Iceland is best enjoyed while hiking! To see nature and its’ creations was the best thing ever and actually, some of my favorite hikes were through the canyons in Iceland.
They have this fairytale-like vibe around them with untouched nature, wildlife, and impressive views. Here are my absolute Top 5 canyons in Iceland I think everyone should see with their own eyes!
1. Studlagil canyon with the basalt columns
You have probably seen pictures of the Studlagil canyon around the internet. Those are the ones with a beautiful greenish-blue water river flowing through a canyon that has gigantic vertical walls made of natural basalt columns.
This is the place in Iceland with the most amount of basalt columns. It looks so surreal that people don’t mind the hassle of getting here.
How to get to the canyon?
The first thing you should know is that you can go down to the river level only from the East side of the canyon. The West side has a viewing platform, but you can’t get down and get this beautiful picture. To get there, first, you have to drive to this parking lot.
There is a gravel road leading to it, but it is manageable even with smaller cars. When you reach the parking lot, you will see that there is a bridge across the river. You have to drive across the bridge and turn right.
The road gets worse (it is quite bumpy!), but if you drive carefully, in 2 kilometers you will reach the real parking lot. Then you will have to continue along the road on foot.
There is private property, but you can walk on the road to the canyon. The hike will be another 2 kilometers until you reach this spot with beautiful basalt column walls. You will not miss it!
Location: Studlagil Canyon · Parking lot · Photo location
READ MORE >>> 7 famous places to see basalt columns in Iceland
2. Fjadrárgljúfur – the famous river canyon
With a winding river and steep 100-meter walls, this canyon seems like a beautiful painting. Because how can it be real?
It has always been a popular place for tourists, but ever since it was featured in Justin Bieber’s music video ‘I’ll Show You‘ in 2015, it has become one of the most visited places and one of the most famous canyons in Iceland.
Getting to the canyon is quite easy. Except for some gravel roads, you can actually drive very close to the canyon and the viewing platform. There you can observe the valley and a waterfall that is falling inside the canyon.
You can then walk downwards along the side of the canyon to see it from different perspectives. We were happy to find out that you are allowed to fly a drone above the canyon so we got these beautiful photos from above.
Location: Fjadrárgljúfur · Parking lot at the viewing platform · Parking lot 2
3. Thingvellir – canyon between the tectonic plates
Thingvellir is a national park and it is one of the most visited places in Iceland. It is not actually a canyon, but I think it fits very well amongst the most unique and beautiful canyons in Iceland!
What you will find here is a crack between the rocks that are separating from each other more and more every year. Yes, Iceland is breaking apart at a rate of 2 centimeters a year.
Some people may think that this is the crack between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, but it isn’t true. The area where the tectonic plates meet is many kilometers wide and you can’t possibly point to one exact place where they meet or break.
However, this place is in the area and it (the crack) has definitely formed due to the movement of the tectonic plates, so it kind of still IS the area between the plates.
Getting there is as easy as can be. There is a huge parking lot with an Information center, restaurant, and shop, there are marked routes through the crack as well as multiple information signs where you can find out more about this place.
I would suggest going to the far end of the area called “Dead Man Walk” where the crack between the rocks is quite narrow and stands out very well. You can kind of see where the rocks are breaking – looks really cool!
Location: Thingvellir · The Dead Man Walk · Waterfall · Parking lot
4. Múlagljúfur – the fairytale canyon
Mulagljufur canyon is one of the most scenic places in Iceland. It is located in the Southwest part of the country and is a lesser-known place. If you like hidden gems and smaller crowds, this place is definitely for you.
The canyon offers incredible fairytale-like views over two valleys and rivers, as well as two waterfalls. And all that in front of a mountain backdrop. You really feel like in a movie set of The Lord of the Rings or something like that.
How to get to the canyon?
This is a bit tricky because you won’t encounter any signposts at the side of the road. You have to know where to drive. If you are driving the Ring Road, here is the turn you have to take to get to the gravel road leading to the canyon.
There will be a tiny river (or rather a stream) for you to cross, but it is very small and doable for small cars as well. Then you have to continue the road for 2 kilometers up until the end of the road (around here!) where the mountains start.
The following part is for hiking. The trail leads straight uphill and is marked with small wooden poles with pinkish rubber tops on them. It will be about a 2-kilometer hike to the best viewpoint of the canyon, but you can walk also further along the canyon.
Here is an example route on AllTrail.com that you can follow in order to stay on the right path. Along the way, you will have to cross another river and hike some uphills and downhills, but it is not too difficult.
When you have reached the valley and seen both waterfalls, that is the best place to be. If you have some snacks, this is the place to have a picnic.
Location: Múlagljúfur · Parking lot · Viewpoint
5. Canyon of the famous Glymur waterfall
Did you know that the Glymur waterfall was known as the highest waterfall in Iceland? Until recently, due to the melting of the Vatnajökull glacier, a new and higher waterfall has been uncovered – Morsárfoss!
Glymur waterfall at 198 meters is definitely the highest waterfall you can encounter in a beautiful canyon. There will be some minor hassles to get there, tho.
How to get to the canyon?
The trail to the waterfall starts here at the parking lot. The first thing you should know is that you can walk a circular route. It goes from one side of the canyon to the top, then across the river, and then back along the other side of the canyon. The circular hike will be about 6 kilometers and you can see it here on AllTrails.com.
However, if you are interested in the canyon and just want the best view, you can climb up to the best viewpoint and then come back down the same way.
You have to know that the best view of the canyon and the waterfall is on the South / Southeast side of the river and canyon. This means you will have to cross the river at downstream. There is a rope and a log across the river to help you.
We hiked to the viewpoint and then back down again. You can hike all the way around but you won’t get better views than the ones you can get from the viewpoint. It is because the waterfall will be hidden behind the bending canyon walls.
However, you can definitely get some more vertical and horizontal meters for your daily step count if you go all the way! This was one of my Top 3 favorite canyons in Iceland, so definitely consider visiting it!
Location: Glymur waterfall and canyon · Parking lot · Viewpoint of the canyon
Nature and especially the canyons in Iceland are spectacular! Sometimes I thought it actually wasn’t real, but man-made for some fantasy movie! I hope you get to see and hike some of these canyons in Iceland!
They were definitely some of my favorite places of all the places in Iceland! Beautiful nature, amazing views, and a bit of hiking – that’s all you need for a great adventure in a faraway land!
In my opinion, Iceland is THAT country everyone should visit once in their lives! It is full of magical and unbelievable nature spots and places you won’t really see anywhere else on Planet Earth! If you can, please, leave a comment below if there are any significant changes to anything that is written in this blog post! Many thanks!