Seljalandsfoss: Is it the Most Beautiful Waterfall in Iceland?

Author: Elizabeth Nelson

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The Waterfall You Can Walk Behind in Iceland

Many people travel far and wide to see waterfalls in Iceland, but they often need to know which ones are worth their time. Seljalandsfoss is one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, but is it worth stopping for a long time or at all?

That depends on what sort of trip you want in Iceland. Yes, it is a breathtaking waterfall. It’s also very easily accessible right off of the Ring Road. This means vast crowds, mega tour buses, commercialization, and costs to park. That being said, it’s accessible for the disabled or wheelchair-bound, which is a considerable upside. Since it’s right off the Ring Road, it’s at least worth driving by. That’s what we did because we decided to bounce when we saw the entire parking lot full of tour buses blocking the view.

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But what if I told you there are other waterfalls you can walk behind? Waterfalls that take a little bit of grit to get to but are well worth the journey. If you’re fond of the outdoors and getting off-piste, keep reading.

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P.S. – before I jump into Seljalandsfoss, here’s our Iceland Trip.

And no, it’s not the essential Golden Circle or Ring Road Route.

Relaxing naked in a hidden, hot spring in the Highlands, snowmobiling on the second largest glacier, ice climbing on the largest glacier, and whitewater rafting on the most intense river are just some highlights of our wild adventure. If that sounds too much, you can skip the adrenaline junkie parts and read about our private sightseeing and hiking (because we were all alone, and it was extraordinary).

We hired a 4×4 rental car in Iceland to drive the adventurous F-Roads, and I created a custom adventure sightseeing route. It was, of course, without some adventurous mishaps (and a whitewater rescue team), but I’m so glad I didn’t stick to the generic Golden Circle or Ring Road route.

Check out this entire article on our website.

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What is Seljalandsfoss?

Seljalandsfoss is a stunning 65-meter-high waterfall located on Iceland’s South Coast, about 75 miles from Reykjavík, 35 miles from Vík, and 20 miles from Skógafoss waterfall. It is fed by the glacial Seljalandsa River and flows from the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.

Seljalandsfoss is a popular tourist destination as visitors can walk behind the waterfall. It’s one of many great attractions in the vicinity, including Skogafoss waterfall, Vatnajökull National Park, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Dyrhólaey promontory, Skaftafell National Park, Hvítárvatn lake, Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park.

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The nearby attractions on The Ring Road and the Golden Circle make it a popular tourist hotspot.

Tourists can explore the natural beauty of Vatnajökull National Park, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Dyrhólaey promontory, Skaftafell National Park, Hvítárvatn lake, Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park.

Other famous waterfalls, such as Gljúfrabúi and Skógafoss, are just a short drive away, making it easy for tourists to visit multiple attractions in one day.

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Why visit Seljalandsfoss in Iceland?

Seljalandsfoss is a stunning and highly accessible waterfall located in Southern Iceland. Seljalandsfoss is open to visitors all year round. However, the path behind the waterfall is closed in winter due to the icy and slippery conditions. If you choose to visit during this time, you can still appreciate the beauty of the waterfall from the outside.

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Are there more waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind?

Heck yes. And they’re a heckuva less crowded. No mega tour buses. No droves of people.

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Gljufrabui waterfalls: The neighbor waterfall

Near Seljalandsfoss, you’ll find Gljúfrabúi waterfall. It’s partially hidden behind a cliff, but you can find it if you’re looking for it. Getting close to the falls can be challenging and dangerous, so please approach them cautiously. You’ll have to climb a bit and then wade through a river. Obviously, you’ll get wet from wading because you walk into the falls instead of behind them.

Kvernufoss

Further east along the south coast of Iceland, you’ll find this beautiful cavernous waterfall. It’s east of Seljalandsfoss and can be reached by hiking for around 20 minutes. Since it’s less well known than Skógafoss and not as easily accessible, Kvernufoss may be less crowded.

Dynjandi – Göngumannafoss

One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland is Dynjandi in the West Fjords. It consists of six waterfalls, and Göngumannafoss is one of them. It has a tiny space behind it, and it’s possible to walk there if you care.

Preparing yourself for the weather conditions

The weather conditions at Seljalandsfoss vary and range from sunny to wet and cold. In the summer, you should expect to be surrounded by mist from the waterfall, and the trail can be pretty slippery due to the mud and rocks. You should dress appropriately in a rain jacket, rain pants, and a waterproof dry bag. Wear a rain poncho and hiking boots with good soles for more protection. In the winter, the viewing decks get very icy, so it is crucial to bring crampons for your shoes for extra grip. It is also advisable to bring a walking stick if you struggle with mobility. To ensure you are comfortable, it is always a good idea to bring a set of dry clothes in the car in case you get too wet.

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Geology and Surroundings

The fall is situated in the Seljalandsa River, fed by the glacier meltwater of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The falls cascade over an ancient cliff and erode through the rock, creating a cave behind the waterfall.

