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Chasing Waterfalls: Guide to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland

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Arctic Mike

Table of Contents

 As a seasoned private guide in Iceland, I have been privileged to explore every corner of this mesmerizing country. Drawing from my personal experiences and the valuable feedback of my guests, I am excited to present a series of articles that will introduce you to the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.

Through my years of guiding, island exploration, and extensive research, I have selected the most breathtaking waterfalls, ensuring you can access what this country offers. Each article in this series will delve into waterfalls’ unique characteristics, captivating stories, and practical information, providing a travel guide to planning your Icelandic adventure. 

Today, I will take you on a virtual journey to the iconic Seljalandsfoss. In this travel guide, I will equip you with everything you need to make the most of your visit, from its history and nearby attractions to photography tips or recommended accommodations. I will also provide insider tips and address frequently asked questions, ensuring you have all the information for an unforgettable journey.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for hiking trails or simply want to take in the beauty of the falls, I’ve got you covered. 

So sit back and let me be your guide to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland!

SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL GENERAL INFORMATION

Seljalandsfoss is undeniably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. It is located on the south coast of Iceland, in sight of Road Nr One, the famous Ring Road. It is part of the Seljalandsá River, fed by water from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, the infamous hero of 2010.  

With a drop of over 60 meters (197 feet), it is among the largest in Iceland. What makes it truly special is that you can walk behind the drop of water. That’s right; there is a. No matter what time of year you visit, the waterfall will take your breath away.

HOW WAS SELJALANDFOSS FORMED?

The formation of Seljalandsfoss is a result of the unique geography of Iceland. The south of Iceland, where Seljalandsfoss waterfall is located, is rich in glaciers and volcanoes. These natural elements influence the water flow, shaping the landscape, and gifted us with the Seljalandsfoss fall nearly 10,000 years ago after the last ice age. It is situated on a cliff of basalt rock of volcanic origins. As the water rushed down from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, it flowed into the Seljalandsá River and over a high ridge to create the impressive waterfall we see today. Water erosion over time has led to the formation of the distinctive cave-like structure behind its drop, which visitors can explore. 

WHAT DOED SELJALANDSFOSS MEAN?

Seljalandsfoss is not just a mesmerizing waterfall but also home to a variety of plants and animals. The area is decorated with lush green moss, and the meadows surrounding it are full of colorful wildflowers, creating a picturesque landscape. Birds like arctic terns and seagulls can be spotted soaring through the skies and nesting on the surrounding cliffs. Common Snipes, Wimbrels, and Oystercatchers can be seen in the nearby meadows. Local rivers and streams are teeming with trout and salmon, attracting fishing enthusiasts. During the nesting season, if you are lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of an arctic fox hunting in the rugged terrain, looking for nests to plunder.

FLORA AND FAUNA OF SELJALANDSFOSS

Seljalandsfoss is not just a mesmerizing waterfall but also home to a variety of plants and animals. The area is decorated with lush green moss, and the meadows surrounding it are full of colorful wildflowers, creating a picturesque landscape. Birds like arctic terns and seagulls can be spotted soaring through the skies and nesting on the surrounding cliffs. Common Snipes, Wimbrels, and Oystercatchers can be seen in the nearby meadows. Local rivers and streams are teeming with trout and salmon, attracting fishing enthusiasts. During the nesting season, if you are lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of an arctic fox hunting in the rugged terrain, looking for nests to plunder.

WALK BEHIND SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL 

Walking behind the waterfall is an experience that you cannot miss. As a guide in Iceland, I get to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Skogafoss in person daily. And let me tell you, it never gets old!  The experience is breathtaking; as you get close, the thundering sound of water creates an exhilarating atmosphere. While walking through the mist, you’ll feel connected to the force of nature like never before, and it offers a unique perspective on this stunning waterfall. Just be cautious, as the path can be slippery, so wear appropriate gear and enjoy this unique experience. Wear waterproof pants and a coat because you will GET WET. But trust me, it’s worth it! 

Please note that the pathway behind the waterfall is closed during the winter for safety reasons and potentially hazardous conditions. While you can still enjoy the breathtaking view of the waterfall from designated viewing areas, I kindly ask you to respect the rules and prioritize your safety.

HOW TO GET TO SELJALANDSFOSS FROM REYKJAVIK?

Of course, booking one of the day tours with me is the best way. 🙂 You’ll not only get to explore the waterfall, but you’ll also see several other incredible wonders of nature across south Iceland.

You can also drive yourself by rental car or take a bus tour. If you choose to drive, simply head east out of Reykjavik towards Selfoss and Vík with Route 1. After crossing the river Þjórsá and Krossá,  turn onto paved Road 249. From there, it’s a short drive to the official parking lot, where you can pay the parking fee and start your journey. Whatever way you choose to travel, I’m sure you will have a fantastic trip to Seljalandsfoss.

