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Why Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Should Be on Your Iceland Bucket List

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Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. You’ve probably seen photos of this beautiful waterfall before. Heck, it may even be the inspiration for your Icelandic adventure!

Seljalandsfoss has been featured in countless movies, television shows, and music videos, too. The “I’ll Show You” music video by Justin Bieber draws many Beliebers to this iconic waterfall, though you may recognize it from The Amazing Race or Star Trek: Discovery.

Even if you’ve never seen it in pop culture, seeing Seljalandsfoss in person is a moment you’ll never forget. Seljalandsfoss is one of the first major attractions as you explore Iceland’s south coast, and it’s certainly a show-stopper.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this stunning waterfall twice and I’m happy to share with you my experience so you’ll know what to expect when you visit. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about visiting this gorgeous landmark..

Why Is Seljalandsfoss So Popular?

Seljalandsfoss Scenery

Seljalandsfoss is fed by the Seljalands River which originated underneath the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The volcano underneath this glacier was the same one that erupted in 2010 and caused chaos all over European airports. 

While many waterfalls in Iceland have a fascinating history that typically involves trolls or elves with a pinch of eternal damnation, this is not one of them! Quite literally, Seljalandsfoss is a combination of two words: Seljalands which is the name of the river, and Foss, which is the Icelandic word for waterfall.

Knowing that “foss” is Icelandic for waterfall will come in handy. Icelandic is a very complicated language to learn, and even though the majority of Icelanders speak English, knowing little things like this will help guide you along your journey.

While we’re at it, here are some other words that you’ll see pretty often: Jökull (glacier), eldfjall (volcano), and hraun (lava). Oh, and don’t forget takk (thanks)!

The cascade clocks in at 197 feet tall, while Iceland’s tallest waterfall, Morsárfoss is nearly 750 feet. Even though it’s not the tallest waterfall in Iceland, it’s certainly one of the most visited.

So, why is Seljalandsfoss so popular? Location, location, location!

Its popularity is driven by how easily accessible it is. Not only is the walk from the parking lot a breeze, but the waterfall is right off of Route 1, which makes it an easy target for those tackling the Ring Road. 

It’s also in the southern part of the country, which is one of the most popular regions in Iceland. Many visitors to Iceland spend their time along the south coast, and this is one of the first major tourist attractions along the way. 

Since it isn’t that far from the capital city, you can easily visit Seljalandsfoss as part of a day trip from Reykjavik. Many South Coast tours include stops at both Seljalandsfoss and its nearby neighbor Skógafoss.

When is the Best time to Visit Seljandfoss?

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Andrew Mayovskyy / Adobe Stock

The best time to visit Seljalandsfoss is during the summer when the weather is warm and sunny. However, it’s also a popular tourist attraction, so be prepared for large crowds. If you’re looking for a more peaceful experience, visit during the off-season or outside of peak hours.

One thing to remember: during the summer months, you can visit this gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the night. This way, you’ll probably have the Seljalandsfoss area to yourself and still have plenty of daylight. I’d recommend this for all of Iceland’s attractions, that way you can beat the crowds and really embrace the Midnight sun.

If you’re visiting Iceland during the winter months, you will still be able to visit Seljalandsfoss, but you won’t be able to walk behind it. The path is covered in ice and is far too dangerous.

Many visitors, like myself, prefer to visit during the winter months. You can’t walk behind the waterfall in winter, but it makes for a fabulous setting to watch for the Northern Lights! Seljalandsfoss is very beautiful in the winter, especially when the surrounding landscape is covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

See Related: Discover Iceland’s Best-Kept Secrets: 8 Multi-Day Tours In Iceland

How to Get to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss in waterfall in Iceland
Howard Ignatius / Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The trip from Seljalandsfoss to Reykjavik is straightforward. There are plenty of South Coast tours that you can join, or you can rent a car and drive to it yourself.

The drive from Reykjavik takes about 90 minutes. The drive along Route 1 is one of the most scenic drives in the world, and trust me, that time will fly by. 

Parking at Seljalandsfoss is free, which is always a bonus. The parking lot is fairly large since many tours stop here. 

There are no restrooms here, so plan accordingly! There was a plan to build a visitor center at Seljalandsfoss in 2017, but it was widely opposed by locals who wanted to preserve the area’s natural surroundings. There is a small souvenir store closer to the main road if you’d like to pick up a memento.

