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Glymur Waterfall

The Second Highest Waterfall in Iceland

Outside of Reykjavik sits Glymur Waterfall – Iceland’s second largest falls. Glymur is a perfect combination of beauty and adventure. For the ultimate visit, enjoy a stunning hike that takes you to the top of the waterfall.



Even in a country filled with gorgeous views, Glymur stands out as something special. It’s water cascades down a drop of 198 metres! If you’re looking to travel a little beyond Reykjavík and explore the island, then this is a perfect place to start.

Glymur’s convenient location just outside the city means that you get to spend even more time taking in the inspiring scenery of the country. Our Glymur Waterfall Hike Tour will bring you to the summit with helpful guides, equipment and local knowledge.

Glymur waterfall in iceland

Knowing the story and history behind such a magnificent waterfall makes the hike all the more magical. It is said that long ago, farmers would head out to an island in order to collect eggs for the village. One year they were hit by a terrible storm and decided to turn back. However, they were forced to leave one farmer behind.

They were not able to return for some time due to the strong winds and as seasons passed, the man left behind was presumed dead. As spring arrived, they made the journey back to retrieve the eggs and came to find the man happy and healthy. He didn’t speak much but insisted on coming home.

After his return, everyone went to church. That’s when it came to the congregation’s attention that a baby had been left at the steps to the entrance. It was wrapped in a blanket made of materials that no one had ever seen before.

When asked, no one knew who the baby belonged to, including the man. Just after, a beautiful woman appeared. She angrily threw the blanket into the church and shouted to the man ‘’you will become the worst whale in the sea’.’

With that, she disappeared taking the baby, scared the man ran towards the ocean. He started to swell to an enormous size, taking the shape of a whale. On land, it came to light that while the man was on the island, an elf woman offered her home to him during the cold winter months.

She offered him to live among the elf people living on the land. As winter ended, the elf woman told him she was carrying his baby. She promised to let him leave on the condition that when she appeared at the church, he would ensure the baby was christened. But the promise was not kept.

He became the worst whale in the sea. Bringing mayhem across the ocean, he ended the lives of any sailor who crossed paths with him. After killing two brothers, their blind father heard of the news and made his way to the ocean.

He stabbed his cane into the sea and the whale was forced to follow. As the old man walked further up the river bed, the whale was faced with much difficulty. Reaching the bottom of the waterfall, the whale became stuck and had no other option but to jump.

The waterfall now has its name (Whale Lake) because of the resonant sound that came from the whale as it made its jump. The old man didn’t stop there. He brought the whale all the way to the lake where the whale exploded from exhaustion. Remains have since been found.

Hiking to Glymur Waterfall

Glymur hiking trail

The hike to the summit only takes around 3 – 3 1/2 hours, depending on the pace you would like to take. It’s a perfect day trip outside of the main city. As well as the satisfaction of reaching the top, your adventurous side will be well and truly fulfilled after walking through a lava cave, rocky roads, and a river crossing.

It’s a gorgeous hike with stunning views. Also sometimes known as the Botnsdalur Hike, the trail will lead you through Glymshellir cave, across the river Botnsá and up to the top of the waterfall.  A bit further up you’ll then find the Lake Hvalvatn.

This is a fabulous way to spend a day, combining a refreshing walk with some of the finest views you’ll ever see.

People crossing river near glymur waterfall in Iceland

Here’s how to get the best of your Glymur Falls hike:

  • A tour group will provide the equipment you need for the Glymur Waterfall hike.
  • Wear quality, comfortable hiking shoes or boots (ideally that have been broken in beforehand).
  • Check the weather before your journey.
  • Wear comfortable, warm clothes. Even if it’s not raining, it can get windy up there!
  • Watch your step! It’s a safe, but the Glymur Waterfall hiking trail is high!
  • Bring a packed lunch. The hike is about 3 hours. Lunch at the top is a bucket list experience.
  • Don’t forget a water bottle – you can fill it with water from the river on your way up!
  • Many hikers opt to use hiking poles to make the climb easier.
  • It’s always a good idea to check out a map of the Glymur hike before you go.

Joining a day tour is highly recommended, as your guide will be able to show and tell you everything you need to know. It also means that you will not have to rent a car to travel to the location and will be taken good care of.

However, if you choose to explore yourself, then it is best to take road number one when departing from Reykjavik. This will lead you towards Akranes. Before you reach Hvalfjordur underwater tunnel, take a right turn which will lead you onto road 47.

Glymur river in Iceland
On your drive expect to be charmed by the smaller waterfalls that the surrounding area has to offer. This only builds anticipation for the big one later!

As you continue your journey into the bay you will come across signs for East Glymur. You will be met by a gravel road that leads to the parking lot where your adventure will begin.

GPS coordinates of Glymur: 64.3917° N, 21.2506° W

This is the perfect trip if you want to enjoy a short journey taking in the magnificent views that the area around Hvalfjörður has to offer. Glymur is only a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik, located in the west of Iceland, where you will find the starting point of the hike. It is part of the river Botnsá that flows out of Hvalvatn.

June to August are the best months to visit the waterfall as the conditions are a lot better and you will be able to see a lot more of what nature has to offer.

Due to the extreme weather that can happen in the winter, along with the challenging nature of the hike, it is certainly not recommended that you visit in the winter seasons.

Guided tours are not available in these months so it wouldn’t be the best idea to attempt the hike. Also, the bridges probably wouldn’t be accessible in these months so you may not get very far. Stick to the warmer months!

Aerial view of Glymur waterfall in iceland

Not being far from Reykjavik means that you have a broad range of options in the city. There are many hotels in Reykjavík, hostels and Airbnb options in Iceland. Staying in Reykjavik can be slightly more expensive but is a good place to set up base if you want to take advantage of a variety of tours and experience the city.

If you are hoping to stay closer to Glymur Waterfall or in the surrounding areas, then these may be suitable options for you and are all situated within 25 miles of the location.

Hotels near Glymur

  • Hotel Glymur
  • Fosshotel
  • Hotel Laxnes

Guesthouses and Hostels near Glymur

  • Laxarbakki Guesthouse
  • Akra Guesthouse
  • Kirkjuhvoll Guesthouse
  • Teigur Guesthouse
  • Akranes Hostel

Thingvellir National Park is about 9.8 miles away and is crying out to be explored by you.

Among other things, this national park is home to Silfra Fissure. This is a once in a lifetime chance to swim between two tectonic plates.

If you’ve caught the buzz for waterfalls, Öxarárfoss can be ticked off your list as it is only a short distance away.