Seljalandsfoss in Popular Culture

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland is a popular destination for filming and has been featured in various media. Some of the popular cultural references to Seljalandsfoss include:

The Amazing Race 6: The first episode sent contestants to Iceland from Chicago, where they stopped at Seljalandsfoss.

The Juniper Tree (1990): Björk’s character is seen walking behind the waterfall.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013): Seljalandsfoss is featured in the movie.

Justin Bieber – I’ll Show You (2015): The music video features Justin standing on a small ledge in front of Seljalandsfoss.

-Star Trek: Discovery (season 3, episode 1): There is a brief scene at the waterfall.

The Iceland Waterfall You Can Walk Behind

Seljalandsfoss is an iconic and captivating waterfall in Iceland renowned for its beauty. It stands at around 60 meters and is one of the few waterfalls in the country where visitors can walk behind it and admire the view. Seljalandsfoss is a horsetail waterfall, meaning that the cascade of water descends in a stepped descent down the cliff face. It is also known for its unique rainbows that appear in the spray of the falls.

Unlike other waterfalls in Iceland, which are more remote, Seljalandsfoss is easily accessible, making it a popular spot for tourists. It is close to the Ring Road, the main highway connecting all of Iceland’s major cities, making it an ideal stopover for travelers. In addition, it is within walking distance of the famous Skógafoss waterfall and is surrounded by lush, green meadows that are popular for hiking.

Seljalandsfoss is an incredible waterfall that has intrigued travelers for centuries. Its accessibility, stunning rainbows, and unique cave make it an unforgettable experience and a must-see destination in Iceland.]

A Great View for the Regular Traveler

If you’re looking for a breathtaking natural wonder to add to your list of places to visit/tours, Seljalandsfoss should be at the top. With its stunning views and easy accessibility, Seljalandsfoss is a must-see for anyone traveling to Iceland.

FAQs

What are the best times to visit Seljalandsfoss?

The best times to visit Seljalandsfoss are from the end of May to early July. The sun is lower during this time, between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM, making it an ideal time for photography. This is when the sun sits right before the falls, providing that golden hour glow. For those who avoid crowds, consider visiting in the fall or winter. Anytime between September to March would be an ideal time to stop by. Alternatively, visitors can also plan their visit for either early morning or late evening to avoid the large tourist buses and crowds.

Why is Seljalandsfoss famous?

Seljalandsfoss is one of the absolute most breathtaking waterfalls in all of South Iceland, with an impressive height of 200ft (61m). It is the most famous waterfall in Iceland due to its fantasy-like appearance, easy accessibility from the Ring Road, and the unique opportunity to walk behind the curtain of falling water.

The scenery of the waterfall surrounded by the plains of South Iceland makes it a perfect spot for photography, and it has been featured in various movies and music videos. The water plummets straight down off an overhanging cliff into a pool, creating vast clouds of mists and often setting off rainbows in the sunlight. Besides, it is accessible in winter, making it a great spot to visit year-round. All these features make Seljalandsfoss an iconic waterfall and the most beloved in Iceland.

How long does it take to hike to Seljalandsfoss?

It’s not a hike so much as it’s just a walk. That is unless you go to the waterfall and view it from behind. The hike to Seljalandsfoss is about a 10-minute walk without stopping. Be sure to wear comfortable, good shoes and bring a light jacket and sunscreen in the summer months due to the elevation and sun reflection. The drive from Reykjavík takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes, and there is a charge for parking in the car park.

What is the best time of year to visit Seljalandsfoss?

The best time of year to visit Seljalandsfoss is from May to September. During this time, the hours of sunlight are longer, the weather is warm and sunny, and there are fewer crowds due to the busy summer months. Photographers should plan to visit in the evening to get the best light, ideally between 8 PM and 11 PM. This is when the sun is lower and shines right in front of the waterfall, providing the golden hour glow.

For those who want peace and quiet, visiting in the fall or winter months is a great option. Temperatures may be colder, but the crowds are less, and the waterfall lights up beautifully at night. The path behind the waterfall is closed in the winter, so make sure to bring appropriate clothing if you plan to visit during colder months. No matter what time of year you visit, be prepared for crowds and plan for the best experience.

How to get to Seljalandsfoss waterfall?

1To get to Seljalandsfoss waterfall from Reykjavik, you can either drive or take the bus. If driving from Reykjavik, take Ring Road 1 and move towards the South Coast. After around 78 mi, you’ll see a turn onto Rd 249 with signs (not that you can miss the waterfall from the road). Turn and nd drive for 0.62 mi until you reach the parking lot.

Starting in Vík and the East will take about an hour to reach the fall. Just continue on Road 1, going straight until you see the sign to Þórsmerkurvegur, road number 249 leading you to Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi, and finally Þórsmörk Valley.

Can you walk behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall?

