Iceland is known for many aspects of its landscape. Black volcanic plains from many ages ago, valley of moss covered stones, endless glaciers that constantly release ice blocks the size of houses, are all part of the natural vista there. Throughout all of this natural wonder, one marvel of nature’s power stand out all over the Icelandic territory, the “Foss”!
From the Old Norse word “fors”, “foss” literally translate to Waterfall. Some are easy to pronounce and even translate, such as “Goðafoss” or Waterfall of the gods, but others, such as “Seljalandsfoss” are a bit harder to grasp. Either way, keep a close eye for the “foss” suffix, as it will likely indicate the presence of a waterfall.
On your trip across Iceland, you will encounter many of their renowned waterfall. Some of them even hide small secrets for the watchful eye. Here are the top 5 “foss” that are worthy of going out of your way to reach.
At the extremity of the golden circle, this 65m high waterfall is one of the few in Iceland where you can go behind it! Bring some waterproof gear if you want to get close or behind as you will certainly get covered in cold water.
You can also trek a bit along the cliffs to see the waterfall from a distance.
This is the most well-known waterfall in Iceland and for a reason. From the bottom or the top, the view you get there are breathtaking. If you have the chance, there is a camping not 200m from the base of the waterfall.
If you want to hike a bit and discover this place hidden secret, we recommend you climb up the stairs on the right of “Skógafoss” and then continue on the path. You will find that the waterfall you just climbed is only the last of a series of waterfalls that go up the mountains. Each time you come around a corner, you will discover another one!
For its access from the golden circle and its luscious vegetation, Gullfoss is a must see. If you plan the golden circle tour, we highly recommend you stop there. The most impressive feature, other than the high water volume that tumble down this waterfall, was to see how much the waterfall has an impact on the local fauna. With all the moisture coming up and settling down onto both side of the ravine, thick grass and shrubs were flourishing. That is something you won’t see at other waterfall.
4. Bonus : Fjaðrárgljúfur
Not a waterfall per name, this canyon containing small rivers is definitely something to see. To get there, you will need exit route 1, use the dirt road and drive about 4km. With this, you will be far from tourists buses that can’t reach this place. That makes it a quiet spot, where only locals and brave tourist will be present. You will find there a canyon covered in moss, where you will probably take the best picture of your trip.
Contrary to most waterfall, this one pour water filled with volcanic ashes and dirt. Even if this is not your average clear water waterfall, the sheer volume of water passing through will amaze you. Considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe (Yes, Iceland is part or Europe) with it’s 200m3/s this is certainly a breath taker.
Filled with history, this waterfall is also one of the most well-known in Iceland. The story says that after an Icelandic “Lögsögumad” (judge) convinced the “Alþingi” (Icelandic parliament) to adopts Christianity, he returned home to his village near this waterfall and, as an example of the new ways, decides to throw idols of the old Nordic religion in this fall. The “Goðafoss”, or waterfall of the gods was then named after this event.