The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most famous and photographed waterfalls in Iceland.
A 60m high shower, where you can walk behind! Plus it has a hidden neighbor waterfall: Gljufrabui.
Below is my guide with photos, map and tips to help you plan your visit and hike behind.
Note: if you are traveling in Winter, head to my other article about Seljalandsfoss in Winter.
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Why visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland?
From the front, Seljalandsfoss does not look any more special than another waterfall. But it is famous because 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.
Is Seljalandfsoss worth it?
- It is very easy to stop there from Road 1
- It is the only one in Iceland where you can walk behind
But if you visit early morning or late afternoon (or off season), you will be able to really appreciate the power of the waterfall and the views.
How was Seljalandsfoss formed? Seljalandsa River and Geology
The water flows in the Seljalandsa River from the Volcano Glacier Eyjafjallajökull (you know, the one that erupted in 2010 with a crazy name).
It is glacier meltwater. The river rushes towards the sea and cascade over the ancient cliff (the ocean used to arrive at its foot).
Erosion has cutting through the rock and a cave has formed behind the waterfall.
What does Seljalandsfoss mean + Pronunciation
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: check it here
More photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips and Map - Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss Location & Map
Best time to visit Seljalandsfoss
- The best time to see Seljalandsfoss is at sunset as it is facing West
- Prefer early or late to avoid the large tourist buses and crowds
- Seljalandsfoss can be visited all year long. However the path behind is closed in Winter because it is icy-slippery and very dangerous.
- You can also visit late or early because lights have been installed on both sides of the waterfall.
How to get to Seljalandsfoss - self drive
- Between Selfoss and Vik. Turn on road 249 (Þórsmerkurvegur) at the beginning of which you will find Seljalandsfoss’ parking on the right.
- Large carpark for a fee
- Reykjavík To Seljalandsfoss = 1h40 drive (125 km)
- Selfoss to Seljalandsfoss = 1h drive
- Vik to Seljalandsfoss = 45min drive
This location is included (with GPS coordinates, map of region and planning info) in both my travel guide eBooks that help you easily plan your Iceland road trip:
Seljalandsfoss tours from Reykjavik
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.
- How long to plan? - I recommend to plan around 1h for the area.
- Seljalandsfoss Hike – 15 min without stopping. Careful, it is slippery and not so easy in some areas.
- I recommend doing the walk behind anticlockwise.
- Wear waterproof clothes and protect your camera! There is a lot of mist, and people do experience malfunctions
- There is a 5 min walk along the cliff to Gljufrafoss, a waterfall partially hidden in a canyon (see later in article)
- Toilets and food-trucks are available at the carpark
- And Check out my complete article on what to wear and pack for Iceland to stay warm and comfortable
Where to stay near Seljalandsfoss
If you want to stay close to Seljalandsfoss:
- Seljalandsfoss camping is very close to the waterfall at Hamragardar
- Well equipped cabins - At the Bru Guesthouse, the cabins have all the facilities and great views - Check out photos and availability
- Cottage on a cow farm - get close to the nature at the Ásólfsskáli Cottage - Check out photos and availability
- The Bed and Breakfast Hostel - Nicehostel Seljaland has a great location close to the waterfall (note: shared bathrooms) - Check out photos and availability
Otherwise the town of Vik is only 45min away:
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!
Parking area and the 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. See the Seljalandsfoss parking area and waterfall behind:
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!
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.
Video, Movies and Fun Facts
I do not have a video dedicated to Seljalandsfoss, but you can see it starting at 1min07 on my video about the Icelandic waterfalls:
Seljalandsfoss has been featured in movies and music videos such as :
- Justin Bieber’s music video for the song “I’ll Show You”
- Parts of the TV series “The Amazing Race 6” and “CKY2K”
- But it was not in Game of Thrones (however, not far away, Skogafoss was)
Want to see other highlights nearby?
- The famous Jokulsarlon lagoon and its iceberg - read article
- Diamond beach with icebergs on black sand - read article
- Fjallsarlon Glacial Lagoon, lesser know but as impressive - read article
- The Svartifoss waterfall and its basalt columns - read article
- The impressive curtain waterfall of Skogafoss - read article
- The "feather canyon" of Fjadrargljufur - read article
- Or read my complete article about South Iceland
Planning a trip to Iceland?
Check out my travel guide to help you plan:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
And keep track of your own trip!
Want to see more of Iceland's beauty?
Note: If you don't want to book everything yourself, consider booking a Self-Drive Tour Package (see my article to help you choose)
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