Aldeyjarfoss – Iceland - Atlas Obscura
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Iceland

Aldeyjarfoss

A little-visited waterfall in an otherworldly landscape. 

The landscape surrounding the Aldeyjarfoss is stark, weathered, and beautiful. You can see for miles over barren lava fields in all their glory. Walking up to the falls is a wonderful surprise; as you head up the path, the river comes into view, and you see that the sides of the gorge are lined with black basalt columns.

In one section, the columns curve up in testament to the movement of the earth. There is also a large cave on the Skjalfandafljot river, very near the falls. The falls themselves are spectacular, among the most beautiful in Iceland. Yet few people make this trip, making it likely you will be the only one there.

Though it’s not a huge cascade, the water pouring into its pool is quite glorious. To the right of the main falls are three smaller falls—you have to walk pretty far out on the edge to see them. The hike to the top of the falls is easy and from there you can walk out onto the rocks to see the power of the water as it heads over the crest and plunges in a 65-foot drop. 

The remoteness of the location, as well as the barren landscape, makes this place an otherworldly experience. It’s easy to imagine that you have been dropped on an alien planet. Or that you are an intrepid explorer discovering the falls for the first time ever!

You must have good hiking boots for this site. The path to the falls is rocky and gravely and skirts the side of the hill with a pretty steep, and potentially dangerous, drop in many places. But the drive in and the walk to the falls are absolutely worth any effort you put in.

Know Before You Go

From Akureyri head east on the Ring Road 40km to Godafoss waterfall (stop here to look at Godafoss too), and then turn right onto 842 going south. Aldeyjarfoss is not terribly difficult to get to, but does involve about a half hour on an unpaved road, and then about another 10 minutes on F26 that requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle. You can stop at the beginning of  F26 road, if you don't have a 4x4 and hike in.  F26 is beautiful and exciting. Regardless of whether you drive or hike the last segment, there is a gate across the road. If the gate is closed, then continuing may involve going onto private property.