Gljúfrabúi waterfall is one of Iceland’s most ravishing hidden gems. Located just off the famous Ring Road, and only a few meters away from one of Iceland’s most visited waterfall, this natural wonder has somehow managed to stay somewhat unknown, up until recently. Gljúfrabúi waterfall is 40 meters (131ft) and runs from the river Gljúfurá.
The South Coast in Iceland is packed with outstanding sights and locations visited all around the clock by nature enthusiasts and travelers but Gljúfrabúi always stayed under the radar even though the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall is right next to it and the road to the magical Þórsmörk valley leads you by it. It might be because you have to actually get very close to the waterfall to recognize it and then actually inside the gorge to see it or that the name was ill-pronounced but whatever it is visiting this pearl is surely a once in a lifetime experience.
Gljúfrabúi is surely one of the most memorable ones and can easily be named one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Falling down from the green hills of Eyjafjöll mountains and into a gorge, the waterfall truly has a unique look, but just remember when visiting, you might get soaked! Bring waterproofs, maybe even rainboots and watch your camera or phone.
What does the name Gljúfrabúi mean?
Gljúfur is a gorge, a ravine or a canyon and -búi is an inhabitant so roughly translated the name means “the inhabitant of the gorge”. This might sound a bit bizarre for those who haven’t visited but once you have this hidden water wonder you will understand the naming.
Are Gljúfrabúi and Gljúfrafoss the same?
Yes, they are – These are just two different names for the same waterfall. The name Gljúfrabúi is more widely spread and we recommend using that instead of Gljúfrafoss if you are, for example, asking directions.
Where is Gljufrabui located?
GPS 63.6209° N, 19.9864° W
Gljúfrabúi waterfall is located only a minute’s walk away from the legendary Seljalandsfoss waterfall. You really can’t miss it when visiting the later mentioned waterfall, the one you can walk behind. You can almost see Gljúfrabúi from the Ring Road 1 on the South Coast. It is located 128 kilometers (79,5 mi) away from Reykjavík and 60 kilometers (37,2 mi) away from the town of Vík.
How to get to Gljufrabui?
Driving to Gljufrabui
Driving to Gljúfrabúi is easy and doesn’t require a specifically altered automobile. Driving from Reykjavík to Gljúfrabúi takes about 1 hour and 30-40 minutes and will take you through the towns of Hveragerði, Selfoss, Hella and Hvolsvöllur (in this order).
After having passed Hvolsvöllur (where you find the Lava Center and N1 Gas Station) you continue through fields of farmland heading East. The whole drive is a scenic one and there are a lot of interesting sights along the way. After about 15 minutes of driving the Road 1 from Hvolsvöllur, you will cross a bridge over a river and at this point, you need to start looking out for a left sign marked “249” this is the sign towards Seljalandsfoss. Make the turn inwards towards Seljalandsfoss. Now you drive past the crowds at Seljalandsfoss and park at the next parking lot, where the campground is, it should be marked Gljúfrabúi.
Parking at Gljufrabui
Parking at Gljúfrabúi is free but finding a spot can often be a bit tricky. Be sure to park in marked areas so that other cars can easily pass you.
Walking around near Gljufrabui
Walking from the parking lot to the waterfall takes about 4 minutes and is an easy walk. You just follow the small river running from the vertical drop that seems to be appearing from nowhere. You can admire the waterfall from the banks of the river, but from this point, you will only be able to view parts if the drop.
Going into the Gljufrabui gorge
Going into the gorge will give you an opportunity to really get up close and personal with the stunning water bewilderment that awaits you but we don’t recommend going in there unless you are willing to get wet. During the windiest of days, the spray from the waterfalls is similar to a shower!
Note: Bringing rain boots or waterproof shoes are great to explore this waterfall inside the ravine and make sure your camera and/or electronics are in waterproof casings.
Hiking at Gljufrabui
Hiking up in the hillside of the falls will you give a chance to explore the waterfall without getting a free shower so if you want to get closer this is a great option. The pathway isn’t great so be careful and try to stay within the obvious path. DON’T try to go past the chain!
Accommodation or Hotels near Gljufrabui
The area around Gljúfrabúi is a very popular area for travelers from all over the world. A road trip on the South Coast is one of the best activities to do in Iceland and to answer the demand a lot of accommodation options have appeared in recent years. Here are the best rates accommodation options near Gljúfrabúi waterfall.
- Stóra-Mörk 3
- Hotel Fljótshlíð
- Hotel Selja
- Hotel Anna
- Skálakot Hotel Restaurant
- Nicehostel Seljaland
Guesthouses and B&B
- Brú Guesthouse
- Kvíahólmi Apartments
- Hellishólar Guesthouse
- Hlíðarból Farm Guesthouse
- Holt Guesthouse
- Guesthouse Húsið
- Dalsel Farm Guesthouse
Cottages or Cabins
- Ásólfsskáli Cottage
- Bryggjur, Hvolsvollur
Camping near Gljufrabui
GPS N63 37.240 W19 59.362.
Luckily, there is a camping ground right next to the waterfall, so close that you can actually use the river from the waterfall to brush your teeth or get a sip of water.
The camping ground at Gljúfrabúi is called Hamragarðar and is situated right in front of the falls. The facilities are excellent and well equipped with stoves, food preparation stations, sinks with running hot and cold water, tables, a washer and dryer, toilets, showers and a small information center where you can buy some snacks.
Gljufrabui in Winter
Gljúfrabúi can easily be visited in winter just as in every other season so don’t be afraid to add it to your Iceland bucket list no matter what time of the year you are traveling here. The area isn’t well lit up though so make sure you visit during daylight. If you are eager to visit in winter darkness bring a flashlight or a headlight, but who knows, you just might get a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing above the falls.
When approaching the falls you need to be more mindful of your steps as the path might be a bit slippery. Wear sturdy shoes, possibly even with ice grips underneath.
Interesting Places Near Gljufrabui
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall
- Gígjökull Glacier
- Landeyjarhöfn the harbor of the ferry to Westman islands
- Eyjafjallajökull glacier
- Skógafoss waterfall
- Fimmvörðuháls pass
- Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
- Seljavallalaug Mountain Pool
- Hekla Volcano
- Vík village
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach & Reynisdrangar Basalt Columns
- Dyrhóley Cape
- Hjörleifshöfði Cape and Yoda Cave
- Þakgil canyon
- Sólheimajökull glacier
- Mýrdalsjökull Glacier
- The Ice Cave under the Katla Volcano