The Hike to Öxarárfoss

Thingvellir, Iceland

Öxarárfoss is one of the many attractions in the Þingvellir Park and the golden Circle; the hike to get there is easy, and there are several different options to get there. Regardless, this waterfall is a little beauty that often gets overlooked, but it’s a stop I’d highly recommend. At 13 meters tall, Öxarárfoss isn’t exactly huge but is very photogenic. Additionally, it is a relatively quick stop and can be easily included in any Golden Circle or Ring Road itinerary.

Also, Þingvellir Park is a beautiful location with many attractions and stunning landscapes around it. There are several pull-out areas worth a photo stop along the way, and you’re guaranteed to have fun with your camera!

The Beautiful landscape art Thingvellir above oxarafoss at sunset

The beautiful landscape of Thingvellir at Sunset


Table of Content


Overview of The Hike to Öxarárfoss

The trail described here is longer than the one from the closest parking. This starts from the Parking area in front of the Information Center, next to Road 36. It is the longest hiking option but a good one if you want also to enjoy a walk in the Park. Alternatively, you could also part at the dedicated Öxarárfoss Parking, and the walk would be 15-20 minutes in total. Regardless of your choice, the hike to Öxarárfoss is easy and suitable for all skill levels.

Max Altitude   129 m
Distance   3.64 KM
Elevation gain   20↑ / 20↓
Hike time  00:45 / 1:00  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy

Dark clouds on a road in Iceland

Road 36 to Thingvellir

How to Get to Öxarárfoss and Parking

This is an easy-to-reach location all year round, although in winter, it can get rough in this area. Snow and Ice can make this a hazardous drive. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before heading there in winter. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.

  • Driving Directions: Öxarárfoss and the Þingvellir National Park are about 50 km from Reykjavik downtown. The drive usually takes 5o minutes/1 hour. You would have to first head north on the A1 (the Ring Road) and then onto Raod 36 after Mosfellabær. Keep following the road until you reach the Þingvellir National Park.
  • Parking: Several options are available. The first one you will come across coming from Reykjavik is Parking 3. This is one of the best options if you want to view the waterfall as a quick stop on your tour. However, if you want to explore the area a little more, you could continue to the visitor’s centre and leave the car at the parking in front of it or head to Parking 2.
  • Public Transport: While this location is relatively close to Reykjavik, there are no public transportation options to get to Öxarárfoss.
Boardwalk on the hike to Oxarafoss

The boardwalk trail to Oxarafoss

The Öxarárfoss Trail

There are several different trails leading up to the Öxarárfoss viewing platform. The closest one is about a five-minute walk from the waterfall, but I’d recommend parking a little further, like in P2 and making the walk a little longer. This would allow you to enjoy the beauty of Þingvellir better.

For this post, I have chosen the trail from P2, which is the one I also did on my first visit. This will allow you to walk through the rift valley and enjoy more of the beautiful, natural environment of the Park. You will come across the waterfall’s viewing platform along the trail, where you can take your time and enjoy the waterfall and the soothing sound of the waters.

The trail to Oxarafoss in a rift valley in Iceland

The trail to Oxarafoss from the main parking

Swamp in a hike in Thingvellir

The whole Thingvellir area offers plenty of photo opportunities to the explorers

The Öxarárfoss Hike – Photos and Photography Tips

First, don’t forget your ND filter or tripod :)! Waterfalls In Iceland scream for long exposure, and Öxarárfoss is no exception. There’s a good choice of foreground and composition, but this will also vary with the volume of water in the waterfall, typically best from late spring into early autumn.

Second of all, this is a good location for sunset. The sun will typically set behind the waterfall, and you can catch any color that may appear in the sky. Still, the waterfall will be in the shadow, so I’d recommend having a neutral-density graduated filter, medium or hard grad. The cliff’s edge is neat, so it will be easy to adjust the filter accordingly. If you don’t have an ND grad filter, you could bracket multiple exposures and combine them in post-processing.

Also, I think this location works particularly well in black and white. It’s a scene with relatively few elements (water, rocks, and the sky), and a high-contrast monochrome between the water and the surrounding environment can help the waterfall stand out.

I’ve never had a chance to be here in winter, but it is a place that looks magical! Hopefully, I will be able to visit it, too, sometime in the future!

Oxarafoss in Thingvellir National Park at sunset

Öxarárfoss at sunset

Black and white monochrome photo of Oxarafoss in Thingvellir

Monochrome version

Oxarafoss on a hike in Thingvellir viewed from the trail

3 minutes long exposure with a hard grade filter

Map of The Hike to Öxarárfoss

This hike starts at the parking area in front of the Visitors Center. If you want to shorten it, you could part at either Parking 3 or Parking 2.


Where to stay

If you are a camper, you could get a camping permit at the visitor centre to stay at designated areas in the Park. Otherwise, there are no other facilities in the immediate vicinity. This is a national park, after all. This is a relatively quick stop, so you can easily integrate it into any other itinerary, like the Golden Circle, and continue to the next Icelandic wonder.


Additional Resources