NatureCanyonsCanyon Wonders: Natural Beauty in Iceland
Magnificent Canyons in Iceland
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Aron Freyr
By Aron FreyrNov 29, 2023 • 13 min read

Canyon Wonders: Natural Beauty in Iceland

Prepare to embark on a journey through the majestic canyons in Iceland, where glacial rivers carve breathtaking landscapes, and stunning geological features await curious adventurers. In this exploration, you’ll uncover the hidden gems and awe-inspiring beauty that make canyons in iceland an unforgettable experience for millions of visitors each year.

Short Summary

  • Explore Iceland’s glacial river canyons through camping, photography and bird-watching!
  • Experience the golden beauty of Gullfoss Canyon or discover the hidden treasure of Nauthusagil Canyon for an unforgettable journey.
  • Embark on a thrilling adventure into Iceland’s northern canyons and get ready for your canyon experience with designated paths & proper clothing!

Exploring Iceland's Glacial River Canyons

Hiker walking on a trail in Iceland's glacial river canyons

Iceland, a land of fire and ice, offers a myriad of awe-inspiring canyons, each with its own unique charm and allure. From the dramatic cliffs of Fjadrargljufur Canyon to the otherworldly shapes of Stakkholtsgja Canyon, these natural wonders are a testament to the power and beauty of Iceland’s geological forces.

As you traverse the lush green and moss-covered walls, you’ll encounter lovely waterfalls cascading down their sides and small ponds forming at their base, inviting you to explore further and uncover the hidden secrets that lie within.

Many of these incredible canyons are intertwined with exciting hiking trails, making them perfect for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual explorer, you’ll find that Iceland’s canyons offer a range of activities to suit your interests. Camping, photography, and bird-watching are just a few of the ways you can immerse yourself in the splendor of Iceland’s glacial river canyons.

So, lace up your boots, grab your camera, and prepare to experience the untamed beauty of these hidden gems!

Formation and Importance

The formation of Iceland’s majestic canyons is a tale of ice, fire, and the relentless forces of nature. As glaciers carved their way through the landscape, they were joined by volcanic eruptions and floods, shaping the land into the deep canyons we see today. These canyons not only contribute to the diverse landscape of Iceland, but also play a vital role in the country’s cultural heritage and tourism industry.

Take, for example, the Almannagjá Canyon, located in the Thingvellir National Park. This most historic canyon in Iceland has a unique connection to the founding of the Icelandic parliament in 930, making it a site of great historical significance.

Or consider Stakkholtsgja Canyon, an incredible 100-meter deep canyon in southern Iceland with giant, rugged stone walls in otherworldly shapes. With such amazing geological features and fascinating stories, it’s no wonder that Iceland’s canyons draw millions of visitors from around the world each year.

Best Time to Visit

So, when is the best time to explore these Icelandic wonders? Summer months offer the most ideal conditions for visiting Iceland’s canyons. The weather is more favorable, and access to remote areas is easier, allowing you to venture off the beaten path and discover the true essence of Iceland’s untamed beauty.

Keep in mind that many of these remote areas are accessible via F-roads, which require a 4x4 vehicle. For example, to reach the stunning Mulagljufur Canyon, you’ll need to navigate the rugged terrain in a suitable vehicle. But with a bit of planning and the right equipment, your summer adventure through canyons in iceland will be a truly unforgettable experience!

Studlagil Basalt Canyon: A Geological Wonder

Aerial view of Studlagil Basalt Canyon with its basalt columns

Nestled in the east of Iceland, you’ll find the breathtaking Studlagil Basalt Canyon, a true geological wonder. This remarkable canyon is adorned with black basalt walls that rise above the turquoise waters of the Jokulsa a Dal river. The striking contrast between the dark basalt columns and the vibrant hues of the water creates a mesmerizing scene that will leave you in awe.

Visiting Studlagil Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and from May 1st to June 10th each year, you’ll be treated to an extra special spectacle. During this time, flocks of pink-footed geese breed in the gorge, adding to the canyon’s natural beauty and charm. Whether you choose to explore on your own or join a guided tour departing from Egilsstadir, Studlagil Basalt Canyon is an Icelandic treasure you won’t want to miss.

The Majestic Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Aerial view of Fjadrargljufur Canyon with its dramatic cliffs and lovely waterfalls

Imagine a canyon with deep, moss-coated walls, a winding glacial river canyon flowing through it, and the distinct zig-zag shape that makes it stand out among its peers. Welcome to Fjadrargljufur Canyon, a picturesque gem located in South Iceland. This 100-meter deep canyon is not only a testament to the power of nature, but also a photographer’s paradise, offering stunning views and unforgettable memories.

