Bjarnafoss, an Easy Waterfall Hike in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

The Hike to Bjarnafoss is a short and easy one to a beautiful waterfall along Road 54, on the Snaefelssness peninsula in the West of Iceland. This is a location you would typically visit as a quick stop if you are driving to or from places like Grundarfjordur or Arnarstapi.


the impressive Bjarnafoss and its 80 meters of drop

Also called Bjarnarfoss, Bjarnafoss is quite an impressive waterfall too; at 80 meters high, it demands attention even from afar. It’s possible to hike up to its base to where you can watch it from up close

The trail is not immediately visible from the road, not even the parking area unless there are a few cars already parked there. Still, it is an easy location to visit, for a quick stop or a short hike alike.

Bjanrafoss a waterfall falling off a cliff in the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland

Bjarnafoss, going up and sideways during some typical strong Icelandic Winds


Table of Contents

Overview of the Bjarnafoss Waterfall Hike & Map

Here is an overview of the hike.  While it should be possible to visit all year round, the experience can vary depending on the season.

Spring and summer bring lush greenery and longer daylight hours, while autumn offers vibrant foliage. In winter, the landscape may be blanketed in snow, adding an extra layer of magic to the scenery – and ice, so be careful and wear appropriate footwear.

Max Altitude  143 m
Distance  1:52 KM
Elevation gain  140 m ↑ / 140 m ↓
Hike time  00:30/ 00:45  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy

Here is also the map of the hike, from the parking area to the highest point I was able to reach:

How to get to Bjarnafoss and Parking

  • Driving Directions: If you are coming from Reykjavik, keep driving toward Grundarfjordur, but do not turn right on Road 56. instead, keep following Road 54 toward Arnarstapi for another 20 minutes or so. You’ll see the waterfall on your right. If you want to visit Grundarfjordur or Kirkjufell first, then turn onto Road 56. After Grundarfjordur, you can continue part Kirkjufell on Road 54 toward Olafsvik. You’ll see Bjarnarfoss on your left while driving down from the pass.
  • Parking: It is easy to miss, as it feels a bit like you would be trespassing. However, there is a free, rather large, parking area. It’s not immediately visible from the road, but you’ll see it when turning onto the access road.
  • Public Transport: No bus stops close by.

Bjarnarfoss waterfall with a small countryside house in the foreground

The Bjarnafoss Hiking Trail

The trailhead is right by the parking area the first part is nicely maintained, and there’s a wide path leading to a bridge across the river. The hike is pretty much flat up to the bridge across the river, which is also a good viewpoint to admire the waterfall.

From there, the trail gets progressively steeper, though it’s never very demanding.

Hiking trail with Bjarnafoss in the background on a sunny day

The first part of the trail up to the bridge across the river is nicely maintained.

Bjarnarfoss waterfall hiking trail with a man on the trail and the waterfall in the background.

The last part of the hike is relatively steep and can be muddy when wet.

There isn’t a viewing platform or observation deck close to the waterfall so you can walk around its side until you feel like it or until you can. Just be aware the closer you get to the waterfall the rockier and steeper the terrain gets.

From up there you not only get a good look at the waterfall, but also at the vast, surrounding landscape.

View of the vast landscape of the green, Snaefelsness peninsula in summer.

Lastly, there may be a lot of vegetation in summer, covering holes in between rocks in the upper part of the trail. So pay particular attention to where you set your foot if you want to get close to the waterfall.

The Bjarnafoss Waterfall Hike Photos and Photography Tips

While the waterfall is a beautiful sight from wherever you look at it, I see Bjarnafoss as one of those waterfalls that are best photographed from a distance.

I think that’s for a couple of reasons. From up close, it’s hard to provide a sense of scale, and the waterfall is on a vertical drop so there are not many good vantage points with a good foreground.

Bjarnarfoss Waterfall on a sunny day, with some rocks in the foreground.

one of the tallest waterfalls in the Snaefelsness peninsula on a sunny day

Waterfall with a layer of basalt columns in the Snaefelsness peninsula

My favorite viewpoint is relatively far, on Road 54, on the mountain pass that connects to Grundarfjordur. There’s a large pullout area on the right if you drive up the mountain.

I wanted to link it but it’s not visible on Google Maps. It was probably built quite recently as I don’t remember it in past years. Anyway, you can’t miss it. you will need a lens like a 70-200m to capture it from up there but the sight is worth the additional stop.

This viewpoint offers a much better sense of scale, with the waterfall standing out from the vast coastal landscape of the Snaefelsness peninsula.

Bjarnarfoss on a dark and stormy day from the road 54 viewpoint

Bjarnarfoss, from Road 54

Waterfall Bjarnafoss during a storm with string winds in Iceland going up and sideways

Waterfall in Iceland in the mist during on a cloudy and moody day.

The waterfall essentially faces south/south-west, so it is well-lit throughout the day. This creates great opportunities to capture it from the pass, with some nice sidelight.

Where to stay

The closest locations with some facilities would be Arnarstapi, Grundarfjordur, or Olafsvik. All of them offer additional attractions and points of interest, for instance:

  • Arnarstapi: Budir’s Black Church, Londrangar, and the Cliffs/Rock Arches at Arnarstapi
  • Grundarfjordur: Kirkjufell, Kirkjufellsfoss and Grundarfoss.
  • Olafsvik: Bæjarfoss, Bugsfoss and Svöðufoss

Additional Resources