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A hidden gem near Skógafoss

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Kvernufoss is a little-known and hidden gem on the South Coast of Iceland. The narrow gorge surrounding the waterfall keeps it isolated and makes for a very peaceful and tranquil place, especially since fewer visitors make an effort to reach it.

A short hike from Skógafoss

The waterfall is located a short hike away from the much more famous and prominent waterfall of Skógafoss. The hike should only take around 20 minutes and is not very challenging. For visitors driving down the South Coast to see Skógafoss, it’s very possible to get a two for the price of one experience by taking this short detour to Kvernufoss.

Once arriving at Skógafoss, take the path leading behind the charming turf house museum of Skógasafn and, after a light hike of 20 minutes, arrive at the mouth of the gorge. Enter the gorge to see the beautiful Kvernufoss flow down, being fed by the river Kverna.

River Kverna

The river Kverna, alternatively known as Kvernuhólsá, streams down from the north. As with most rivers and bodies of water on the South Coast, Kverna is a spring-fed river originating from the meltwaters of the two massive glaciers in the area, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.

The river cuts its way down the mountains, which are littered with rivers and waterfalls all over. However, for the area above Kvernufoss, more hiking experience and special equipment are required. Many mountaineers make the journey on their way through the epic Fimmvörðuháls path, which leads in between the two glaciers, taking at least several days’ worth of hiking.

The waterfall

The waterfall drops down 30 meters and is rather petite compared to many others in Iceland, such as the colossal Dettifoss or Gullfoss. However, it is not Kvernufoss’s stature that is its main attraction. Rather it is the way in which it is encompassed by the walls of the moss-clad green gorge. That has undoubtedly contributed to its less well-known status, although that adds another level to the location’s attractiveness. That attractiveness is evident once inside the gorge when the noises of the outside world disappear.

A walk behind Kvernufoss

With very few visitors compared to its neighbour Skógafoss, it’s entirely possible to enjoy the waterfall’s serene environment in complete silence. In the summertime, which is also when the waterfall is easier to access, it is possible to walk behind the waterfall. Like the very famous Seljalandsfoss, visitors can get a truly three-dimensional experience. Caution is advised, as always with these kinds of environments, since slippery surfaces abound and be prepared to get completely soaked from the mist.


Kvernufoss is in a way very representative for the whole South Coast area, with the towering ice caps to the north, the sloping mountains carved by uncountable rivers, the waters plummeting off the cliff edges in the form of magnificent waterfalls and streaming into the flat fertile plains below. In another way it is unique, compared to the numerous other waterfalls on the South Coast. It is secluded, gentle, and small and provides a welcome feeling of stillness.