Gjáin – The Valley of Small Wonders


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One may think that at a place like Iceland where powerful huge waterfalls, blazing volcanoes, and vibrant blue-white glaciers are at every nook and cranny, it won’t be much fun to visit a small valley hidden somewhere in a hard-to-reach place. However, the breath-taking views and scenic beauty of Gjáin will change your mind about small packets of beauty in an instant. The undisturbed and untampered beauty of this place is too delicate and innocent to be trampled with human intervention and hence, has been saved for all these years. Gjáin consists of literally all kinds of landscapes and geological formations that lava can create and has been proven to be a powerful force field to feel the spiritual energy present in Iceland. Folks who are believers and have an aptitude to feel mystical energies around them have found this beautiful little valley to be the center of powerful spiritual frequencies – a treat for both self and soul.

Gjafoss waterfall in Gjain in thjorsardalur golden circle in Iceland

An abundance of Natural Sites and Marvels

You will find this miracle of nature located in the center of an otherwise barren landscape. The Valley of Gjáin is situated at the edge of Þjórsárdalur valley in the highlands. It is also recognized as one of the many oases in Iceland. Considering that it holds everything from lava caves to basalt columns, waterfalls, ponds, flowing rivers, and other lava formations, the small size of the valley is a very surprising factor. It is like a small care package that has a little bit of everything. The river that runs through the valley is named Rauðá. Gjárfoss waterfall drops down into the deep gorge of the valley which is covered with fresh green glass more often than not. There is another smaller waterfall that cascades down in the valley beside Gjárfoss. Apart from all this loaded natural beauty, you can also see the notorious volcano Helka from the valley. Note that Þjórsárdalur valley was once home to Vikings but was devastated by the eruption of volcano Helka in 1104. About 22 settlement areas were torn away from the said eruption and, the valley has been home to nothing but nature ever since.

The surroundings black-brown basalt columns of the waterfall create the perfect contrast with the pure white, clear cascading water from the falls. The lush green vegetation of the area, the beautiful geometrical columns of lava, and crystal-clear waters reflecting the blue sky are the essence of this place. Iceland, its people, and the folklore are very connected to the idea of spiritual energies, magical creatures like trolls and elves, and a higher power. The clam and tranquil presence that this small piece of magical land has is probably the reason that good spiritual energy is felt to be high in the surroundings.

A Pop Culture Favorite - Game of Thrones Location

Gjáin valley is one of the many shooting locations in Iceland for the popular HBO TV show Game of Thrones. Episode 5 of Season 4 contains a scene which shows the travels of The Hound and Arya Stark. The valley is shot as their place of rest during that journey and the place where they both engage in their ongoing feud – a legit place to film the famous water dance of the princess in the north, isn’t it?

Lace-UP Your Hiking Shoes – How to Get There

A beauty among the beasts, Gjáin being located in the middle of highlands is quite a journey to take. You can hike to the place and there are two different trails that you can take. The first one is a 2.1-kilometer-long hike from the Saga Age farm of Stöng. It is about 122 kilometers away from the capital city. This trail will lead you to the northwest part of the valley. The hike will be 15 minutes long (both sides) and you may have to climb up and down some steep heavy rocks to get to your destination.

If you are not big on adventurous travel through the highlands then you can take the other trail which will lead you to the parking area on the southern side of the valley. All you have to do is walk down some stairs to get to this small heaven on the earth. Lava caves and the smaller waterfall of the two in the valley are also accessible from this trail.

If you plan to drive from Reykjavík to Stöng then you will need a sturdy 4×4 vehicle for the journey. Try and visit this destination in the summer season. The bright natural light from the sun increases the beauty several folds and the vegetation in the valley is in full swing.

We recommend that you add this destination to your Golden Circle day trip, and even drive 30 minutes further and visit Háifoss waterfall.  It is also the perfect stop on your way to Landmannalaugar. 

Map of Gjáin

Interesting locations in the area

Hotels & Restaurants
  • Beindalsholt
  • Landhotel
  • Hotel Rangá
  • Arnes Café
  • Friðheimar

More Locations in South Iceland

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