With more than 10,000 waterfalls in the country, you’ll have a hard time answering the question of which waterfall in Iceland is best. But there definitely are a few that are considered to be must-visit falls here on the island. One of these is Barnafoss Waterfall.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the waterfall, where to find it, how to get there, etc. So, if you’ve got an upcoming trip to the island or are just curious to learn more, read on.
What is Barnafoss Waterfall?
Barnafoss, as you might’ve already gathered, is a waterfall in Iceland. The name Barnafoss translates to ‘Children’s Fall’ and relates to the legend surrounding the waterfall (but more on this a little later).
Where is Barnafoss Waterfall in Iceland?
Barnafoss Waterfall lies in west Iceland and runs into the Hvita River. It is within walking distance from Hraunfossar Waterfall which also flows into the Hvita River, but these come from the lava field. Barnafoss is just 100 kilometers (a 1.5-hour drive) from the capital city of Reykjavík, so it’s possible to visit the falls as a day outing. But we’ll always urge anyone to do a proper Ring Road road trip and add Barnafoss as one of the stops on your itinerary.
How do I get to Barnafoss Waterfall?
There are essentially two ways that you can visit Barnafoss Waterfall:
Via a Guided Tour
We have plenty of guided tours here on the island that will take you to Barnafoss Waterfall. Some may be day tours dedicated to the falls, whilst others may be combination tours consisting of a few attractions that can range from day tours to multi-day holiday packages. Most of these will depart from Reykjavík. Just book your spot well in advance if you’re planning on visiting during our busy summer season.
Via a Self-drive
We highly recommend visiting the falls via a self-drive, especially when it’s a road trip. This is the best way to stay in full control of your time and itinerary. Getting to the falls from the capital city is pretty easy.
Get on the Ring Road and start driving towards Borgarnes. We suggest that you take the shortcut through the Hvalfjördur Tunnel. Right before Borgarnes, you need to turn right onto Road 50. Continue on this road for roughly 25 minutes before turning onto Road 518. Continue with this road for about 15 minutes until you reach the waterfall’s parking lot.
The Barnafoss Waterfall Hike
The hike to Barnafoss Waterfall is about 2.1 kilometers there and back. The hike consists of a very well-maintained trail, and although it can get pretty muddy in places, it’s considered to be a very easy walk.
What is the History of the Barnafoss?
In Iceland, you will learn that history and legend often intertwine, and Barnafoss is no exception. As the name suggests, the legend of Barnafoss Waterfall includes children. It is said that there were two children in the Hraunsas household.
The family went to church and the two children stayed behind with strict instructions not to leave the house. But the children got bored and started playing outside. When the parents returned and found the house empty, they immediately started searching the surroundings.
They found and followed the children’s tracks all the way to a stone bridge that arched over the river. This is where the tracks disappeared, and the parents realized that the children must’ve fallen and drowned in the rushing water below. In her despair, the mother had the stone arch destroyed so that no other family would ever have to go through what they went through. Many believe that, to this day, there is a curse at Barnafoss, and that anyone attempting to cross the river there will be met with a terrible fate.
Is Barnafoss worth it?
Yes! Not only is Barnafoss a type of 2-for-1 special with Hraunfossar there, but the landscape surrounding the falls is absolutely breathtaking. Combine all this beauty with the mystique of the legend, and Barnafoss is well worth the visit.
If you are considering making Barnafoss a stop on a Ring Road road trip, we suggest renting a campervan in Iceland. This way, you’ll take care of both accommodation as well as transport and you’ll be able to keep accommodation costs low whilst still living in comfort. We hope you have a wonderful visit to Barnafoss, and whether you believe in such things or not, remember not to tempt fate; don’t try to cross the river!