BEST TIME TO VISIT SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL

Choosing the best time to visit Seljalandsfoss depends on your personal preference and the type of experience you want to have.  Iceland’s ever-changing seasons offer unique opportunities to witness the beauty of this iconic waterfall in different ways. Whether you come in the summer or winter, you will leave with unforgettable memories. 

VISITING SELJALANDSFOSS IN THE SUMMER

Summer is definitely the most popular season to explore Iceland. When the sun is high in the sky, rainbows at Seljalandsfoss are common in summer. It’s important to note that rainbows are not guaranteed and depend on weather conditions. With warm weather and longer daylight hours, it is perfect for hiking through the stunning surrounding landscapes or camping nearby. To make the most of your trip, it’s best to plan ahead and arrive early or late in the evening to avoid crowds. Don’t forget to bring appropriate clothing and gear, such as waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear, for the perfect adventure!

WITNESSING SUNSET AT SELJALANDSFOSS

Witnessing the sunset at Seljalandsfoss is a visual feast served by nature! The majestic waterfall offers a stunning view against the backdrop of the colorful sky. During the sunset, the mist from its drop creates a dazzling display as it catches the rays of the sun. The view from behind the Seljalandsfoss is particularly unique during sunset. As it points to the west side, the sun shines through the cascade of water, creating a gate-to-heaven effect. It’s important to note that sunset can be pretty chilly, so dressing warmly is essential for a comfortable viewing experience. 

VISITING SELJALANDSFOSS IN THE WINTER

Seljalandsfoss is known for its natural beauty; in winter, it takes on a whole new level of enchantment. As winter casts its icy spell over Iceland, a mist of water by time creates a mesmerizing icy spectacle. The combination of frozen water, sparkling ice, and snowy surroundings is an absolute feast for the eyes and provides endless opportunities for stunning photographs. While its beauty in winter is mesmerizing, it’s important to remember the potential risks associated with falling icicles and ice collecting around the waterfall. Keeping a safe distance and using crampons is essential at that time of the year.

NORTHERN LIGHTS AT SELJALANDSFOSS

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural light display that occurs due to the interaction between charged particles from the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. This spectacular occurrence is typically seen in the polar regions. Iceland’s low urban density and location in the North Atlantic make it an ideal place for such observations. The south coast is a prime location for observing and capturing the beauty of the Northern Lights. The nights get darker in Iceland from September to April, making it an ideal time to witness the natural phenomenon. You should keep an eye on the weather forecast and solar activity to have increased chances of seeing the lights dance across the sky. If you are lucky to meet perfect conditions, staying overnight by the south coast provides a better chance of witnessing the full display of the Northern Lights. However, taking one of the tours from Reykjavik is also a good solution. Personally, I will recommend choosing one of the small providers with a group maximum of up to six to eight people.

I don’t have Northern Light hunting on my schedule offer. I’m simply finding it unfair to offer my guests an experience that is so hard to predict so far in advance. But of course, if the solar activity is strong enough, and we will have good weather conditions, I will be happy to take you on such Northern Lights hunting. 

ATTRACTIONS NEAR SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL. 

There’s so much to see in southern Iceland. Located there, Seljalandsfoss is one of many must-see locations in the area. But don’t stop there! Visit other nearby waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers, and canyons. It’s no wonder this area was featured in Justin Bieber’s music video for “I’ll Show You.” I was forced to watch it with my small nephew a hundred times 🙂 Plan your itinerary carefully depending on the time of year. Pack appropriate clothing that will allow you to adjust yourself to tricky weather conditions and help you make the most of your time in Iceland. Below, I listed a few places you simply can’t skip during your visit.

GLJUFRABUI WATERFALL

Tucked away in a narrow gorge, Gljufrabui Waterfall, also known as the “hidden waterfall,” is famous for its mystical and enchanting atmosphere.

To reach the waterfall, you must venture through a narrow opening in the rocks and walk on rocks deep in a shallow stream, creating a sense of exploration and discovery. As you step inside the hidden chamber, you are greeted by the breathtaking view of its drop cascading down the moss-covered cliffs, surrounded by lush vegetation. The misty atmosphere and the echoing sound of the falling water create an ethereal ambiance, making Gljúfrabúi an unforgettable and mystical destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure travelers.

