The Kvernufoss Hike, Waterfall with a Cave, South Iceland

Kvernufoss (30m) is a beautiful waterfall in the south of Iceland that can be reached with a short hike through a beautiful little canyon. It is also one of the few waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind.

Kvernufoss Waterfall in iceland with some mist around it

Kvernufoss (30m ) on a cloudy day.

Despite being very close to one of the most visited and famous Waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss, Kvernufoss is a fall that somehow managed to remain a bit of a hidden gem. Still, it is an absolute beauty of a waterfall.

However, one of its most unique features is the hidden cave behind the waterfall. Standing behind the curtain of water, surrounded by mist and the roar of the falls, with the view of the small canyon, is a magic experience.

If you are visiting Skogafoss, you should not miss Kvernufoss. In exchange for forty minutes of your precious holiday time, you will get a magic and much less touristy experience. Here, you can savor the beauty of nature in peace, take in the sights, snap photos, or simply bask in the tranquility of this location.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Kvernufoss Hike & Map

If you’re in a hurry, don’t worry. It’s a short hike out and back. I’d barely call it a hike too. The visit can take as little as 20 minutes for a quick stop-and-go. The hike is essentially flat, so it does not require any particular physical effort.

You can visit Kvernufoss all year round, even in winter. However be prepared for Ice and slippery ground, so bring some microspikes or similar equipment. Also, avoid going behind Kvernufoss in winter, as icicles may break and fall.

Max Altitude  65 m
Distance  2.09 KM
Elevation gain  40 m ↑ / 40 m ↓
Hike time  00:20/ 04:00  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy


Here is also a map of the short hike to Kvernufoss. You can download the GPS file for free from the activity linked below

How to get to Kvernufoss and Parking

the Kvernufoss trailhead is an easy-to-reach location, both by car and public transport. If you are looking for car rental options, I can recommend Blue Car Rental for cars (5% discount booking with Blue through The Photo Hikes!) and CampEasy for Camper Vans.

  • Driving Directions: the trailhead is very close to Skogafoss, so whether you are coming from east or west on the Ring Road, follow the signs to Skogafoss, After turning from the Ring Road onto the access road, ignore the other “Skogafoss” signs and continue straight toward the Skogafoss museum. Turn right at the end of the road and continue driving down the road until you reach the parking area by the museum.
  • Parking: The Kvernufoss Parking is located next to the Skogar Museum and it’s paid. You can either pay with the Parka app or with EasyPark.
  • Public Transport: BUS 51 from Reykjavik (Mjódd) to Höfn stops at Skógar. From there it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the trailhead.

The Kvernufoss Hiking Trail

The Hiking trail to Kvernufoss starts right by the parking area. It is very nicely maintained, with anty-slippery pavers covering the trail for long stretches.

When you reach the gate, it feels a bit like trespassing into someone’s fields or entering someone’s private ground. Make sure to close the gate behind you; as pointless as such gates may seem they are made to keep animals within the enclosure.

Anti slippery-pavers on a trail next to a parking area in Iceland

Kvernufoss waterfall hike trailhead with a closed off gate.

Kvernufoss’ trailhead.

Kverna river in Iceland

The trail follows the Kverna River upstream.

With no waterfall anywhere in sight, it may seem like a long way out before you see it. Despite the look of it, it’s a short walk to the entrance of the canyon and before long you’ll have the first glimpse of the waterfall. As you keep walking down the trail you’ll find a few observation points, all of which are worth a brief stop to gaze at the waterfall or the canyon.

Kvernufoss waterfal in a small canyon formed by the Kverna river.

The path is also cordoned off so it is no longer possible to wander around and down by the river like a few years ago. This is done to protect the vegetation of the canyon from being damaged. As you approach the waterfall the trail will turn into a wet and slippery gravel path. you can walk into the cave behind the waterfall and on the other side of it, for some fantastic views of the falling water with the backdrop of the small canyon.

However closer to the waterfall, the trail turns into a normal hiking trail and you are “free” to roam around the waterfall.

View of the Kvernufoss waterfall at the end of the hike

View of Kvernufoss from behind the waterfall as you can walk behind it.

If you walk behind the waterfall and on the other side of the river, you can also get quite close to it, though the water spray is so intense you wouldn’t be able to stand there for long.

The Kvernufoss Hike Photos and Photography Tips

With such a beautiful location and waterfall, it is easy to take some nice photos here, in any kind of weather.

However, As mentioned above, it is no longer possible to walk down by the river like it was a decade ago or so. To be honest, though, I think compositionally the views are better from the observation points along the trail than down by the river. You can even use the walking path as a leading line.

Kvernufoss waterfall in autumn

Kvernufoss in 2014, when the new walking path had not been built yet.

Kvernufoss hiking trail with the waterfall in the background.

Kvernufoss with the new walking path.

The best photo locations around the waterfall and behind it are very wet, because of the constant water spray. Bring a cloth to wipe your filter or front element. The cave behind the waterfall is a great compositional element and a fantastic way to frame the waterfall. You will need, however, an ultra-wide lens to capture it all or you will need to make a panoramic image. To be honest, even at 14mm full frame the field of view is barely wide enough to capture it all. The cave fits better in portrait mode.

Kvernufoss waterfall at the end of the hike with a person standing next to it.

14mm frame, portrait orientation

Cave behind a waterfall in iceland

Regular 14mm frame of Kvernufoss, full-frame camera. As you can see, the cave and the waterfall barely fit the frame.

Icelandic waterfall in a canyon

Finally, this is also a good spot for sunset at certain times of the year. The best time seems to be in the first three weeks of January, as the sun sets in front of the canyon.

I have not been there at that time of the year, but I have seen a few photos, and I’m surely planning on it sometime in the future. However, here is an image of where the sunset would set on the 15th of January; the dark orange line represents the sun’s position at sunset relative to Kvernufoss.

Kvernufoss map with direction of sunset in January

Map courtesy of

Where to stay

There are a few hotels and guesthouses in the little village of Skogar. Actually, I’d feel confident saying that as of 2024 there may be as many hotels and guesthouses as houses in Skogar! Finding accommodation here should not be a problem. However, you would need to book it well in advance in the summer months.

Also, you can camp at the Skogar campsite. It is also a good location if you are in a van or a camper.

Additional Resources