Get ready to have your mind blown.
This was the first real thing we got to see in Iceland, and was hands-down one of my favorites. I’ve always been a sucker for waterfalls, but it’s really hard for a photo to do justice to the size and power of the mighty Seljalandsfoss.
Here’s everything else from our 3-day Iceland road trip!
Tips for visiting Seljalandsfoss
- Seljalandsfoss is about a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik, along the South Coast. It’s about an hour to Vik as well, if you’re either coming from there or going on for the night. It’s another half hour from Seljalandsfoss to the also-famous Skógafoss waterfall.
- There is a large parking lot that is free to use. In peak season it can get pretty crowded, but just be safe and you shouldn’t have issues parking along the side of the outlet roads if the lot is full.
- Plan for at least half an hour at the falls, probably an hour or a little more if you plan to go to the small hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall as well.
- The pathway and rocks behind the falls are wet and slippery, so wear good footwear and be careful as you walk.
- If you walk behind the falls—and honestly anywhere near it—you will almost certainly get wet from the spray. I highly recommend wearing waterproof pants and a jacket, and if you’re planning to use your phone or any cameras, make sure they are appropriately protected from the water. GoPro might be your friend 🙂
- Sunset is the best time to photograph the falls from behind (as it’s west-facing), with the golden light coming in. The waterfall doesn’t technically *close* so you can visit at whatever time is best for you to get the shots you want. I definitely think you’d need a good wide angle lens to get the iconic behind-the-falls shot (I didn’t have a true one).
- We went on past Vik and spent the night at the Klausterhof Guesthouse in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, to position ourselves for an early glacier hike the next morning.
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With a drop of around 200 feet, Seljalandsfoss is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Arc de Triomphe. You can see tiny little people in a lot of these pictures, which does start to give you a sense of perspective on the size. The waterfall is one of the most famous and most visited in Iceland, both because of its beauty and also how easily accessible it is. It’s also the only one you can walk behind.
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If you’re coming from Reykjavik, make sure to glance to your left as you get close to the turn-off, because you can see it from the road. We saw these beautiful purple flowers and pulled over on the side of the road for a few pictures.
Once we found a parking spot, I pulled up on my rain pants and waterproof jacket, knowing I’d be soaked by the spray from the falls. We joined the crowds walking from the parking lot and made our way to the base of the falls.
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First we admired the falls from the front, spending quite a bit of time obsessing over these beautiful yellow flowers.
Then it was time to venture behind the falls. Walking behind it really gives you an appreciation of how truly MASSIVE it is. The spray is relentless, and you will get completely soaked—as I mentioned above, make sure you have appropriate gear!
Once you come out from behind the big waterfall (and shake yourself off like a dog), make sure to look back at Seljalandsfoss to see a different angle. This was probably my favorite angle overall, particularly with the blue skies!
Bonus waterfall: Gljúfrabúi
If you’re feeling adventurous, make sure to go see Gljúfrabúi, a hidden waterfall just a short walk from Seljalandsfoss. After you come out from behind the big waterfall, take a right along the path rather than circling back toward the parking lot. You’ll see the signs clearly. Even if you decide not to tackle Gljúfrabúi (I’ll go into why in a sec), the walk there and back is beautiful and still totally worth it.
Gljúfrabúi is not for the faint of heart.
It’s hidden in a crack in the cliff, and when we were there we had to do a very delicate ballet over stones that were barely poking out of rushing water while clinging for dear life to the rock face…all while people were also trying to come across the same stones the other way.
There is a very strong chance you’ll get quite wet, and a solid chance you’ll end up in the water due to slipping or a stone moving. The waterfall itself will also spray the dickens out of you, so there’s 100% chance of soaking. But a very cool thing to do!
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It’s challenging to get good pics of the actual falls because they’re quite high and in a super tight cavern kind of space between the rocks. But it was really cool to experience it!
Whew! Okay, now we just enjoyed the walk back to the main Seljalandsfoss falls. Like I said before, even if you don’t actually go into Gljúfrabúi, the walk there and back is only about two-thirds of a mile and on a pretty day you’ll see dramatic cliffs, beautiful wildflowers, hidden tiny waterfalls, and much more.
We were probably there about an hour total, maybe a hair more. If you were in a super hurry you could stop for 15-20 minutes, but an hour to an hour and a half is probably about perfect if you plan to go back to Gljúfrabúi as well. Next it was on to Skógafoss!
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Other waterfall adventures you’ll love:
- Hiking Oregon’s Stunning Trail of Ten Falls
- Fairytale Waterfalls in Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes
- Slovenia’s Vintgar Gorge, A Perfect Lake Bled Complement
- How To Plan the Best Trip to Argentina’s Iguazu Falls
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