Southern Iceland is the most popular part of the country to visit, not least because the temperatures are a little more comfortable, but mostly because it is home to some of the most impressive and beautiful waterfalls and glaciers.
Apart from its most famous Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland has others equally spectacular ones like Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, etc. that are worth looking at.
The charm of Gullfoss waterfall Iceland
The attraction of this iconic waterfall lies in its plunging waters that drain into a canyon, releasing a thick mist of spray that makes a rainbow over the waterfall when there’s sunshine. Photographs cannot capture the exhilaration you will feel standing twenty feet from a rainbow over the white waters of Gullfoss against the backdrop of vast and open landscapes.
The waterfall attracts an equally impressive crowd in the winters as well, since the water freezes over partly and gives a different perspective to the scenery. There are three levels
A little bit about the geography
Gullfoss waterfall is located on the Hvita river in the south. The road from Reykjavik is well paved and easy to navigate. Once you reach there you will find lots of parking. Entry is free because unlike many other countries, Iceland realizes it’s silly to put fees on natural phenomena that man had nothing to do with.
There are two paths that take you right up to the fall. The one will take you up the hill where you will reach a slight height above the falls and be able to enjoy views from above. The other is the right fork that will take you to a lower level along several flights of stairs. There’s a little walk along the stream and you will eventually be standing face to face with the falls.
The falls drain into a canyon that’s a good 30-40 meters deep, and nothing stops you from plunging over except a thin wire along the path as a warning. You will do well to heed that warning as the rocks can get mighty slippery.
The paths to the lower level are often closed during the winter as they get inaccessible due to the ice.
Where to stay
There are a few other falls and geysers to enjoy in the area, but the same variety cannot be found in terms of eateries and accommodations. Still, the most popular place and certainly the best choice for more reasons than one is Hotel Gullfoss
. It is clean and close to the falls.
But the biggest USP of this place is that it gets pitch dark in the night. This is not always a good thing for a desolate hotel, but here it is because many people consider Hotel Gullfoss to be one of the best spots to witness the northern lights. On clear nights, you don’t even have to walk far to chase the lights and you can see them clearly right from the hotel’s driveway.
One of the most popular tour options to see the Gullfoss waterfalls in Iceland and the northern lights
is a Golden Circle Iceland tour
. At a minimum, most tour packages will take you to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Gullfoss waterfall and a vantage point to watch the northern lights.
has a great tour that includes all these and more. Any trip to Iceland without this golden trio would be quite incomplete!