Öxarárfoss – The Man-Made Waterfall In Southwest Iceland


Basic Information

Situated within the Þingvellir National Park in Southwest Iceland, the Öxarárfoss waterfall is one of the best-known waterfalls of Iceland. Like every other thing related to Þingvellir, Öxarárfoss waterfall also has a historical value. You can explore this region on your tour to the Golden Circle and get a glimpse of this beautiful waterfall. It flows from the Öxará river that cascades in two streams over the Almannagjá gorge cliffs, that touch the eastern boundaries of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. With a height of 13 meters and an average width of 20 meters, this waterfall is positioned inside Almannagjá, in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Even though this waterfall is small in comparison to many other huge waterfalls of Iceland, it is an important part of the natural wonders In Þingvellir National Park.

The waterfall flow differs in every season according to the volume of the source river Öxará. The pool at the base of the waterfall is flecked with large, smooth rocks that turn icy in winter. Öxarárfoss waterfall attracts tourists from across the world. Though it can be visited year-round, you can expect a huge crowd during the peak season of summer. During the winters, the waterfall is entirely frozen over. To make the trip adventurous, the ice climbers can scale it, but this should only be done by experts. The human-made waterfall, Öxarárfoss was created to redirect water into a ravine. During the 10th century, the ravine water was used by members of Iceland’s first parliament, Althingi.

As the tectonic plates in the region of national park pull apart, there are many beautiful attractions including ravines and lava fields. The most famous of the ravines in the region is Silfra. Like other ravines, it is filled with crystal clear glacial water, which starts from a spring. It is possible to take snorkeling and diving tours in this beautiful ravine that is usually not possible in others. The water from the fissures such as Silfra goes into the lake Þingvallavatn. River Öxará which feeds Öxarárfoss is the only source of Þingvallavatn Lake.

Thingvellir National Park during autumn in Iceland

Þingvellir – Strong Roots in Icelandic History

While exploring the National Park, you will witness many naturally protected attractions that will amaze you with their beauty.  Travel around the region of the Golden Circle to get a glimpse of another magnificent waterfall, Gullfoss. This is one of the most stunning waterfalls in the land of fire and ice. The mighty Hvítá, a glacial river flows from Langjökull glacier, giving an amazing flow rate to the Gullfoss waterfall. The stream of water falls 32 meters in a dramatic two cascades, providing a display of nature’s true beauty. 

You can visit the Geysir hot spring that is one of the favorite spots of tourist during their visit to the Golden Circle. With boiling mud pits, exploding geysers, and a lively Strokkur, this region offers multiple activities to enjoy. The Strokkur spouts water around 30 meters into the air every few minutes. Geysir in Haukadalur valley is one of the most famous geysers in the whole world.

Northern lights over thingvellir national park in the golden circle in Iceland

How To Reach Öxarárfoss

The access to Öxarárfoss waterfall is quite easy; a short walk is required to reach the viewpoint. If you are starting from Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, drive on Ring Road 1 towards Mosfellsbaer, a small town at a distance of 12 kilometers from the capital. After crossing Mosfellsbaer town, take a right turn to head onto route 36, Þingvallavegur Road. Keep driving for around 25 minutes on this route until you see a signboard of Öxarárfoss. The signboard will direct you to Thingvellir National Park’s entrance. You can park the car into the national park.  It is also possible to walk through the riff from the service center of Almannagjá Gorge to access Öxarárfoss waterfall.

Map of Öxarárfoss waterfall

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Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park, the rift between continents in Iceland north America and Europe

Silfra fissure | The rift between the continents in Iceland – Europe and North America

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