10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland with kids
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Visiting the 10 best waterfalls in Iceland with kids
Iceland has one of the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world. There are more waterfalls in the land of ice and fire than you can count. This small European country keeps drawing families back. If you’ve road tripped through Iceland in summer, you want to come back for winter and vice versa. If you’ve only visited the Golden Circle the first time, you want to come back to road trip to unexplored regions.
But there are also lots of people who come back to visit more of the many dramatic waterfalls. Some are more hidden, some can even be checked out on a day trip from Reykjavik. Every family member loves waterfalls! That’s why visiting waterfalls is one of the top things to do in Iceland with children. Another very good reason is that visiting falls is a great budget friendly activity in an otherwise expensive country. High time for a list of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to visit with kids, don’t you think?
How to get around
My family and I like to use Expedia for international flights. And if we don’t have a camper waiting for us at our destination we always opt to book a flight and hotel, at least for the first night. Just to ease the start of our family vacation.
If you don’t travel by car you can easily book day tours with your family to visit the Golden Circle or the Diamond Circle which gets you to falls like Goðafoss, Dettifoss and Gullfoss. Get Your Guide can help you find your ideal tour or tours.
But, renting a ride will give you the advantage of visiting the waterfalls at your own page. And even better: you can avoid the tour buses and admire the falls with far less other people when visiting them early in the morning or around 5pm.
Tips for exploring the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Expect to get wet! Bring rain coats along and if you carry a child in a back carrier, make sure you bring along the rain cover.
And keep safe! Stay on the trails, supervise your kids and don’t climb on or around waterfalls. Not only will you prevent an easy slip, but you also protect Iceland’s vulnerable environment.
Where to find the best waterfalls in Iceland
Of the 10.000+ waterfalls in Iceland there are hundreds that are worth visiting. All in different shapes and sizes and with all kinds of epic backdrops. We only saw a fraction of them while on a 3 week road trip. Most of them located are located along the famous Ring Road (Route 1) or along the Golden Circle. They’re easily accessed all year round. Most of the waterfalls are located a short walk from the car park, which makes it easy for you to visit them with wobbly walking toddlers.
I believe I’ve shared enough general information with you. Our family has a list of personable favorites. Some very well known and others more off the beaten path. These are 10 of Iceland’s unmissable waterfalls you must visit with kids!
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10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to visit with kids
Many consider Gullfoss to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. And while it is most certainly worth a spot high up the top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, I don’t agree that it’s number one. Gullfoss translates to Golden Falls and is probably the most famous waterfall of Iceland. It’s where the Golden Circle got its name from.
The fall gets thousands of visitors per year, because of its near proximity to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. If Gullfoss is one of a few waterfalls you get to see on your trip through Iceland, I get that you would label it the most beautiful one. But it is in fact impossible to label any waterfall in Iceland as the most beautiful one. Iceland simply has too many amazing waterfalls.
But let’s get back to Gullfoss. This iconic waterfall is located about an hour from Reykjavik and is part of the Golden Circle. It has two stages, the first drop is 11 meters and the second drop 21 meters. Out of the three sites within the Golden Circle, this one gets the most visitors.
Next up on this list of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland with kids is Goðafoss. Water from river Skjálfandafljót drops about 12 meters. With an impressive 30 meters width, split into a few sections by rocks, it’s a gorgeous sight to see.
Located near Mývatn, this waterfall is one of the highlights of the Diamond Circle. Along with three other sites; Ásbyrgi, Dettifoss and Lake Mývatn. The Diamond Circle is the northeastern answer to the Golden Circle in the west.
In the Snæfellsnes Peninsula you’ll find Kirkjufell Mountain. One of the most beautiful mountains of Iceland and definitely the most photographed one. On the other side of the road you’ll find Kirkjufellsfoss. It has a small drop and if it weren’t for its dramatic surroundings not a lot of people would pay much attention to it. But from all angles you can get gorgeous shots of the falls with either Kirkjufell in the background or with smaller mountains directly behind the fall.
This waterfall is easily reached via route 54 in west Iceland. You can’t miss Kirkjufell and once you’ve approached the mountain you can park your car right next to the road and check out both Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss. Once you’ve seen this fall you know that size doesn’t matter. At least not in this case. The whole scenery makes this waterfall a must-see. It worthy of a spot in this top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to visit with kids!
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The one you can walk behind. It almost sounds like the title of a Friends episode, but it’s not. Seljalandsfoss is not only known for being a gorgeous waterfall where the water drops from a towering mountain. The main reason it gets almost as much visitors per year as Gullfoss is because you can walk behind it. And that makes for some real family fun!
Bring your raincoat, because you’ll get wet. And mind your step, because it’s extremely slippery. But don’t let that scare you off. A visit to Seljalandsfoss is a cheap family friendly activity that everyone will enjoy.
Since this waterfall is a tourist favorite you’re not the only visitor there. Unless you visit it early in the morning or around 5pm, you’ll be part of a long line of people, all wanting to check out what’s behind the waterfall. But don’t worry, it’s still very much worth it!
