S

Seljalandsfoss, the only waterfall in Iceland you can walk behind9 min read

Wanderlust Pulse
Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is a beautiful 60 meters high waterfall located in the south of Iceland, which you can walk behind into a small cave.

About Seljalandsfoss waterfall

The unique aspect of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is that it has a small cave, allowing you to walk 360° around the waterfall. The wind blows the mist, and water splashes from the waterfall quite far, so remember to bring a raincoat when you pass behind the waterfall. During bad weather, the path is often too slippery and will therefore be closed.

Its accessibility and impressive natural features are the main reasons it is one of the country’s most famous and visited falls. To make the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls as unique as possible, they decided to equip the Seljalandsfoss waterfall with lights, making it the only waterfall in Iceland to be lit up at night.

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is part of the river Seljalandsá, which finds its origins at the Eyjafjallajökull ice glacier, covering the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused chaos across the European airports.

Another unique aspect that makes a visit to Seljalandsfoss interesting is that a few hundred meters further, you’ll find another (hidden) waterfall: the Gljúfrabúi waterfall, often overlooked by tourists.

Basic facts about Seljalandsfoss

As a result of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption, Iceland’s beauty suddenly became widely known to the general public, making Seljalandsfoss Iceland’s most famous landmark because it is so close to Ring Road One.

Seljalandsfoss
RegionSuðurland, Rangárvallasýsla
PronunciationSel-ja-lands-fos-s
Height60 meters high
TypeNatural waterfall
NamesSeljalands Waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, Seljalandsfoss
MeaningSeljalands Waterfall means ‘selling the lands of waterfalls’
GPS coordinates63° 36′ 34.19″ N, 19° 59′ 20.39″ W
Entrance Fee0 ISK
Parking Fee800 ISK (5 euro)

Seljalandsfoss

How were the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls formed?

The Seljalandsfoss waterfalls in Iceland originate from the Seljalands River, formed by the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano; The meltwater rushes down the river to the south and cascades down a 60-meter cliff creating the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. The cliff’s top sticks out a bit, creating a small cave and allowing visitors to walk behind the waterfall.

How to pronounce Seljalandsfoss?

The Icelandic language contains many unique letters and long words, making pronouncing these words a bit of a tongue-twister. “Seljalandsfoss” sounds like Sel-ja-lands-fos-s, and you can click here to hear how to pronounce it. 

When you’re visiting Iceland, a practical tip would be to look out for words ending with “Foss” because the word “Foss” stands for “waterfall” in the Icelandic language and will lead you to one of the 10.000 waterfalls in Iceland.

The controversy around Seljalandsfoss

Because the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is an important tourist attraction for the region, several plans were made in 2017 to build a tourist information center next to the waterfall. According to the building plans, it would have been 8 meters high and 2000 square meters in size.

These plans met with a lot of opposition from the locals, as opponents claimed that a building would ruin the natural setting around the waterfalls and thus impact the breathtaking view of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

For the time being, the idea is still not approved or rejected, and alternative solutions are being considered, such as making the visitor center smaller or moving it to a neighboring village.

Pop Culture featuring Seljalandsfoss

Throughout the years, the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and music videos, which has only increased the popularity of the waterfall.

The waterfall plays a prominent role in Justin Bieber’s music video for his song ‘I’ll Show You’ (2015) but is also seen in the TV series ‘The Amazing Race 6’ (2004) and the movie ‘The Juniper Tree’ (1990).

Over the years, various artists have portrayed idyllic Icelandic landscapes in their music videos, from international artists such as Westlife and David Guetta to local heroes such as Sigur Ros and Björk.

Is Seljalandsfoss part of the Golden Circle?

In theory, the Golden Circle starts in Reykjavik. It passes through Iceland’s three most popular locations: the “Golden Waterfall” Gullfoss, the geysers in the Haukadalur Geothermal Valley, and the Þingvellir National Park.

Today, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skogafoss have become such a popular tourist attraction that most tour operators added them both to their Golden Circle itinerary.

How to reach Seljalandsfoss (map)

From Reykjavik to Seljalandsfoss

The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is located about 120 kilometers from Reykjavik, making it the furthest point in most Golden Circle itineraries. 

With no stops, Seljalandsfoss is approximately a 2-hour straight drive from Reykjavik, which means that it is also fairly accessible by car or bus, making it a perfect day trip. 

By CarTo reach the Seljalandsfoss waterfall by car, you’ll need to take the Ring Road 1 and drive towards the South Coast. After 128 kilometers, you’ll see the waterfall and need to turn onto Road 249 to reach the parking lot.
By BusIcelandic bus operator Trex Buses drives twice a day to Seljalandsfoss.

Starting from Reykjavik’s City Hall, it takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach the Seljalandsfoss Parking Lot. Tickets for this bus ride can cost up to 40 euros.

