The Goðafoss waterfall, literally “waterfall of the Gods”, is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Iceland.
Widely considered one of the must-see sites in the northern regions, Goðafoss is a place of divine proportions.
In the Sprengisandur Highlands, the glacial river Skjálfandafljót is made up of meltwater from the Vatnajökull glacier that crosses rugged landscapes before cascading down the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall and then Goðafoss.
Goðafoss looking downstream towards the car park on route 883
With a width of 30 meters and a height of 12, Goðafoss is a picturesque fall that clears the top of a small cliff in an arc, which is what makes it so scenic for the joy of so many photographers.
Located in the old Barðardalur lava field, the fall is surrounded by basaltic organ columns and actually cascades down three small waterfalls, without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
You can pick either bank in Goðafoss to observe the waterfall from different angles, and we recommend doing both! Initially, many people park on the main car park, off the 844, where there is also a gas station, a souvenir shop, a café and a very well known hotel: the Fossholl hotel, recognizable by its yellow color.
From here, you can follow a trail along the very turbulent Skjálfandafljót River for about 700 meters to arrive very close indeed with a superb view of Godafoss. This is one of the best spots to set up your tripod and snap away.
On the way back, a small dirt road actually takes you to the lower shelf where the water cascades, which is sometimes slippery and even often inaccessible in winter. The view from below, right at the waterline, is beautiful in its own right.
Finally, there is a footbridge for a 5-minute walk that takes you west of the river. So you have the choice of either the Fossholl footbridge, or you can just drive instead down to the 883 car park, but both will take you to another waterfall that is certainly not as beautiful as Goðafoss but still a pleasure to see: Geitafoss.
It is this second car park that has a short walking trail crossing a hundred meters of lava and rocky desert on foot to get as close as possible to Goðafoss.
Goðafoss in winter
Its name “Waterfall of the Gods” comes from medieval Iceland. Indeed, it was in the 10th century, when Christianity arrived in Iceland, that the Icelandic parliament decided to choose an official religion. You should know that at that time, pagans and Christians were in constant conflict in Iceland.
The Althing then asks a certain Thorgeir Thorkelsson, considered wise by both Christians and pagans, to make this decision.
Thorgeir, who was then living in the north of the island, decided, to show the end of the old gods, to throw pagan statues of the Nordic gods Thor and Odin into a waterfall, which became “the waterfall of the Gods” that day, Goðafoss. This event finally marks the moment when Iceland became Christian.
Ideally located halfway between Akureyri and Lake Myvatn (38 kilometers from Mývatn and 48 kilometers from Akureyri), the fall is very easy to access. In addition to its beauty, this is the other reason why it is one of the most touristic sites in the country.
On the route to the most visited sites in North Iceland, access to Godafoss is all the more so because a simple passenger car is all that is needed to get there. Arriving at the Skjálfandafljót river, two roads branch off to the right:
Both are perfectly signposted and in any case, there is a good chance that the car parks will be very busy and that you will see a few parked buses from afar, especially in summer.
For this reason, Goðafoss is one of the sites best visited early in the morning or in the evening. The other advantage of coming there in the evening is the sunset. It gives magnificent lights to the waterfall while hiding behind the nearby mountains.
In winter, Goðafoss is also generally accessible (however, check www.road.is just beforehand to check the state of the roads). The waterfall has a lot of charm at this time of year with the ice, snow, and stalactites that surround it. However, it should be noted that access via highway 883 is often closed at this time of the year.