Getting to Fjadrargljufur Canyon is a breeze. Simply take road 206 from the ring road to reach the parking lot. The last section of the road is gravel, but it’s suitable for any type of rental car. Once you’ve arrived, you can embark on an easy hiking trail established along the edge of the canyon, with a viewing platform at the end. The 30-minute walk one way will reward you with unparalleled vistas and a newfound appreciation for Iceland’s natural beauty.

Gullfoss Canyon: A Golden Experience

Aerial view of Gullfoss Canyon with its golden walls and powerful river

Gullfoss Canyon, located in southwest Iceland, offers visitors a truly golden experience. The canyon is home to the magnificent two-leveled Gullfoss waterfall, which plunges a total of 32 meters into the Hvita river below. The sheer power of the waterfall is accentuated by the towering canyon walls, which rise up to 70 meters on both sides.

Whether you’re traveling by a rental car or joining one of the many organized Golden Circle day tours, Gullfoss Canyon is easily accessible. Multiple viewing points and platforms allow you to take in the stunning scenery, while a large parking lot, café, and souvenir shop provide convenient amenities for your visit. Gullfoss Canyon can be enjoyed year-round, making it a must-see destination on any Iceland itinerary.

Glymur Canyon and Its Towering Waterfall

Aerial view of Glymur Canyon with its towering waterfall

In western Iceland, you’ll find the awe-inspiring Glymur Canyon, a testament to the power and beauty of Iceland’s natural forces. The canyon is home to the towering Glymur Waterfall, which, at a staggering 198 meters high, is the second highest waterfall in Iceland. The breathtaking sight of the waterfall cascading down the canyon walls is a sight to behold and a true highlight of any visit to the area.

However, be prepared for a challenge if you wish to explore Glymur Canyon. The hiking trails in the area are not for the faint-hearted, with some portions secured by ropes. It’s an exhilarating experience that will test your endurance and reward you with unforgettable memories and stunning views of Iceland’s natural beauty.

Nauthusagil Canyon: A Hidden Treasure

Aerial view of Nauthusagil Canyon with its hidden gem and moss covered walls

Nauthusagil Canyon, a hidden gem in South Iceland, offers visitors a truly unique and breathtaking experience. The canyon’s beauty is characterized by moss-covered walls, a cascading hidden waterfall, and a challenging hike that will leave you feeling accomplished and invigorated. Situated approximately two hours from Reykjavik, Nauthusagil Canyon is a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure and natural beauty off the beaten path.

The hike to Nauthusagil Waterfall is not for the faint of heart. It involves climbing over rocks, wading through water, and using ropes to navigate the challenging terrain. But for those willing to take on the challenge, the reward is a stunning view of the hidden waterfall and the satisfaction of conquering one of Iceland’s lesser-known treasures.

South Coast Canyons: A Journey Through Time

A breathtaking view of the canyons in Iceland during the South Coast Canyons: A Journey Through Time tour.

Iceland’s south coast is home to a diverse array of canyons, each with its own unique history and geological features. From the historic Almannagja Canyon in Thingvellir National Park to the picturesque Kvernufoss Canyon near Skogafoss, these canyons offer a journey through time, showcasing the incredible forces that have shaped this beautiful country.

In the following sections, we’ll explore these captivating canyons in greater detail.

Almannagja Canyon

Aerial view of Almannagja Canyon with its dramatic cliffs

Almannagja Canyon, situated in southwest Iceland, holds a special place in the country’s history. This canyon, formed by the separation of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, is part of Thingvellir National Park and played a significant role in the founding of the Icelandic parliament in 930. The unique geological features of Almannagja Canyon, combined with its historical significance, make it a must-see destination for any traveler to Iceland.

Visiting Almannagja Canyon offers:

  • A journey through time
  • A testament to the power of nature
  • Walking in the footsteps of Iceland’s early settlers
  • Experiencing firsthand the incredible geological forces that have shaped this amazing country

So, lace up your boots and prepare to be transported back in time as you explore the fascinating history and breathtaking beauty of Almannagja Canyon.

Kvernufoss Canyon

Aerial view of Kvernufoss Canyon with its towering waterfall

Located near the popular Skogafoss waterfall, Kvernufoss Canyon is home to the enchanting Kvernufoss Waterfall, which tumbles down 30 meters over craggy stones into a gushing pool below. The canyon offers an easy hike and picturesque views, making it the perfect destination for a leisurely day spent exploring Iceland’s natural beauty.

One of the most remarkable features of Kvernufoss Waterfall is the opportunity to walk behind the falls, providing a unique perspective and a photographer’s dream come true. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply looking for a scenic spot to stretch your legs, Kvernufoss Canyon offers a memorable experience that will leave you in awe of Iceland’s stunning landscapes.

Stakkholtsgja Canyon

Aerial view of Stakkholtsgja Canyon with its secret caves and beautiful scars

Photo by: Gregoire Dubois

Stakkholtsgja Canyon, a wide and deep canyon in South Iceland, is known for its unique shapes and shades, making it a truly awe-inspiring destination. The canyon’s 100-meter depth and towering stone walls, which take on otherworldly shapes, are a testament to the immense geological forces that have crafted this stunning landscape.

