All about the waterfalls of Iceland’s South Coast
Iceland may seem like a small island, but it is not lacking in beautiful waterfalls. Waterfalls dot each region of Iceland, from Gullfoss on the Golden Circle to Dettifoss and Góðafoss in North Iceland. Some say that many of the island’s most unique and beautiful waterfalls are located in South Iceland, particularly the South Coast.
Fed by nearby glaciers, Iceland has an estimated 10,000 waterfalls; visiting a few is a must when traveling around the country. And the South Coast is a great place to start. Indeed, the South Coast is chock full of gorgeous sights ranging from vast glaciers, towering volcanoes, black sand beaches, and stunning waterfalls. Numerous companies offer tours to these striking places.
The South Coast is ideal for those that want to sightsee across the breathtaking landscape. A trip to Iceland isn’t complete without a visit to some epic waterfalls on the South Coast. And, due to the constant mist, if you’re lucky, you will see a rainbow during your stop at some of these waterfalls!
Waterfalls of the South Coast
Each of the waterfalls listed below has its own unique beauty and charm and are worthwhile stops on your South Coast trip.
Skógafoss is one of the most iconic waterfalls in all of Iceland and one of the jewels of the South Coast. The dramatic waterfall, which is one of the biggest in the country, stands 82 feet high and has a drop-off of a whopping 197 feet. The impressive width of the falls makes it unique, as well as the option to scale a set of stairs to the top for breathtaking views.
Seljalandsfoss is another beautiful, well-known waterfall on the South Coast. Travelers love the falls for its delicate 40-meter (131-ft) drop. This waterfall is unique in a country of stunning waterfalls in that there’s a path that lets you walk behind it. This is an extraordinary experience, even for Iceland, as you get to see a waterfall from behind!
Just a few minutes away from Seljalandsfoss is the secret waterfall of Gljúfrabúi, which stands 40 meters tall and is partially hidden behind a large cliff. It takes a little work to reach the falls as you can either follow a steep path up the ridge to view the waterfall from above or walk into the canyon. The journey is worth it as the waterfall is spectacular.
Háifoss is a beautiful waterfall near the mighty volcano Hekla. It drops from a height of 122 meters (400 ft), making it the second-highest waterfall in Iceland. Set against the backdrop of the Þjórsá River, Háifoss is a beautiful place to stop and take photos. If you have some time, make sure to get some good views of Hekla.
There’s a second waterfall, Granni, located right next to Háifoss. Granni means neighbor in Icelandic, which is quite the appropriate name for this waterfall located next to Háifoss. The vast open landscape around Háifoss and Granni makes these waterfalls perfect for those looking to capture some incredible landscape photographs in Iceland.
Hjálparfoss is another gorgeous waterfall near the volcano Hekla. While not particularly tall, the waterfall is unique as it’s where the Þórsa and Fossa rivers meet, and the falls are split in two. It is about 30 kilometers (19 mi) east of the small village of Flúðir and can be reached by a gravel road that winds through sweeping lava fields.
Svartifoss is a waterfall surrounded by black-column basalt formations. Located in Skaftafell inside Vatnajökull National Park, it’s dark yet beautiful, making it one of the most photographed waterfalls on the South Coast.
Is it easy to get to the South Coast of Iceland?
The South Coast is a region of the island that is very easy to visit on guided tours. For instance, Gray Line offers 10-hour and 14-hour day tours to the South Coast that stop at Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Just sit back, relax and leave the driving to the professionals while you enjoy the gorgeous views along the way!
What’s the best time of year to visit Iceland’s South Coast waterfalls?
There isn’t a best time to visit the waterfalls on the south coast of Iceland; it depends on the landscape you prefer. In the summer, you can enjoy surroundings of lush green with milder temperatures and, of course, the midnight sun. However, in the winter, you have the opportunity to see waterfalls under the soft light of winter, snow, and perhaps majestic northern lights. The South Coast is beautiful year-round!
Tips for visiting South Coast waterfalls
Many of Iceland’s South Coast waterfalls allow you to get very close. While it’s exhilarating to feel the mist and spray of the waterfall, it can get wet. Make sure you’re dressed for the experience with waterproof outer layers and waterproof shoes with good socks so that you stay dry. Or, you can always keep your distance from the waterfall.
Remain on designated paths
Many of the waterfalls on the South Coast have designated paths for visitors to follow. It’s essential to respect the signs and stay on the trails not only because they keep you safe but trails protect Iceland’s fragile ecology. Also, be sure to take any trash with you and don’t disturb the natural environment.
See waterfalls on a South Coast tour with Gray Line
Gray Line’s experienced tour guides lead groups to the South Coast year-round that visit waterfalls like Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Tours also include the chance to:
- Enjoy the black volcanic sand beach of Reynisfjara
- Stand close to the iconic Skógafoss waterfall
- Witness the incredible Reynisdrangar sea stacks
- Discover the charm and peace of the village of Vík
- Marvel at astonishing views of glaciers and volcanoes
- Soak in the sights around the spectacular Seljalandsfoss waterfall
How many waterfalls are in South Iceland?
There are estimates of more than 10,000 waterfalls in all of Iceland, but there isn’t an exact number available. The South Coast is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country, like Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
What is the big waterfall in South Iceland?
The two most well-known waterfalls on the South Coast are Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, but there are other big waterfalls in South Iceland, like Gullfoss in the Golden Circle. Don’t discount the lesser-known waterfalls, as they each have their own beauty and appeal. Visit as many as you have time for!
What waterfall can you walk behind in South Iceland?
You can walk behind the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss, which is a spectacular and unique experience. There’s a short path to follow that leads to the area behind the falls. It’s one of the most popular photo ops on the South Coast! Be careful, as it can get wet, and the path can get muddy and slippery.