Iceland: Chasing Waterfalls

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word Iceland, my first word association is: WATERFALLS. Thanks to Icelandic weather conditions, mountains, plethora of glaciers, and freeze/thaw cycles there are countless waterfalls on the island.  

We only had 3 days to explore Iceland during our stopover to Norway, and you better believe we went to as many waterfalls as we possibly could! One of my favorite aspects of some of these Icelandic waterfalls is how small they make you feel. Towering above, their water falls with such force that you can visibly see how the rocks below have been shaped from the waterfall's power. 

I've compiled a list of the waterfalls that we were fortunate enough to visit during our short stay in Iceland. The majority of these waterfalls are relatively close to one another, all located on the western side of the island. Iceland's landscape offers countless more waterfalls, not to mention a wide variety of other terrains and sights to explore!  


This is the first south-coast waterfall that you will hit when driving south from Reykjavik. Therefore it is highly popular and typically filled with tourists as it makes an easy day trip for those staying in Reykjavik. This was the only waterfall we visited that had a parking fee. It is 700 ISK ($7) per day. Once you get to the waterfall there is a path to walk behind it, but be warned, because everyone who did got drenched from the waterfall’s mist. 


Located about a quarter mile down from Seljalandsfoss, is Gljúfrafoss. Despite being next to the most popular waterfall in Iceland, it is not well known due to being hidden behind the lush green cliffs. From the road you can see the top of the waterfall, but in order to experience the full waterfall, you will need to walk through the rock crevice, crossing a shallow river, to enter into the open topped cave. Due to the waterfall’s mist, it is extremely wet in there. So yes, you will get wet.


Hands down this was my favorite waterfall in Iceland. Because it is a lesser known waterfall, we had it all to ourselves, which I think is why it was my favorite. Down the road from Skogafoss, it is tucked behind the hills, and you will need to walk behind some buildings in order to find the trail. But once you round the corner to see the first glimpse of the waterfall, it is breathtakingly magical. We danced and stared at the waterfall for hours, playing with our camera and drone to get the best captures possible. During those couple hours only one other group came through. After visiting some highly popular waterfalls, getting to explore a quiet waterfall, whose beauty and surrounding area are still untouched was a wonderful treat. 


This is another one of the most visited south-coast waterfalls. In order to enjoy Skogafoss without the plethora of tourists, Alex and I camped at the campsite right in front of the waterfall. Waking up really early the next morning, we had the waterfall all to ourselves, and were able to take in the beauty of the waterfall amongst the quiet, misty morning. What you don’t see in the photos is how cold it was! Even with wearing all of our layers we had a difficult time staying warm as the cold waterfall mist pelted us in the face. If you want to see the waterfall from above, there is a staircase pathway to the right that will take you to the top. 


OMG, this was the hardest waterfall to find. Granted we were looking for the trailhead in the rain, which side note - if it is raining in Iceland, do not give up on your plans because chances are it will clear up shortly. For instance, it was pouring while we driving, but by the time we parked the car, the rain had cleared, and the sun was shining brightly. 

The logistics of getting there are challenging. Once we parked and started walking on a pathway with fellow waterfall enthusiasts we soon realized we were on the wrong path. Backtracking we found the correct one quickly. Just know that the start of the trail has you walking through a field briefly, crossing some barbed wire, and if it has rained recently, the path will be extremely muddy. Unfortunately, due to the muddiness people were walking on plants, thus widening the path and causing damage to the terrain. So please be respectful of the land and stay on the paths. The walk out to the waterfall was roughly a quarter mile.  

Now you may be wondering if the water was truly as bright blue as it looks in the pictures. No. It was even brighter! Truly it was unbelievable and absolutely amazing to see in person!!!


Alex and I were first introduced to the beauty of Iceland after seeing a photograph of this waterfall. We both were dying to see it in person, so we made the couple hour drive north to the Snæfellsnesvegur peninsula. Up there, there were very few tourists as it was too far for a day trip from Reykjavik. 

It was surreal seeing this waterfall. On the one hand, we had been dreaming of this spot for years, and on the other, it was completely different than what I had thought it would be like! There is a road and footpath that go between the waterfall and Kirkjufell (the mountain in the background). So in order to get the money shot, you have to walk around to the other side of the waterfall, and wait forever for someone not to be walking on the footpath in the middle of your picture lol. 

Is the Blue Lagoon Worth It?

Driving to the Blue Lagoon was anything but what I had expected. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by moss covered lava rocks. In the distance we could see large, billowing clouds of steam rising into the air. That must be it, we thought. But as we drove closer, we saw to our surprise, that the source of the steam was actually a geothermal power plant. And there, next door, was a large parking lot packed with cars and buses.

With our bathing suits in hand, we walked along the lava rock lined pathway. Finally we saw the Blue Lagoon facility – a drastic contrast to its surroundings, it was a large, modern, and white building. We walked through its tall, elegant, glass doors, then BOOM, saw a line winding back and forth, resembling a line for a Disneyland ride. Except, that rather than a Disneyland themed area, the inside was just as modern and minimalistic as its exterior. I looked to the right and saw a large gift shop that everyone exiting the facility had to walk through. Alright, I thought, let’s see if this is worth the money. 


Ten minutes later, after having great difficulty figuring out how to work the lockers, I was getting ready to shower off before heading out to the lagoon. I don’t know if there was something extraordinary about this shower, or if it was the fact that it was my first shower in 3 days (when camping through Iceland, am I right?), but I almost didn’t want to leave the shower, I was so in love!  

