Gullfoss Waterfalls is an Icelandic gem that outshines all the wonders located in the Golden Circle. Here's your Go-To Guide to visiting Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland. It will help you plan the perfect trip!
Immerse yourself in one of the most breathtaking natural wonders the Iceland travel landscape has to offer. Come explore Gullfoss Waterfall when visiting Iceland. From its thunderous roar that echoes around you to its beautiful cascades of glistening water, Gullfoss is sure to make an enchanting impression on any traveler lucky enough to visit it.
With this go-to guide, find out all there is to know about this wondrous landform—where it came from, why it's such a popular attraction among tourists and other details that will help get you started planning your very own trip out!
Gullfoss Waterfall - The Ethereal Golden Falls Of Iceland
Imposing and awe-inspiring, Gullfoss is a picturesque waterfall that stands majestically on the banks of Iceland's Hvítá River in Southwest Iceland It is located on famed Iceland's Golden Circle Route.
In fact, it is the final stop of the Golden Circle Route. Honestly, it is worth the wait. It is one of the three landmarks in the Golden Circle including Thingvellir National Park and Geysir Geothermal Area. Most of the people take a classic Golden Circle day tour to visit Gullfoss along with the other two spots.
During the season of summer, more than 5,000 cubic feet of water per second surge through this tremendous cascade. Although it's not Iceland's tallest waterfall, it is Europe's highest in terms of volume! At 32 meters (105 feet) tall, the two-tiered waterfall is a stunning sight to behold.
The beauty of Gullfoss lies in its unique characteristics; rather than cascading down from a high cliff, this waterfall tumbles through an undulating canyon. As you approach the area and witness its immense power firsthand, it’s almost unimaginable to think that the terrain is quite flat!
Getting up close and personal with the magnificent cascade requires taking a short walk downwards - which truly makes for an unforgettable experience.
Where Is Gullfoss Located?
It is within easy reach of Iceland's amazing capital Reykjavik. If you are traveling through a guided tour, you will safely reach Gullfoss within 2 hours from Reykjavik.
Located a mere 107km (66 miles) from Reykjavik, the waterfall lies in Haukadalur Valley. It is just 10-15 minutes away from the Geysir Geothermal Area.
Turning The Pages Of History - The Golden Waterfall
Geologists theorize that the formation of Gulfoss dates back to around 5,000 years ago at the end of the last age. It is believed that when Langjokull, Iceland's second-largest glacier melted and its runoff filled up the Hvita River which flows into this remarkable ravine creating an awe-inspiring waterfall.
Iceland's First Environmentalist & Gullfoss Waterfall
Here's an interesting and inspiring thing about the history of Gullfoss Waterfall.
For centuries, the thunderous crash of Gullfoss remained undisturbed and unharmed. That is until 1909 when an English entrepreneur believed it could be used for a hydroelectric power plant. He saw potential in its immense strength that had gone unnoticed for millennia - a power capable of powering a whole city!
The farmer who owned Gullfoss was not willing to part with his cherished land. But it didn't stop the Englishman from trying. He leased the land and used a legal loophole in an attempt to dam the ravine.
It wasn't until Sigríður Tómasdóttir, daughter of the farmer, that there was hope for saving this wondrous place. Armed with nothing but her savings which she put towards lawyer fees, Sigríður battled against the foreign investors over many years and eventually succeeded in keeping Gullfoss untouched by human hands.
Sigríður embarked on multiple arduous journeys of over 100km barefoot to reach Reykjavik and fight for the preservation of Gullfoss. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that Sigríður warned she would throw herself into the waterfall if any construction commenced.
Her efforts were triumphant in 1929 as the lease was ended. This marvelous waterfall returned to its rightful owners - the Icelandic people.
For her incredible devotion and work towards environmental protection, Sigríður is known throughout Iceland as their first conservationist.
This way, Gullfoss was preserved forever. In 1979, the majestic Gullfoss has declared a natural reserve and safeguarded under Iceland's stringent laws to preserve its beauty.
Meaning Of Gullfoss
Gullfoss, which translates to 'Golden Waterfall', has an intriguing origin story. While the exact source of its moniker remains uncertain, one hypothesis suggests that it's derived from the waterfall's glacial water turning a golden hue in the afternoon sun.