Yes, it is possible to walk behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A path leads from the front of the waterfall to the back, allowing you to experience a one-of-a-kind view of the waterfall.

However, the path to walk behind the waterfall is closed in the winter due to the icy conditions. To get to the backside of the waterfall, you will need to climb up some rocks and walk along a dirt trail that takes you through a small cave.

Are there any nearby attractions to Seljalandsfoss Falls?

Yes, several nearby attractions are worth visiting near Seljalandsfoss in southern Iceland. These include Skogafoss waterfall, Vatnajökull National Park, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Dyrhólaey promontory, Skaftafell National Park, Hvítárvatn lake, Geysir geothermal area, Þingvellir National Park, Reykjadalur Hot Springs River, Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, and Vik. Seljalandsfoss is less than two hours drive from the capital Reykjavik and is close to the famous Golden Circle, making it a perfect destination for day trips.

What safety precautions should I take when visiting Seljalandsfoss?

When visiting Seljalandsfoss, a few safety precautions should be taken into consideration. No matter what season you decide to visit, the path behind the waterfall will always be wet and slippery. Furthermore, the spray from the 60-meter waterfall can reach quite far, so it’s essential to watch out for slippery surfaces and icicles that may fall.

When visiting in the winter, the path may be closed for safety reasons. It is recommended to wear crampons to prevent slipping, as well as waterproof gear to keep your valuables safe. If you are bringing a phone or camera, consider buying a waterproof phone case or supporting the cap on the lens at all times.

P.S. If you are using a tripod, bring an N.D. filter and circular polarizer filter to create a silky smooth effect.

Lastly, it is essential to bring shoe spikes to provide extra grip on icy surfaces and to watch out for slippery conditions when walking behind the waterfall.

Are there any accommodation options near Seljalandsfoss?

Are there any accommodation options near the spectacular Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland? The answer is yes! Depending on your location, budget, and preferences, you can choose from various hotels, hostels, guesthouses, cottages, camping sites, villas, and cabins.

You can check out the Reykjavik Midgardur by Center Hotels, the Selfoss Hostel, Hotel Vik I Myrdal, Seljalandsfoss Horizons villas, Hvolsvollur hotel, Hotel Fljótshlíð, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, or the Hamragarðar Campground.

What kind of wildlife can I expect to see at Seljalandsfoss?

At Seljalandsfoss, visitors have the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife. The area is home to various birds, including Þórólfur, a species of Eurasian wren, and the Icelandic Rock Ptarmigan. Other fish live nearby, including brown trout, Atlantic salmon, Arctic char, and European eel. In addition to birds and fish, visitors may also spot Arctic foxes, hares, and reindeer. These animals make their home in the area surrounding Seljalandsfoss and provide a spectacular viewing experience.

Is there a fee to visit Seljalandsfoss?

There is a Seljalandsfoss Waterfall parking lot, and you have to pay a Seljalandsfoss parking fee of 800 ISK (around 5 USD). Facilities at Seljalandsfoss are limited and include basic amenities such as toilets, a small gift shop, and a simple walk-up cafe in a food truck style.

There are more places to check out around Iceland that aren’t mentioned much on my web site:

  • Kerið
  • Skógar
  • Godafoss
  • Thorsmörk
  • Westfjords
  • Kermóafoss
  • Hellisheidi
  • Markarfljót
  • Katla Geopark
  • þórsmörk valley
  • þórsmerkurvegur
  • Skogar folk museum
  • Mýrdalsjökull ice cap
  • Gljufrafoss waterfalls
  • Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
  • Glacier hiking Solheimajokull
  • The Highland areas
  • Latrabjarg sea cliffs
  • Glymur waterfall cascades
  • Stuðlagil Canyon
  • Grótta (grotto)
  • Reykjavik Old Harbour
  • Cape Dyrholahey
  • Seljandfoss
  • Hamragaroar

Things to bring:

  • rain ponchos
  • hiking shoes
  • plenty of clothes (there are not always laundry rooms)
  • swimming trunks
  • sandwiches
  • raingear
  • snacks

Top things to do in Iceland

What are the top things to do in Iceland? From visiting the world-famous Seljalandsfoss Waterfall to taking a guided hike up the Sólheimajökull glacier to exploring the puffin-filled Dyrholaey Rock Arch, there is no shortage of activities to explore when visiting the Land of Fire and Ice.

The Golden Circle route is a full-day sightseeing tour, taking you to Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and Geysir Geothermal Area. You can also explore the stunning Skógafoss waterfall, explore the historic Skogar Museum, and visit the Fimmvörðuháls Volcano, Thor’s Woods (Thórsmörk), and Blue Lagoon.

Other great activities include visiting the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, the Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River, and the Leidarendi Lava Caves. Nature lovers should consider visiting Stokkur, the Great Geysir (Great Geyser), and Gullfoss Waterfall (Golden Falls). The Silfra Fissure is another popular destination located at Thingvellir National Park.