Region: Northeastern

Location: 65.8051411, -16.386785

Height: 36 ft (11 m)

River: Jökulsá á Fjöllum

Selfoss is 36ft (11 m) tall waterfall on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. This waterfall sits downstream from the mighty Dettifoss, so it is often overlooked. Selfoss, while smaller in height, is immensely wider than Dettifoss, with a width of around 330 ft (100 m). Both waterfalls are worth the visit and help make up the natural marvel that is Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. The beauty of Selfoss is how it wraps itself around the canyon in a horseshoe shape, creating lesser falls. However, Selfoss is a powerful waterful and should be treated with respect.

The name Selfoss is shared with the town Selfoss in the Southern Region, but the two are not connected beyond the name. Selfoss is likely derived from ‘selur’ (seal) and ‘foss’ (waterfall). No seals are present at this “seal waterfall,” so the origin of the name Selfoss is elusive.


Length: 0.0 mi

Elevation gain: 000 ft

Route Type: Out & back {Check All Trails}

AllTrails list two different hikes to see Selfoss and Dettifoss, both the west side hike and the east side hike. You will want to plan on which side of the waterfall you wish to hike from, as it can take a long drive to get from one side of the waterfall to the other. Both hikes are similar distances, but the westside is easier to access. Hafragilsfoss is another optional hike from both sides.

The most popular hike is the west side hike, as the access road to the parking lot is paved. Tour buses use this route as well. The hiking trail itself is well marked and an easy hike, weather permitting. Like most of Iceland’s hikes, snow, rain, and ice can make the path more hazardous. There is an observing platform for Dettifoss on this trail, but this side is often reported as being mistier.

For Dettifoss, the east side is widely considered to have the best view.s. You can opt to hike on the cliff by the waterfall for a dangerous view. As made evident, this hike is less friendly to visitors but offers some of the best views. Access to this path is also tricky. The drive is around 20 mi (32 km) to the parking lot on a gravel road.


Viewable from Road?: No

Nearest Major City: Akureyri

Distance from Reykjavík: 323 mi (520 km)

The easiest way to get to Selfoss is by driving toward Dettifoss, and Google Maps lists Dettifoss (East Side) and Dettifoss (West Side). The drive to Dettifoss is around 6 hr and 45 min drive from Reykjavík. The “Capital of the North,” Akureyri, is the nearest major city to the two waterfalls. 

While the drive is far, finding the waterfalls are simple. From Reykjavík, follow the Ring Road (Route 1) north. Then you will turn left onto Dettifossvegur (Route 862) for the westside or Hólsfjallavegur (Route 864) for the eastside.

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Brúarárfoss (Brúarfoss)

Brúarárfoss, also known as Brúarfoss, is titled “Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall.” It’s a small waterfall at only around 10 ft (3 m) in height, but it’s known for its horseshoe-like shape and vivid blue water. The glacial river Brúará creates the waterfall and is sourced from the Langjökull glacier. The bright blue waters are only exacerbated as Brúarárfoss plunges into the crevice that it creates within the dark volcanic rock.

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