The Svöðufoss waterfall is a beautiful 32-meter-tall waterfall in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. At a 10-minute drive from Olafsvik, this is a highly recommended stop if you visit the Snefelsness peninsula even more so if you are someone, like me, who likes waterfalls!
Svodufoss catching some late afternoon light.
Easy to reach by car and a short walk, its waters come from the melting ice of the Snæfellsjökull, the imposing glacier that can be seen in the background on clear days. The water then falls in a theatrical 32-meter drop surrounded by basalt columns, making Svöðufoss a very photogenic subject.
The waters then continue their course into the Hólmkelsá River before joining the Atlantic Ocean a little further downstream.
If you are visiting the Snaefelsness Peninsula, Svodufoss is a must-stop. I visited this location during an 8-day camper van trip around Iceland, mostly focused on waterfalls, and I was happy I stopped here. Check that post out for more travel inspiration or to discover more locations to visit.
Overview of the Svöðufoss Hike & Map
The trail described here below is only for the paved walk up to the viewing platform. There appears to be another trail that leads up to the Waterfall, which I somehow missed on my visit.
Looking at the map, the distance will be a little more than twice the length mentioned below, so it’s easily doable without taking much more time.
Also, you will notice the elevation gain in the map is different from my table. Not sure what went on with the GPS, but this is a flat walk.
Here is also the map where you can see the other trail I missed:
How to get to Svöðufoss and Parking
- Driving Directions: Getting to Svodufoss requires a short detour from Road 54, which is the main road around the Snaefelsness Peninsula. So whether you are coming from the north side of the Peninsula (Grundarfjörður) or the south side, keep driving until you see the deviation to road 574 to Ólafsvík. You can’t see the parking area from the main road, but there are plenty of signs pointing to it.
- Parking: there is a free, very large parking area at the trailhead. It’s so big I wondered how many people will visit this waterfall at the height of summer. Hordes judging by the size of the parking area!
- Public Transport: Bus 82 running between Stykkishólmur and Hellissandur stops in Rif. From there, the walk should take about 20-30 minutes.
The trail leading up to the viewing platform. Svodufoss is the Waterfall in the background.
The Svöðufoss Trail
This is an easy walk up to the viewing platform. Flat and paved, it would take about five minutes or less to walk up to the platform where you have a great view of the river. The waterfall will still be quite a way away, so you cannot get close to it because of the river. No way forward from the viewpoint at the end of the main trail, because the river splits around it so you have water on both sides. Still, this is the only place that allows you to have a good frontal view of the fall.
However, if you want to get closer to the waterfall you can take the other trail I mentioned earlier, the one I missed. This other trail isn’t paved however but looking at the terrain it should be easy enough too.
Anyway since I always need to find cheeky excuses to visit again, having missed this second trail is a perfect excuse to visit once more :).
The last part of the trail.
The Svöðufoss Photos and Photography tips
You cannot see the whole waterfall from the main viewing platform as it is hidden by the bends of hills around the river. This limits somewhat the compositional choices, but there is plenty of foreground to choose from. the river also makes for nice leading lines adding depth to the image.
I’d recommend wearing some sort of waterproof boots so that you can step in the water up to your ankles and get close to some of the rocks in the river.
Provided the weather cooperates, the waterfall will catch some good sidelight in the late afternoon.
Lastly, A drone would work well here, and assuming you comply with all the local regulations, you can fly here. This would allow you to capture the whole waterfall, which you cannot do from the ground. Also, better views of the glacier provided it’s clear from clouds. I could not fly here due to extremely strong winds so unfortunately no examples to provide.
Where to stay
Olafsvik is the closest small & nice town in the area, but there are hotels and guesthouses all around this stretch of coast – to the whole Snaefelsness Peninsula for that matter. I stayed at the Olafsvik campsite with the Van I rented. Great choice if you are planning on camping.