Captivated by its beauty and splendor, even centuries later we can still appreciate why this majestic sight received such an appropriate title.
Visitors can witness a magnificent rainbow when the sun reflects upon the mist of Gullfoss Waterfall. It is even said that an old man named Gygur. He was so wealthy but he didn't know what to do with his gold.
So, he threw it into this waterfall in fear someone may take all his fortune after death. Since then, this spectacular site has been called by its present name - Gullfoss Waterfall.
How To Get To Gullfoss Waterfall From Reykjavik?
Visiting Gullfoss Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland is basically divided into the following phases.
From Reykjavik To Gullfoss Visitor Center
Taking the road to the waterfall from Reykjavik is a breeze; it's impeccably paved and incredibly easy to traverse. You will be following Iceland's Golden Circle Route.
Head east on route 36 from Reykjavik, and you'll soon be driving through the breathtaking Thingvellir National Park. Along your journey, you will have an opportunity to explore Laugarvatn and Geysir before eventually reaching Gullfoss Visitor Center
Parking At Gullfoss
There are two parking spots at Gullfoss: Upper and Lower Gullfoss Parking. The upper one is close to the visitor center. If it's full, you can park in the lower parking area as well.
Walk To Gullfoss Waterfall
From the Gullfoss Visitor Center, there's a walkway leading up to Gullfoss Waterfall. It's only a five-minute stroll from the parking lot to arrive at this stunning path, yet mind that there are some steps and it can become slippery in winter. Therefore, remember to pick your shoes accordingly for the day!
For those seeking a longer adventure, the upper and lower falls present spectacular viewing points along with two miles of winding trails through various levels of the cascading waters. Exploring this gorgeous route would take around 30 minutes to appreciate all its hidden beauty!
4 Must-See Spots At Gullfoss Waterfall In Iceland
If you ever visit Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland, you cannot miss these spots. Make sure you check each for a wholesome Gullfoss experience.
1 - Gulfoss Gestastofa - The Gullfoss Visitor Center
Begin your Gullfoss journey at the Gulfoss Gestastofa or the Gullfoss Visitor Center. It's a big beautiful building overlooking the glorious Gullfoss waterfall.
The Gullfoss Visitor Center offers a wonderful gift shop and cafeteria featuring delicious snacks such as pizzas, sandwiches, and more. Plus, clean restrooms are available at no cost!
The visitor center at Gullfoss is open from 10 am to 6:30 pm daily. However, the timing can vary depending on the season.
2 -Sigríður Tómasdóttir Memorial
A Gullfoss trip is not complete without paying regard to the savior of Gullfoss, Sigríður Tómasdóttir. The Sigríður Tómasdóttir Memorial is a stunning monument located right next to Gullfoss on the Lower Observation Area. There is also an information board that talks about the struggle of Sigríður for Gullfoss.
This memorial is dedicated to the brave woman Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who fought tooth and nail against government-backed plans to use Gullfoss waterfall for hydro-electric power in the early 1900s.
The memorial is a reminder of her courage and determination to save Gullfoss. If it weren’t for her Gullfoss Waterfall would not be the same as we know it today.
Next, it's time to see the stunning waterfall. For that, you have two observation areas.
3 - Gullfoss Upper Observation Area (For A Broad View Of Gullfoss)
Gullfoss's upper observation area, open all year round, offers a breathtaking view of the falls from above.
This is where you can fully appreciate the stunning landscape surrounding this magnificent natural wonder. Here you gain an insight into not only its glorious upper tier but also observe as its lower part flows down into a deep gorge below!
With a level, paved path that spans 400 meters (or 1/4 of a mile) from the primary parking lot to the viewpoint, this is undoubtedly one of Iceland's most easily accessible sites.
Not only does this make it easy for those with limited mobility - such as wheelchairs and strollers - but anyone can enjoy its beauty without any restrictions or obstacles!
The wind is a common occurrence here. So much that it can make the area feel surprisingly chilly in the summertime. Ensure your hats and windbreakers are close at hand if you plan on visiting this spot!
