Hraunfossar is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. And it really is unlike any of the other famous waterfalls in the country. Hraunfossar isn't all that impressive in terms of power or volume, but it really is a heavenly sight: a beautiful cascade of startling turquoise blue water splitting into multiple streams flowing over volcanic stone.
The falls have been protected since 1987 and can be found near to the Hallmundarhraun lava fields.
The turquoise waters of Hraunfossar
Barnarfoss is a beautiful waterfall, and you won't have to walk more than fifty meters from the car park to admire it. According to local legend, the “Children's Waterfall” bears this name because of the tragic story of two peasant children who fell from the natural stone bridge that arches over the water.
But the real attraction is a hundred meters after the first waterfall, the Hraunfossar Falls, or “lava waterfalls”, just keep going for about one kilometer. A series of splendid turquoise blue cascades run down a long lava wall (Hallmundarhraun) lined with bright mosses and lichens, that eventually flows into the Hvítá river.
You can already see the waterfalls from the car park, but we recommend you take the small path along the bank to enjoy the show up close. There are a few amenities too with, in particular, a panoramic bridge, a gazebo, and public toilets.
It only takes 30 minutes to walk the whole site, but you can get some great views of Hraunfossar from near the car park. A small trail also allows you to get closer to the water level for other shots.
Located in Western Iceland near the village of Reykholt, the Hraunfossar Falls are one of the top attractions of the Húsafell region.
Driving up from the south on Road number 1, the easiest route is to take Road 50 then exit onto the 518. These roads present no difficulties and are accessible to any type of vehicle. It's not much more than 55 km from the town of Borgarnes to waterfall car park.
In addition to having these beautiful falls and caves, the region is a lake-fishing paradise.
If you are into caves and speleology, this is the place for you. Less than 10 km from the waterfalls on Road 518 you'll find the off-road Trail F578. That leads to Surtshellir. This trail is very rocky however, and you'll need a 4x4 is to get there.
Miles of lava rivers that ran and cooled over the centuries formed these gigantic tunnels inside the Surtshellir Caves. These tunnels are darker than anything, some spots being in pitch darkness, so bring a flashlight!
Viðgelmir is a better option if you don't have a 4x4, as it's very close to Road 518, only 2 km on a very easygoing trail accessible to any type of vehicle. It is the most famous cave in Iceland and recognized worldwide for its geological wonders. Various Viking objects dating from the year 1100 have also been discovered in this vast network, decorated with stalactites and stalagmites.
There is a section of the cave you can visit for free, but for the larger network you'll have to book a tour with some local guides to keep you safe.