Gullfoss Unveiled: A Day at the Roaring Falls

Gullfoss Waterfall in the Golden Circle, Iceland, Winter

Gullfoss is the furthest point from Reykjavik on the Golden Circle tour, so it’s often the one that’s visited last. The waterfall is the most powerful in all of Iceland, with the water falling over 105 feet across two tiers into the river gorge below. I came here as part of the Golden Circle tour with G Adventures, allowing me to take a few days to enjoy the sights. This meant I could explore some sites you would miss on a day trip, like the Secret Lagoon.

Preserving Gullfoss for future generations

Believe it or not, we almost lost this natural beauty. Back in the early 20th century, British developers decided that this would make the perfect spot for a geothermal power plant. Luckily for us, the daughter of the farmer who owned the land refused to allow this to go ahead, especially after she and her sisters paved the first path to the wonder. Despite the developers having planning permission, she walked to Reykjavik and back multiple times, covering a distance of 62 miles to meet with a lawyer and have the decision overturned. She made this journey many times over the years, at one point even threatening to throw herself into the depths of the falls if they attempted to start construction until eventually the case was dropped in 1929 and this icon was saved.

The Golden Falls

Gullfoss translates to Golden Falls, it gets this name from how the water turns a golden colour when the light hits it on a sunny day. This is because of all the sediment that has built up in the glacial ice over its lifetime, as the light hits this sediment it creates that golden hue that makes the view so spectacular. 

I had seen Gullfoss multiple times in photos when I started to research Iceland, but it doesn’t compare to the real thing. We reached here near the end of the day, and even after seeing multiple waterfalls this spot still managed to take our breath away. When we arrived here, we were all starving having been unsuccessful in grabbing food at the previous spots, but we didn’t want to miss a second of the view. As we made our way off the bus we started the ritual of putting on our crampons and in our little groups headed off in the direction our tour guide had pointed us. 

Gullfoss Waterfall in the Golden Circle, Iceland, Summer

Gullfoss first sighting

As I walked down I noticed a signpost that buried in snow it was down by my waist. I hadnt realised how deep the snow until I realised the sign down by my waist would usually tower above my head. The closer we got the louder the roar of the water became before Gullfoss came into sight around the corner. The first time I saw Gullfoss I was taken aback by the view. With water flowing at 80 cubic metres per second from a height of 105 feet, you can see the raw power of the water as it makes its way down.

We stood on the platform and enjoyed the view and posed for the inevitable photos. There is a path that takes you further along and right up close to the falls. We did start to make our way along here, however, as this was the last opportunity to grab some food before our dinner we made sure we were happy with our photos and started on our way back to the restaurant near the car park.

Gullfoss and the Golden Circle

Gullfoss is iconic, it’s impossible to look at pictures of Iceland without seeing this natural beauty. No trip to Iceland is complete without stopping off here. If your visit is only for a weekend, you have to book yourself onto a tour of the Golden Circle. Gullfoss is often a finale for the Golden Circle portion of a tour, but some will include stop-offs at the Blue Lagoon or other attractions on the way back. It’s worth looking into as you can fit a lot of amazing sights into just one day, maximising your time in Iceland. 

Gullfoss Waterfall in the Golden Circle, Iceland, Winter

Since this route is so popular, it’s very likely you’ll be sharing the view with a lot of other tourists. But that doesn’t mean this view is any less stunning. For me, this is one of the rare tourist traps that actually lives up to the hype and I can understand why people flock here in their droves. 

Gullfoss FAQs

How do I visit myself?

You can make your way to Gullfoss by yourself if you like. But a great way to visit is on a tour of the Golden Circle, taking the stress away from travel and letting someone else do all the planning for you. To book you can click on the link below and book with Get Your Guide. Booking through the link doesn’t cost you any extra but does mean I receive a commission and supports Brad’s Backpack.

How far is Reykjavik from Gullfoss?

It’s about a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik if the weather is good and you travel directly. 

How much does it cost?

It’s free to visit if you’re travelling by yourself, but you’ll have to pay for petrol and transport costs. Otherwise, this is a standard stop for Golden Circle tours and will be included.

What time of year is Gullfoss open to visitors?

Gullfoss is open to travellers to Iceland all year round, however for safety concerns, some viewpoints aren’t always accessible at certain times of the year. Rest assured though every viewpoint is stunning so regardless of when you visit you will have some amazing views.

Is there a restaurant or cafe nearby?

Yes at the very top before you make your way down to the falls there is a restaurant and cafe for you to buy hot food or snacks.

Do I need to wear crampons?

Absolutely! When I visited it was incredibly icy, with snow even burying street signs. You may not need it for the summer months but if you are going in the winter then they will stop you from spending most of the day falling over and you can walk confidently and safely.

What time of day is best to visit?

One of the best points about Gullfoss is that it doesn’t matter. You can come in the morning, at noon, or in the evening and each point will give you a unique and equally stunning view. So don’t be too worried about getting there for a specific time, just relax and enjoy it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *