Is Bruarfoss Waterfall Worth It – What to Know Before You Go

Bruarfoss Waterfall

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Heading to Iceland and thinking of adding Bruarfoss to your itinerary? You're in the right place. We've trekked, toured, and practically lived these Icelandic landscapes, giving us a uniquely intimate knowledge of what's worth your time.

    Today, we're unpacking everything about Bruarfoss Waterfall, a hidden gem among Iceland's staggering 10,000+ waterfalls. This post dives deep into the charm of Bruarfoss, known for its vibrant blue waters that are a feast for the eyes. 

    But here's the burning question: is the trek to Bruarfoss, with all its beauty, worth the effort? Stick around as we dissect the Bruarfoss hike and give you all the details you need to know before you go.

    What Makes Bruarfoss Unique

    Alright, so why all the buzz about Bruarfoss Falls? It's all about the vibe, the view, and those surreal blues. Nestled in the heart of West Iceland, Bruarfoss might not boast the towering height of some of its siblings (we're talking a cozy 3 meters or 10 feet), but it dazzles in its own unique way.

    The charm of Bruarfoss lies in its width and the intricate dance of multiple water segments flowing over dark lava rocks, creating a stunning visual contrast. But here's the real showstopper: the water's vibrant blue color. This isn't just any blue; it's a deep, mesmerizing hue that photographers and nature lovers dream about. The secret behind Iceland's bluest waterfall? 

    It's all thanks to the glacial meltwater from Langjökull glacier, pooling into a crevice before making its grand entrance down the falls. This color, combined with the falls' accessibility and the surrounding scenic vistas, makes Bruarfoss a true hidden gem in Iceland's vast palette of natural wonders.

    bruarfoss waterfall

    What Is The History of Brúarfoss Waterfall?

    The history of Bruarfoss Waterfall carries a tale as captivating as its waters. Picture this: Iceland, 1602, was engulfed in a severe famine. Amidst this despair, a legend unfolds - a bridge over the waterfall was intentionally destroyed by a follower of the Skálholt episcopal see.

    Why such drastic measures? Iceland was suffering a severe famine, and it was an attempt to bar starving peasants from reaching the church's fertile lands. This brings us to the evocative name Bruarfoss, which translates to 'Bridge-waterfall' in English. 

    It's a nod to the original natural stone arch that once allowed passage across the river, symbolizing resilience and connection. While the ancient bridge has since succumbed to time, a new bridge erected in the early 20th century continues the tradition of bridging divides. 

    What You Need To Know About The Hike to Brúarfoss

    Starting your Bruarfoss waterfall hike from the designated parking lot kicks off a scenic, roughly 3.5 km (2.2 miles) one-way trek to one of Iceland's lesser-known beauties. Be ready for an hour's walk filled with natural wonders. The path begins with a wide gravel trail, leading you north. 

    You'll have a choice early on: stick to the main route for the most direct path or venture left along a secondary path that hugs the Brúará River, adding both distance and time to your adventure but enriching it with closer river views. 

    Rated as easy, this hike welcomes adventurers of all ages, although the narrow paths can get muddy and slippery, especially after rain showers. Along the way, Hlauptungufoss and Midfoss waterfalls serve as the proverbial cherries on top of this natural expedition, offering bonus views that frame the rugged Icelandic landscape beautifully before reaching the main attraction. 

    Bruarfoss wooden bridge

    Once at Bruarfoss, the wooden bridge marks your arrival and provides the perfect platform for those Instagram-worthy shots. For the more adventurous, crossing the bridge to descend to the riverbank opens up even more photographic opportunities. Remember, the return trip is simply a matter of retracing your steps back to the start, rounding off a memorable adventure with ease. 

    Tip: Check out our article about the best Iceland hiking trails to get an idea of what other amazing trails are worth a visit during your trip!

    Is the Bruarfoss Waterfall Worth the Effort?

    In our honest opinion, evaluating the Bruarfoss hike stacks up as a bit of a mixed bag. The trek, while showcasing the radiant blues of Bruarfoss, is a manageable yet undeniably demanding 7 km (4.4 mi) round trip. 

    If we're talking sheer majesty, Bruarfoss isn't stealing the top spot on our list, especially when weighed against the breathtaking panoramas some other waterfalls in Iceland offer. 

    Sure, its beauty is undeniable, but when you factor in the physical exertion and time commitment, it's worth a second thought, especially for those on a tighter schedule or seeking more bang for their buck in natural splendor.

    Bruarfoss hike

    Comparing Bruarfoss to Iceland's Other Waterfalls

    While Bruarfoss dazzles with its deep, vibrant blue waters and serene ambiance, how does it compare to other famous Icelandic falls? Let's take a closer look:

    • Gullfoss: Often a highlight of the Golden Circle tour, Gullfoss is far more grandiose, plunging into a deep canyon with immense power. While Gullfoss impresses with its scale and force, Bruarfoss offers a more intimate and tranquil experience.
    • Seljalandsfoss: Known for the path that allows visitors to walk behind its cascading water, Seljalandsfoss is a unique and immersive experience. Bruarfoss, lacking the height and walk-behind feature, distinguishes itself with its striking blue color and segmented falls.
    • Skógafoss: Another titan of Icelandic waterfalls, Skógafoss boasts a 60-meter (197 ft) drop and a much broader curtain of water. In contrast, Bruarfoss's charm lies in its delicate beauty and the magical quality of its waters rather than sheer size or power.

    How Can You Reach Bruarfoss in Iceland?

    Reaching Bruarfoss in Iceland is a straightforward affair, whether you're behind the wheel of a car or commandeering your own campervan adventure.

    Opting to rent a campervan in Iceland elevates the experience, offering unparalleled freedom to explore Brúarfoss's enchanting waters at your own pace. Nestled within the Golden Circle, Bruarfoss stands out for its serene beauty and relative seclusion compared to the route's more frequented hotspots. 

    This gem, just a 1-hour and 20-minute drive from Reykjavik, offers a tranquil retreat from the crowds, making it a must-visit for those seeking the road less traveled.

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    Parking Facilities at Bruarfoss Falls

    When it comes to visiting Brúarfoss Falls, you've got options that cater to your time and adventurous spirit. The new parking lot, which popped up in April 2023, is a real game-changer. Just a 5-minute trot from Brúarfoss, it's ideal for those on a tight schedule. 

    Located conveniently (you can find it labeled as Brúarfoss Parking on Google Maps), this spot requires a 750 ISK (about $5) fee for standard vehicles and SUVs, with heftier fees for bigger rides like campervans. 

    Prefer a cost-free option? The second parking area on Route 37, known as Brúarfoss Trail – Parking, might just be your jam. No fees here, but it's a further trek. No restrooms at either spot, so plan accordingly! Lean towards saving time? The new lot's your best bet. But if 750 ISK could be better spent, or you're in the mood for a scenic hike, head for the Brúarfoss Trail parking.

    Tips For Visiting Bruarfoss

    Here are a couple of golden nuggets to ensure your adventure to Bruarfoss is nothing short of amazing:

    • Best Time to Visit: To catch Bruarfoss Falls in all its glory, aim for the late spring to early summer months. This is when the meltwater turns the falls into a roaring spectacle of clear, blue water. Plus, the weather is just warm enough for comfortable hiking.
    • Good Hiking Boots: Trust us, the path can get muddy. Solid boots will keep your feet dry and happy.
    • Snacks and Water: Keep your energy up and stay hydrated. It's a lovely hike, but you'll want some refreshments.
    • A Trash Bag: Be a hero. Leave no trace and keep Iceland beautiful.
    • Rain Gear:Iceland's weather can be unpredictable, so come prepared.
    • Sunscreen and Sunglasses: Essential during summer treks.

    bruarfoss waterfall hike

    FAQs About Bruarfoss

    Is Brúarfoss worth visiting?

    Visiting Bruarfoss Waterfall will not be on our list of top attractions in Iceland if you're short of time. However, if your trip to Iceland allows for it, the otherworldly icy blue tones and peaceful surroundings make Brúarfoss well worth the visit.

    What color is the waterfall in the Brúarfoss?

    The waterfall showcases a stunning bright blue color, almost ethereal, making your visit utterly memorable.

    How tall is the Brúarfoss waterfall?

    Bruarfoss stands modest at about 3 meters or roughly 10 feet tall—what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for with its vibrant color and serene setting.

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