Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) in the north of Iceland is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. The water of the Skjálfandafljót river plunges over a width of around 160 meters and a height of 11 meters into a deep gorge, creating an impressive natural spectacle that you won’t soon forget.
But Goðafoss is more than just a natural wonder. It plays a central role in Icelandic history, particularly in connection with the adoption of Christianity around the year 1000. Legend has it that Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, the law speaker of the Icelandic parliament, threw his pagan idols into the waterfall as a sign of Iceland’s official adoption of the new faith. This act gave the waterfall its name and made it a highly symbolic place in Icelandic culture.
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Legends and Myths
Numerous legends and myths surround Goðafoss waterfall, making it a place full of magic and mystery. It is said that the spirits of the old gods still rest in the waters of the falls, offering wisdom and protection to those who come with a pure heart. Another legend says that in the moonlight a hidden cave becomes visible behind the waterfall, where the treasures of the old gods lie hidden, guarded by the elves who call the waterfall their home.
Goðafoss is therefore more than just a natural phenomenon; it is a place steeped in stories that have shaped and inspired generations of Icelanders. A visit to this magical waterfall not only offers you an insight into the breathtaking landscape of Iceland, but also into the rich cultural heritage rooted in the legends and history of this remarkable place.
Godafoss Arrival and Tips
Godafoss is located in the north of Iceland, close to the famous Ring Road (Route 1). It is therefore perfect as a stopover on your round trip through Iceland. Goðafoss is about an hour’s drive from Akureyri, the so-called “capital of the north”. Located near the small village of Reykjahlíð on Lake Mývatn, Goðafoss is an ideal stop on the way to other attractions in this picturesque region.
How to get to Goðafoss?
The easiest way to reach Goðafoss is by car. The ring road takes you comfortably close to the waterfall, from where it is only a short walk to the various viewpoints.
However, if you don’t want to drive yourself, you can also take part in an organized tour*. Numerous offers that start in Akureyri or Reykjavík will take you directly to Goðafoss, making it easier to plan your trip.
Public transport is rather rare in this region of Iceland, but buses do run between the larger towns and villages. It is best to check the timetable in advance and consider taking a cab to cover the last section to the waterfall.
Tips for getting to Goðafoss
To avoid the crowds and capture the best light for your photos, ideally plan your visit to Goðafoss for early morning or late afternoon.
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What to expect at Goðafoss
Goðafoss impresses with its width of around 160 meters and a drop height of 11 meters, making it one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the mighty Skjálfandafljót river pours down in a semi-circular arc, giving the waterfall its majestic appearance.
Godafoss may not be very high, but it is very wide. And the gorge into which it has carved itself along its course is also very impressive. The area around the waterfall is well developed for tourism, which is why we were surprised that we hardly met any other tourists here. But maybe it was the late hour, as we were here just before 9 pm.
Best Viewpoints and Photo Spots
To marvel at Goðafoss in all its glory, it is worth exploring the various viewpoints around the waterfall. On the western side of the river, a path leads to a spectacular viewpoint that offers you a comprehensive view across the entire width of the waterfall.
Another path takes you to the eastern side, where you can get even closer to the cascading water and admire Goðafoss from a whole new perspective. This spot is particularly popular with photographers who want to capture the dynamic scenery.
When you visit Godafoss waterfall, you should therefore plan enough time to follow the various paths and marvel at the waterfall from different perspectives.
Nearby Sights and Day Trips
Goðafoss is not only an attraction in itself, but also serves as an excellent starting point for further discoveries in North Iceland. Just a short drive away is Lake Mývatn, an area of outstanding natural beauty known for its volcanic activity, colorful birdlife and the famous Mývatn Nature Baths.
Another nearby highlight is the impressive Ásbyrgi Gorge, part of Vatnajökull National Park, famous for its unique horseshoe shape and lush vegetation. A day trip there is ideal for discovering the diversity of Icelandic nature.
Whether you’re seeking the tranquillity of nature, hunting photographic gems or exploring the Icelandic countryside on foot, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to pursue your interests and experience unforgettable moments in the Goðafoss area.
Best time of year to visit Goðafoss waterfall
- Summer (June to August): Summer offers long days and milder weather, making this the ideal time of year to visit Goðafoss. Due to the midnight sun, there are unique lighting conditions that are particularly interesting for photography enthusiasts. In addition, the paths to and around the waterfall are most accessible at this time of year.
- Winter (December to February): Those who love adventure and want to see the waterfall in a completely different light should consider visiting in winter. Goðafoss, surrounded by snow and ice, offers a fairytale setting. Bear in mind, however, that the days are short and the paths can be slippery.
Goðafoss Waterfall: Conclusion
If you are planning a trip to Iceland, Godafoss should definitely be part of your itinerary. Due to its proximity to the ring road, the waterfall is easy to visit. The hiking trails around the waterfall are beautifully laid out and you can also get really close to the water here.