Visitors to Stakkholtsgja Canyon can embark on a variety of adventure opportunities, including hiking, photography, and even bird-watching. The canyon’s recent appearance in Game of Thrones and an epic music video for the show’s theme song have only added to its allure, ensuring that this incredible destination remains a must-visit for anyone traveling to Iceland.

Canyons of Northern Iceland: Untamed Beauty

The rugged beauty of Iceland’s northern canyons offers a unique and untamed experience for those seeking to explore the country’s lesser-known wonders. Each canyon boasts its own distinct charm and natural features, promising a memorable adventure for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the wild landscapes of northern Iceland.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into the untamed beauty of two of these captivating canyons in iceland.

Jokulsargljufur Canyon

Aerial view of Jokulsargljufur Canyon with its impressive canyons in iceland and Vatnajökull National Park

Jokulsargljufur Canyon, one of Iceland’s largest and deepest canyons, is a remarkable destination located in the north. Stretching for an incredible 25 km and boasting a width of 500 meters, this awe-inspiring canyon is part of the Jokulsargljufur National Park, which covers an area of 150 km2. The breathtaking views and diverse exploration opportunities make Jokulsargljufur Canyon a must-visit destination for any adventure-seeker.

As you explore Jokulsargljufur Canyon, you’ll be treated to the sight of several stunning waterfalls, including:

  • Selfoss
  • Dettifoss
  • Hafragilsfoss
  • Réttarfoss

With its powerful river, dramatic cliffs, and lush green walls, this incredible canyon offers an unforgettable experience for those who venture off the beaten path in search of Iceland’s untamed beauty.

Kolugljúfur Canyon

Aerial view of Kolugljúfur Canyon with its dramatic cliffs and lovely waterfalls

Kolugljfur Canyon, a short but dramatic canyon in North Iceland, offers visitors a glimpse into the untamed beauty of the region. Featuring lush green walls, dramatic cliffs, and small waterfalls of the Vidalsá River, this picturesque canyon is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

While the canyon itself may be short, the experience of exploring Kolugljfur Canyon is nothing but. Visitors can take in the stunning views, hike along the canyon’s edge, and even join guided tours to learn more about the area’s unique geological features and history.

With its breathtaking scenery and untamed beauty, Kolugljfur Canyon is a must-see destination for anyone traveling to North Iceland.

Preparing for Your Canyon Adventure

As you set out on your Icelandic canyon adventure, it’s important to be prepared for the unique challenges and conditions you may encounter along the way. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, always stick to designated walking paths, stay back from cliff edges, and wear good waterproof hiking boots.

Additionally, be mindful of other visitors and the environment when exploring these natural wonders. If you plan to use a drone, make sure to follow local regulations and respect the privacy of others.

With a little preparation and a sense of adventure, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience exploring Iceland’s magnificent canyons.


In conclusion, Iceland’s magnificent canyons offer a breathtaking journey through the country’s diverse landscapes, geological features, and rich history. From the stunning basalt columns of Studlagil Basalt Canyon to the moss-covered walls of Fjadrargljufur Canyon, each canyon presents a unique experience just waiting to be discovered. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime as you explore the untamed beauty of Iceland’s canyons.

Frequently Asked Questions

What created the canyons in Iceland?

The majestic canyons in Iceland are a stunning result of thousands of years of powerful glacial and volcanic activity combined with water and wind erosion.

These canyons are a testament to the power of nature, and a reminder of the beauty that can be found in the world. They are a popular destination for tourists, who come to marvel at the breathtaking views and explore the area.

Is Studlagil Canyon worth visiting?

Stulagil Canyon is an incredible hidden gem in Iceland, offering breathtaking views of beautiful basalt columns and brightly colored glacial rivers. The canyon walls are especially stunning with vibrant coloring, and there’s the option to get down into the canyon if you take a longer walk!

It’s definitely worth a visit!

What is studlagil canyon made of?

Stunningly beautiful, Stulagil Canyon is made of hexagonal-shaped columns of basalt rock that stand tall over a glacial river.

The canyon is a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. It’s a great place to explore and take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The canyon is also home to a variety of wildlife.

What is the best time to visit Iceland's canyons?

Explore Iceland’s canyons in summer for the best possible experience! Enjoy more favorable weather and easier access to remote areas.

The summer months are the perfect time to explore Iceland’s canyons. With warmer temperatures and longer days, you can take advantage of the natural beauty of the area.

What activities can I enjoy in Iceland's canyons?

Explore Iceland’s canyons on foot and enjoy hiking, camping, photography, and bird-watching!

Discover the beauty of the country’s rugged terrain and experience the thrill of exploring the great outdoors.

Take in the breathtaking views of the canyons and the surrounding landscape.