LivingTravelSeljalandsfoss waterfall: the complete guide

Seljalandsfoss waterfall: the complete guide

There are more than 10,000 waterfalls scattered throughout Iceland and Seljalandsfoss is one of the most photographed. While each waterfall is special in its own right, this one offers visitors a unique opportunity to walk behind it.

The waterfall has changed a lot in the last five years – with the large number of people visiting each year, necessary improvements such as parking lots and man-made walkways occur. In short, there is a lot to know about how to make the most of your visit to this waterfall.

From how to get there and what to wear, to how to navigate walking behind the waterfall, consider this the ultimate guide to having the best time at Seljalandsfoss.

How to get there

Seljalandsfoss is a perfect stop if you are traveling southeast from Reykjavik. In less than two hours, you can travel from the most urban city in the country to the countryside and one of the most beautiful waterfalls you have ever seen.

Seljalandsfoss is right off Route 1, the main road that will take you along the coast in southern Iceland (and across the country).

What to expect at Seljalandsfoss

There is a large parking lot that you will hit when you exit the side road that takes you to the waterfall. You will also be able to see Seljalandsfoss from Route 1. You need to pay to park – a new system was introduced in July 2017. All proceeds from that parking lot go towards conserving the waterfall and its surroundings.

There will be a lot of visitors so be prepared for the crowds. You can walk quite close to the falls, especially if you walk behind them. If you are looking for a good photo, there is a new (ish) bridge placed directly in front of the waterfall that makes a great sturdy surface for taking photos.

What to wear

Making sure everything is waterproof is key to a good Seljalandsfoss experience, especially if you are walking behind the falls. You will surely get wet. Make sure you also have a safe, dry place to store your camera while you walk.

Safety

Observing the waterfall from the assigned walkways will not present any danger, but if you decide to explore behind the waterfall, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, it is incredibly slippery. Don’t take this loop without a pair of sturdy hiking boots with good grip. There are sections that are quite muddy, depending on the wind pattern, so while it’s tempting to keep your eyes on the waterfall, watch where you walk.

There is a very basic walkway that has been “built” to guide people behind the waterfall. This is to help keep everyone on the safest path possible; It is for your own safety. Any off-road exploration you do is discouraged and is entirely at your own risk. There are some rocks conveniently located in areas where you need to climb a bit – they were talking about wide steps, not actual climbing. And you guessed it: they are generally incredibly slippery.

The best time to visit

One thing you will quickly pick up on in Iceland is that the crowds appear quickly. Seljalandsfoss is no exception. If you are looking to avoid large groups, stick to the morning or afternoon hours. This is a popular stop for tour buses and midday is the busiest time to visit.

There is no lighting on site so visiting at night, especially if you want to walk around the back of the waterfall, can be tricky. Better to catch it right away in the morning to miss the crowds and still have the light to guide you.

Nearby walks

Another way to distance yourself from a bunch of people on the bus is to visit the hidden waterfall in the area. It’s okay! There is another, and it is not so easy to find, which means that there are far fewer visitors. Gljúfurárfoss is just down the road from Seljalandsfoss. If driving, pass Seljalandsfoss on your right and continue until you see a second waterfall. You can also walk from Seljalandsfoss.

Once you see the top of Gljúfurárfoss, the work begins. You can access the falls, but you have two options: walk the stream that flows from the falls, or climb a steep trail up the cliff. If you are going to go with the river, bring wading boots. The river bed is rocky and slippery and the water is colder than cold. But once you’re there, the view is worth all the effort.

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