From Seljalandsfoss to Skogafoss

Skógafoss – another famous waterfall in Iceland – is also usually visited alongside Seljalandsfoss because it’s located 30 minutes further in Ring Road 1. This makes it extremely handy for tourists visiting Iceland by bus because all the tour buses from Reykjavik visit both the Seljalandsfoss and the Skógafoss waterfalls.

Parking around the seljalandsfoss waterfall

Because the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a tourist highlight, the locals have also ensured that there is parking available – so tourists do not have to park to the side of the road. 

The parking costs 800 ISK (5 euros), which covers the entire day.

Detailed terrain map of seljalandsfoss waterfall

As shown on the map: Seljalandsfoss waterfall is located about 12 kilometers from Reykjavík, 56 km from Vík, and 32 km from Skógafoss waterfall.

When to visit Seljalandsfoss

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is open to visitors during summer and winter, without having to take into account entrance fees or opening hours.

During Summer, you might experience the midnight sun, which will illuminate the waterfall, and during winter, you might be able to catch the Northern Lights!

Seljalandsfoss during summer

The weather around Seljalandsfoss waterfall is an extension of the rest of southern Iceland: rather mild. The Summer is the warmest season, as temperatures mostly range between 8 and 14°C. 

Midnight Son at Seljalandsfoss

If you are visiting Seljalandsfoss between June and July, chances are you’ll be able to witness the never resting midnight sun: 24 hours of sunlight. You’ll be able to take advantage of this ‘endless day’ to travel at night and avoid crowds at some of the most touristic places in Iceland, like the Seljalandsfoss!

Seljalandsfoss during winter

During the winter, the weather varies between -2 and 3°C, which is why they close the path behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall: The icy conditions make it too dangerous to walk behind the waterfall: Both icicles and boulders might fall from the cliff or the waterfall.

The locals have foreseen the waterfall with massive light beams to keep the waterfall visible from the ring road during short winter days and dark nights to illuminate the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

Northern Lights at Seljalandsfoss

While you won’t be able to explore the waterfall from behind during winter, chances are high you’ll be able to witness the legendary Aurora Borealis – the northern lights! 

If you visit Seljalandsfoss between September and March, you might experience the Northern Lights as long as it is dark enough.

Accomodation near Seljalandsfoss

Cottages and cabins near Seljalandsfoss

Looking to rent a small cottage in Iceland after you visited the Seljalandsfoss waterfall? We’ve listed the most popular options. 

  • Ásólfsskáli Cottage. A cottage located on a cow farm, equipped with a hot tub and an amazing view of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. This cottage is located 15 minutes from both Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.
  • Bryggjur cabin. A luxury cabin built in 2017 with 3 bedrooms, located 20 minutes from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
  • Hellishólar cabin park. A park of 24 different cottages, located 25 minutes from Seljalandsfoss.

Hotels near Seljalandsfoss

  • Hotel Selja. The hotel opened in 2018 and is located just 8 kilometers from the waterfall.
  • Stóra-Mörk 3 hotel. A bed and breakfast/hotel located only 8 kilometers from the waterfall. You can also cook your own food in the kitchen with a microwave and dining area.
  • Nicehostel Seljaland Hotel. A hotel with both private as shared accommodation, located only 2 kilometers from the waterfall.

Camping near Seljalandsfoss

If you’re looking to park your campervan or if you want to stay in a tent, you’ll be able to stay at the Hamragarðar Campground, which is only 200 meters away from the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, right in front of Gljufrabui Waterfall.

Other attractions near Seljalandsfoss

  • Gljúfrabúi Waterfall. A 40-meter high waterfall, hidden behind the Franskanef cliff. This waterfall is located only a few hundred meters from Seljalandsfoss, also known as the Gljúfrafoss – literally translated to “Dweller in the Gorge”.  
  • Skógafoss. A waterfall located 30 kilometers from Seljalandsfoss. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and has a 25-meter width.
  • Seljavallalaug. Built in 1923, this is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, located in a remote landscape not far from the Seljavellir guesthouses.
  • Thorsmork Mountain ridge. A popular hiking route situated in the south of Iceland between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull

What to pack when visiting Seljalandsfoss

Packing the right clothing for your trip to Iceland is essential since it is known that the weather conditions can change rapidly. We recommend bringing waterproof clothing if you are planning to walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

Additionally, don’t forget to cover up your electronics, cameras, or phones, which might get wet when walking behind the waterfall.

Waterproof and wind jacketThe jacket’s base layer keeps you warm, and the top layer is waterproof and windproof for maximum coverage.
Hiking shoesYou will hike over slippery paths, which makes good footwear a necessity. Spikes are not a must but are useful during the winter.
LARQ BottleWe personally have invested in a LARQ water bottle, which we bring to all our hikes. It contains a UV-C Light technology that neutralizes many harmful bacteria and contributes to our zero-waste lifestyle.
CategoriesDestinations
Wanderlust Pulse