Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found in the Hvítá river canyon in south-west Iceland.
The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, before cascading 32 meters (105 feet) down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power. This incredible site is seen by most visitors, as it is on the Golden Circle sightseeing route.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate features. The first, shorter cascade is 11 metres (36 feet), whilst the second drop is 21 metres (69 feet). The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70 metres (230 feet), descending into the great Gullfossgjúfur canyon. Geologists believe that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres (459 cubic feet) of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres (358 cubic feet). With such energy, visitors should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray.
As mentioned, Gullfoss makes up a part of the highly popular Golden Circle sightseeing route, alongside Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park. Many Golden Circle tours include additional activities that can be taken from Gullfoss, such as ascending the mighty nearby glacier Langjökull and entering its ice tunnels, or snowmobiling along its gleaming surface.