Gullfoss, found in southwest Iceland, is one of the country's best natural wonders. The Golden Falls, as the name means in English, are one of the most popular attractions in the country, and Gullfoss together with two other nearby sites (Pingvellir National Park and the geysers at Haukadalur) make up the Golden Circle. This popular day-tour exposes visitors to the beauty of the wild Icelandic landscape, and the volcanic island is home to geysers, glaciers, incredible wildlife, and also an impressive set of waterfalls.
The Hvita River flows into these Iceland waterfalls. Traveling in a southward direction, the wide river appears to vanish downwards to visitors on approach. The great crevice that forms Gullfoss Iceland can’t be seen on the initial approach. Extending to 105 feet in depth, the Golden Falls are an impressive sight. Once a better view is gained, travelers will see that the formation of the waterfalls resembles a staircase, and the water tumbles in two stages. This makes seeing Gullfoss Iceland all the more dramatic.
The crevice is at an abrupt right angle to the flow of the Hvita River, changing the direction of the water. This feature also contributes to the beauty of Gullfoss. The waterfall is now environmentally protected, but for some time using the river and the falls for electricity was up for discussion. That option is now off the table, and the gorgeous waterfall has been preserved in its natural state for the pleasure of all visitors. The amount of foaming white water that passes over the falls changes by season. In summer there is almost twice as much water passing over the falls as during the winter time. Coinciding with the popular tourist season of mid-June through August, this is the ideal time to see the Golden Falls at their wildest.
The popularity of the waterfall has one negative component: large coach buses of tours arriving at one time to see one of Iceland’s best attractions. Weekends during the summer are bound to be busiest, and most tours plan to visit all three attractions of the Golden Circle in one day. It may be better to visit Gullfoss Iceland during the week, or first thing in the morning if you’re traveling independently. If you’re interested in joining one of the tours, knowledgeable guides will share their expertise on the history and geography of the area.
Independent travelers will definitely want to explore this part of Iceland on their own time. Beyond the Golden Circle, there is plenty to see, including the volcano Hekla. Renting a car is an affordable option, and having a vehicle will allow you to tour the area at your own pace. Viking ruins and spouting geysers are further highlights of touring the area. If you decide to explore the area independently, pack a lunch and be prepared for a memorable adventure. Icelandic landscapes are extremely unique, and a tour of this region is a photographer’s dream.