Iceland is unquestionably the land of ice and fire. It is also the land of the Northern Lights, the land of stunning vistas, and among many other things, the land of waterfalls. Although Iceland has many amazing waterfalls, it has only one waterfall that visitors and hikers can walk behind. That waterfall is Seljalandsfoss, and is perhaps the most well-known, or depending on whom you talk to, the most beautiful waterfall in all of Iceland. At slightly over sixty meters in height (~197 feet), Seljalandsfoss cascades over a volcanic cliff that used to be part of the coastline of Iceland. In English, “Seljalandsfoss” means “selling the land of waterfalls”, which is fitting for its spectacular nature. Because one can walk behind the waterfall itself, visitors to Seljalandsfoss can at times, either see a rainbow past the waterfall, or see the Northern Lights. While these features are time and weather dependent, Seljalandsfoss is a fantastic sight year round.
Directions: Like Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss is located directly off of Iceland’s Route 1, otherwise known as the Ring Road. Again, like Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss is in southeastern Iceland, and is a premier attraction for the area. From Reykjavík, Seljalandsfoss is located 121 kilometers to the Southeast, and is located thirty kilometers to the West of Skogafoss. The drive from Reykjavik to Seljalandsfoss should take from around one and one half hours to two hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions. From Route 1, the exit to Seljalandsfoss is well-signed and the waterfall itself is visible from several kilometers away when approaching from the Northwest; and the parking lot for the waterfall is well-marked and visible.
From the parking area, it is a short walk to the base of the waterfall (.1 miles). From this point the trail splits and loops around in two directions. The direction to the left (North) takes hikers up to a small platform next to the cascade from the falls; and the route to the right (Southeast) takes hikers up a slight hill and behind the waterfall itself. As both trails are short distances (.25 miles one way, .5 miles roundtrip to the parking area), visitors can walk both of the trails easily. A trail also branches off from the left fork (North) and proceeds along the cliffs, providing views of other portions of the waterfall, cascades, before ultimately arriving at a separate waterfall, Gljúfurárfoss. Overall, all of these foot trails are mostly flat, and accessible to all skill levels, although visitors should be prepared to get wet, either from the spray from the waterfall or from Iceland’s unpredictable weather.
Tips: While it is not located in Reykjavik, Seljalandsfoss is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations because of its stunning features and the scenery around it. In addition to that, Seljalandsfoss is very accessible for even novice hikers and walkers, which makes it even more popular. Many tours from the capital visit the area; and the location is known to almost every visitor to Iceland. Even though it is popular, it remains a spot worth visiting even during the high tourist months of the Icelandic summer. For those visitors looking to beat, or miss the crowds, a slight walk past the falls toward Gljúfurárfoss can provide some much needed solitude and serenity. Finally, as Skogafoss is only thirty kilometers to the East, a visit to Seljalandsfoss can be paired with visiting it, Dyrholaey and the wrecked DC-3 for a great day of southeast Iceland exploration.