4 - Sigríður-Pfad Lower Observation Area (For A Close-up View Of Gullfoss)
The upper observation area is great for taking in the vastness of the landscape, while the "lower" viewpoint offers an unparalleled close-up view of the Golden Waterfalls.
It's important to note that although it may be referred to as lower, this spot is actually perched right atop these magnificent cascades!
From the lower observation area, visitors can experience an intimate view of the top-tier waterfall. Plus, they can see a majestic sight as the Hvita river meanders its way through the ravine below.
To get to the observation point, you'll have to descend approximately 100 steps from the visitor's center and then stroll for around 250 meters on a route named Sigríður-Pfad after its savior. This path was christened after Sigríður who preserved these falls!
The lower observation area is not any sort of developed platform. It’s actually just the rocks that make up the top of the falls.
Cost Of Visiting Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland - Good News!
Fortunately, you do not need much to visit Gullfoss Iceland. Your only cost would be your food and traveling to Gullfoss from Reykjavik.
You can opt for an affordable tour with a complete Golden Circle itinerary. Save your time and check out this reliable and cost-effective Golden Circle tour by Golden Circle Day Tours.
Plus, there is no entrance or parking fee at Gullfoss.
Best Time & Season To Visit Gullfoss
You can visit Gulfoss around the year. However, we highly recommend going to Gullfoss in the summer. There's nothing better than cherishing the mist of Gullfoss on a sunny day.
During summer, this waterfall stands out in its magnificence as the cascading water rushes over boulders and into the ravine. The lush moss and wildflowers of Iceland's countryside make for a lovely complement to an already captivating view.
Summer brings with it balmy weather that can be enjoyed while possibly catching sight of the midnight sun - truly spectacular!
You can go in winter as well but, it's gonna be snow and glacial ice. Still, it is a magnificent view.
When it comes to the best time for visiting Gullfoss, we recommend going early in the morning or in the afternoon. You will find fewer visitors.
Food At Gullfoss
You can enjoy delicious and affordable snacks at the Gulfoss Gestastofa. Plus, you can eat at the Gullfoss Panorama Restaurant which is situated right in the visitor's center. A scrumptious meal while witnessing the natural beauty of Gullfoss, what a combo!
Safety At Gullfoss
Gullfoss is a safe and secure place to visit. The only thing you should remember is not to go too close to the Gullfoss Waterfall. The path can be slippery and dangerous, so always stay aware of your surroundings and be careful.
Traveling Options For Gullfoss - What's The Right Pick?
Basically, there are two options. One is that you rent a car and drive yourself. In this option, you have autonomy.
You can make stops and drive at your own pace. However, this option is expensive. Moroever, it is not suitable for first-time visitors to Iceland.
The other option is to book a guided tour from a reliable service. Opting for a Golden Circle tour will be the smartest choice. Plus, these tours are supervised by professionals and are comparatively affordable.
We highly recommend going for the second option.
Visit Gullfoss With Golden Circle Day Tours!
Golden Circle Day Tours is a well-reputed and reliable name when it comes to Iceland Travel. It offers exclusive yet affordable tours. For your Gullfoss, why not opt for a safe and cost-effective option from the collection of tours by GCDT!
Here's our pick for you.
Small-Group Golden Circle Tour
Duration - 8 Hours
Price - ISK 11500 Per Person
The Gullfoss Waterfall is an amazing Icelandic wonder that has captivated people for generations. No matter how many times you visit Gullfoss, you will leave with a sense of awe and admiration each time. Gullfoss is definitely a must-see Icelandic destination that you don't want to miss during your trip! Book your Gullfoss trip right now with Golden Circle day Tours
Is Gullfoss Waterfall accessible for persons with disabilities?
Yes! People with disabilities can easily visit Gullfoss. The path to the waterfall is paved well for wheelchairs.
Do I need any special clothing or accessory for visiting Gullfoss Waterfall?
We recommend you wear shoes that are not slippery. There is no special requirement for clothing.
Is there any entrance or parking fee at Gullfoss?
No! There is no parking fee or entrance fee at Gullfoss.
Is there any public bus service to Gullfoss?
No. You can only travel in a rented car or with a guided tour service.