NatureWaterfallsVisit the Powerful Dettifoss Waterfall
The mighty Dettifoss waterfall, Europe's most powerful waterfall, mesmerizing visitors with its sheer power and beauty
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Leah BIlquist
By Leah BIlquistMar 21, 2024 • 9 min read

Visit the Powerful Dettifoss Waterfall

The second most powerful waterfall in Europe, after the famous Rhine Falls in Switzerland, is Dettifoss Waterfall in Northern Iceland. The waterfall is 147 feet or 44 meters high and 328 feet wide or 99 meters, which is also why it is sometimes referred to as “The Beast”. Not only due to its size but also because of its comparison to “The Beauty” of Godafoss, which is another sensational waterfall. Dettifoss is one of the most visited waterfalls in the country, and we are going to tell you everything you need to know before you go!

Location of Dettifoss

Nestled in the heart of North Iceland, Dettifoss Waterfall is a marvel of nature that astounds visitors with its sheer power and beauty. Have you ever felt the rumbling sound of water cascading down from a height of 44 meters? Dettifoss, the largest waterfall in Europe by volume, provides you that thrilling experience.

Historical Significance

Apart from its awe-inspiring beauty, Dettifoss holds historical significance. Legend has it that ancient settlers considered it a sacred place, and its imagery has found a place in Icelandic folklore.


Birds and other small wildlife thrive around Dettifoss, adding to the natural charm of the location. From the chirping of birds to the gentle rustling of leaves, the ecosystem around the waterfall is a living testament to nature's harmony.

Best Time to Visit

Summer is the best time to visit Dettifoss thanks to the extended daylight hours and warmer temperatures. Summer is also when the waterfall is its most powerful, with a flow of 400 M3/S.

Visitors standing in awe of the mighty Dettifoss waterfall, Europe's most powerful waterfall, captivated by its intense beauty and grandeur.

The image portrays a breathtaking view of Dettifoss, the majestic waterfall in Northeast Iceland, with tourists standing at vantage points to capture the spectacle.

The warmer months also mean clearer roads with no risk of snow or ice. So all types of cars will be able to access it, especially if visiting the west side.

If you do want to visit in winter you can, but you must check the road conditions before leaving. If North Iceland has recently received heavy snowfall, expect the roads to be closed. Fall and Spring will provide a greater chance at viewing Dettifoss outside of summer.

Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland during winter, surrounded by snow and ice.

The image captures Dettifoss, Iceland's famous waterfall, in the tranquility of winter. Known for being Europe's most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss takes on a different character during the winter months, as snow and ice envelop its surroundings.

How to Get There

You can reach Dettifoss by a rental car or guided tours. Well-marked roads guide travelers, and there's ample parking space near the site.

From Reykjavik. The drive takes around 7 hours or around 520 km, which is why many visit the area during their road trip around Ring Road.

You can also stay in Akureyri which is known as the Capital of the North, this city is a 2-hour drive from Dettifoss around 95 miles or 150 kilometers.

Safety Precautions

Safety first! Admiring Dettifoss is mesmerizing, but don't forget the safety precautions. Sturdy footwear, weather-appropriate clothing, and awareness of your surroundings will ensure a pleasant visit.

How Much Time?

Most visitors will spend anywhere from two to three hours here, especially If you are planning on hiking to the viewpoint. If you just want to view the falls and leave, you can do that too. It depends on how much time you have set aside for the visit. We recommend relaxing for a while and enjoying the cascading sound of “The Beast”.

Nearby Attractions

Now that you visited Dettifoss and hiked its viewpoints, you can explore the surrounding areas. North Iceland has so many amazing places for you to continue your day of adventure. Here are some of our top picks.

Hafragilsfoss Waterfall

The captivating Hafragilsfoss waterfall, an impressive natural spectacle within the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.

The image showcases the mesmerizing Hafragilsfoss waterfall, situated in the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in Northeast Iceland.

