Selfoss Waterfall is a hidden gem in Northeast Iceland that’s often overshadowed by its taller neighbor Dettifoss Waterfall. Plan a visit to the calm waters of Selfoss during a Diamond Circle Route adventure!
Selfoss is a beautiful waterfall in North Iceland, often visited on Diamond Circle tours. The waterfall offers a great opportunity to get up close to one of Iceland’s waterfalls.
If you’re trying to decide between the west or east side – both options are great! The west side has the view but the east side has the action!
Selfoss is fed by the Jökulsá á Fjöllum, a glacier river with its routes in Vatnajökull glacier, which is also the second longest river in Iceland (206 km) flowing into the Greenland Sea.
Vatnajökull glacier or ‘water glacier’ is the largest ice cap in Iceland, making up 8% of Iceland’s landmass. It gets its name from the abandoned Holssel Farm.
Selfoss is easy to find as it’s located in the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region beside the mighty Dettifoss Waterfall (one kilometer south). The canyon is a beautiful landscape and well worth the drive.
GPS coordinates of Selfoss Waterfall: 65.7988° N, 16.3836° W
Selfoss is only a half hour hike from Dettifoss waterfall and both waterfalls share the same car parks. Make sure you take Road Number 864 Hólsfjallavegur on the Ring Road 1 when you’re east of Mývatn. This is just after passing a bridge on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
This route is about 25 km and will take around 30 minutes. Turn where the sign says Dettifoss. Road number 864 is made of gravel, meaning there is no winter service on this route.
The Dettifossvegur Road Nr. 862 is on the west side and follows to the west side of the river as well as the west side of Dettifoss waterfall and Selfoss waterfall. This road is seasonal, as it is usually open from early summer; May or June up until the beginning of October.
When driving, the west road (862) is paved and far more people take that route. The eastern route (864) is unpaved, but ultimately crowds are less likely!
The hike from Dettifoss is well recommended (and only a 10 minute walk away), so no excuses! It is really easy to walk on the Westside but can be a little bit trickier to climb over the rocks if you take the East side. Bonus: The parking lot is free!
Though the water flow decreases in winter, Selfoss is very powerful throughout the year. However, in bad conditions the track to and from Dettifoss may close, so you may need to take a longer detour or park closer to the fall. Take care as everything will be slippery and covered in ice!