The Icelandic falls of Barnafoss and Hraunfossar in Winter are certainly a WOW moment for all travelers: the unique thousands flows through the lava, combined with the intense blue of the water create a magical scenery. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit Barnafoss and Hraunfossar in Winter
As you travel inland from the Snaefellsnes peninsula, you can explore the Silver Circle. The highlight of this loop is definitively Hraunfossar.
Neither a powerful flow nor a huge drop here. Just thousands of small cascades appearing out of the lava rocks.
Such a unique sight. And with the white of the snow, the sight is even more magical than in Summer (see it in Summer), in my opinion.
Here is a picture that says it all...
Plus, it is only a short walk to the Barnafoss waterfall nearby.
Here the water is rushing though a narrow canyon. This is where the blue color of the water is even more intense.
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what your visit could look like, within this enchanting Icelandic Winter scenery.
One of the best Icelandic Winter Highlights
More photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips - Waterfalls of Hraunfossar Iceland
How to get to Hraunfossar
- Silver Circle, inland from the Snaefellsnes peninsula - to be combined with Reykholt historical town, the Ice Tunnel and the Vidgelmir lava tube.
- Road 518, loop from Borgarnes - between Reykholt and Husafell - the area is called Borgarfjordur.
- Borgarnes to Hraunfossar = 1h drive
- Reykjavik to Hraunfossar = 2h drive
- If you don't want to drive, Hraunfossar is included in day trips from Reykjavik, for example on tours combined with he Ice tunnel - see options
- Hraunfossar is included in my Winter road trip guide to help you plan your itinerary:
Plan your perfect trip to Iceland in Winter!
- 6 easy-to-plan Maps
- 75+ pre-selected scenic locations
- Winter Accessibility + Planning Tips
- 115+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
Accessibility in Winter
- This is a main attraction - Tour busses are visiting so the road to Hraunfossar and the carpark are normally cleared to allow access
- Of course road closure can always happen due to snow and wind - check out the status on road.is
- As it is a very touristic spot, they clear the marked walking paths - but it can always get icy, so carry spikes (see options) that you can add on your shoes at any time
- Toilets for a fee not far from the carpark
- Restaurant normally opened all year long
- Plan 30min to see it all - but I recommend planning 1h because I think it is fascinating and you should take your time to really appreciate it.
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
You can choose from some great local companies!
- I selected Route 1 car rental (and paid entirely for it). I really enjoyed their service to drop and pick up the car, as well as all their advice before going on the road - Check out prices and car availabilities
- Otherwise you can compare the vehicles and prices from local companies on this practical website
Where to stay near Hraunfossar
- Very close to the waterfall is Hotel Husafell with beautiful rooms and amazing views - Check out photos and availability
- Or you can check out all accommodations in the area of Hraunfossar
Hraunfossar Winter Accessibility
As I wrote, the road and carpark are normally cleared in Winter for you to access.
The carpark is flat and easy to get around.
Just above he carpark you can see the Restaurant / café / souvenir shop and the toilet building (for a fee).
Below is a map of the walking area.
The path between Hraunfossar and Barnafoss is maintained in Winter. It is easy to walk around.
However the walking path left of the Hraunfossar platform along the Hvita platform is cleared only over 100m.
My recommendation is to start left from the carpark, admire Hraunfossar and then walk along the river towards Barnafoss. Come back along the river of via the other direct path.
Below is a picture of the path from the carpark to the first viewing platform.
The waterfall of Hraunfossar in the snow
The name Hraunfossar literally means Lava Falls.
The water flows through the lava rocks (from the Hallmundarhraun lava field) and drops just 1m via gentle cascades into the Hvita River.
As you can see in the pictures below, the site is mesmerizing.
Take your time to appreciate the many many falls. Some are dropping straight while other are dancing around the rocks.
Sometimes they even freeze, creating icicles.
Below are a few pictures where I zoomed on some of the beautiful features.
This waterfall is around 900m wide, so it is difficult to capture it entirely.
The water flows into River Hvita. You can see it below.
The name means white river, but it is famous for its blue color.
But this is not the end!
From the platform, head upstream along the river.
The color becomes more and more blue as the canyon narrows.
The access to other viewing platforms remains easy.
The waterfall of Barnafoss in Winter
And from those platforms you can admire Barnafoss.
This is a completely different experience than Hraunfossar.
Here, the water from the Hvita river is rushing into a narrow canyon.
There is a small lava bridge under which the water swirls. It is quite mesmerizing.
The dark of the lava rock, the blue of the water and the white of the snow: the scenery feels almost unreal...
Make sure to close your eyes and focus on the sound!
The legend of Barnafoss
A woman was living on a farm nearby with her two children. As she was at church, the children went playing. When she came back they were missing. Footsteps were found up to the stone arch over the river. Devastated, the mother had the stone bridge destroyed and nobody could cross the river anymore.
In another version, she cursed the bridge with an Icelandic rune so that anyone crossing would meet the same fate.
This is why the name means 'Children's Falls'.
Bridge over River Hvita
There is a bridge going over the river. It offers a beautiful view of the river under it.
However the other end of the bridge with the path to the upper platform is closed in Winter.
So you will have to stop there... but it is already a wonderful experience.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss FAQs
- Do you have to drive between Hraunfossar and Barnafoss?
No, there is one carpark and a walking loop to visit both
- How did the lava field form?
It was the result of an eruption from a volcano under the Langjokull glacier (in recent times).
- What is Hraunfoss?
Hraunfoss is the singular form or Hraunfossar. The official name is Hraunfossar
- What is there to see around Hraunfossar?
You can visit the town of Reykholt and its history museum, walk under a glacier in the Ice Tunnel or walk into the lava tube at Vidgelmir (I recommend it - book here).
Want to see more of ICELAND IN WINTER
Enchanting, isn't it?