Hengifoss Waterfall is a top natural attraction in East Iceland. The falls cascade 128 meters (420 ft) off the Fljótdalsheidi Moorland Cliffs. Enjoy an easy hike up the waterfall to discover beautiful views – become amazed by the unspoiled nature of the Eastfjords in Iceland!
Hengifoss “the hanging waterfall” is the 2nd or the 3rd highest waterfall in Iceland, depending on who you ask. It’s one of the very best known landmarks of the Eastfjords. The waterfall is 128 meters high (420 ft). .
The waterfall is surrounded by beautiful lava strata. You’ll find layers upon layers of natural red clay that together create one of the most awe-inspiring views you will find in Iceland. The hike up to the waterfall is easy. Plus, the waterfall is located only 40-60 minutes away from the biggest town in the East, Egilsstaðir.
What makes Hengifoss so interesting are the red clay layers which create extraordinary stripes in the otherwise dark-colored basalt rock surrounding the waterfall. These breathtakingly beautiful fiery red layers were created during volcanic eruptions in the Tertiary Period about 5-6 million years ago. The sediments and their oxidation stems of iron which brought out the red color.
Hengifoss is located in Hengifossá river in Fljótdalshreppur somewhat in the middle of the part we like to call East Iceland. It is close to the “capital of the East” Egilsstaðir. It can easily be added to the itinerary while exploring the famous Lake Lagarfljot or driving along the Ring Road.
GPS coordinates of Hengifoss: 65.0957° N, 14.8896° W
As Hengifoss is basically located in the middle of East Iceland making your way along the Ring Road from Reykjavík clockwise or counterclockwise will pretty much get you to the waterfall in the same matter of time, 8 hours and 20-40 minutes.
Your options for visiting Hengifoss are to join one of the Ring Road Tours. You can also check out the Self Drive tours if you want to visit the waterfall on your own terms. Other visitors even like to fly via the domestic airport in Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir and get a rental car there to explore the East.
No matter which way you choose, you’ll have to follow Ring Road 1 to Egilsstaðir. If you’re coming from the North, make a turn onto road 931. If you’re are coming from the South, make a turn onto road 95.
Road 931 will take you straight to the waterfall but if you take the road 95 you will have to turn into 931 from 95 as soon as you see the sign. Both drives take you along the famous Lagarfljót, enjoy the view!
To be able to trace the origin of a waterfall you must follow its river and in this case, the river is called Hengifossá. The river’s source is in the lake Hengifossárvatn which is located in the moorland of Fljótsdalasheiði. The lake is located 660 meters (2165 ft) above sea level.
Behind the waterfall, you will find basalt layers and in between the bright red ribbons of iron fused soil which came to be in the tertiary period. There are very evident signs of warmer climates in the layers as you can all around the waterfall find petrified conifers trees and lignite, brown coals formed from naturally compressed peat.
As Hengifoss is located only 35 km away from Egilsstaðir there is plenty of accommodation to be found near the beautiful waterfall. Here we’ll name our best picks:
Guesthouses and B&B
Cabins, Apartments and Cottages
The most affordable type of accommodation available and an excellent choice from Spring through late Summer. There are plenty of options for camping grounds in the Eastfjords. Some are even located in beautiful forests, like the two in Hallormstaðaskógur, Atlavík, and Höfðavík.
Fljótsdalsgrund is another great camping ground with walking paths and all the facilities you might need. Very close to Hengifoss you will also find the camping ground at Eyjólfsstaðir í Fossárdal which is a quite but big site right next to a creek and a beautiful waterfall nearby named Fossárfoss.
Within each close town or village, you will also find camping grounds in places such as Djúpivogur, Egilsstaðir, Eskifjörður, and Vopnafjörður. Find out more information about camping grounds in the Eastfjords.
Hiking to and around Hengifoss waterfall will give you a few options, the walk up there is relatively easy and on the way, you will see the beautiful landscape. The elevation is about 300 meters (984 ft) in total and a little steep at times.
You can walk along the river Hengisfossá from both sides from the Ring Road to Hengifoss but the most common and generally considered the best accessible way is to walk from the parking lot which is located closer to the falls within the river’s path. The most adventurous walk up and above the waterfall, vade across the river and walk down the other side.
Hengifoss sure is a natural wonder and no matter the season a visit is bound to take your breath away. In winter you will need to be more cautious while visiting the waterfall. The walking paths get slippery due so it’s important to keep away from the edge. Also watch out for hanging icicles!
Litlanesfoss is another gorgeous waterfall found in the Hengifossá river and is locally known as the basalt columns waterfall in the East, similar to the famous Svartifoss inside Skaftafell National Park.
The waterfall is a 30 meters high (98,4 ft), a chute in the middle of strangely even hexagonal columns that together form the most photogenic scene. From Litlanesfoss you have a view of Hengifoss showing you just how short the walk is in between these two water wonders and can easily stop at Litlanesfoss going to or from Hengifoss.