Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland: A Complete Guide
Located on the Hvítá River, Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most beautiful and iconic waterfalls. This landmark is our final stop on the Golden Circle, and we were impressed by its beauty.
Before planning your trip, check out our Gullfoss travel guide for useful information and tips for an enjoyable experience.
Where is Gullfoss waterfall?
Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is one of the three top landmarks of the Golden Circle. It’s located in Haukadalur, South Iceland, about 116 km (72 miles) from Reykjavík.
The waterfall is just a 10 minutes drive from Geysir, so you can visit them as a part of the Golden Circle, just like we did.
Gullfoss falls facts
Gullfoss has a total height of 32 m. It has two falls, of which the longest drop is 21 meters tall.
On average, the water flows at 110 m3/s, but it can reach 2000 m3/s when floods happen. It means that Gullfoss can fill almost 1 Olympic pool every second or 50 Olympic pools in one minute! Impressive, isn’t it?
Gullfoss origin can trace back to the glacier Langjökull about 35 km (21,7 mi) away.
The mighty glacier river Hvítá takes its meltwater from Langjökull, then travels through the highlands and into the canyon and drops down two stories.
The history of Gullfoss waterfall
The waterfall has opened to visitors since 1875, but getting there was difficult back then.
Sigriður and her sisters, the land owner’s daughters, often guide travelers to the falls. To make things easier, they built the first trail that led down to the waterfall.
During the 1920s, a team of foreign investors wanted to dam the Hvítá river for a hydroelectric project. Sigriður protested by walking barefoot to Reykjavik and threatening to throw herself in the waterfall.
Fortunately, the project was nullified, and Gullfoss has become a nature reserve since 1975.
How long is the hike to Gullfoss waterfall?
Gullfoss Waterfall is a 1.9 km trail featuring a powerful waterfall accessible all year. We spent about 2 hours exploring the area.
From afar, the waterfall was hidden from view because of cliffs, giving a false impression.
However, only when we came very close and saw the masses of water pouring down the rocky crevices, hearing the roar of the water like thunder, could we fully feel the grandeur of Gullfoss.
Gullfoss waterfall entrance fee
It’s free to visit Gullfoss waterfall.
How to get from Reykjavik to Gullfoss falls
You can easily drive to Gullfoss or take a tour to get there.
From Reykjavik, you can drive in the direction of Thingvellir National Park. Following road 36 East, you’ll pass Laugarvatn and Geysir and finally reach Gullfoss.
Iceland Gullfoss tour
If you can’t drive, don’t worry because you can tour the majestic Gullfoss.
An 8-hour Golden Circle tour will take you to the Geysir area and Gullfoss waterfall. You’ll also see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet in Þingvellir National Park.
You can read reviews and offers of the tour here.
Best hotels near Gullfoss Iceland
Just 3 km away, Hotel Gullfoss is an attractive choice if you plan to spend a night here. The establishment offers comfortable rooms, an in-house restaurant, and a hot tub.
Cafes and restaurants near Gullfoss Falls
A short walk from the falls and parking area is Gullfoss Café (Gullfosskaffi). It’s an excellent place to stop by if you’re in the area.
I recommend trying the Icelandic lamb meat soup, the most popular item on the menu. The restaurant also serves sandwiches, cakes, and coffee.