WESTMAN ISLAND

Located off Iceland’s southern coast lies the stunning Westman Islands, also known as Vestmannaeyjar; it’s an archipelagoof 15 islands with submarine volcanic eruption origins.  Westman Islands is accessible via 30 min ferry from Landeyjahöfnoffer. The group’s most famous island is Heimaey, the only inhabited island. Heimaey is known for its stunning landscapes, including the Eldfell volcano that erupted in 1973, reshaping the island’s coastline. Despite this natural disaster, Heimaey has bounced back and is now a vibrant and thriving community. Visitors to the Westman Islands can enjoy various outdoor activities, such as hiking, bird-watching, and boat tours. The islands are also home to a variety of wildlife, including puffins, seals, and whales, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. With its dramatic landscapes and rich wildlife, the Westman Islands offer travelers a unique and unforgettable experience. 

EYJAFJALLAJOKULL VOCANO

The Eyjafjallajokull is known for its notorious eruption in 2010. This stratovolcano is situated underneath the glacier of the same name, Eyjafjallajokull. The eruption disrupted air travel across Europe for several weeks, as the ash cloud emitted into the atmosphere, causing flight cancellations and travel chaos. The ash from the volcano is known to be highly abrasive and can damage aircraft engines, making it unsafe to fly through. The Eyjafjallajokull eruption served as a reminder of the power and unpredictability of nature and its impact on global transportation systems. Despite this destructive eruption, Eyjafjallajokull remains an iconic landmark in Iceland, attracting visitors who are fascinated by its unique geological features.

THORSMORK VALEY 

Thorsmork Valley, also known as Þórsmörk, this breathtaking valley is named after the Norse god Thor. It is located in the Icelandic highlands between three glaciers: Tindfjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Eyjafjallajökull. This valley is accessible from Reykjavik via a combination of bus and 4×4 vehicles or by hiking trails. The rugged terrain and unpredictable weather make it an exhilarating destination for hikers and adventurers. Among the popular hikes is the Fimmvörðuháls trail, which offers stunning views of waterfalls, volcanic peaks, and glaciers. The valley is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors can stay in one of the campsites or cabins and enjoy a cozy night under the stars. Thorsmork Valley is the perfect escape for those seeking to escape the crowds and experience Iceland’s natural beauty at its finest. 

SKOGAFOSS WATERFALL

Skogafoss waterfall is the next most popular tourist attraction on the South Coast, attracting visitors worldwide. With a height of 60 meters (200 ft) and a width of 25 meters (82 ft), it creates a majestic and powerful display of nature’s beauty. The waterfall is framed by a lush green landscape, surrounded by cliffs and mountains. Skogafoss is known for producing a magnificent mist that often creates vibrant rainbows, making it a photographer’s paradise.  The waterfall is also home to one of the famous legends of Iceland, where a Viking treasure is believed to be hidden behind the falls. The Skogafoss waterfall is a must-visit place for anyone traveling to Iceland.

KVERNUFOSS WATERFALL

Kvernufoss is a hidden gem located in Iceland, near the town of Skógafoss. This enchanting waterfall is often overshadowed by its more popular and crowded neighbor, but it is definitely worth a visit. As you approach it, you will be greeted by a charming hiking path that winds through lush green fields. The path will lead you through a narrow canyon, where you will find Kvernufoss, with a drop height of 30 meters (98 ft). What makes this waterfall special is the opportunity to walk right behind it. As you make your way behind its drop, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view and the refreshing spray of the water. Kvernufoss offers a peaceful and serene experience away from the tourist crowds, making it a perfect spot to connect with nature and immerse yourself in Iceland’s natural beauty.

REYNISFJARA, THE BLACK SAND BEACH

Reynisfjara, also known as the Black Sand Beach, is a captivating natural wonder located in southern Iceland. The beach is famous for its dramatic basalt columns, towering cliffs, and powerful crashing waves. Visitors are mesmerized by the contrasting beauty of the dark sand against the roaring Atlantic Ocean. However, Reynisfjara is not just a place of beauty; it also holds a rich history and folklore. The folklore tells tales of the Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks, which are the remains of trolls who were caught by the sunlight and petrified. With its breathtaking landscape and mythical tales, Reynisfjara continues to inspire and awe those who visit.

PHOTOGRAPHING SELJALANDSFOSS: TIPS AND TRICKS

Capturing stunning photographs of Seljalandsfoss requires careful planning and the proper techniques. Here are some essential tips and tricks to elevate your photography game:

CAMERA SETTINGS

  • Opt for a wide-angle lens, ideally between 16mm and 35mm, to encompass the grandeur of the waterfall and its surroundings.
  • Use a narrow aperture (high f-stop, such as f/11 or higher) to ensure a greater depth of field and keep the entire scene in focus.
  • Set your ISO to a low value (between 100 and 400) to maintain image quality and minimize noise.
  • Experiment with longer shutter speeds (around 1/4th of a second or slower) to capture the graceful flow of the waterfall.

