Seljalandsfoss is a 60-meter (197-foot) waterfall in the southern region of Iceland with an incredible walkway that circles behind the thundering water. It is among the most popular and recognizable waterfalls in the country and one that you have the opportunity to explore from all angles. Bring waterproof clothes for the heavy mist and a good pair shoes for the slippery rocks! If you visit at night or in the winter, there will be lights all around the base illuminating the falls.
The drive along this part of the country between Selfoss and Vik is super scenic with waterfalls pouring over high volcanic cliffs around every turn. Seljalandsfoss is easily accessible from Route N1, the “Ring Road,” and is visible from the highway upon traveling east. It’s only about a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from Reykjavík and shortly off of the main highway on Route 249 (which leads to Þórsmörk). There is a parking area with toilets, a small gift shop, and an information sign at the trailhead. From here Seljalandsfoss seems typical, but this first impression is quickly washed away as you make your way closer. Within a few hundred meters, you will reach a pool at the base called Kerið, sometimes referred to as Fossker. Here, the path splits and leads to stairs that climb to the waterfall from both directions. Choose whichever way you like, but note that the area directly behind the falls has very limited safety structures and is very slippery.
The name "Seljalandsfoss" means "selling the land of waterfalls." Its source is from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull, which is located about 20 kilometers (12.4 miled) to the east. The water travels down the Seljalandsá River and over the edge of the volcanic rock cliff high above you. This striking rock face is believed to at one time have been part of Iceland’s coastline. The large cave-like cutout behind the falls was created through erosion and allows visitors to have a magical exploration experience. In the winter, Seljalandsfoss will partially freeze and may be surrounded by snow and ice. The paths can be dangerous all times of the year, so please exercise extreme caution.
The best time to see Seljalandsfoss will be at sunset late in the day. The cliff faces west, so at this time, there will be an amazing glisten from the mist that overlooks vibrant meadows as far as the eye can see. Sometimes you’ll even see a rainbow! While there are likely going to be tour buses and many people, they will at least be waning to a minimum in the evening.
There are several smaller falls within a short walk such as Gljúfrabúi (“Canyon Dweller”), which is about 40 meters (131 feet) and partially hidden in a canyon behind a large rock called Franskanef. Amidst this beautiful scenery is the campground Hamragarðar if you’re looking for a place to pitch a tent.
Some may recognize Seljalandsfoss from pop culture and television shows. It was a waypoint during the first leg of The Amazing Race season 6 (2004) and in Justin Bieber’s music video for "I'll Show You."