Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss, two beautiful waterfall hikes, North Iceland

Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss are without a doubt two of the most beautiful waterfalls in the North of Iceland. That says a lot considering the north of Iceland can show off waterfalls like Dettifoss and Godafoss.


Aldeyjarfoss (20m)  in particular stands out also because of its unique surroundings. If some parts of Iceland are moon-like, the Báðardalshraun lava field which surrounds the waterfall, is probably the closest you would get to a martian-like landscape in Iceland.

Hrafnabjargafoss (5m), which is at a five-minute drive upstream of Aldeyjarfoss, is a much smaller waterfall, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Crossing the same Báðardalshraun lava field as Aldeyjarfoss, its horseshoe shape reminds of Godafoss a little.

Hrafnabjargafoss a horseshoe shaped waterfall upstream of Aldeyjarfoss on the Skjálfandafljót river


This isn’t a location you would just casually pass by unless you are driving the full length of Sprengisandur, or road F-26. Also while getting to either of the waterfalls requires an F-road vehicle, you have an option to visit it in a 2WD vehicle in exchange for a longer hike.

Let’s see the details.

Powerful waterfall Aldeyjarfoss in the highlands of Iceland

Table of Contents

Overview of the Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss Hike & Map

The hike to Aldeyjarfoss is an easy, out-and-back downhill hike to a few different viewpoints along the river and around the waterfall. It is a short hike and there are a variety of viewpoints you can get to.

Hrafnabjargafoss is a short drive a little further south, about 10 minutes. There is a. wide parking area there too, and it is just a very short walk to the waterfall. There too, you can get a few different viewpoints.

The table below only refers to Aldeyjarfoss, since Hrafnabjargafoss is essentially a roadside stop.

Max Altitude  340 m
Distance 0.7 KM
Elevation gain  40m ↑ / 40m ↓
Hike time  00:15/ 00:20  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy

Here is also the map of both the short hikes to Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss:

Road 842 Iceland to Aldeyjarfoss and F-26. Sprengisandur, on a cloudy day.

Road 842 to Aldeyjarfoss

How to get to Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss and Parking

Located in the Bárðardalur valley, you would visit while traveling through the north of Iceland. The detour from the ring road takes about an hour each way, so you should plan for a half-day trip to visit both waterfalls.

Road 842 is not an F-road and it is easily drivable by any 2WD cars. Just be mindful of potholes. While you will need a vehicle suitable for F-roads to reach the parking area of both Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss, you can also park at the beginning of Road f-26 and hike from there.

The additional hike time is about 40 minutes each way, to Aldeyjarfoss only. Hrafnabjargafoss is another 40 minutes, so in most cases driving there is the best option.

  • Driving Directions: If you are coming from Akureyri, you should turn into road 842 from the ring road a few meters before Godafoss. Likewise, if you are coming from the opposite direction. turn into road 842 a few hundred meters after Godafoss. The drive down road 842 in the Bárðardalur valley is quite long, almost an hour till the end of the road. Also worth noting, while the access road to Aldeyjarfoss is an easy one to drive, the access road to Hrafnabjargafoss is a little rougher, though still not difficult to drive.
  • Parking: free parking is available at both locations. The Aldeyjarfoss parking is here, and the Hrafnabjargafoss parking area is here.
  • Public Transport: none, if you want to visit Aldeyjarfoss but have no car, consider joining a guided tour. They run in winter with super jeeps too.
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall parking

The wide parking area at the Aldeyjarfoss trailhead.

The Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss Hiking Trail

The hiking trail to Aldeyjarfoss is short and easy. Pretty much entirely downhill, you should pay particular attention to slippery parts of the trail as there is a lot of loose gravel.

The trail zig-zags its way down the slope of a hill. you can’t see the waterfall from the parking area, but you can hear the soothing sound of the falling water in the distance. Soon enough though, you’ll see the upper part of the waterfall.

Aldeyjarfoss hiking trail with the top of the waterfall visible in the background.

From there the trail keeps going downhill toward the Skjálfandafljót River and its banks. This part of the trail also provides good views of the small canyon the river flows through.

