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The Majestic Gljúfrabúi: A Comprehensive Guide to Its Hikes and Surroundings

The first time our CampervanReykjavik crew saw Gljúfrabúi, it felt like we'd stepped into an ethereal painting. There it was, water cascading with a grace that belied its power, framed by moss-covered cliffs that whispered tales of ancient times.

This wasn't just another Icelandic waterfall; Gljúfrabúi stood out with its distinct charm and enigmatic aura. Its dance of mist and light beckoned us closer, promising a story unlike any other. And as we inched closer, the symphony of nature enveloped us, reminding us of Iceland's sheer magic.

So, if you're looking for a tale of adventure, wonder, and a dash of magic, you're in the right place. Let's journey together into the heart of Gljúfrabúi's allure.


Characteristics of Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

Gljúfrabúi, often hailed as one of the top waterfalls in Iceland, stands out for its impressive height of 40 meters (131 feet) and its unique characteristics.

Unlike many Icelandic cascades, this waterfall is intriguingly tucked behind a dramatic cliff, lending it an air of mystery and allure. Originating from the river Gljúfurá, its thunderous roar and the surrounding misty ambiance captivate all who venture near.

Its evocative name, 'Canyon Dweller,' further underscores its special location within a canyon. For both nature lovers and explorers, Gljúfrabúi promises a mesmerizing spectacle unlike any other.

Where Is Gljúfrabúi Located?

Nestled in the heart of Iceland's exquisite South Coast, Gljúfrabúi waterfall can be found near the charming village of Hvolsvöllur. It's approximately 128 kilometers (80 miles) from Reykjavík, making the journey just under two hours by car.

This gem is strategically positioned just a short distance from the renowned Seljalandsfoss, making it a convenient detour for those exploring the region. Nestled amidst the rugged terrains and verdant landscapes, Gljúfrabúi is set behind a large cliff, which adds to its elusive charm.

Where Is Gljúfrabúi Located?

How Do You Get to Gljúfrabúi Waterfall?

Reaching Gljúfrabúi is a journey that's as rewarding as the destination itself. Starting from Reykjavík, the capital, hop onto Route 1, commonly known as Iceland’s Ring Road. Drive for approximately 1.5 hours, soaking in the scenic vistas.

Keep an eye out for Road 249 and make a left turn onto it. As you continue, the iconic Seljalandsfoss will make its grand appearance. But don't stop just yet! Drive a few more minutes, and Gljúfrabúi, the hidden gem, will be waiting on your right. Follow the signs, and soon you'll be face-to-face with this natural wonder.

What Transport Options Are Available To Reach Gljúfrabúi?

There are several ways to reach Gljúfrabúi, each providing its own unique experience:

  • Campervan: The best option, hands down. Renting a campervan in Reykjavik offers the perfect balance of convenience, flexibility, and adventure. It allows you to navigate Iceland's breathtaking landscapes comfortably, set your own schedule, and have a cozy place to rest at the end of the day.

  • Private Vehicle: Driving to Gljúfrabúi waterfall in your own car allows flexibility to explore at your own pace. However, be aware of Iceland's weather conditions and road rules.

  • Private Tours: Organized tours such as a 2-Day Golden Circle tour include Gljúfrabúi in their itinerary. They offer convenience but lack the freedom to explore.

  • Public Transport: Though the least flexible, buses from Reykjavík reach Hvolsvöllur. From there, it's a challenging walk to Gljúfrabúi.

Camper rental Iceland

What is the Best Season and Time To Visit Gljúfrabúi?

Visiting Gljúfrabúi waterfall offers a unique experience in every season. However, some factors may influence your decision:

  • Weather Conditions: Summer in Iceland (June-August) is the best time to visit Gljúfrabúi. The weather is generally mild, and the roads are most accessible. In winter, the waterfall transforms into a stunning frozen spectacle. Still, the journey can be challenging due to unpredictable weather and road conditions.

  • Pro Tips for Avoiding Crowds: Early morning or late evening visits during the summer months can help avoid crowds. Also, visiting in the shoulder months of May or September offers a balance between good weather and fewer visitors.

What Is the Gljúfrabúi Hike Like?

Embarking on the Gljúfrabúi hike is like stepping into one of the best Iceland hiking trails. Though moderately challenging, the trail, spanning 1.6 kilometers (1.2 miles), offers an experience like no other.

In just under an hour, hikers can loop around the iconic Seljalandsfoss waterfall and venture behind its cascading waters. The real surprise awaits just 150 meters (492 feet) away, where Gljúfrabúi is tucked inside a mystical gorge.

While the journey isn't long, it has breathtaking views, especially during the milder summer months. Sturdy footwear is a must, as some sections can be slippery.

 Gljúfrabúi Hike

What Else Can You Do Near Gljúfrabúi?

In the vicinity of Gljúfrabúi waterfall, there is a wealth of attractions and activities that can extend your adventure. During our exploration, we found the following to be the best things to do near this enchanting waterfall:

  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall: Just a short walk from Gljúfrabúi, this is another must-visit cascade, famous for the pathway that leads behind the waterfall.

  • Skógafoss Waterfall: A bit further down the road, Skógafoss waterfall boasts a wide, thunderous cascade and a scenic hiking trail.

  • Eyjafjallajökull Volcano: Take a detour and marvel at the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted in 2010, reshaping Iceland's landscape and international flight paths.

  • Black Sand Beach: Renowned for its striking contrast against the white surf, this unique beach at Reynisfjara on the Dyrholaey Peninsula is a sight to behold.

  • Skógasafn Folk Museum: Dive into Iceland's rich history at this open-air museum in Skógar, showcasing artifacts from yesteryears.

Safety Measures and Tips For Visiting Gljúfrabúi

When visiting Gljúfrabúi, ensure a safe and enjoyable experience by following these safety measures and tips:

  • Hiking Safety: Always adhere to marked trails. The terrain around Gljúfrabúi can be slippery, especially in wet weather, so wear sturdy, waterproof footwear. If you're hiking in winter, it's advisable to carry ice grips for your shoes.

  • Weather Awareness: Iceland's weather is unpredictable. Check the forecast before setting out, and be prepared for sudden changes.

  • Photography Tips: To capture the best shots of Gljúfrabúi, use a wide-angle lens to get the entire waterfall in the frame. For a silky effect on the water, use a slow shutter speed. Make sure to protect your camera from the waterfall's spray with a waterproof cover. You can also check out our Iceland photography guide for more tips.

  • Respect Nature: Do not litter or stray off the marked paths. The area around Gljúfrabúi is delicate, and it's our responsibility to help preserve it for future generations.

Visiting Gljúfrabúi

Where To Stay Nearby Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

In proximity to Gljúfrabúi, various accommodation options cater to different preferences. Tjaldsvæðið Eystra Seljaland Campsite, located just a 3-minute drive from Gljúfrabúi waterfall, offers a splendid location for pitching your tent or parking your campervan. Alternatively, Seljalandsfoss Horizons, about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away, provides more luxurious lodgings.

The Unforgettable Adventure to Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi is a hidden gem within Iceland's varied landscape. It offers an adventure-filled journey to all who dare to explore its beauty. This waterfall, tucked away in a mystical gorge, captivated us with its charm.

Something that caught our eye was the way sunlight occasionally peeked through the spray, casting a magical rainbow against the sheer rock face. This vivid visual, coupled with the soothing sound of cascading waters, creates an unforgettable experience, encapsulating the raw, untamed beauty of Iceland.



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