Location: 63.721026, -19.893716

Region: Southern

Height: 171 ft (52 m)

River: Merkj√°

Gluggafoss, also known as Merkjárfoss, is a two-tiered waterfall located on the Merkjá River in the Southern Region. The Merkjá River has many beautiful waterfalls, but Gluggafoss is the most significant. Gluggafoss is increasing in popularity, but it is still a relatively overlooked waterfall. 

Gluggafoss is around 20 mins away from the iconic Seljalandsfoss and Glj√ļfrab√ļi. While not as popular, Gluggafoss shares their beauty, especially Glj√ļfrab√ļi as the waterfall can be seen carving out the canyon. The upper cliffside is palagonite, or turf rock, a soft rock that the Merkj√° River has carved tunnels, groves, and even created stone arches. This has earned the waterfall its name Gluggafoss which means “Windows Falls.”


Gluggafoss p2

Due to the softness of the palagonite cliff, the Merkj√° River is constantly changing the Gluggafoss. By 1947 only the upper half of the waterfall could hardly be seen, as the Merkj√° River disappeared into a vertical tunnel behind the cliff. Three ” windows ” revealed the waterfall, with the water coming out the bottom window. This bottom window was said to have formed a beautiful arch. However, in 1947 the Hekla volcano erupted, creating a 20 cm thick layer of ash. As the river continued to carry sediment, the vertical tunnel was eventually filled. This caused Gluggafoss to return to its former glory.

Another historic moment happened at Gluggafoss in 1974. The Residents of Rang√°r√ĺing County celebrated the 1100th year since the Settlement of Iceland.

Gluggafoss is also a protected nature reserve.


Length: 0.5  mi (0.8 km)

Elevation gain: 213 ft (65 m)

Route Type: Out & back 

The hike up to Gluggafoss is more of a gentle walk, but a small trail is listed on AllTrails, which will take you to the top of the waterfall. This second trail is a steeper climb but only 0.5 mi (0.8 km) in length. It is described as more of a sheep trail and can be slippery when wet.

There is also a small trail that leads under the smallest fall before you reach the cliffside.


Viewable from Road?: Yes

Nearest Major Town or City: Hvolsvöllur (also between Selfoss and Vik)

Distance from Reykjavík: 77 mi (124 km)

Gluggafoss is marked on Google Maps and is only under 2 hours away from Reykjav√≠k. However, Gluggafoss is only a slight detour off the Ring Road (Route 1), so it’s an easy stop for your trip to Seljalandsfoss or Sk√≥gafoss.

From Reykjav√≠k, you want to head east on the Ring Road until you reach Hvolsv√∂llur. From here, you will turn on Route 261 until you reach Gluggafossavegur. There is a parking area on this road, and you can see Gluggafoss from Roue 261, so it’s hard to miss.¬†

Another option is still following the Ring Road east but turning left before Seljalandsfoss on Route 250. This will take you almost directly to the waterfall, but this road can be rather bumpy. Still, it is an excellent option if you’re visiting the more iconic waterfalls first.

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Gullfoss from the walking trail


Gullfoss is the largest waterfall in Europe with an average flow of water is around 49,441 ft³/s. Gullfoss is fed from the wide Hvítá river.