The trail then turns back toward Aldeyjarfoss, slowly revealing this majestic waterfall in all of its beauty. It’s also hard to describe how powerful of a waterfall Aldeyjarfoss is. Watching its roaring waters is kind of hypnotic.

Skjálfandafljót River bending in the landscape

Skjálfandafljót River

long exposure if the waterfall aldeyjarfoss

Skjálfandafljót River in its canyon made of basaltic columns

Skjálfandafljót River, just below the waterfalls

A waterfall viewed from the hiking trail

Waterfall with basalt columns in the highlands of Iceland

The main viewpoint at the end of the trail.

can both walk around the “pool” the waterfall falls into and down close to the river. Yes, you can get close to it, and needless to say, both locations require extreme caution The area is completely exposed and the river banks are likely to be slippery.

To get to Hrafnabjargafoss, you’d first have to go back to the parking area. There isn’t a trail connecting the two waterfalls, so you’d have to hike up road f-26 Sprengisandur. That will take about 40 minutes each way, so driving to Hrafnabjargafoss will be the best option if you want to save some time.

Once you reach the Hrafnabjargafoss parking area, it’s just a short walk to the waterfall. You can walk along the river banks quite a bit, though the best viewpoints are right by the Waterfall.

Hrafnabjargafoss waterfall upstream of the Aldeyjarfoss

Hrafnabjargafoss is only 5 meters tall, but a powerful and impressive waterfall nonetheless.

Hrafnabjargafoss waterfall on a cloudy day

Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss Photos and Photography tips

Aldeyjarfoss used to be a photographer’s favorite in the mid-2010’s. Literally, anyone looking to get a shot of a major waterfall other than Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss Dettifos, or Godafoss was turning to Aldeyjarfoss.

For good reason. Aldeyjarfoss is one of the most beautiful and photographer-friendly locations in Iceland. Even considering how remote it is compared to others.

Nowadays, It seems to have fallen out of favor since the internet fad and novelty of Aldeyjarfoss have faded away. Still, that does not take anything away from the beauty of this place and makes it all the better to visit for an enjoyable landscape photography session.

Aldeyjarfoss is a waterfall that can be reached only on a hike

very long exposure photo of a waterfall in iceland

monochrome, black and white photo of a the ALdeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland

Anyway, there are several great viewpoints both above the river and around the waterfall. Down by the river too. From any angle you look at the waterfall, the basaltic columns on either side of the waterfall make for great compositional elements.

Taking long exposures here requires some trials. I usually like to keep some texture in the water while blurring it out, though the challenge here is balancing the waterfall with the water in the pool. It is all too easy to just get a white blurred blob with no shape at all. Like some of my photos above.

If you want to keep some texture, like the one below, it’s best to keep the shutter speed at about 0.5 seconds or a little more, depending on the conditions.

Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall with a person standing on top of it for scale

Can you see the small person on the top right?

On the color of the water: late summer and early autumn give the beast chances to catch the milky blue waters. However, they can often be darker or murky, depending on rain or meltwater.

Also, This is a good place e for sunset throughout summer. From June until late August, the sun lies low on the horizon for long hours, making it a great location for some sunset photography. Unfortunately, I have never managed to capture a sunset the few times I visited. As usual, one excuse to go back once more.

Anyway, the same applies to Hrafnabjargafoss too; the main difference is you can’t get to a lower viewpoint like you can at Aldeyjarfoss. There are, however, several good viewpoints along the banks of the river and many rock formations that could be used as a foreground.

Hrafnabjargafoss a waterfall wit tumultuous waters on a cloudy day

Horseshoe shaped waterfall on a cloudy day in Iceland


In terms of which lenses to bring: I used focal lengths between 14mm and 200mm full-frame, especially at Aldeyjarfoss. You’d need an ultra-wide lens to capture Aldeyjarfoss and its base; that barely fits in a 14mm frame. You’d also need a zoom lens of 70m or more to zoom in on the waterfall instead.

Where to stay

The location is rather remote, and there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity. There are a couple of guesthouses along Road 842. It makes sense to stop in the area if you are planning to watch Sunset here. the closes locations are:

Additional Resources