Heading south from Reykjavik towards Vík on Iceland’s Ring Road, you’ll find the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This careening cascade has consistently been ranked as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland by travel bloggers and tourists alike. In fact, this waterfall’s nickname is “The Beauty”, in stark contrast to Dettifoss waterfall, affectionately known as “The Beast”. If you’ve seen that iconic photo of a beautiful waterfall in Iceland with the sky streaked in shades of orange, pink and purples chances are it was Seljalandsfoss. Let’s dive deep (pun 100% intended) into one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls and a star attraction in south Iceland.
Where is Seljalandsfoss located?
About two hours southeast of Reykjavik on Route 1 (the Ring Road) you’ll come across Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Assuming you’re on a day trip from Iceland’s capital, you’ll pass the towns of Selfoss and Hella and shortly thereafter you’ll turn left onto Road 249 which goes toward Thórsmörk. Once you’ve turned onto Road 249, it’s only a short distance to the entrance for parking at Seljalandsfoss. After finding a spot for your car, you’ll be able to see the falls in the distance. Get excited, you’re almost there!
What makes this beautiful waterfall so special?
First, a few facts about Seljalandsfoss. The falls are part of the Seljalands river, which gets its water from Eyjafjallajökull. This seemingly unpronounceable Icelandic name may ring a bell. Eyjafjallajökull is the volcanic glacier that gained international fame in 2010 when the volcano resting beneath the ice cap exploded. European airspace was shut down for nearly a week and around 10 million travelers were displaced as the erupting volcano spewed smoke and ash into the air. Pretty exciting stuff, right? At any rate, the glacier still has melting ice and the runoff water eventually makes it’s way over the edge of the rocks at Seljalandsfoss.
One of the cooler things about this particular waterfall, that distinguishes it from the rest, is that you can actually climb behind it. There is a small cave that sits behind the gushing fall and you’ll find plenty of tourists trying to capture that postcard-perfect shot of their vacation in Iceland. The majority of pictures on the internet of this natural wonder were actually taken from behind. While it is stunning from the front, be sure go into the tiny cavern in the back to get the best views of Seljalandsfoss. Sunsets tend to be particularly striking and you’ll wonder why you didn’t visit Iceland sooner.
Another interesting fact: This area used to be part of the Icelandic coastline. Iceland is a country with lots of geological activity and there are frequent seismic shifts in the landscapes. The story is that a glacier that existed during the Ice Age actually pushed down the land to create the coastline with its massive weight. When the glacier melted, the land eventually rose and the former coastline now resided further inland. The falls drop 60m (200ft) over this former seaside cliff.
Iceland’s Seljalandsfoss Waterfall aka The Beauty
If you have some extra time before you head back to Reykjavik or if you are continuing on toward Vík, we have an additional suggestion for your itinerary. Another beautiful waterfall that is very close is Skógafoss. In order to visit Skógafoss you’ll need to go back to Route 1 and head east for another half hour or so. Like Seljalandsfoss, it’s also part of the former coastline of Iceland. While Skógafoss may not be as well known for its beauty as Seljalandsfoss, both are definitely must-see sights on your trip to Iceland. Enjoy your waterfall tour of the south.
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