The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is one of the most famous canyons in Iceland known for its breathtaking beauty...
In the far south of the island, about 6 kilometers before Kirkjubæjarklaustur when heading east on the ring road, you will find the junction with Road 206, the famous one that leads to Laki.
This is a manageable trail for the first 15 kilometers leading to the canyon, but if you want to continue the second part of the off-road trail, things get a little more complicated when you have to cross major fords.
Access to the canyon is generally open all year round, and it is beautiful in both winter and summer. Of course, in winter the condition of the road will vary and at some points, it will be closed.
Fjaðrárgljúfur is very close to the exit onto the 206, exactly 8 km from Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
Follow signs to Lakagigar on Road 206, and for this portion the drive is smooth and suitable for all types of vehicles, to find this mythical canyon with the unfortunately unpronouncable name: Fjaðrárgljúfur.
There are two separate car parks at the canyon, depending on the perspective you prefer:
The first small car park is located at the foot of the canyon, a small path about 2 km will take you to the viewpoint from the top.
You can skip the first part and drive to the top, about 1 km to the second car park which is very close to the promontory with the best view.
Fjaðrárgljúfur was formed in the late Ice Age, around 9,000 years ago as a glacier's meltwater flowed to form a lake in the valley, buttressed behind an immense rock shelf.
The lake runoff began to pool where Fjaðrárgljúfur is today, and as the glacier rivers carried sediment into the lake, layering the rock and creating what's known as palagonite. As the lake filled completely, the continuous flow of the river began digging into the sedimentary layers it had previously left in the valley. The terraces on both sides of the valley are indicative of the historic waterline of the lake.
The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon extends over about 1500 meters. As soon as you arrive at the car park at the foot of the canyon you will be stunned by the landscape: the vivid green of the grass, which grows lush in this region (especially along Road 206), contrasts with the volcanic black rock and the turquoise blue of the Fjaðrá, the river that crosses Fjaðrárgljúfur.
The view is most impressive from the top of the canyon with its magnificent cliffs, crevasses, and the Fjaðrá River cutting through the center.
You can get very close to the rocky peaks to get the best view when taking the 2 km trail that runs along the canyon, with in some places the cliffs plunging 100 meters. But this is mountainous terrain, so be careful as there have been several unfortunate accidents in recent years.
Don't miss a chance to visit this canyon, one of the must-sees of southern Iceland, even if the route takes you away from the Lakagigar loop, a shrot 2 km detour on Road number 1 is definitely worth it.
If you are up for it, you can continue on to the Fagrifoss waterfall. But as mentioned earlier, if you take this portion of the 206, the trail becomes a fully off-road affair with 2 fords to cross, accessible only to 4x4 vehicles.
It takes 45 minutes to complete this magnificent trail, probably one of the most beautiful in the region. It's a dirt road and gets a bit bumpy in places, and a bit wet with two fords, the first of which is very easy and the second only 500 m from the fall, so it can have a little more current depending on the weather.
A small car park is located near the fall, which is quite impressive, a few dozen meters high and rather wide. The flowing water comes from the Kaldakvísl river, the one you just crossed at the second ford.
If you're not going to Laki, it takes about 50 minutes to reach Road number 1 by going back the way you came.