With there being so many pictures on the internet, my first glance of the Blue Lagoon was exactly what I had expected. Wanting to be cool like all the travel bloggers whose sites I had meticulously combed through when researching for our trip, we obviously wanted to get some cool shots of us in the water. But still wet from the shower, we started getting very cold in the 55 degree F weather. My sweet, sweet husband knew by eagerness to pose in the water, so standing in the cold as I got into position, he took some quick pictures then ran to put the camera away in the locker before he joined me in the perfectly warm water. Something I was surprised about was how BIG the lagoon actually it. Despite it being crowded with tourists, we were able to meander away from the “shore” and found a few quiet spots to ourselves. After 3 days of nonstop driving, hiking, exploring, and minimal sleep it was such a treat to just float in the milky water, giving our feet and legs a much needed break!

Two and a half hours later we emerged from the Blue Lagoon, and drove to the airport, completely relaxed and thankful we had decided to give the Blue Lagoon a try. 

Below is a guide of everything that you need to know when planning a trip to the Blue Lagoon. 


I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical about the Blue Lagoon. I had read that it is basically an over-priced, crowded tourist trap. Traveling on a budget for 2 weeks across 2 of the 5 most expensive countries in the world, we certainly didn’t want to waste our money if it wasn’t worth it. Thankfully one of my best friends had traveled to Iceland the year before, and she told us, that while she may not go back, it was definitely worth the money and going at least once. Ok, we were sold.

The Blue Lagoon is not naturally occurring, but instead is the runoff from a geothermal power plant next door. Don’t worry, it’s safe. The water is rich in silica, algae, and other minerals the first being the main cause for the water’s milky, turquoise coloration. There is also sulfur in the water, thereby creating a slight sulfur smell in the air. Honestly, the smell isn’t horrendous, and you quickly get used to it. 


Roughly 80% of the tourists that travel to Iceland visit the Blue Lagoon. Therefore you are required to pre-book a ticket with a specific time slot before arrival. There is no time limit to the ticket, so you can stay as long as you like. For this reason, the afternoon (particularly after 12 PM) and evenings can be highly crowded. If you want to avoid some of the crowds, go early in the morning. The cheapest, standard ticket costs anywhere from 6100 ISK ($60) to 8000 ISK ($77), depending on the time of day you go. This standard ticket only includes admission and a free silicon mud mask.

If you are looking to go at a specific time of day, be sure to book EARLY as the popular slots sell out. For our 6 PM visit, we purchased the ticket 2 weeks in advance, and at this time a decent portion of the tickets were already sold out.

When you check in at your pre-selected time, you will be handed a wristband. The chip on the wristband is used to open your locker and charge any additional fees (ie drinks from the bar, special facial masks, or renting a towel ($6)) directly to your bill. You then settle the bill before leaving. Be sure to not lose the wristband in the water as that will be an additional fee! Upon exiting, you will scan your bracelet, the exit turnstile will open, and a small compartment will open, where you will return your bracelet. If the exit does not open for you, that just means you many need to still settle your bill. 



Many people are surprised to find that the Blue Lagoon is far from Reykjavik, with little to nothing surrounding it. It is 24 miles from Reykjavik (about a 40 minute drive), and 12 miles from the Keflavik international airport (20 minute drive), making it a popular stop right before or after a flight.

If you have luggage with you, there is a small building next to the parking lot where you can rent a locker to store your luggage. The cost is 550 ISK ($5.30) per bag. You will need to store anything larger than a backpack here, because the lockers in the locker room are not very large. Our rental car had a covered trunk, so we felt comfortable leaving our luggage in the car, and simply taking our valuables with us to place in our locker with our clothes. 


Their locker rooms were a little too modern and high tech for us! There are multiple locker rooms for men and women. When you enter the locker room you will see a large TV monitor indicating which lockers are occupied and which are available. Underneath the monitor are shoe racks. When you find an open locker, look for the instructional sheet about how to program the lock to open to your specific wristband. (I didn’t see this sheet at first, so as a millennial, who normally has no trouble figuring out technology, I was not used to asking someone older than me how to work the technology. A frustrating, yet humbling experience!)

Before getting into the water you are required to shower naked. In the locker room there are a few communal shower heads, but most of the women opted for the private showers. Each private shower has a rain shower head and is supplied with the Blue Lagoon’s special hair conditioner and body wash. It’s recommended to use the conditioner before and after bathing in the lagoon, especially if you have long hair, because the geothermal mineral water is extremely drying to your hair. (I took the advice of many travel bloggers and avoided this issue by not getting my hair wet in the lagoon). When exiting the men and women’s locker rooms, there will be a common area (designated as a relaxation area) where you can meet up with the rest of your group before heading out to the lagoon. 



Due to its increasing popularity, the Blue Lagoon has expanded a lot over the years. There is a swim up bar, a swim up Silica bar, a sauna and steam room next to the lagoon, and a swim under waterfall.  Inside there is a restaurant and a relaxation area.

At the swim up Silica bar, you will be given a complementary white silica mask. The mud mask can be applied to your face and skin. Leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it off. We can personally attest that your skin will feel significantly refreshed, cleansed, and softened afterwards. 



  • If you are like us and going to the Blue Lagoon before you fly, I would recommend bringing a plastic bag for your wet bathing suit. The facility does not have a bathing suit dryer. Don’t worry about having to fly with wet hair because the locker rooms are equipped with hair dryers.
  • Due to the water’s chemical composition they recommend you not wear any jewelry in the water.
  • If you have room in your bag, bring a pair of cheap flip flops to wear in the showers and out to the lagoon (because the ground is COLD).
  • Don’t dry off with your towel after completing your pre-shower. Safe that dry towel for when you are done and exiting the lagoon!
  • Bring a water bottle if possible. The warm water will certainly have you feeling a bit dehydrated.