Seljalandsfoss Waterfall: The Complete Guide

How to visit one of Iceland's most photographed waterfalls.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, iceland

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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 the unique opportunity of walking behind it.

The waterfall has changed a lot in the past five years — with the huge number of people that visit every year comes necessary enhancements like parking lots and manmade walkways. In short, there's a lot to know about getting the most from 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're traveling southeast from Reykjavik. In less than two hours, you can travel from the most urban city in the country to spanning countryside and one of the most beautiful waterfalls you'll ever see.

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

What to Expect at Seljalandsfoss

There is a large parking lot you will hit when you pull off of the side road that brings you to the waterfall. You will be able to see Seljalandsfoss from Route 1, as well. You do need to pay to park — a new system was introduced in July 2017. All proceeds from that parking lot go back toward conserving the waterfall and its surrounding area.

There will be a lot of visitors, so be prepared for crowds. You can walk pretty close to the falls, especially if you're walking behind it. If you're looking for a good photo opp, there's a new(ish) bridge placed straight across from the waterfall that makes a great sturdy surface for photo-taking.

What to Wear

Making sure everything is waterproof is key to a good experience at Seljalandsfoss, especially if you're trekking behind the falls. You will most certainly get wet. Make sure to have a safe, dry place to store your camera as you're walking, as well.

Safety

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

There is a very basic walkway that has been "built" to guide people behind the waterfall. This is to help keep everyone to the safest path possible; it's for your own safety. Any off-path exploring you do is discouraged and completely at your own risk. There are some rocks conveniently placed in areas where you need to do a bit of light climbing — were talking wide steps, not actual climbing. And you guessed it: They are usually incredibly slippery.

The Best Time to Visit

One thing you'll catch onto quickly in Iceland is that crowds pop up quickly. Seljalandsfoss is no exception. If you're looking to avoid large groups, stick to the morning or evening hours. This is a popular stop for tour buses and midday is the busiest time to check it out.

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

Nearby Hikes

Another way to distance yourself from bus loads of people is to check out the hidden waterfall in the area. That's right! There's another one, and it's not as easy to find, which means there are far fewer visitors. Gljúfurárfoss is right down the road from Seljalandsfoss. If you're driving, pass Seljalandsfoss on your right and continue until you see a second waterfall. You can also walk there from Seljalandsfoss.

Once you see the top of Gljúfurárfoss, the work begins. You can access the falls, but you've got two options: wade through the stream flowing from the falls or climb a steep path up the cliff. If you're going to go with the river, bring wading boots. The riverbed is rocky and slippery and the water is colder than cold. But once you're there, the view is worth all of the effort.