On our first day of touring the southern part of Iceland, we had several stops on the itinerary. After leaving Hotel Laekur, we headed east on the Ring Road (Highway 1). Our first stop was one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss.
The popularity of this waterfall has as much to do with its beauty as the fact that it’s located right off of the highway. It’s so large and so close that it’s visible from the road as you drive by.
By no means does this give you an idea about how impressive of a waterfall it is and how it was basically designed for visitors to gawk at it. The location is so popular that you have to pay to park in the adjacent lot. That should be a clue to how busy the waterfall can get.
Crowds were lower when we visited, so we had an easy time getting a good parking spot and walked towards the falls. Almost immediately, you want to take out a camera and start taking pictures.
As you get closer, there’s an area that’s designed for taking photos.
The most visitor-friendly thing about Seljalandsfoss is a path that takes you right behind the waterfall. Do you want to see the backside of water? Here’s your chance.
If you follow the slippery path behind the waterfall, you’ll reach a staircase from which you can look down at the falls. We didn’t feel like climbing so we returned the way we came and met the path coming down the stairs. From here, most people headed back to their cars.
However, we had some inside information. The guide our travel agent provided mentioned another waterfall but didn’t give much of a description. However, a post on Andy’s Travel Blog made me force Sharon to walk to what she called “another waterfall.” (Note from Sharon: True story! If I only knew…)
To be honest, almost everyone ignored the sign at the bottom of the path.
The sign is pointing to Gljúfrabúi, which I’ve read means “Dweller in the Gorge.” The 560 meter (about 1/3 of a mile) walk is well worth what you’re going to see once you get there. Gljúfrabúi was one of our favorite things on the entire trip. The most magical thing about the waterfall is the reveal.
As you walk there, there’s no indication about what you’re going to see. Even as you’re almost there, all you see is a crack in the rocks with a river coming from the source inside.
I can’t describe what it’s like to walk through that crack in the rocks. I’d say this is a spoiler alert because I knew what came next and Sharon didn’t and it was priceless to see her expression as we walked inside.
You can almost walk right up to the waterfall. Even if you keep some distance, you’ll get pelted with spray so it helps if you have a good raincoat and waterproof boots.
There’s a boulder at the base of the falls that seems to have been placed there for the sole purpose of people to climb and get better pictures.
But for us, we weren’t satisfied with this picture so we returned to the falls when we were driving back to get a better picture. Yes, we liked the falls that much. I can’t describe what it was like to stand there, almost alone, and look up at these falls.
At least in this picture, you can see our faces.
In closing, I call this picture “Joe contemplating walking through the water and climbing the rocks to get a closer view while not wanting to test how good his travel insurance coverage is if he breaks his ankle.” (Note from Sharon: I call it, “What are you doing? Get away from there!”)
This is an easy one. If you go to Iceland and visit Seljalandsfoss but don’t walk down to see Gljúfrabúi, you’re doing it wrong.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 23,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary