Selfoss Waterfall

Basic Information

Selfoss waterfall is a spectacular natural wonder located in North Iceland. It is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which is the second-longest river in Iceland. The waterfall is part of a series of cascading waterfalls known as the Dettifoss waterfall system.

Selfoss waterfall is known for its unique beauty and grandeur. The water plunges down from a height of 11 meters and spans 100 meters across, creating a stunning display of nature’s power. The mist and spray from the falls fill the air, adding to the magical atmosphere.

Visitors can access the waterfall through a short hike on a well-maintained trail. Along the way, they can take in the awe-inspiring scenery of the surrounding landscape. The trail also leads to a viewing platform where visitors can admire the falls up close and capture stunning photographs.

Selfoss waterfall is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and it is easy to see why. It is a must-visit location for anyone exploring the natural beauty of North Iceland. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is mild and the daylight hours are long, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the beauty of the falls.

 
Selfoss waterfall in north Iceland

The Hike from Dettifoss to Selfoss waterfall

The ideal season to explore Dettifoss and Selfoss is summer, as the roads leading to both sides of the river are often closed during winter. These closures may continue until April or May. To stay updated on the latest road conditions and receive alerts, please click here.

Both Dettifoss and Selfoss can be observed from either the East or West side. 

Dettifoss & Selfoss from the West side

The West side of Dettifoss and Selfoss is capable of accommodating a considerable number of visitors. The route leading to the location is a paved road connected to Route 1, commonly known as the Ring Road. Upon arrival, visitors will find a spacious parking lot available for their convenience.

Once you arrive at the parking lot, we recommend that you take your time to explore Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe.  When heading to Selfoss, simply follow the trail leading from the lower viewpoint of Dettifoss towards the parking lot. Look for signs indicating the path to Selfoss and follow the separate trail running alongside the river for approximately 1 km along a rocky terrain.

While the West side offers only a partial view of Selfoss, the view is still stunning and visitors can approach the waterfall from a closer distance. To return to the parking lot, follow the trail and the signage directing you to the parking area. This loop from the parking lot to Dettifoss to Selfoss and back to the parking lot, covers a distance of 2.5 km and usually takes around one hour to complete.

Dettifoss & Selfoss from the Eastside

Observing Dettifoss and Selfoss from the East side provides a distinctively unique experience. Visitors can access the viewpoints via a narrow, dirt road that is well maintained. Though there may be some rough patches and potholes, standard cars should be able to traverse the road with ease.

However, it is important to note that this road is only open from the end of May until the beginning of October due to snowfall, so visitors must plan accordingly.

Dettifoss

To access Dettifoss from the East side, visitors need to walk down a steep rocky trail that takes about 10 minutes (approximately 400 meters) to reach the waterfall. Along the way, visitors will come across several spots suitable for taking photos. If the weather is favorable, capturing a rainbow alongside the waterfall is a definite possibility.

The East side provides an opportunity for visitors to get up close to Dettifoss and appreciate the immense power of the waterfall as it thunders down the edge. It is truly a breathtaking sight to behold. Additionally, visitors do not have to worry about getting sprayed with water on this side of the river.

Selfoss

The hike from Dettifoss to Selfoss on the east side is approximately 1 km and more rugged compared to the west side. You might have to scramble over some boulders, which makes it a fun adventure for kids. The east side offers a full view of Selfoss, shaped like a horseshoe, with water falling in curtains along a very long edge.

While Dettifoss is known for its power, Selfoss is admired for its grace and refinement. A visit to both waterfalls on the east side involves a total of about 2.5 km of walking and takes approximately an hour and a half.

Selfoss waterfall in north Iceland

Places to Explore Around Selfoss

Dettifoss waterfall

Dettifoss waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, located in Northeast Iceland. It drops about 44 meters and is known for its incredible volume and thunderous sound. It is a popular tourist destination and can be accessed from both the east and west side of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river.

Hafragilsfoss waterfall

Visit another waterfall located nearby, the Hafragilsfoss waterfall. One of three waterfalls on the mighty river Jokulsar a fjollum, the Hafragilsfoss is surrounded by cliffs that offer a spectacular view. The 90-meter wide stream falling from a height of 30 meters makes it one of the massive waterfalls in the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Subdued thunder and mist blowing in the air are testimonies of its vast size and volume. Upstream the river at a distance of about 2.5 kilometers, you will find the Dettifoss waterfall.

Ásbyrgi Canyon

Travel to the horseshoe-shaped canyon, Ásbyrgi that is surrounded by extremely high cliffs. The Ásbyrgi glacial canyon draws the attention of tourists throughout the year. The 90-meter tall cliffs around this canyon and huge crag in the right contribute to the fascinating beauty of this place. 

How To Reach Selfoss Waterfall

Selfoss waterfall is located in North Iceland and can be reached by car. If you’re starting from Reykjavik, you’ll need to drive on Ring Road 1 towards the north. Along the way, you’ll pass through several towns, including Borgarnes, Staður, Laugarbakki, and Varmahlíð, before arriving at Akureyri, the capital of the north.

From Akureyri, head towards Reykjahlíð, located near the famous Lake Mývatn. After driving for about 25 kilometers, take a left turn towards Hólsfjallavegur and continue driving on Route 864. The road leading to Selfoss is a gravel road, so be prepared for some rough spots and potholes. The condition of the road can also vary depending on the weather, so it’s important to check the conditions before embarking on your journey.

Once you arrive at Selfoss, you’ll find a sufficient parking space, which is free. We highly recommend making a multi-day trip and staying at any of the guesthouses and hotels in Akureyri, Myvatn, or the Diamond Circle. This will give you plenty of time to explore the surrounding area and take in all the natural beauty that Iceland has to offer.

 
Selfoss waterfall in north Iceland

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Map of Selfoss waterfall

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