A Complete Guide to Gullfoss Waterfall

All About Gullfoss, the Golden Circle's biggest waterfall

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Welcome to Gullfoss, the iconic waterfall and favorite on Iceland's Golden Circle. In the brief guide, catch up on everything you need to know to explore Gullfoss Waterfall.

Gulfoss Waterfall is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. Just 1.5 hour's drive from Reykjavik, it's a must-see if you‘re traveling in Iceland. Read on to learn about this world-renowned Iceland attraction!

Most beautiful waterfall in Iceland

Most beautiful waterfall in Iceland

All About Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss flows southward from Langjokull Glacier in West Iceland. An ideal icon in the hearts of Icelanders, the falls are a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike.

It quite famously drops down into a canyon over two tiers. The first drop is 11 meters and the second 21 meters. 

How was Gullfoss Waterfall formed?

The waterfall is a prime example of glacier water flow through a crack in a dried lava fissure, and carving a great canyon over time. 

History of Gullfoss Waterfall

One famous story illustrates the importance the Icelandic landscape has in locals' hearts and minds. In the early 20th century, the government considered to tap into Gullfoss' resources as a source of hydrolectric power. It was a subject of much debate and controversy. When a buyout was attempted, the landowner of Gullfoss, Tomas Tomasson famously said: “Ég sel ekki vin minn” or "I will not sell my friend." Tomas' daughter Sigríður Tómasdóttir further protested the waterfall's exploitaton. She even threatened to jump into the waterfall. 

In the 1970s, Gullfoss was designated a protected natural reserve so future visitors could enjoy the beauty and grace of the waterfall for ages to come. 

How to Get to Gullfoss Waterfall

GPS points 64.3271° N, 20.1199° W

Gullfoss is approximately 125 km (77 miles) from Reykjavik, or 1.5 hour's drive. 

Fun Facts about Gullfoss Waterfall

  • Its total height is 32m (105 feet)
  • Its name means "Golden Falls," a nod to its golden appearance on sunny days
  • The average water flow is 109 m2/s (3849 ft2/s)
  • Tthe crew of the HBO TV Show Game of Thrones filmed a bit at Gullfoss, but it was never featured in the show. In the books, there is just one river beyond The Wall and it doesn't have a waterfall. 

Parking Lot, Entrance & Opening Times

Gullfoss has a parking lot, visitor's center and cafe not too far from the falls. Entrance to the nature reserve is free and open 24/7. 

Gullfoss Waterfall scenery

Traveler Girl near Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall Cafe

The Cafe serves coffee, tea, and some light meals and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Saturday it opens earlier, at 9 a.m.)

Summer vs. Winter

Each season has its own charm, and nowhere else is that evident than at Gullfoss. In the winter, expect a cascade draped in snow and ice, white ripples and grass covered in frozen dew. The trail can be slippery in the winter, so dress warmly and watch your step! Keep to the designated trails and stay safe.

Gullfoss Waterfall in winter

Gullfoss Waterfall in winter

In summer, the banks of the waterfall are vibrantly green, moss lichen smothers the rocks and willow trees coat the environs. 

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gullfoss Waterfall free?

Yes! Absolutely 100% free. 

How to get to Gullfoss Waterfall from Reykjavik?

Follow the Ring Road east for 54km (33 mi), then turn off at route 35. You'll eventually reach a large car park next to Gullfoss Visitor's Center. 

How far is Gullfoss Waterfall from Reykjavik?

Gullfoss is approximately 125 km (77 miles) from Reykjavik, or 1.5 hour's drive. 

Where is the Gullfoss Waterfall located?

Gullfoss is one of the farthest points on the Golden Circle.