The Godafoss Waterfall
There are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland due to the number of glaciers and the amount of rain and snow the country receives each year. One of the most impressive is the Godafoss Waterfall. Godafoss translates as "the waterfall of the gods". It may not be the country's largest, highest, or oldest waterfall, but its crystal blue hues and legends make it one of the most famous.
How big is Godafoss Waterfall?
This waterfall is modest in height but impressively wide. Measuring 99 feet across , the water cascades into a picturesque lagoon. Despite being only 40 feet high, Godafoss's setting in the midst of an enchanting rocky green landscape makes it so appealing to locals and visitors alike.
The water that flows over Godafoss comes from the mighty Skjálfandafljót River, originating hundreds of miles away in the Icelandic Highlands, traversing giant swathes of countryside and finally reaching the Godafoss Waterfall. Running more than 534 miles across Iceland, it's the country's fourth-longest river. While Godafoss is the most famous waterfall to grace the mighty Skjálfandafljót River, there are many others along the way: Hrafnabjargafoss, Aldeyjarfoss, and Barnafoss can be found along the river's route before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting to Godafoss Waterfall
To reach this storied waterfall, visitors can opt to join a tour, rent a car, or take public transportation. Godafoss lies just off Iceland's Route 1, nestled between the towns of Myvatn and Akureyri. Once you've arrived in the nearby town, buses 62 and 62A will take you to the waterfall, and all that's left to do is enjoy one of the country's most magnificent sights.
For those traveling on one of our Iceland expedition cruises, you may have the opportunity to visit as one of our many excursions.
The myth of Godafoss Waterfall
Over a thousand years ago, Christianity was declared the official religion of Iceland, and Norse paganism was overthrown. Legend has it that Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, the country's highest-ranking and most notable lawspeaker at the time, threw his Norse statues into the waterfall to mark the occasion. While there's no official documentation chronicling this event, it remains a popular Icelandic legend. Either way, the waterfall is an important landmark in Iceland's history and serves as a symbolic (if not official) marker of the end of paganism.
Other Icelandic waterfalls
Despite the popularity and beauty of Godafoss, numerous other waterfalls compete for the title of most famous waterfall in Iceland .
In Skaftafell Nature Reserve lies the mighty Svartifoss. Meaning "black waterfall," it's named after the color of the dark basalt rock cliff face over which glistening white water falls. This waterfall inspired the design of the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church, one of Reykjavik's most famous attractions.
At Skógafoss, located in southern Iceland, water cascades from an impressive height of 197 feet , making it one of the country's tallest and most dramatic waterfalls. One of the most mesmerizing features of Skógafoss is the spray generated when the water tumbles over the cliff. As the sunlight interacts with the plumes of spray, a single or double rainbow may appear amid the water — a spectacular sight to behold.
Iceland isn't short of impressive geological features, but among the many mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and hot springs, Godafoss is certainly one to experience for yourself.