Gullfoss Waterfall

A trip to Iceland wouldn't be complete without a visit to Gullfoss, one of the country’s most famous and most photogenic waterfalls.

This magical attraction is approx. 1.5 hours driving from Reykjavik.

Which means...

There are a few important things to know and get familiar with before embarking on your adventure!

Below you'll find Directions on how to get to Gullfoss, Photos, Fun Facts, Tips, Tours & Recommendations.

You'll basically be an Icelandic waterfall expert after this quick 4-5 minute read.

Let's begin!

Egill Fannar
Egill Fannar
Last updated: October 01, 2020

Gullfoss waterfall during winter

Gullfoss during winter.

What is Gullfoss Waterfall?

Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions.

If you’ve been googling Iceland or looking at pictures of Iceland on Instagram, then you must have seen several photos of it.

In a way, Gullfoss is an Icelandic ambassador, attracting millions of tourists every year with its natural beauty.

The name translates to ‘Golden Falls’ in English,perhaps because every person who lays eyes upon its waters is instantly enamored by them. Its waters come from Hvítá (White River) glacial river, which is in turn fed by Langjökull glacier.

Hvítá is a mighty river, and in the summer, when the meltwaters of Langjökull flow through it, Hvítá sends an astonishing amount of water down the waterfall, reaching an average of 140 cubic meters per second. As if that isn’t impressive enough, the highest recorded flood flow ever is 2000 cubic meters per second!

Gullfoss waterfall during summer

Gullfoss during Summer.

How do you get to Gullfoss from Reykjavik?

To get to Gullfoss from Reykjavik - you'll have two options to choose from.

You can either rent a car and drive yourself - or join a tour!

If you plan on renting a car then the section below was written for you.

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Click here for exact driving directions from Reykjavik to Gullfoss.

Going straight to Gullfoss from Reykjavik, the fastest way is to take Road 1 towards Selfoss, continuing straight to Road 35, and following that road until you reach the waterfall.

While this way is longer in distance, it is shorter in time, as the alternative takes you through Thingvellir National Park, where you will find narrow roads and lower speed limits.

However, if you want to visit Gullfoss, then you must also want to visit the rest of the Golden Circle!

Many say that it’s best to start with Thingvellir, then head to Geysir and Gullfoss.

However, I have a better suggestion for you: follow the same route as if you were going straight to Gullfoss, but stop in Reykholt, where you will find Friðheimar.

Friðheimar is a tomato farm, and they also have a restaurant where you can have all sorts of tomato-based delicacies, from soup to beer!

Make sure to call ahead and reserve a table, as they are a very popular spot!

Once your belly is full, follow Road 35 to Geysir, and then to Gullfoss. From Gullfoss, you will have to go back the same way, but once you reach Bláskógabyggð, you will have to take Road 37 instead, which takes you through Thingvellir, your final stop of the circle.

What tours visit Gullfoss?

Self-driving can be annoying and even intimidating if you don’t know the country. Thankfully, we have a selection of the best and most fun tours that will take you to the Golden Circle, for a full day of fun and Icelandic natural wonders!

Note that all our tours are for small groups, to give you a better and more personal experience! So, make sure to book well ahead of time, as we often run out of spots!

Golden Circle Tour

Our Golden Circle tour is just as advertised; we will take you all around the Golden Circle . . . and then we’ll show you some more amazing places!

The first stop on our trip will be Thingvellir, the gorgeous and vast national park where Iceland’s parliament was founded in 930 AD! There, you can walk between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, as it is part of the rift that is tearing Iceland apart every year.

The second stop is the star of the show; Gullfoss! In Gullfoss, you will have the opportunity to see the waterfall from afar, giving you a panoramic view that is excellent for taking some Instagram-worthy photos. However, you will also be able to walk right up to it! There is a path that leads down to the waterfall, and you can enjoy it up close -and get sprayed by its refreshing waters!

The next stop is Geysir, the famous geyser that gave its name to the word. Many think that the geyser that erupts is Geysir, but in fact Geysir stopped erupting years ago. The geyser that we all know and enjoy nowadays is its little brother, Strokkur, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less magnificent! Strokkur spouts water up to 40m (131 ft), with an average of 20m (65 ft), to the unending delight of its spectators!

During the tour, you will also stop at Faxi waterfall, which might not be as big as Gullfoss, but is just as magical, and also the charming little town of Hveragerði!

Click here to view our Golden Circle tour.

Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon Tour

Golden circle & secret lagoon

This tour is for everyone who wants something extra -and don’t we all? Not only will our tour take you around the Golden Circle, where you will stop at Gullfoss, Geysir, and Thingvellir, but we will also take you to the magical Secret Lagoon!

The Secret Lagoon is the perfect spot for some relaxation, especially after a day full of adventure and sightseeing. The locals call it Gamla Laugin, which translates to the Old Lagoon, and it’s no wonder; it was built in 1891!

