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Stemming from the highlands of northeastern Iceland, the river Skjálfandi flows. On it, the waterfall Goðafoss (the waterfall of the gods) is located.

Diamond Circle

In the remote northeastern region, the best way to reach Goðafoss is by way of the Diamond Circle, a massive 250 km circuit that passes by a host of natural wonders. These include but are not limited to the mighty Dettifoss waterfall, the volcanic lake of Mývatn with its rich flora and fauna, and the charming village of Húsavík. One of the first must-visit stops of the circuit is by the beautiful waterfall of Goðafoss on Skjálfandafljót (Skjálfanda river).


The waterfall is fed by the humble river of Skjálfandi, which is home to several smaller waterfalls and boasts the title of 4th longest river in Iceland. The river originates from the northern slopes of Vatnajökull (Water glacier), Iceland’s largest glacier, and stretches for an impressive 178 km to the north.

30 meters

As the river transforms into Goðafoss waterfall, it spreads over 30 meters wide and drops down 12 meters until it changes back into the river and continues its way towards the ocean. The unique feature of the waterfall is how it’s not technically a single waterfall but splits into several small waterfalls as it bursts off the cliff’s edge. The edge, carved by millennia of water erosion, and the resulting jutting rocks split the river into several streams. These split-up waterfalls combine into a marvelous sight, shaped into a sort of half-circle encompassing the canyon. With viewing possible from both sides of the river, it is possible to get a three-dimensional view of Goðafoss’ majesty.

The waterfall of the gods

Goðafoss also has a fascinating history, relating to how it received its interesting name (The waterfall of the gods). The origin of the name supposedly dates back to the year 1000, which is a significant year in Iceland’s history. It marks the official Christianization of Viking Age Iceland, as decided by the ancient Alþingi at the time. The Alþingi was a legislative council, where every prominent chieftain in the land had a seat. The name for these chieftains were goðar (representatives of the gods), and one such goði by the name of Þorgeir Þorkelsson, who was the deciding vote for the change in religion lived nearby the waterfall. On his way back from the Alþingi, he took his goðalíkneski (the gods’ likenesses, or in other words, his pagan idols) and threw them off the cliff of a waterfall and into the water. That waterfall has since been called Goðafoss.


Regardless of whether or not this famous folk tale is accurate, the waterfall still earns its title. It is one of the more beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and has remained a popular place to visit for travelers passing through from the Viking Age until today. If you ever get a chance to see and experience its majesty first hand, you will understand why it truly is the waterfall of the gods.

Guide to photographing Goðafoss

If you are looking for the perfect guide to photograph this beautifull waterfall on your trip to Iceland be sure to watch this video bij Mads Peter Iversen. Mads is one of the most populair photographers on YouTube and has a range of videos about photographing in Iceland (and other top places). He explaines how to get to Goðafoss, gives you tips to get the best out of your visit and what gear you should bring on your trip. Enjoy the video from Mads!

If you like the video about photographing Gullfoss by Mads Peter Iversen be sure to follow him on YouTube and like his updates 😉

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