignorant...again for a picture. Drones were banned while we were there (it was SO WINDY), and people broke those simple rules too. Poor Iceland. They do want the tourists for the economy, especially during the slower seasons, but they want respectful ones. I wonder now that WOW has gone out, if Iceland will see less tourists... Humans seem to be good at ruining things, but I definitely think IG is a large part of the problem sometimes.
Sunday 23rd of June 2019
Sorry about that! I think it’s working!
I loved this post so much! What beautiful pictures! I love your collaboration. I need to get to Iceland one day. I’m so impressed you guys can keep the names together. I think I’d for sure mess that up, but I guess, if you did get the names wrong, I’d never know! I loved all the stories and behind the scenes stuff you had that went along with the Falls. Very cool. Love the GOT reference even though I don’t remember that spot. I’ll have to rewatch. ?
The buttcrack Falls are my favorite!?
Monday 24th of June 2019
My WP reader has been acting kind of funny. I feel ya!
Thank you so much. Keri is the best. OMG, I had to check the spelling for all of these Icelandic waterfalls at least 20 times. I debated which alphabet to use too. Trying to pronounce them while there was crazy. When we visited other southern Icelandic sites, the hotel staff laughed with us and said to say things like "glacier lagoon" and "black sand beach" instead of their actual names. Whoooopps... it was SO hard. We tried.
I loved the hidden buttcrack falls. ; )