The Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland is one of the most famous locations on the island. With Thingvellir and the geysers of Haukadalur, it forms the Golden Circle Iceland. It is a two-step 32m high waterfall on the Hvítá river: impressive even with bad weather. Have a look:
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Why visit the Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland?
The Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland is an iconic Icelandic waterfall on the Hvítá river which is fed by the country's second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. Some people compare its beauty to the Niagara Falls. I recognize that its shape is more intriguing and the fact that it is surrounded only by nature is better, but I did not find it as impressive.
The river rushes southward but about one kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into the 32m crevice (105 ft) in two stages (11m and 21m). The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime.
Its 20th century history is considered as the first environmentalist fight in Iceland: protecting the waterfalls vs generating power from it. Its area was designated as nature reserve in 1979.
PLANNING TIPS - Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland
How to get to Gullfoss waterfall Iceland
- Approximately 110km from Reykjavik i.e. 1h30min drive
- From Geysir, continue east on Route 35 for approximately 8.5 km. 0.5km before arriving you can either turn right to the lower parking or continue on 35 to the main parking.
- You can see the location of the Gullfoss waterfall Iceland on my Golden Circle Map
Gullfoss is included in my eBook to easily plan your road trip:
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Visiting the Gullfoss Waterfall
- From the upper carpark: easy walking paths to 2 viewpoints
- From the lower carpark: easy path leads up close to the big drop and to the higher part of the waterfall. Be careful with the mist it can be slippery. The lower viewpoint is open, but the path is closed during winter
- At the upper carpark there is a visitor center with toilets, food and souvenirs.
- There are steps between both levels.
- Don’t forget to bring protection gear for your camera, it can get very misty
- On a sunny day, you can be lucky and see rainbows
- More info on the official website for Gullfoss
Where to stay?
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
- You can choose from some great local companies - Iceland has a lot of specificities and their offerings are adapted - you can compare cars and prices of quality local brands on this expert Icelandic website
- Otherwise you can compare offers from international companies on RentalCars.com
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
View of the whole Gullfoss waterfall
This is the view of the waterfall from the lower carpark.
You can see the path getting up close to the Gullfoss waterfall Iceland and the silhouette of people to give you an idea of proportions.
The sound of the rushing water is impressive.
As you walk closer to the waterfall the noise becomes impressive. The path comes really really close to the big 21m drop. Be careful the mist makes it slippery. This was my favorite spot on the path where you realise the power of this waterfall.
Continuing on the path, you arrive close to the rapids section of the waterfall. This is prettier but not as dramatic. By the time I got there the light was bad and I was not able to get a good image...
Gullfoss in Winter
Gullfoss and the Golden Circle remain accessible in Winter.
The walking paths are cleared as much as possible. The main difference is that the trail to get closer to the waterfall is closed in Winter for safety reason.
You can see my photos, tips and video in my article about Gullfoss in Winter.
Want to see more of Iceland's beauty?
Dramatic drop, don’t you think?