There is another waterfall to add to your list, Hafragilsfoss. This waterfall is much smaller but it is still fantastic to visit and is also located in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Hafragilsfoss is 98 feet or 30 meters high and 295 feet or 90 meters wide. This waterfall is special since you can get scenic views of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. You can view Hafragilsfoss Waterfall from the Dettifoss parking lot, just follow the signs!

Asbyrgi Canyon

Ásbyrgi Canyon, Iceland's horseshoe-shaped wonder, surrounded by lush greenery and steep walls, a symbol of natural beauty and folklore.

Ásbyrgi Canyon, Iceland's horseshoe-shaped wonder, surrounded by lush greenery and steep walls, a symbol of natural beauty and folklore.

Visit the famous horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi Canyon, which is only 39 minutes from Dettifoss. The canyon sits inside Vatnajokull National Park, where the cliffs are an exceptional 330 feet high, drawing tourists from all over. Ásbyrgi canyon allows you to visit where the canyon divides, a spot that is known for its spectacular views.

The canyon got its name from the Old Norse Gods. The tale goes that the shape of the horseshoe canyon was created by the stomping of one of the hoofs of the eight-legged steed of Odin. If you want to explore overnight, you totally can! They have a first come first serve campground at the canyon.

Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn in Iceland, reflecting the blue sky on a bright and sunny day, surrounded by unique geological features.

This image illustrates the breathtaking beauty of Lake Mývatn, located in northern Iceland, on a clear and sunny day. The lake's surface glistens as it reflects the deep blue sky, creating a harmonious blend of color and light.

Visit the volcanic lake of Lake Mývatn, which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Dettifos. The lake is located on the northeastern shore of Reykjahlíð village, Mývatn. Which is a region of lakes, with an area of 14 square miles, Lake Mývatn being Iceland's fourth-largest body of water. Swimming is not allowed here due to the water being too warm. However, there is plenty of wildlife here. If you want to soak, check out the thermal Myvatn Nature Baths which sit nearby.


A panoramic view of Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city, nestled by the fjord with mountains in the background.

The image provides a captivating view of Akureyri, often considered Iceland's northern capital. Located at the base of Eyjafjörður Fjord and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the town presents a picturesque blend of urban life and natural beauty. The photograph features key landmarks, such as the iconic Akureyri Church, and the vibrant architecture that lines the harbor.

Visiting the “Capital Of The North” is a great add-on for your trip to Dettifoss and is about a two-hour drive from the waterfall. You can make this your home base when exploring North Iceland or just make it a day trip to check out the area's attractions. There is truly so much to do in this beloved town. Visit The Botanic Gardens or The Art Museum and Art Street. Spend your day at Sundlaug Akureyrar, a Public Swimming Pool. Which is also home to the longest water slide in Iceland.

You should also plan to grab dinner here as Akureyri has so many amazing restaurants for you to dine at. Including these 18 Best Restaurants in Akureyri.

Other waterfalls in Iceland

Prepare to be awestruck by the natural wonder of Seljalandsfoss, a magnificent waterfall nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of Iceland. With its slender veil of water plunging gracefully from a towering cliff, Seljalandsfoss offers a truly mesmerizing sight.

One of Iceland's most renowned attractions, Seljalandsfoss beckons adventurers to explore its ethereal beauty up close. Experience the thrill of walking behind the cascading waters and feel the power of nature firsthand.

To plan your visit and uncover the secrets of Seljalandsfoss, delve into Go Car Rental's comprehensive guide: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.

Frequently Asked Questions

How tall is Dettifoss Waterfall?

Dettifoss Waterfall is 44 meters tall.

Can I camp near Dettifoss?

There are designated camping areas near Dettifoss, but make sure to follow local regulations.

Is it safe to swim near Dettifoss?

Swimming near Dettifoss is not recommended due to the strong currents.

What other attractions are near Dettifoss?

Nearby attractions include Ásbyrgi Canyon and Myvatn Nature Baths.

Are there facilities for food and refreshments near Dettifoss?

There are some facilities, but it is advisable to carry your snacks and water.