Dettifoss is known as the most powerful waterfall in Iceland. It’s also the largest waterfall by volume that you can find in this country. While it’s not so high, it’s almost 100 meters wide. The sound of the water thrusting down is one you’ll not soon forget!
Dettifoss can be found near Mývatn in northern Iceland. You can get there via roads 862 and 864. If you don’t drive a 4X4 make sure to take the 862. The 864 is a former f-road only suitable for 4wd vehicles. Once you’ve parked your vehicle it’s only a 500 meter walk to get to Dettifoss.
While you’re at Dettifoss, don’t forget to visit another breathtaking waterfall: Selfoss. 400 meters from the same parking lot you make a right and almost immediately after you get treated to the most amazing view. Also about 100 meters wide, but only 10 meters high and curved like a horseshoe: Selfoss!
Keep your children away from the edges. There are no fences of any kind to prevent you from dropping down. And since you’re right next to a fall, it can get very slippery.
Both waterfalls are located within Vatnajökull National Park and are part of the Diamond Circle route.
Svartifoss is a personal favorite of our family. This is waterfall you can’t find directly next to a parking lot. You have to take a hike. And it’s a beautiful one! In the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which is part of Vatnajökull National park, you can take multiple hikes. Pay a visit to Skaftafell’s visitor centre to find out more about all the different hikes. Including the hike to Svartifoss. If you start at the visitor centre your hike to the fall is a 1,5km uphill one. It takes you through a gorge where you’ll spot multiple other waterfalls first.
Svartifoss is known as black waterfall. This is because the water drops down via black colored basalt columns.
If you’re traveling with toddlers who don’t want to be carried around in back carriers, please note that the uphill climb can be tough for the smaller ones. And the rocks around the fall can be slippery, so hold on to your kid when you’re climbing over them. The rocks I mean, not the kid ;).
The third tallest waterfall in Iceland is Hengifoss, the hanging waterfall. It’s almost 130 meters tall with water dropping into the Hengifossárgljúfur gorge in the Fljótsdalur valley. The hike up to Hengifoss takes about an hour. The first 40 minutes you’ll climb uphill quite gradually. After that you’ll get your first total view of the fall and you still climb a bit, but you’ll barely notice it.
The surroundings are amazing. Red clay is sandwiched between layers and layers of black basalt. You feel so small and (honestly) quite insignificant, staring up to the waterfall and looking at basalt layers that are about 5 million years old. It’s almost unfathomable!
My teen labeled this waterfall his number one on this list of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to visit with kids.
An honorable mention goes to Litlanesfoss. Not part of this top 10, but it deserves to be noted. After about 1,2 km into your hike up to Hengifoss, you’ll spot Litlanesfoss. Walk up to the edge of the gorge to get a good look at it. It kinda resembles Svartifoss, because it’s flanked by basalt columns in the same way. Litlanesfoss is also called Stuðlabergsfoss, which means the Basalt Column Falls.
Skogafoss can be found in the south and is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, standing at 60 meters tall. The waterfall comes directly from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull.
You can check it out from the ground by admiring it while walking right up to it. Or you can take the 400+ steps up to the top where you’ll get rewarded with an amazing view. The steps are quite steep and if you’re not a confident walker (or your kids aren’t) then I would advise you to skip the trip up to the top.
Last, but certainly not least, on this list of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls to visit in Iceland with your kids is: Öxarárfoss! A waterfall in the middle of Þingvellir National Park. A short walk from a car park will lead you to it.
Öxarárfoss is one of the most popular attractions of Þingvellir (pronounced as Thingvellir), which in turn, is one of the most popular attractions of Iceland. Along with Gullfoss waterfall and the Geyser Geothermal Area, this NP is part of the Golden Circle route. The fall can be found in the ravine Almannagjá and is rather small. Only about 20 meters high. The base of the fall is covered with large rocks. You’re allowed to climb on them.
The trail, only 2km long, takes you along tectonic plates, which makes it extra interesting. The hike is easy and can be done by toddlers.
Epic waterfalls in Iceland
I started this article by mentioning that Iceland has more than 10.000 waterfalls. I only mention 10, ok 11 if you count Litlanesfoss. Some other beautiful waterfalls your family should visit are:
There’s also a secret waterfall, called Gljúfrabúi (or Gljúfurárfoss), close to Seljalandsfoss. It’s 40 meters high and partially hidden behind a large cliff. You shouldn’t visit this waterfall with smaller children. The path up the cliff is steep. Although this fall is often referred to as a hidden waterfall, it’s been on many people’s radar. It’s an Insta favorite, so it’s not so secret anymore. But, because it’s not part of any tour and it takes a steep hike to get there you most likely have it all to yourselves.
If you want more info about all the falls I mention here, read this article: waterfalls in Iceland. You’ll find info about 100s of waterfalls in Iceland, including a map of the waterfalls in Iceland. This is also a great website to find out more about waterfalls in other European countries.
That’s it: the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland you should visit with kids. Are you in the midst of planning an epic family road trip through Iceland? Iceland is very kid friendly and ideal for family travel! Check out this 3 week ultimate family road trip itinerary. Filled with info about waterfalls, wildlife encounters, city trips and lots of other activities and family travel tips.
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