Glymur Waterfall Hike – a fun day hike adventure, Iceland

The Glymur Waterfall Hike is without a doubt one of the most epic waterfall hikes in Iceland. Whether you are chasing waterfalls in Iceland or looking for a hike with great views, The hike to Glymur is one you should not miss.

Glymur, a waterfall you can only hike to in the West of Iceland.

The upper part of Glymur

At 196 meters tall, Glymur was once the tallest waterfall in Iceland. Since 2011, however, that title went to Morsafoss, a newly discovered waterfall in the Skaftafell National Park. Regardless of that, Glymur still is an epic sight.

Not only that but the hike itself is fun. You can hike through a cave, cross a river on a log, and help yourself up the side of the mountain with some chains. All in all, it’s a great adventure, with fantastic views.

View of the Hvalfjordur fjord from the Glymur Hiking trail

View of the beautiful Hvalfjordur from the hiking trail to Glymur

Also, Glymur probably is one of the best day hikes you can do from Reykjavik. Located at the far end of the beautiful Hvalfjordur, it takes a little over an hour to get there by car.

So if you are staying in town and are looking for an adventure on the trails, definitely consider Glymur.

Fun fact: Glymur is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that doesn’t end in -foss, which means “waterfall” in Icelandic.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Glymur Waterfall Hike & Map

While the hike it’s of moderate difficulty, it’s typically only possible in summer.

That is, only when the “famous” log is placed across the river that needs to be crossed. This can vary but typically that is around early June. As far as I know, there is no reliable way to know for sure if the log is already down or not.

Glymur river crossing with a log across the river

The log across the river. The hiking trail is “officially” open for the season when the log is placed across the river.

However, in late May or early autumn, it may still be possible to hike up the western side of the waterfall. Also, this hike is absolutely to be avoided in winter or whenever there is snow or ice.

Please don’t try to cross the river on foot, if the log to cross the river isn’t there. Even if it may look feasible it isn’t. The current can be very strong, and there are big, slippery boulders on the river bed.

Max Altitude  358 m
Distance  7,56 KM
Elevation gain  720 m ↑ / 720 m ↓
Hike time  03:00/ 04:00  Hours
Hike Difficulty Moderate, but can be slippery in places

How to get to Glymur and Parking

Glymur is about 42 KM from Reykjavik and you have two options to drive there. Both are scenic drives, so my recommendation would be to take a different road in and out of Glymur. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental (with 5% discount through the link) for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.

  • Driving Directions: From Reykjavik, take road one northbound. Before reaching the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, turn onto Road 47 and follow it to the far side of Hvalfjörður. You will see the signs of Glymur there. Alternatively, you can take Road 36 to Thingvellir right after Mosfellsbær, then turn onto Road 48. This will give you the option to visit another beautiful waterfall, Þórufoss. After this detour, you’ll join Road 47 to Glymur. If you are moving from the North, you’ll also have to turn onto Road 47 before the Hvalfjörður Tunnel.
    the last bit of the road is unpaved, but suitable for any type of 2WD cars
  • Parking: there is a very large, free parking area at the trailhead.
  • Public Transport: no good god public transport options, so if you are looking to visit Glymur from Reykjavik without a car, it’s best to join a guided tour to Glymur.
Glymur Trailhead and parking area

Glymur Trailhead and parking area.

Tip: if you are coming from Reykjavik, I’d recommend driving through Thingvellir and taking road 45 to view another beautiful waterfall, Þórufoss.

The Glymur Hiking Trail

The Glymur hiking trail is both moderately challenging and fun. First of all, there’s a cave you have to walk into, the Cave of Thvottahellir, although you can also walk around it. But where’s the fun if you skip the cave?

Thvottahellir Cave on the hike to the Glymur Waterfall


Then there is a river to cross on foot, partly on rocks and partly on a log. There also is a rope you can hang on to for balance.

After that, a rather steep hike up the side of a canyon, where you will be able to find chains here and there to help with the balance or to pull yourself up.

Glymur hiking trail steep ascent with ropes for balance

This is a loop hike and it’s mainly done counterclockwise. So you first cross the river and hike up the eastern side of the canyon.

The trail is rather steep in places and there are a lot of crumbling rocks that require caution.

However, you will also find several viewpoints along the way, from which you can gaze at the various levels of the waterfall. Not just the waterfall, but the whole gorge Glymur falls into is just an epic view.

Gylmur waterfall deep into a gorge with green mossy walls

Dark clouds above the Glymur waterfall

Upper park of the waterfall glymur where the waterfall falls deep into a gorge.

Once you reach the top, you need to cross the river again, this time wading it. Take off your shoes, because any attempt to hop on rocks will be futile. You will get wet. I know because I’ve tried and…got soaking-wet boots.

Once you’ve crossed the river, the trail continues down the side of the mountain. and it closes the loop just above the Thvottahellir Cave.

However, before descending you do have some more great views of the waterfall. Make sure to stop there and watch the waterfall one more time!

Glymur West Side view

View of Glymur from the west side.

The Glymur Waterfall Hike Photos and Photography Tips

Glymur is quite a difficult waterfall to photograph for a variety of reasons. Despite how tall Glymur is, you really don’t have a view of the whole waterfall from anywhere on the trail; this is due to it being nestled deep into the gorge where it falls into.

It’s a very narrow gorge, so you only see parts of the waterfall at different times along the trail. This is the most of the waterfall you can see at one time:

Gylum waterfall on a sunny day with blue skies

There also isn’t much of a background to it, but that’s only a minor issue to me as you can get plenty of nice views without a background.

View of the upper park of glimmer from one of the main viewpoints along the hike.

Glymur waterfall falling deep into the gorge

Upper part of the waterfall Glymur

The upper part of Glymur, from the East side.

Anyway, even with its minor photographic drawbacks, Glymur still is an impressive location that offers great photo opportunities.

Apart from the several views of the waterfall and the already-mentioned gorge, there’s also the view toward Hvalfjordur which is pretty epic at different points during the hike.

Glymur river gorge and view of the waterfall from the hiking trail

Hvalfjordur view from the Gymur hiking trail

View toward Hvalfjordur.

Viewpoint of Glymur's canyon in the west of iceland.

Hiker watching the landscape on the Glymur waterfall hiking trail

Another view toward Hvalfjordur from the upper part of the hiking trail.

Also, while the waterfall isn’t a great subject at either sunrise or sunset, the view to the west toward Hvalfjordur is, especially with a telephoto lens.

Lastly: I think a lens in the 24-70m is enough for this location, but also bring a 70-200mm or longer if you enjoy doing landscape with telephoto lenses or photographing birds. There’s plenty of them in the gorge.

Hvalfjordur sunset from a nearby mountain

Video of the Hike

Here is also a short video of my last hike to Glymur, with some more views of the waterfall and the gorge:

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Where to stay

This is an easy day hike from Reykjavik, so if you are staying there you can do it as a day trip.

Still, if you prefer to stay in the area there are some accommodations here that will let you experience the beauty of Hvalfjörður, there are quite some interesting accommodations in the area, like the Hvammsvík Nature Resort.

Additional Resources