A Guide to Gullfoss: Iceland’s Most Iconic Waterfall

Gullfoss Iceland, Golden Circle

One of the most popular tours in Iceland is the Golden Circle with attractions like Þingvellir National park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. 

Gullfoss is a breathtaking waterfall cascading in two tiers down a big canyon. Its thunderous roar and the picturesque scenery is sure to leave you captivated by the power of nature. In this guide we will provide you with all the essential information so you can make the most of your visit to this iconic landmark. 

How to get to Gullfoss waterfall

Located approximately 120 km [74,5 mi] from Reykjavík city, Gullfoss waterfall is easily accessible by car through the scenic Ring Road (route 1) or via Route 35. It takes around 1,5 to 2 hours to drive from the city centre. If you prefer not to drive there are plenty of guided tours departing from Reykjavík city that offer transportation as well as all the benefits of having an experienced guide. 

The most popular way of visiting Gullfoss is taking the Golden Circle route, combining it with a visit to Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park

Exploring Gullfoss

When you arrive at Gullfoss waterfall you are greeted by the thundering sound of this powerful natural wonder. The walk from the parking lot to the waterfall lookout point takes about 5 minutes and from there you can walk up to the upper fall.

Gullfoss Visitor Centre
Upon your arrival it might be fun to start at the visitor centre. There you can read about the history of Gullfoss waterfall, learn about the geology and significance of the waterfall as well as getting familiar with the waterfall´s formation and cultural importance.

The upper and lower falls
Gullfoss waterfall is a two tiered waterfall; the upper falls, which drops 11 metres [36 ft], and the lower falls which plunge 21 metres [68 ft] into the impressive canyon below. You can take in the picturesque view from various vantage points along the walking paths, each offering a unique perspective. 

Hiking trails
If you have enough time and are seeking a closer encounter with the waterfall´s power, several hiking trails lead down to viewpoints near the edge of the canyon. If you decide to embark on this little adventure make sure you follow the designated paths and exercise great caution as it can be slippery and unstable. 

Photo by Golli

Practical Tips for visiting Gullfoss waterfalls

  1. Can anyone visit Gullfoss waterfall?
    Gullfoss waterfall is accessible for almost anyone. Even though some might not be able to hike up to the waterfall, the viewpoints close by the parking lot offer a great view of this majestic natural wonder.
  2. Where to park
    When arriving by car to Gullfoss waterfall you have a few different parking options that are free. You can either turn to the lower parking lot or continue on Route 35 to the upper parking lot. At the upper lot you will find some facilities, including bathrooms, a café and a souvenir shop.
  3. How to dress when visiting Gullfoss waterfalls
    Bring your waterproof jacket with you and wear sturdy footwear. The weather can be a bit chilly and the misty spray might get you a little bit wet, depending on how close you get. Keep an eye out for the stunning rainbows that often form over the canyon and be ready to snap an amazing photo as your souvenir!
  4. Best time to visit Gullfoss waterfalls
    If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting early in the morning. A great travel tip for the summer months is to visit the more popular attractions at night. The endless, bright summer nights make for a beautiful, golden hour experience – with less crowds.
  5. Safety first
    Always respect the environment and adhere to any safety warnings and guidelines. Often the only warning are signs or small ropes indicating where not to go – so be vigilant and stay informed. 

Without a doubt a visit to Gullfoss waterfall is worth your while. Even though it might be one of the most photographed and talked about attractions in Iceland it is with good reason. The experience of the thundering waterfall falling into the canyon below will leave you in awe of nature’s power.