Iceland is known for its countless volcanoes and glaciers. The glacial and volcanic landscapes of the island were shaped by geological forces over centuries, carving out the bedrock and sometimes producing absolutely magnificent canyons.
There are numerous canyons all over Iceland, but a few of these simply cannot be missed. Here are our top 8 canyons in Iceland, some of which were discovered only a few years ago.
Stuðlagil Canyon is located in eastern Iceland, hidden in the middle of the Jökla River, some distance from Road number 1 in a little-visited region of Iceland.
Stuðlagil is known to be the most beautiful canyon in Iceland, with its incredible basaltic organ columns and turquoise waters that cut through it. This canyon is particularly interesting as it was discovered only very recently, in 2017!
A very nice hiking trail will get you to the best viewing spots for this canyon, which has now become a tourist hotspot.
Photo Fjaðrárgljúfur by Luca Florio@Unsplash
Fjaðrárgljúfur is one of the most famous canyons in all of Iceland. Fjaðrárgljúfur was formed at the end of the Ice Age, about 9,000 years ago. Following the melting of a glacier, a lake was formed in the valley behind an immense hard and resistant rock.
Today, the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon extends for approximately 1500 meters. As soon as you arrive at the car park at the foot of the canyon, the landscape is impressive and the colors astonishing: the green of the grass, which is very marked in this region, contrasts with the black of the rocks and the sometimes turquoise blue of the Fjaðrá, a river that crosses Fjaðrárgljúfur.
Located in the north of Jokulsargljufur, the Ásbyrgi Canyon is a massive gorge totalling 3.5 km long and 1 km wide. The Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier created this geological arena thousands of years ago, the relentless ice tongue shaping it into a horseshoe. A huge earthquake caused the major glacial river to disappear, revealing this new landscape.
Legend has it that this horseshoe is no less than an imprint left by Odin's horse.
Eldgjá, literally “Gorge of Fire”, is the largest eruptive fracture in the world. The chain of craters stretches over 40 km betwee two glaciers, from the Myrdalsjökull to the famous Vatnajökull. Located north-east of the Skafta River, this gorge belongs to the Katla volcanic chain.
Eldgjá Canyon is an 8 km long gorge located in the middle of the fissure. The Norðari-Ófæra river rushes into it, cascading over the rim to form the Ófærufoss waterfall. The gorge resulted when the ground literally collapsed over an area 600 m wide, on average 140 m deep and plunging 270 m deep in some places.
Sigöldugljúfur Canyon - Takepicsforfun @dreamstime
This canyon with its unpronounceable name, Sigöldugljúfur, was like the Stuðlagil canyon discovered only very recently. It is located near Lake Krókslón in the Landmannalaugar region.
It is a magnificent oasis with incredibly photogenic waterfalls that cascade down into the canyon's sublime turquoise waters.
This gem of the south, Remundargil Canyon, is located in the Þakgil region just north of Vik. This region is a bit of a hidden treasure with few visitors, but there are countless gems to see there, like this magnificent canyon. Incredibly deep with high black cliffs covered in lush green moss, you won't believe your eyes.
A hiking trail starts from the Thakgil campsite, crossing incredible landscapes with the canyon rising around you, culminating with the magnificent Remundargilsfoss waterfall.
Photo Credit Stakkholtsgjá - Jonatan Pie @Unsplash
The Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is located in the Thórsmörk region. An easy two-kilometer hike will get you to the bottom of the gorge where you can enjoy the sight of a very pretty waterfall flowing into a cave.
The impressive canyon is surrounded by immense and geometrically perfect palagonite cliffs reaching 100 meters high.
Photo Credit Múlagljúfur Pere Sanz | Dreamstime.com
Discovered only a short time ago, the Múlagljúfur canyon is a true gem of the south coast. A superb hike leads to the canyon where you can admire the spectacular waterfalls of Hangandifoss and Múlafoss.
The Hangandifoss waterfall, 123 meters high, is one of the highest waterfalls in the whole country. Múlafoss waterfall is a little more hidden and smaller and is located at the bottom of the canyon.