Iceland boasts over 10,000 waterfalls, with some that are so incredibly spectacular that they are considered to be must-visit sites on an Iceland trip. So, whilst most visitors to the island, ignore the advice of TLC and DO “go chasing waterfalls”, there are a few hidden gems that very few know about and that make it onto their trip’s to-do list. One of these is Gljúfrabúi Waterfall.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about this special waterfall and why it’s incredibly easy to add to your trip itinerary. You’ll also soon understand why Gljúfrabúi is not to be missed.
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall is a Real Hidden Gem
We weren’t kidding when we said that Gljúfrabúi Waterfall is a hidden gem here on the island – it quite literally is the case. That’s why most come across the falls by accident whilst visiting yet another one of our must-visit waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss.
This waterfall is in a small canyon, surrounded, and almost completely enveloped, by bright green moss-covered cliffs. When visiting Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, it almost gives the feeling of visiting a hidden waterfall in a secret cave.
Where is Gljúfrabúi Waterfall in Iceland?
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall can be found in the south of Iceland. And, as we already mentioned earlier, is located very close to one of our other famous waterfalls; Seljalandsfoss. In fact, these two waterfalls are merely 150 meters apart from one another.
A day trip to the falls is also possible, since they’re just about 110 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavík. Since both of these falls are also conveniently located on the Ring Road route around the island, many opt to add it as a road trip stop.
How High is Gljúfrabúi Waterfall?
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall clocks in at 40 meters tall, with waters plummeting from the cliffs above into a small pool. But even the fact that the falls are not that big (compared to some of the others on the island), but so unique in such an intimate setting, forms part of its magic.
What Does Gljúfrabúi Mean?
The name Gljúfrabúi means ‘canyon dweller’, which is very indicative of the waterfall’s location.
How was Gljúfrabúi Formed?
Gljúfrabúi, like most of our waterfalls here in Iceland, is one of the perks of being the Land of Fire and Ice. Thousands of years of volcanic eruptions causing glacial floods have led to the waters of the Gljufura River tumbling down the cliffs and into the canyon here at Gljúfrabúi Waterfall.
When is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Gljúfrabúi Falls in Iceland?
Both Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi are open all year round, and every season adds its own unique touch to the falls. Whilst the warmer months promise crystal-clear water tumbling from immense heights over the moss-covered cliffs, the colder months offer up a winter wonderland where everything is (quite literally) frozen in time with a thick blanket of snow.
The only drawback of the colder months that warrants a warning is that the hiking trails can prove a bit challenging when taking weather conditions, especially ice and snow into account.
What is the Best Time of the Day to Visit Gljúfrabúi Falls in Iceland?
Although there’s not a specific time that will give you a better view or experience at the Falls, we do recommend that you plan a visit for early morning or late afternoon in our busy peak season summer months. This way, you might just avoid most of the peak season masses.
How Much Time Should I Spend at Gljúfrabúi?
As we already touched on, Gljúfrabúi is a 2-for-1 type of deal, so you’ll probably end up visiting both Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi. We recommend that you give yourself roughly 2 hours at each, so you don’t put yourself under any unnecessary time pressures and will account for the short hike to each.
The Gljúfrabúi Hike
As we already mentioned, the hike to Gljúfrabúi is a mere 150 meters from Seljalandsfoss, and won’t take you more than 10 minutes. Whilst it’s not a very challenging route, there is a little bit of clambering involved, so be prepared if you have small children or the elderly in your party.
How to Get to Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
There are essentially three ways that one can visit the falls:
Via a Guided Tour
There are various tour operators one can pick from here on the island that offer tours that include Gljúfrabúi. Although, in this instance, they may only mention Seljalandsfoss as a stop. This stop can be part of a day tour or a bigger holiday tour that includes various attractions.
Via the Bus
There is a bus that travels past and has Seljalandsfoss Waterfall as a stop that departs from Reykjavik Campground twice each day. Each round trip takes roughly 2 hours, so you’ll need to time it really well. Missing any of the bus’s return stops can result in you being stranded for hours.
Via the Car
This is probably the easiest way to get there, and having your own transport is always the best option when it comes to exploring the island properly whilst staying in full control of your time and itinerary.
Since the falls are not too far from the capital city of Reykjavík (it’s just a 1.5-hour drive), it’s quite convenient as a day outing, although we highly recommend including it on a Ring Road road trip as a stop. But whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you don’t miss the turn-off onto Road 249 that will take you straight to the falls.
Things to Do and See Near Gljúfrabúi Waterfall in Iceland
There is plenty more to do and see around the falls, and if you have the time, or can include them on your road trip itinerary, the following comes highly recommended:
Visiting Skogafoss Waterfall
Checking out Eyjafjallajjokull (a very active volcano here on the island)
Taking a stroll on Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Standing in awe at Dyrholaey Rock Formation
Taking awesome snaps at the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
Where to Stay Near Gljúfrabúi Waterfall in Iceland
Since there’s so much to see and do in the area, we really recommend that you stay over for at least one night. And, if you’re on a road trip, you can also opt for making the area your first overnight stop.
You can choose an extremely budget-friendly option such as Vik Campground, or opt for a bit more comfort at a great price at Bru Guesthouse. If you want to have all the luxuries, you can always opt for Umi Hotel or Hotel Ranga.
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall; a Happy Accident
As far as pleasant surprises go, Gljúfrabúi Waterfall is definitely one of them. Whether you stumble upon it whilst visiting Seljalandsfoss, or go searching after receiving some local advice, it’s a spectacular sight hidden away behind the cliffs. So, do yourself a favor, rent a car in Iceland, head out on the Ring Road, and make sure that you check out this hidden gem here on the island.