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Your In-depth Guide to Hengifoss Waterfall in Iceland

Updated: Apr 18

If waterfalls are your thing, Iceland is a dream destination. With over 10,000 waterfalls to choose from, you’ll have your pick of spectacular water displays. But whilst you are more than welcome to start ticking off that 10,000-item to-do list, there are a few waterfalls in Iceland that you should definitely prioritize, one of which is Hengifoss Waterfall.

In this article, we tell you exactly what you can expect from a visit to Hengifoss, how to get there, what else to do and see in the area, where to stay, and much, much more. So, if you’ve got an upcoming trip to the island and are busy creating your trip itinerary, or you’re just curious to learn more, then this is the article for you.

Hengifoss Waterfall in Iceland

Hengifoss Waterfall Facts

  • Hengifoss is the third-tallest waterfall in Iceland, clocking in at 128 meters.

  • Hengifoss translates to ‘the hanging waterfall’.

  • Hengifoss Waterfall is characterized by streaks of red clay that run across the black basalt column backdrop.

  • The Basaltic layers are between 5-6 million years old.

  • You can go behind the veil of water at Hengifoss and explore the small cave behind the waterfall.

  • The waterfall’s water originates from the River Hengifossa.

How Hengifoss Falls in Iceland was Formed

Hengifoss Waterfall is a result of being the Land of Fire and Ice. The falls were formed by the volcanic activity on the island triggering glacial flooding. Add geological evolution into the mix, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a magnificent waterfall.

Where is Hengifoss Waterfall in Iceland?

Hengifoss Waterfall can be found in the Eastern part of Vatnajokull National Park in East Iceland. The nearest town is Egilsstadir (about a 30-minute drive away), so if you’re thinking of doing Hengifoss as a day trip, we recommend that you do it from Egilsstadir.

But, as you’ll find plenty of other things to do in the area, and the waterfall is located conveniently close to one of our popular road trip routes here on the island, the Ring Road, most will add the waterfall as a stop on their road trip itinerary.

Hengifoss location

How to Get to Hengifoss

There are two main ways to get to Hengifoss Waterfall:

By Going on a Guided Tour

There are many tours available on the island that offer a stop at Hengifoss Waterfall. Some are dedicated day tours, whilst others are combo tours and multi-day holiday packages that include a number of local attractions. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to book well in advance if you’re planning on visiting Iceland during our busy summer season.

By Driving

The easiest and best way to explore the island is by driving yourself. This way, you’ll always be in control of your own schedule and time. If you’re driving from the direction of Egilsstadir, you just need to get onto the Ring Road, and then turn off on Road 931 from either the east or west side of Lake Lagarfljot.

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The Best Time to Visit Hengifoss Waterfall

Whilst the Waterfall is technically open to the public all year around, it might become a bit tricky to travel there during the colder months of the year. This is because the north has much harsher weather conditions than the rest of the country, and except for road conditions that can become incredibly challenging to navigate, there can also be sudden road closures that can derail your plans.

Most will recommend visiting the falls during the warmer months of the year, not just because weather conditions are optimal, but because you have plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the falls and surrounding attractions. Just keep in mind that the waterfall can become pretty busy during our busy summer season, both at the waterfall as well as the parking area, so it’s best to go early morning or late afternoon.

The Hengifoss Waterfall Hike

To get to the waterfall will require a short hike. The hike is 5 kilometers long (there and back) and the trail is beautiful. Along the way, you’ll even pass a 2-tiered waterfall called Litlanesfoss. The trail is considered to be fairly easy and suitable for most ages and skill levels. Depending on your pace, the entire hike can take you about 1.5 minutes to 2 hours.

Hengifoss Waterfall Hike

How Much Time to Spend at Hengifoss

Most spend about 30 minutes to an hour at the waterfall itself, but you’ll need to take the hike to the falls into account. So, you’ll need to allocate at least 2.5 hours to the entire outing to Hengifoss.

Things to See & Do Near Hengifoss Waterfall

There are many interesting things to do and see at and around Hengifoss Waterfall. Some that you can consider visiting are:

Where to Stay Near Hengifoss Waterfall

Since there are so many things to see and do at and around Hengifoss, we suggest that you stay over for at least a night or two. There are various accommodation options to choose from. For a touch of luxury, you can opt for Hotel Hallormsstadur. For a comfortable, but more affordable stay, you can consider Hengifoss Guesthouse.

For the ultimate budget-friendly option, you can go camping at the Hengifoss Campsite conveniently located on the same grounds as Hengifoss Guesthouse. And if you don’t think of yourself as the “outdoorsy” type, don’t worry, you don’t need to pitch a tent to go camping. Simply rent a campervan in Reykjavik upon arrival here on the island and you can go camping in style.

Hengifoss Waterfall

Hengifoss Waterfall; A Unique Waterfall Not To Be Missed

There’s no two ways about it; Hengifoss is an incredibly unique waterfall, with its red clay rings imbedded in millions and millions of year-old black Basalt. Add the fact that it’s one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, and it becomes clear why Hengifoss is considered to be a must-visit waterfall here on the island.

So, ensure that you include Hengifoss on your Icelandic trip itinerary and as a stop along your Ring Road road trip.

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