Goðafoss, Iceland


The Goðafoss waterfall
Cascading waters
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Goðafoss at a Glance

The Goðafoss waterfall can be found in north central Iceland, in the Bárðardalur district at the start of the Sprengisandur highland road on the way to Mývatn. Meaning the “Waterfall of the Gods,” it is easy to get to this spectacular 30 meter wide waterfall. It is formed by the glacial waters of the river Skjálfandafljót as they cascade from a height of 12 meters high.

Goðafoss is one of the larger waterfalls in Iceland and it is very beautiful. It is an excellent touring destination, is popular amongst photographers, and is available all year round, even in winter. The falls are surrounded by lava rock with the river Skjálfandafljót running through an (approximately) 7000 year-old lava field, and there is a roughly 100 meter-wide canyon below the waterfall where the river has dug through the lava field over the ages. The edge of the falls is horseshoe in shape and the rocky headlands around it create two primary falls with some smaller ones - depending on the force of the water flow. A trip to Goðafoss is a must for all visitors, especially for those who wouldn’t want to miss the snow-covered lava landscape and frozen mist from the waterfall in winter. The lava that covers the greater part of the river surroundings comes from the highland mountain of Trölladyngja and is over 8000 years old. There are some excellent basalt columns and potholes in the canyon, and the most usual plants found here are lichen, moss, and dwarf shrubs.

Goðafoss has a significant place in the history of Iceland, most notably in terms of its conversion to Christianity. Going back as far as the year 999 or 1000, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, a local chieftain, made Christianity the official religion, and legend has it that he threw his statues of pagan gods into the waterfall at Goðafoss to underline his beliefs.