Updated: Sep 21
Seljalandsfoss is amongst the most visited of Iceland’s many beautiful waterfalls. This is partly down to it being very accessible from the Ring Road and not too far from Reykjavik either. But mostly it is down to the fact that Seljalandsfoss is quite simply stunning. The cascades of water arc down some sixty meters amidst some of south Iceland’s most glorious scenery.
Seljalandsfoss is unique as it is the only waterfall in Iceland that you can walk all the way around. Visitors can follow a looping pathway around and behind the falling curtain of water to admire splendid views beyond. Fans of Justin Bieber might recognize the site as it featured in his music video to I’ll Show You, although that's not why it's on our list of the 20 best places to visit in Iceland.
In this article, we will explore the road to Seljalandsfoss. One of the most unique waterfalls in Iceland. We will cover details on when and how to visit the falls and when they are at their best. We will also share ideas on what nearby sights to combine your visit to Seljalandsfoss with.
How far is Seljalandsfoss from Reykjavik?
Not far at all. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall lies along the classic South Coast of Iceland self-drive route. It is also just a short detour from the Ring Road driving route. Without stops, it takes about two hours to drive the road to Seljalandsfoss from Reykjavik.
To get there you should head out of the city to the southeast following Route One. Passing through the town of Hella you will continue on to Hvolsvöllur. After passing through and driving on for about 20 minutes you will then turn off onto road 249 to Seljalandsfoss. If you are not driving in Iceland it is also very possible to join day tours from the capital.
Note that there is a charge for parking in the car park. There is no need to rush your visit though as the ticket entitles you to stay all day. The charge was introduced a few years ago in order to help pay for the upkeep of the paths here. Make the most of your time and enjoy a picnic lunch in your motorhome or campervan.
When is the best time to visit Seljalandsfoss?
Being in the slightly more temperate south the waterfall can generally be quite easily visited year-round. However, during the winter months, the pathway behind the waterfall is usually closed. This is down to the fact that it gets very icy and slippery. It would be dangerous to negotiate the path in these winter weather conditions. So if it says it is closed to stay safe and take heed.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t visit during winter though. At this time of year snow and the low sun create some incredible vistas. You might also be able to see the colors of the Northern Lights dance across the sky overhead.
The busiest time at the waterfall is during the summer months. So daytime during June, July, and August can get quite busy. Make the most of the Midnight Sun and visit late or early. You'll have a head start if you are renting a camper. You will be able to overnight at the nearby campsite and visit the falls before or after the tour groups.
Perhaps the best time to visit is in spring or early summer. At this time of year, this powerful waterfall will be showing off its fullest flow. As the winter ice thaws the rivers swell and Iceland’s waterfalls are at their most thunderous and impressive. There is something quite mesmerizing about gazing at the perpetually falling water. Also, this is the time of year when the surrounding countryside is at its most lush. You’ll enjoy views of verdant green landscapes stretching out around you and the spring flowers will all be in bloom.
Things to do nearby the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is fed by the River Seljalandsá. This glacial river has its origins in the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. Recognize the name? Yes, that’s right, this is the same name as the famous volcano that erupted back in 2010. The site of this mighty volcano is nearby and can also be visited. There are several other waterfalls to explore nearby including Gljufrabui Waterfall.
The Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool is another nearby treasure. This beautiful outdoor hot spring swimming pool is set amongst stunning mountain scenery, and it's one of the most spectacular hot springs in Iceland. It is a short drive from the falls and makes for an ideal place for a dip. To get there head back onto the Iceland Ring Road and continue east to road 242. From the parking lot, it is about a 20-minute hike to the thermal pool through some lovely scenery.
If you have hired a camper van for a self-drive road trip then from here you can continue east. There is so much to see along the South Coast of Iceland. If you start your drive in the morning then you could visit the lovely Skogafoss Waterfall. Continuing on from there to Vik where you can camp for the night. The following day would be well spent visiting Vik’s famous black sand beaches. Then perhaps continue on to the glacier lagoons of Jökulsárlón and the Vatnajökull National Park.
Top tips for visiting Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
If you are planning to walk behind the waterfall then make sure that you come well prepared. As well as sturdy footwear you will need full rain gear. Especially in spring and early summer when the flow is at its strongest. At any time of year though there will be lots of moisture in the air. The spray can really soak you through so waterproof trousers and hoods are important.
Likewise, if you are bringing camera gear with you make sure that it is safely packed away. The moisture can easily damage electrical items. If you haven’t got a waterproof camera then stick to snapping the waterfall from afar.
Talking of photography in Iceland the Midnight Sun makes for some incredible photo opportunities at Seljalandsfoss. For the best light, you should visit late at night in summer. If you have hired a camper van you will be able to camp at the nearby campsite to achieve this. Hamragarðar campground is just a couple of minutes drive from the falls. It is a good campsite in a beautiful setting with excellent facilities. The campsite has showers, a laundry room, and cooking facilities with views of Gljúfrabúi waterfall.