What to Pack for Seljalandsfoss

Travel Packing

The weather at Seljalandsfoss is much like the rest of Iceland, with summer being the warmest season and temperatures ranging from 46F (8°C) to 54F (14.5C). If you’re looking to experience the Midnight Sun, June to July is the perfect time.

Regardless of what time of year you visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall, make sure you’re wearing proper rain gear. Not only can the weather change without notice, but the winds can change direction and abruptly put you in the splash zone. Ask me how I know.

If you plan to walk behind the waterfall, you will get wet. The spray from the waterfall isn’t necessarily going to soak you, but you’ll feel it.

Waterproof clothing and shoes will make visiting Iceland a much more pleasant experience, so if you take nothing else away from this article, take that advice. If it’s also windproof, that’s even better!

Best Places to Stay Near Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Downtown Reykjavik
boyloso / Adobe Stock

You have several options if you want to stay near Seljalandsfoss. Both Bro Guesthouse and DalsSel Farm Guesthouse are just a stone’s throw away, and they’re perfect for a night or two.

This is a great choice if you’re visiting during the Northern Lights season. Keep in mind that you’ll need your own transportation if you’re planning on spending the night in this area.

Most travelers will spend the night in Vik. With a population of about 700, Vik is the largest town in the area, and a great spot to call home while you explore Iceland’s south coast. This is where you’ll find Iceland’s famous black sand beach Reynisfjara and the cliffs of Reynisfjall, a favorite hangout for puffins, plus many other local attractions.

See Related: Best Hotels in Iceland

What’s Behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall?

Behind the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
ON-Photography / Adobe Stock

Thanks to many, many years of erosion, a small cave has formed behind the waterfall. This is one of the main reasons tourists come to visit – it’s one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind, and the views from “inside” the waterfall are breathtaking.

A path leading the way from the parking lot will take you behind the waterfall to a small ledge. The path completely encircles the waterfall, so you won’t be doing any backtracking.

Wear good sturdy shoes and waterproof clothes, because no one escapes this adventure dry. You won’t get soaked, but depending on the wind direction you’ll certainly get sprayed. A small price to pay for the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall!

Other Attractions Near Seljalandsfoss

Skogafoss Waterfall Scenery
felixsimardt / Adobe Stock

Seljalandsfoss is a beauty on its own, but many travelers pair this waterfall with its nearby neighbor, Skogafoss. Since Skógafoss is only about 30 minutes away from Seljalandsfoss, most South Coast tours will stop at both. Plus, you’ll drive right past it on your way to the South Coast, so you might as well stop!

Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country. This beauty clocks in at 82 feet wide with a 200-foot drop. You can’t walk behind this one but don’t worry, Skógafoss has its own little party trick: rainbows!

If you’re visiting this waterfall on a sunny day there’s a good chance you’ll see a rainbow around it. Heck, you might even see a double rainbow!

In the 30 minutes I was there in February, it started sunny, then changed to hail, and then a massive rainbow streaked across the waterfall for about five minutes before disappearing and blue skies prevailed. Seeing the rainbow appear was worth getting pelted with hail for 10 minutes.

There’s also a staircase alongside the fall where you can get a bird’s eye view of this magnificent cascade. It’s a 527-step staircase and is best suited for warm-weather visits. During the winter, it’s too dangerous to climb the stairs, even with crampons. 

See Related: An Arctic Traveler’s Guide to the Best Time to Visit Iceland

FAQ

Can you walk behind Seljalandsfoss?

Seljalandsfoss is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind. The pathway can be navigated in less than 10 minutes, and you can spend however much time you like behind the waterfall. You cannot walk behind Seljalandsfoss in the winter, because everything is frozen and it’s too dangerous.

Is Seljalandsfoss waterfall free?

Yes! There are no parking fees to visit Seljalandsfoss or walk behind the waterfall. The entire experience costs nothing more than your time.

How long is the walk to Seljalandsfoss?

The walk to Seljalndsfoss from the parking lot is a very short distance. You can see the waterfall from your car.

The path that takes you behind the waterfall is fully encircled, but it is a primitive path with uneven terrain. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes. It is not stroller-friendly or wheelchair-friendly.

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