The water in the lagoon is completely natural, and it is heated up by the massive geothermal activity that takes place underground in the town of Flúðir, where the lagoon is located. With different temperatures around the lagoon, a bar, and the gorgeous natural surroundings, the Secret Lagoon is, in my opinion, the best lagoon that you can visit near Reykjavik -yes, even better than the Blue Lagoon!

Click here to view our Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon tour.

Golden Circle and Snowmobile Tour

Golden Circle & Snowmobile tour

For the most adventurous of you out there, I have just the perfect suggestion: our Golden Circle and Snowmobile tour!

As with the other tours, you will visit the highlights of the Golden Circle, Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. However, you will also get something extra, and something that is very, very special.

As someone who has gone snowmobiling in Iceland’s glaciers, I can tell you that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! There is nothing quite like speeding through the vast white landscape of a glacier. Up there, everything is different; the air is crisper and quieter, the earth looks alien and unrecognizable. You might even forget you’re still on the same planet!

Our tour will provide you with all the necessary equipment and warm and windproof clothing, as well as a guide and instructor, so that you can enjoy the glacier safely and without feeling the cold!

Click here to view our Golden Circle and Snowmobile tour.

Bonus: What Is Gullfoss Like In The Winter?

We often get that question, perhaps because people worry that they can’t visit the waterfall in the winter, but worry not! Gullfoss is usually accessible throughout the entire year, unless some extreme weather hits that part of the country. In all honesty, Iceland is quite often bombarded by dangerous winds and snowstorms in the winter, but hopefully you won’t be unlucky enough to visit us during a snowstorm!

Gullfoss is as magical in the winter as in the summer. While in the summer you can see a beautiful rainbow gracing the bottom part of the waterfall, where the water sprays all around the canyon, and the sun turns the landscape golden, in the winter the snow and ice turn Gullfoss into an otherworldly sight. The river often freezes over, its surface glistening with the ice. The waters turn blue, as there is not as much meltwater from the glacier to carry debris down the stream, and the canyon is covered in brilliant white snow.

Gullfoss FAQ

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Below you'll find the answers to some of the most asked questions about Gullfoss waterfall.

Is Gullfoss free to visit?

Yes, Gullfoss is 100% free to visit! You don’t even have to pay for parking!

Is Gullfoss part of the Golden Circle?

Yes! Gullfoss is one of the three attractions of the Golden Circle, along with Thingvellir and Geysir.

Where is Gullfoss?

Gullfoss is in southwest Iceland, and it is part of the world-renowned Golden Circle. That makes it very easily accessible, and it also makes it easy for you to visit the nearby attractions, all in one perfect, one-day trip!

How long does it take to drive to Gullfoss from Reykjavik?

It takes about an hour and a half to drive to Gullfoss if you’re staying in downtown Reykjavik.

What does Gullfoss mean?

Gullfoss means ‘Golden Falls’.

How was the Gullfoss waterfall formed?

The canyon where Gullfoss is located was formed by a catastrophic flood in the Ice Age. Its erosion continues to this day, lengthening the canyon by 25cm (10 in) every year. The water that falls down the cliff comes from the glacial river Hvítá, which in turn originates from Langjökull glacier.Q: What town is Gullfoss waterfall in?

What town is Gullfoss waterfall in?

Gullfoss is not in a town at all! The closest town to Gullfoss is Flúðir, where the Secret Lagoon is located, but Gullfoss itself doesn’t belong to any specific town.

How long is the hike to Gullfoss?

There is no hike to Gullfoss. There is a short walk to the viewing platform, and from there another short walk down to the waterfall. It is easily accessible by most people, though there are some stairs and the path to the waterfall can be slippery.

How wide is Gullfoss waterfall?

Approximately 240m (800 ft)! Its impressive width is one of the characteristics that make the waterfall so special and beloved by all!

A short history of Gullfoss

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A waterfall this mighty is sure to attract attention. While nowadays tourists and locals can enjoy the beautiful view, in the early 20th century the beauty of the waterfall was threatened by the creation of a hydroelectric power station.

The Icelandic government, as well as foreign investors, realized the great potential that Gullfoss has to create power, and thus wanted to exploit and monetize it. Most Icelanders rejected the idea that a power station be built, and instead wanted to preserve the natural wonder that is Gullfoss. One of the opposers was the farmer who owned Gullfoss, Tómas Tómasson, who upon being asked to sell it, replied “Ég sel ekki vin minn”, or ‘I will not sell my friend”. His daughter, Sigríður, was also opposed to the exploit of Gullfoss, and she would brave snow and rain, walking to Reykjavik and back just so she could convince the government to abandon their plans. It is even said that she threatened to throw herself in Gullfoss if the government went ahead and built a power station!

Nowadays, she is celebrated as Iceland’s first environmentalist and has her own memorial stone by the waterfall.

In those years, the future of Gullfoss was in peril, as both the Icelandic government and foreign investors found loophole after loophole that enabled them to use Gullfoss as they saw fit. However, the plant was never built, and now Gullfoss is protected, as it should.