SUNSET PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Arrive well in advance to scout for the best vantage points and take advantage of the golden hour lighting.
  • Adjust your exposure settings to capture the warm hues of the sunset, and consider using graduated neutral density filters for a balanced exposure between the bright sky and darker foreground.

NORTHERN LIGHTS PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Use a sturdy tripod to keep your camera stable during long exposures required for capturing the Northern Lights.
  • Set your camera to manual mode and choose a wide aperture (such as f/2.8 or lower) to gather as much light as possible.
  • Increase your ISO (between 800 and 16000) to capture the faint lights, and experiment with different shutter speeds (starting at around 6 seconds) to achieve the desired effect.

MY TOURS TO SELJALANDSFOSS

Whether you prefer a small group or a more personalized experience, I have options to cater to your needs. If you enjoy meeting new people and want to explore popular destinations with like-minded travelers, a small group might be the perfect fit for you. These tours typically accommodate up to 6 people and offer an organized itinerary with a knowledgeable guide. On the other hand, if you prefer a more customized and flexible experience, a private tour might be a better option for you; it will allow you to design your itinerary, choose your travel dates, and customize the activities to your liking. You can also enjoy the full attention of your guide, who can give you a more personalized experience and cater to your specific interests.

FROM GEYSER TO VIK

ICELANDIC SOUTH COAST

THE GLACIER LAGOON

ACCOMMODATIONS AND DINING NEAR SELJALANDSFOSS

A variety of accommodation options, from campsites to luxury hotels, can be found around Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Popular choices include Hotel Ranga, Seljalands Horizons, Skógar Camping Grounds, and Skogafoss Hotel. Nearby towns like Hvolsvöllur and Skógar offer dining options, as well as food trucks and snack stands during peak tourist season. My personal favorite is Skogafoss Bistro; it is definitely the best choice in this area.

SERVICES AND OPERATIONS AT SELJALANDSFOSS?

The waterfall is well-prepared to meet the needs of visitors, providing convenient amenities and ensuring safety. You’ll find a parking lot at the entrance where you can safely park your vehicle. While parking may be a small fee, it helps maintain and preserve this natural wonder. Additionally, there is a charming souvenir shop where you can browse and purchase mementos to commemorate your visit.  If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty during your visit, there’s a food truck nearby offering a variety of snacks and drinks. Restroom facilities are also available nearby for your convenience.

FAQ

IS SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL FREE

There is no entrance fee, but Seljalandsfoss parking requires a small payment. 

HOW MUCH IS PARKING AT SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL?

Currently, the parking fee is 900 ISK (7USD/6EUR/5GBP) per car. This fee covers a day’s parking and is reasonably priced considering the number of amenities available at the waterfall, such as the walking trail, restrooms, and shops. Visitors can safely park their vehicles and enjoy the beautiful views of the waterfall and the surrounding area.

CAN YOU WALK BEHIND SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL IN WINTER?

Unfortunately, the path behind Seljalandsfoss is closed during winter due to safety concerns. If you plan on visiting in other seasons, wear proper footwear with good traction (crampons in winter) and be cautious of falling ice and rocks from the waterfall’s edges. While you can still enjoy the breathtaking view from designated viewing areas, access to the pathway behind is restricted. I kindly ask you to respect the rules and prioritize your safety.

IS THE SELJALANDSFOSS ON THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?

No. Even that waterfall is located relatively close to that region and is not considered a part of the Golden Circle (link) road.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND AT SELJALANDSFOSS?

 When you plan to visit, spending at least 40 minutes to an hour there is recommended. This will allow you to fully appreciate the waterfall’s natural beauty and walk around the surrounding area. 

WHAT TO WEAR WHEN VISITING SELJALANDSFOSS?

Wear warm and waterproof clothing, including raincoats, pants, and gloves. Waterproof footwear with good traction (crampons in winter) is also a must have, especially since you will be at the beginning of your day. So, you don’t want to be wet and cold for the rest of your trip.

CAN I FLY A DRONE ON SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL?

No, It is not allowed to fly a drone on Seljalandsfoss. This is because the area is considered a natural reserve and a popular tourist attraction. Drones may disturb the peaceful environment and endanger other visitors. Also, there are strict regulations in Iceland regarding the use of drones in protected areas. If you plan to capture aerial footage of the waterfall, it is best to check with the authorities beforehand or use a licensed drone operator.

CONCLUSION

Seljalandsfoss is undeniably one of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural wonders; it is definitely worth visiting. Its unique features, such as the ability to walk behind the waterfall and the mesmerizing views of the surrounding landscape, offer a unique and unforgettable experience. It is essential to keep in mind the safety precautions when visiting, such as wearing appropriate clothing and footwear and being mindful of the slippery rocks. I hope that with this travel guide, I have provided information that will help you plan your visit and make the most out of it.