Completely isolated, far from the main roads along the coast like Road number 1, the beautiful Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is lost in the northern highlands on the Skjálfandafljót river. Often overlooked, it truly is a hidden gem.
Aldeyjarfoss (also called Aldeyarfoss) is among the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. While not as tall as the best-known waterfalls like Skogafoss, and less powerful than Dettifoss, Aldeyjarfoss is appreciated not for the fall itself but for the magnificent landscape into which the waterfall flows.
Aldeyjarfoss is still 20 meters tall, so it's not small by any means, and flows into a magnificent milky blue lagoon. This water comes from the Vatnajökull glacier and Skjálfandafljót river and therefore has a slightly milky color. Further north, the famous Goðafoss waterfall is also on the same Skjálfandafljót river.
The setting is superb thanks to the site's terrain, which much like Skaftafell and the Svartifoss Falls sees the water flowing into a narrow canyon lined with magnificent hexagonal columns of black basalt.
The waterfall is located in the Suðurárhraun lava field which was formed during an eruption about 9,000 years ago, which explains the large black basaltic organs that contrast perfectly with turquoise water. These organs have been perfectly “sculpted” by nature over the centuries.
From the main car park, it takes about 15 minutes (one way) to walk the 1.2 km that lead to the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall. The trail is quite easy with not much elevation. The parking lot is tiny and as far as amenities are concerned, there are only restrooms.
Nearby there are other waterfalls such as Hrafnabjargafoss or Ullarfoss which aren't as impressive but still worth a look if you have the time.
The waterfall is about 1.5 hours from Akureyri and 45 minutes from Goðafoss. The simplest and best known route to the waterfall is along the south bank on Road 842, but there are actually 2 ways to get to Aldeyjarfoss.
This is the route we recommend. On Road number 1 on the way to Goðafoss from Akureyri you'll see an exit for Road 842 going south, accessible to all types of vehicles. This is a 40 km dirt road in fairly good condition that takes you across the Bárðardalur valley.
After about 40 km, near the Myri farm, look for the sign indicating the waterfall, then you'll have to lift a sheep gate and close it securely behind you to get onto the trail. The road then becomes the F26, the famous Sprengisandur trail, and you need a 4x4 vehicle to complete the remaining 4 km off road to the waterfall car park.
It's only 4 km, so you can leave a rented city car at the gate to complete the few kilometers on foot. From the car park, a small path goes in the direction of the waterfall.
Much less well known, you can also get there via the 843. On Road number 1 on the way to Myvatn, shortly after the 842, the 844 goes south and turns into 843 after 22 km.
Continue down the 843 for another 22 kilometers until you find a trail that goes right in the direction of the Storatunga farm. From here, a short 2.2 km hike will get you to the waterfall from the north shore.
The view over the fall is less impressive but via the 843, you can also swing by Ullarfoss Falls so it can be worth it.
If you want to avoid all that navigation, you can book a tour from Akureyri that includes a visit to the waterfalls in the region: Aldeyjarfoss of course, but also Goðafoss and Hrafnabjargafoss.
The guided excursion is particularly popular in winter because access is regularly closed at this time of the year (see below) so you can let the professionals take over the hard part.
Photo Credit: Yevhenii Chulovskyi @shutterstock
Generally, tourists visit Aldeyjarfoss during the summer, as in winter the F26 is closed and secondary roads such as the 842 and 843 are generally closed as well. So the alternative is to book a tour.
But keep in mind the waterfall is absolutely beautiful at this time of year with stalactites forming all around the fall (see photo).
In summer, unlike many other sites, it's not very busy and there's a good chance of having the place to yourself! However, if you get the chance, sunrise or sunset make the colors of Aldeyjarfoss even more beautiful so time your visit in the evening or early in the morning, or if you can go there in the light of the midnight sun it's particularly beautiful.