The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most famous and photographed waterfalls in Iceland. Easily accessed from the Ring Road, the falls of Seljalandsfoss do not look like much from the front, but walking behind it reveals a picturesque scenery. A 60m high shower!
Below is my guide with many photos and tips to help you plan your visit and hike around Seljalandsfoss Iceland and its neighbor: the Gljufrafoss waterfall.
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Why visit Seljalandsfoss Iceland?
Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall on the South Coast of Iceland.
From the front it does not look any more special than another waterfall. But it was made famous by the fact that you can walk behind. And then it is a pleasure for all the senses: you can admire the plains through the falls, feel the mist on your skin and listen to the roar of the rushing water.
You don't want to miss this iconic Icelandic waterfall because of... Well, let me show you in picture - For that view:
The water drops 60m (around 200ft) over an ancient sea cliff into a pool. It is part of the Katla Geopark, and the water flows in the Seljalands River from the Volcano Glacier Eyjafjallajökull.
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for 2 main reasons:
- It is very easy to stop there from Road 1 (so often included on day trips from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon for example)
- It is the only one in Iceland where you can walk behind
Although very touristic with big busses, I do recommend a stop on your Iceland road Trip.
More pictures after the planning tips
What does Seljalandsfoss mean?
Foss in Icelandic means waterfall. You will see it at the end of many names.
And "Seljaland" has something to do with the word for "seller" or "selling land" so the combination of both can be interpreted in many different ways.
It sure is not as poetic as Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods 🙂
By the way, before you read further let me help you with the Seljalandsfoss pronunciation: Forvo has recordings of the word being said by Icelandic speakers.
About the Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland
How to get to the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss
- Reykjavík To Seljalandsfoss - 1h40 drive (125 km)
- On the Ring Road, East of the town of Selfoss
- Between Selfoss and Vik. Turn on road 249 (Þórsmerkurvegur) at the beginning of which you will find Seljalandsfoss’ parking on the right.
- Carpark for a fee
- If you don't want to drive, check out my guide to Day trips from Reykjavik or to check out directly this great tour covering the best of the first half of the South Coast including waterfalls and black sand beaches.
- You can see where it is located in the map below:
Seljalandsfoss (with its GPS coordinates) is included in my eBooks to help you easily plan your unforgettable road trip:
- Seljalandsfoss Hike – 15 min without stopping. Attention slippery and not so easy in some areas. I recommend doing it anticlockwise.
- Wear waterproof clothes and protect your camera! There is a lot of mist, and people do experience malfunctions
- The best time to see Seljalandsfoss is at sunset as it is facing West - and anyway early or late to avoid the big tourist busses
- There is a 5 min walk along the cliff to Gljufrabui, a waterfall partially hidden in a canyon
- Toilets and foodtruck are available at the carpark
- Seljalandsfoss Camping is very close to the waterfall at Hamragardar
- And Check out my complete article with detailed suggestions and tips on what to wear and pack for Iceland to stay warm and comfortable
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!
Waterfall from the front
From the distance, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall does not look very special.
You feel a bit disappointed upon arrival. It just looks like a big drop.
But as you approach, it starts being way more interesting visually, and you realize the volume that is actually falling from the ancient sea cliff!
And the best part is to walk behind the waterfall... This is why Seljalandsfoss is often referred to as 'the waterfall where you can walk behind' because the name is not so easy to pronounce for non-Icelandic speakers.
Walking behind - Seljalandsfoss Hike
As you can see in the picture above, a cave has been created by erosion behind the waterfall. Today there is a track to go and explore it.
And, as you can see below, the track goes all around behind the waterfall: it is the Seljalandsfoss walk.
It is only 15 minutes when taking your time. Note that the hike is not flat. There is a little bit of climbing and stairs. But it is not very difficult either.
Because of the rush of the water into the pool and the wind, there is a lot of mist. So, protect yourself and your camera!
And because of the water, it is slippery so wear good shoes.
Behind Seljalandsfoss in photos
I completed the tour behind the waterfall anticlockwise.
I think this is the best option as one section is rocky and slippery and I believe it is better to climb it than walk it down, I saw some people having difficulty.
This is a great experience!
From the front it was boring but already as you start being on the side some volume appears and once behind the shape of the pool and the "cave" give the waterfall so much depth!
It is an experience for all the senses with the sound reverberating against the wall, the spray landing on your skin and the smell of the wet grass.
Below are few more photos of what it looks like but without the sound and the mist, it is not possible to give you the full experience 🙂
The neighboring waterfall - Gljufrabui (Gljufrafoss)
But don't stop there! There is actually more to see at Seljalandsfoss.
From the Seljaland's waterfall, a small path follows the cliff to another unique waterfall hidden in a Canyon: Gljufrafoss (a.k.a Gljúfrabúi ).
Below is the view towards Seljalandsfoss as you walk away.
Although a very short stroll away from Seljalandsfoss, Gljufrabui seems to be overlooked. True, it is not as spectacular. However, I found this waterfall very original and mysterious. I recommend checking it out.
And if you have waterproof shoes you can walk in the river and enter the canyon to see the waterfall better.
Seljalandsfoss in Winter
Wondering what Seljalandsfoss looks like in Winter? Well it depends when in winter. There can be snow or not.
And when it is very cold, part of Seljalandsfoss can freeze in Winter, which is quite cool too.
The waterfall remains accessible but the path to walk behind is closed in Winter.. Learn more in my article about Seljalandsfoss in Winter.
Planning a trip to Iceland in Winter? Check out my article about Visiting Iceland in Winter and Iceland Winter Tours that will take you to Seljalandsfoss
Accommodations near Seljalandsfoss
However, if you want to stay closer to Seljalandsfoss, have a look at:
- Well equipped cabins - At the Bru guesthouse, the cabins have all the facilities and great views - a great place to stay! - Check out photos and the latest prices
- Cottage on a cow farm - get close to the nature at the Ásólfsskáli Cottage and discover the little canyon behind it with all the facilities - Check out photos and the latest prices
- The Bed and Breakfast Hostel - Nicehostel Seljaland has a great location close to the waterfall, good facilities and delicious breakfast - (note: shared bathrooms) - Check out photos and the latest prices
Iceland waterfalls in Video
I do not have a video dedicated to Seljalandsfoss, but you can see it starting at 1min07 on my video about the Icelandic waterfalls:
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