In the Northeastern region of Iceland, the Skjalfandafljot River takes a tumble. A nearly 40-foot drop along a curved lip, almost 100 feet long, creates what might well be the most spectacular waterfall in the whole world. This is Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods, and it’s the high point of many Icelandic vacations.
Here are a few interesting things about Godafoss to keep in mind.
1. It’s One Of The Main Stops Along The Country’s Greatest Road Trip Route
Maybe the best way to experience Iceland is with an epic road trip. If that’s your plan, get ready for the Ring Road, otherwise known as Highway 1. This 800-mile adventure circles the coast of the island nation -- and Godafoss is one of its major stopping points.
The Waterfall of the Gods is located in North Iceland, just off Highway 1, between Akureyri and Myvatn. You can reach it via a brief trip down the driving route known as the Diamond Circle.
2. It’s Shaped Like A Horseshoe
Think of a waterfall and you probably imagine a single stream of water, as if a river suddenly fell off a cliff. Indeed, that is how most waterfalls look. Godafoss is different, though; it’s not a single stream of water descending down a cliffside. Instead, it tumbles down a hollowed-out half-circle.
Yes, this massive waterfall is curved. Viewed from afar, it takes the shape of a 370-foot-wide semicircle. You can access both sides of the falls year-round for spectacular views. In fact, Godafoss’s unique shape is a big part of its extraordinary beauty.
3. It’s Part Of A Pretty Impressive River
Godafoss’s water comes from the Skjalfandafljot River, which is the fourth-longest river in Iceland. This spectacular waterway is fed by the Vatnajokull Glacier, which is itself Europe’s largest glacier. The river runs through the Bardardalshraun lava field before reaching the jagged falls.
4. It’s Known As The Waterfall Of The Gods
That nickname comes from the waterfall’s colorful history: In the year 1000, a politician named Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi declared Christianity the official religion of Iceland. To show his devotion, he threw his statues of Norse pagan gods into the waterfall.
5. It’s A Great Place To Experience The Northern Lights
What’s an Icelandic vacation without an aurora borealis sighting? Aurora season lasts from mid-August to mid-April, but for the best possible chances of a Northern Lights photo-op, travelers should plan their trips between October and March. Godafoss is open year-round, and winter visitors can often experience stunning views of the falls covered in snow and ice.
6. The West Side Offers The Easiest Access
Visitors can park right next to the falls and see all three sections of Godafoss. There is, of course, a downside: Most tourists visit the west side, so if you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, you’ll want to approach the falls from the east.
7. The East Side Has Its Advantages, Too
While the east side parking area is significantly smaller, it offers access to a unique hiking trail. Take the trail to reach two vantage points that offer serene views of Godafoss that aren’t accessible from the west side. Note: The trail is small and can be quite slippery, so be careful.
8. Amenities Aren’t Too Far Away
9. A Visit To Godafoss Requires A Bit Of Preparation
The closer you get to Godafoss, the more spray you’re going to encounter. After all, this is a waterfall we’re talking about. In order to enjoy the place’s natural beauty without shivering in wet clothes, be sure to come prepared with waterproof shoes and jackets to help keep you comfortable and dry.
Iceland is known for having cold summers and even colder winters, so the right gear is essential, no matter where you stay.
10. Godafoss Is Surrounded By Must-see Rock Formations
Godafoss isn’t the only natural feature to check out during your visit. The waterfall is just part of the 7,000-year-old Bardardalshraun lava field, which features incredible natural formations you won’t see anywhere else in the world. In fact, the field’s iconic black basalt formations adorn the base of the falls, creating an almost unbelievable landscape.
11. There’s Another Waterfall Nearby
After visiting Godafoss, walk back toward the official parking area on the west side and across a small bridge to find Geitafoss. Tourists often miss Geitafoss, which is 18-feet tall and about 55-feet wide. It’s not nearly as impressive as Godafoss, but it’s still worth checking out if you’ve got the time.
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