Guide to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland
With over 10,000 waterfalls cascading throughout Iceland, it is hard to know which ones to visit.
Located right off of Route One in south Iceland, is the gigantic Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. With a 200 feet drop, you truly can’t miss this majestic landmark that sits between the town of Selfoss and Skogafoss near Hvolsvollur.
The glacier is quite famous because of its volcanic eruption in 2010. This is due to Eyjafjallajökull being located in the eastern volcanic zone of Iceland. The volcano has a unique location, beneath the Eyjafjalla Glacier. Its highest point reaches almost 5,500 feet above sea level.
When the eruption happened the glacier began to melt, creating a mess of mud, ice, and meltwater. The water flowed into the rivers which caused disastrous flooding and damage to the area. Towns around the glacier were filled with volcanic ash, making it an iconic event.
The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland is a must-see stop along your Ring Road or Golden Circle trip. So let’s talk about how to get there, what to do and what to pack!
How To Get There
One of the best parts of visiting Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland is how easy it is to get there. It is located literally on the side of the road. That means no crazy hikes or 4X4 drives to the parking lot. It is only about an hour and fifty minutes from Reyjavik.
You will take Ring Road 1 towards the south coast of Iceland. After about 78 miles, you will turn onto Road 249. From there, drive a little over half of a mile. You will then see the parking lot on your right.
There are no entrance fees to access the falls. But if you want to park, there is a small fee you will need to pay a Seljalandsfoss parking fee. It costs only 800 ISK or around $5 USD. There is no time limit either, so you can spend the whole day exploring the waterfall and surrounding area.
Hiking to Seljalandsfoss
The hike at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is extremely unique. This is because you get to walk behind seljalandsfoss! Normally it is dangerous and illegal to make your way behind a waterfall, but not at Seljalandsfoss.
The hike begins at the parking lot. The short black path will bring you to the base of the staircase before the falls. Make your way up the semi-steep staircase which brings you to the side of the waterfall. You can capture some amazing pictures from this angle too.
From there, you will leave the stairs and start your climb on the rocks. The rocks can get very slippery from the waterfall mist. It is important to go slow and be extra careful when walking on the rocks. The rocks will bring you to the dirt trail behind the waterfall in the small cave.
Here is where you experience a once-in-a-lifetime view of Seljalandsfoss.
Many places will not allow you behind a waterfall, resulting in fines or even jail time. Luckily you do not have to worry about that here. Prepare to get wet from the waterfall mist though. Even on a sunny day in Iceland, we recommend wearing your rain jacket through this part.
After you take some time to marvel behind the waterfall, continue along the path. It will bring you up to the other side of Seljalandsfoss.
You will need to climb up some rocks again or you can simply turn around and go back the same way you came in. The trail is short, quick, and magnificent. Take on the 1.2-mile walk with a low elevation gain of 226 ft.
Don’t miss out on the neighboring waterfall, Gljufrabui waterfall.
This one-of-a-kind canyon waterfall is only a nine-minute walk north of Seljalandsfoss. Gljufrabui is a 130-foot waterfall that is hidden inside a cave. You can either climb up above the falls or walk through the opening of the cave. This unique waterfall is a fun addition to your Seljalandsfoss trip.
When is the best time to visit Seljalandsfoss?
You can stop by Seljalandsfoss waterfall any time of the year. The busiest months are from June to August. The longer hours of sun and warmer temperatures are a perfect time to enjoy the refreshing mist. You can even visit during the Midnight Sun for a rare hiking opportunity.
If you want to spend some time without the crowds, visit in the fall or winter. Anytime between September to March would be an ideal time to stop by.
These months are colder, so this will be a time to pack thicker clothing. Not sure what to pack? We are going to break down exactly what you need.
What To Pack
Even on the prettiest of days, you will still need to pack rain gear for your visit to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This is because of the constant mist that the waterfall provides. Even if you are not getting up close and personal with the falls, the mist will still float over, providing light rain.
If you are planning to go near or behind the waterfall, then prepare to get soaked. Since the waterfall is giant, the light mist from afar can turn into heavier rain at times. We are not going to lie, on hotter days it is super refreshing. But, on colder days you want to make sure you have enough layers to keep you warm,
First and foremost, invest in a good rain jacket.
You want something that will keep your underneath clothing warm. Columbia makes comfortable and warm rain jackets. Other popular brands are North Face and Patagonia. These outdoor brands cater to adventures and are created to keep you warm on hikes.
Now let’s talk about your shoes.
Do not try to attempt the Seljalandsfoss waterfall hike in your running shoes or flip-flops.
You need sturdy, waterproof boots with a sturdy grip. The rocks become very slippery from the constant mist of the waterfall. This combined with rainy days can be extremely dangerous. That is why it is all about the grip.
Good hiking shoes can be a bit pricey, but the investment is completely worth it. Iceland has different terrains from muddy to dry.
If you are planning to do any hiking throughout the country, then be sure to splurge on a good pair. Salomon is a top-rated hiking boot brand that offers plenty of different styles and types. Make sure to pair them with heavy-duty hiking socks.
Always bring an extra pair of dry socks in your backpack too. This misty hike may leave your socks a bit wet by the end of your adventure.
Lastly, make sure you have layers with you.
You may start your hike in Iceland in a t-shirt in the summer months. But, towards the end of this waterfall hike, you will be cold from getting wet. On cold days, wear a base layer and fleece under your rain jacket. This will help you stay extra warm, especially when the colder water hits you.
Celebrity Sightings at Seljalandsfoss
This beautiful waterfall in Iceland is also a celebrity favorite. It was featured in music videos, television shows, and movies. Can you blame them? Seljalandsfoss is out of this world and makes a special backdrop for every type of film.
You may recognize this beauty in the sixth season of the Amazing Race. The race began in downtown Chicago as the team made their way to Reykjavik, Iceland. They took a wild 130-mile drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where they had to find their next clue behind it.
Justin Bieber filmed his music video for “I’ll Show You” in Iceland back in 2015. This was one of the first times a very famous artist put the country on the map. Causing a lot of interest in Iceland from people throughout the world. Justin was seen exploring the famous Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, bringing a lot more attention to the stunning landscape in the area.
The movie The Juniper Tree featured the walk behind the waterfall in its film. This 1990 Icelandic movie is in the medieval fantasy drama category. It was written and directed by Nietzchka Keene and based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "The Juniper Tree", The star of the film, Björk Guðmundsdóttir is seen walking behind the waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland has also been featured in season three of Star Trek: Discovery "That Hope Is You, Part 1". You can see it for yourself by watching the first episode of season three. This beloved show follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms.
A Photographer’s Paradise
For obvious reasons, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is one of the most photographed waterfalls in all of Iceland.
Photographers can get a once-in-a-lifetime portfolio shot right behind the falls. The most recommended time to snag that gorgeous photograph is at sunset. The vibrant colors will dance through the Icelandic Sky. Combine this with the cascading waterfall for a gorgeous shot.
The best time to photograph Seljalandsfoss is from the end of May to early July. This is when the sun is lower, between 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. As a result, the sun sits right in front of the falls, providing that golden hour glow.
Continue Your Road Trip
When you are doing exploring Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland, keep your adventure going by visiting these nearby locations.
Visit the interesting LAVA Centre, a museum in Hvolsvöllur, Iceland. Which is only an eighteen-minute drive northwest of Seljalandsfoss.
The museum is an interactive volcano exhibit that features educational opportunities. Watch the geophysical monitoring of active volcanic systems, earthquake activity, and surface movements with the Volcano and Earthquake alerts. Learn about different volcanoes, eruptions and lava flows, volcanic and rift systems, faults, and glacial floods that make Iceland a showcase of volcanism.
You can even book your ticket to watch Lava Centre The Movie. We recommend booking the “Full Experience” ticket, which is Adults 3.990 ISK per adult and 1.990 ISK per child.
Seljavallalaug Hot Spring
Want to explore Iceland’s favorite hidden swimming pool? Take the twenty-minute drive east from Seljalandsfoss to Seljavallalaug Hot Spring.
A remote pool that is only accessible by a hike. The infamous pool was used for swimming lessons by the locals. This was consistent until the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull took place in 2010. The pool then closed as a result of the volcanic ash.
It later reopened thanks to the help of the Icelandic locals. Today, you can soak in the pool while enjoying the breathtaking scenery that sits around it.
Read our Guide to Seljavallalaug Hot Spring to learn about how you can explore this historic area.
Home to the breathtaking Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is the town of Vik. Which is a short fifty-minute drive along Iceland’s south coast from Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Admire the unique black sand and Reynisdrangar, which are rocky sea stacks.
While the black sand beach is majestic and beautiful it can be dangerous. Lives are unfortunately lost here annually due to the unpredictable sneaker waves. Which are large and powerful coastal waves that reach the shore quickly and unexpectedly.
You can still enjoy the beach from afar, but be careful when approaching the shoreline. Afterward, stop by the town of Vik. Which has some delicious food spots for you to try.