The Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall is a wonderful off the beaten path experience in North Iceland: a 2h detour from Godafoss to alien-looking landscapes with strangely shaped basalt columns and a 20 m high waterfall with glacier waters.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit with access tips (4WD required), map and photos
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Why visit the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland?
Like Godafoss, the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall, situated on the Skjálfandafljót River, is fed by the Vatnajökull glacier.
The water flows into a narrow passage before dropping 20 meters into a wide basin.
The drop is not that impressive, but the surrounding landscape brings drama which is why it is one of my favorite waterfalls. Have a look:
The interest of this waterfall, like Svartifoss in the Skaftafell park, is in the surrounding amphitheater of basalt columns. Although those columns are not as straight and defined as the ones of Svartifoss, I think Aldeyjarfoss is more fascinating with different shapes and layers in the rock walls.
I do recommend the boring drive off the beaten track to admire the unique ‘architecture’ of this waterfall.
Is Aldeyjarfoss worth it?
I did enjoy the waterfall as it was quite different for the others. If you have plenty of time and want some off road experiences, then fo for it.
However, If you don't plan on renting a 4WD, I would not rent one just for this place. There is already so much to see that is easier to access. It is quite a detour to plan.
About the name
The name means "Aldey Island Fall" according to a local but I could not find a source to corroborate.
More photos after the planning tips
Planning Tips & Map - How to get to Aldeyjarfoss location - drive
Map Aldeyjarfoss Location
- In North Iceland
- Just South of Godafoss
- Akureyri to Aldeyjarfoss = 1h40 drive
- Godafoss to Aldeyjarfoss = 50min drive
- Myvatn to Aldeyjarfoss = 1h30 drive
- Below is a map to help you get oriented and locate the waterfall:
This location is included (with GPS coordinates, map of region and planning info) in my travel guide eBook that helps you easily plan your Iceland road trip:
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Option 1 - Self-drive - How to get to Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall South Bank
- From Godafoss, drive up Road 842 along the river – 40 km of a dirt road where the scenery is not really good (which is rare in Iceland) - this is an easy drive, road in ok condition) but be careful with the sheep!
- Then, turn left when the waterfall is indicated on F26 Road only allowed to 4 WD and drive 5km. The sign indicates river crossings but do not worry it is only after the waterfall if you decide to continue on F26 to the highlands.
- I saw some people with non 4WD cars parked at the crossroad and finishing on foot
Plan 2h – 2h30 for the whole loop from and back to Godafoss/Road1 - including time to visit. Longer if you have to walk the last 5km.
Option 2 - Group tour to Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall
If you don't want to rent a 4WD, you can join a great day trip that goes to the Central Highlands along the Skjálfandafljót River. It departs from Akureyri and follows the river to show you the waterfalls: Godafoss, Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss. Plus some fun off road driving in North Iceland - Check out program and book your tour
Option 3 - North Bank
It is also possible to admire the waterfall from the other side of the river.
However this is not the official viewpoint and you won't be able to see the whole bassin from there.
This is not the official road so there is less information. From Road 843, it is a road to the farm Stóratunga. You pass Ullarfoss and cross a bridge to drive on a small gravel road to a parking lot. From there it is a 20min hike.
Need to rent a car in Iceland?
- Option 1 - Local experts - Iceland has a lot of specificities and the offerings of local companies are adapted - you can compare cars and prices of quality local brands on this expert Icelandic website
- Option 2 - International Brands - compare offers on RentalCars.com
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Walk to the waterfall of Aldeyjarfoss
- You will spot the waterfall parking area easily with the toilet cabins.
- Far from the tourist trail, you can end up like me enjoying it just by yourself
- Amenities: toilets
- It is a 10/15 min walk from the parking to the view of the waterfall. There is a path, but I spotted it too late. I just walked across in the rocks.
- Before getting down, enjoy the views of the bare surrounding landscapes
- Wear good shoes and check out my complete article with detailed suggestions and tips on what to wear and pack for Iceland to stay warm and comfortable
Drop & Pool of Aldeyjarfoss Iceland in pictures
The drop is only 20 meters, but because it is so narrow, it is quite powerful. The rushing sound and the splash are quite impressive. Photos can't give justice to this waterfall.
Aldeyjarfoss is one of the favorite waterfalls for photographers because the movement of the water is interesting for long exposures, with the dispersion in the pool.
After the pool, the waterfall flows in a narrow canyon that flattens out quite quickly.
A closer look at the basalt columns
As I wrote above, the most interesting part of the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is the surrounding land. It is part of a lava field, named Suðurárhraun or Báðardalshraun, which was originally formed by eruptions, around 9500 years ago. Sadly, I was not able to capture the bare landscape that created, for me, the feeling of being on another planet.
Below are some close-up picture of the basalt columns. I love how it created layers. At the bottom the basalt columns are straight but above they got compressed into different shapes creating intriguing sculptures.
The water of the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall flows from the Vatnajökull glacier so I decided against trying to find a place to swim-freeze.
However, this particularity makes the water milky blue. You can see it well on the picture below of the river section above the waterfall.
Further upstream is another waterfall: Hrafnabjargafoss. It is 3km more on the F-road but the access to the best viewpoints is more difficult.
Accommodations near Aldeyjarfoss
If you want to photograph the waterfall with best light at sunrise and sunset or during the night with the northern lights, you need to stay close by.
On the Road from Godafoss to Aldeyjarfoss you can find:
- Bardardalur - the closest option, small holiday homes - Check out photos and availability
- The Kidagil Guesthouse - just a little bit further with nice rooms and a good restaurant - Check out photos and availability
- The Sandhaugar Guesthouse, still on the same road, but a bit closer to Godafoss - Check out photos and availability
And near Godafoss so 1hour from Aldeyjarfoss:
The Fossholl Guesthouse, right on Route 1 near Godafoss. This way I was able to enjoy sunset at the waterfall and the stars at night with the rushing water.
Want to see other highlights in the area?
- The large volcanic crater of Hverfjall on which you can climb - read article
- The crazy lava formations of Dimmuborgir - read article
- The fascinating pseudo-craters of Skutustadir - read article
- The orange geothermal area of Hverir Namafjall - read article
- The lava pillars of Hofdi - read article
- The Waterfall of Godafoss - read article
- Or read my complete article about North Iceland
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