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Fjadrargljufur Canyon: A Fairy-Tale-Like Setting in Iceland

Being the Land of Fire and Ice means having an abundance of contrasting terrain and landscapes. This includes the most breathtaking mountains, endless valleys, and, of course, magnificent canyons. One of these fairy-tale-like canyons is Fjadrargljufur Canyon.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, Fjadrargljufur is a must-visit spot for a variety of reasons. In this article, we tell you exactly why the canyon is such a beloved place, how to plan a trip to the canyon, and what you can expect from the visit. 

fjadrargljufur canyon

What Makes Fjadrargljufur Canyon So Special?

Fjadrargljufur Canyon translates to ‘Feather River Canyon’ in Iceland, and if you’re confused about the pronunciation, this is one attraction that even the locals have trouble saying. The correct pronunciation is Flath-raor-gliu-vur.

Fjadrargljufur is a 2-kilometer-long, and 100-meter deep winding snake of lush green vegetation, and one can’t expect anything different with the Fjadra River running through it. Although Fjadrargljufur Canyon has always been an impressive sight, it’s only recently that its popularity has skyrocketed.

In fact, since 2016, it has seen an increase of 80% in visitors. This is because not many outside of Iceland knew about Fjadrargljufur Canyon till it was featured in one of Justin Bieber’s music videos, and now you have Bieber fans and nature-lovers flocking to the spot.

Where is Fjadrargljufur Canyon in Iceland

Fjadrargljufur Canyon is close to Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the south of Iceland. It is roughly 248 kilometers from Reykjavik, so if you were thinking about making it a day trip from the capital, that won’t be possible. But since it’s located so conveniently close to the Ring Road, many opt to make it a stop along their road trip.

fjadrargljufur canyon in Iceland

How to Get to Fjadrargljufur in Iceland

The best ways to visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon are:

Via a Tour

You’ll find many local tour operators and private guides that will be happy to take you to Fjadrargljufur. Some might have existing tour packages with Fjadrargljufur Canyon as a destination whilst others will take you as part of a customised private tour.

Via a Self-drive

This will always be our preferred method of exploring the island, and driving to Fjadrargljufur Canyon is very easy to do. Get on the Ring Road and start driving in the direction of Skaftafell. Once you reach the Holtsvegur sign, turn left onto Road 206 which is a gravel road. Continue on till you reach the Fjadrargljufur Canyon parking lot.

Camper Rental Iceland

How Was Fjadrargljufur Canyon Created?

Fjadrargljufur Canyon was formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about 9000 years ago. As a glacier started retreating, melted glacial water started to erode a pathway through the earth, the end result being the canyon we see today.

The Fjadrargljufur Canyon Hike

A fun way to explore the canyon is by taking a hike. The Fjadrargljufur Canyon hike consists of a back-and-forth trail, and you don’t need to be a pro hiker to take this one on. The trail is just over 3 kilometers long and is considered to be easy as far as difficulty-levels goes. It should take you about an hour to complete depending on your pace.

When is the Best Time to Visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon?

You can visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon all year round, but you might want to think about the seasons depending on what you want to do there. If you just want to get to the Fjadrargljufur Canyon viewing point to tick it off your trip itinerary, you can do that any time. Just keep in mind that the winter months probably won’t have that lush green view you’re expecting.

In fact, it might actually be covered under ice and snow (which has its own magic to it, but just manage your expectations). The summer months will give you ample daylight hours to explore the canyon and the weather will be nice for hiking, but you’re not the only one who knows this, so things do tend to get busier on the island during this time.

feather river canyon iceland

How Much Time Does One Generally Spend in Fjadrargljufur Canyon?

You should set aside about 1.5 hours for an outing to Fjadrargljufur Canyon. This will give you more than enough time to take the Fjadrargljufur hike and make stops along the way to take it all in.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon?

There is no entrance fee to Fjadrargljufur, but parking will set you back about 1000 ISK (+/-$7.40). You can pay for your parking online or via the Parka App.

Things to Do at & Around Fjadrargljufur

You will find plenty of things to do in and around the canyon. These are a few things you can look forward to:

  • Go to Katla Geopark

  • Visit the Kirkjugolf Basalt Slabs

  • Explore Eldhraun Lava Field

  • Go bird watching (the canyon and the surrounding area has many bird species that will excite any avid bird watcher)

  • Check out Stjonarfoss Waterfall

  • Explore the Dverghamrar Rock Formations which is said to be home to some of our elves

Around Fjadrargljufur

Where to Stay Near Fjadrargljufur Canyon

We can highly recommend staying over for a night or two to truly take advantage of all Fjadrargljufur and the surrounding area has to offer, and you’ll have plenty of accommodation options to choose from.

For a more luxurious stay, you can book a spot at Hotel Klaustur. Another affordable, yet extremely comfortable option, you can look at Hunkubakkar Guesthouse. For the ultimate immersive experience in Icelandic nature, you can go camping at a site such as Tjaldstædid Kirkjubær II. And you don’t need to rough it if that’s not your style. By renting a campervan in Reykjavik, you can go camping in comfort.

Is Fjadrargljufur Canyon Really Worth the Visit?

If you enjoy beautiful things, spending time in nature and taking part in outdoor activities such as hiking, Fjadrargljufur Canyon will not disappoint. Your outdoor adventure in this fairy-tale like setting will definitely leave you with a lifetime of fond memories.

If you are planning on making Fjadrargljufur a stop along your Ring Road road trip, don’t forget to rent a campervan in Reykjavík upon arrival – this will take care of your transport and accommodation, and is a very affordable and unique way of exploring the island.



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