Your Ultimate Guide to The Glymur Waterfall in Iceland And The Hike

Glymur Waterfall

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Embarking on an adventure in Iceland? Let us be your guide, especially if the Glymur Waterfall is on your bucket list. Known for its breathtaking beauty, Glymur isn't just another waterfall; it's an experience that captures the essence of Icelandic wilderness.

    At Campervan Iceland, we love sharing our intimate knowledge of Iceland to ensure you're well-equipped for your journey. This blog dives deep into what makes Glymur Waterfall a must-visit, from the hike to the best viewpoints.

    Trust us; we're here to make your Icelandic adventure unforgettable with insider tips and essential information. Let's get you ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

    Why is Glymur a Must-Visit for Adventure Seekers?

    Glymur Waterfall is one of the best waterfalls in Iceland to visit for those seeking an adrenaline rush. Here's why:

    • Record Holder: Glymur was once considered to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland until a newly discovered waterfall emerged in 2007, earning it the title of second-tallest waterfall. Nonetheless, its height of 198 meters (650 feet) is still mesmerizing.
    • Subterranean Mystery: The force of Glymur has sculpted an intriguing network of caves at its base, offering a unique chance for exploration.
    • Glacial Majesty: Its waters are a dramatic spectacle, sourced from the Botnsá River, fed by the Botnsjökull glacier, ensuring a view filled with pristine glacial beauty.
    • Natural Tapestry: The area teems with biodiversity, including mosses, lichens, wildflowers, and birds such as arctic terns and golden plovers, making every visit a nature lover's delight.
    • Hidden Wonders: A secret cave behind Glymur adds to the allure, inviting the curious to discover its concealed beauty.
    • Cinematic Fame: The waterfall's stunning vistas have not only captivated travelers but also filmmakers, featuring in Baltasar Kormákur's thriller, 'The Deep,' showcasing its cinematic grandeur.

    glymur waterfall

    What Is The History Surrounding Glymur Waterfall in Iceland?

    Diving into the lore surrounding Glymur, there's a fascinating tale that intertwines nature with the mystical. The waterfall's name is thought to originate from an old folk story about an elf woman and her human lover. This man transformed into a red-headed whale named 'Raudhofdi' (Redhead) as punishment for denying his child, and became notorious for attacking ships in Faxafloi Bay. 

    The saga took a dramatic turn when a Lutheran priest from Saurbaer church, whose two sons were victims of Redhead's fury, used sorcery and cunning to draw the whale upriver to Botnsa. In an epic chase, the whale ascended Glymur waterfall to meet its fate in Hvalvatn Lake (Whale Lake), dying from sheer exhaustion. 

    Adding a layer of mystery, actual whale bones found in the lake today hint that this legend might hold a kernel of truth, blurring the lines between myth and reality in Iceland's captivating landscapes.

    How To Get To Glymur Falls in Iceland?

    As part of the famed Golden Circle, Glymur Waterfall is only about a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. To reach this magnificent destination, begin your adventure northbound on Route 1, then veer right onto Route 47. This route offers a scenic alternative to the Hvalfjordur tunnel. 

    Instead, it runs along the edge of the hvalfjörður fjord, presenting you with mesmerizing views of the coastline, towering mountains, lush local flora, and enchanting smaller waterfalls along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the signage directing you to Glymur; a right turn onto a gravel road will guide you to the designated parking area. 

    From here, the hike to Glymur Waterfall and back unfolds as a roughly three-and-a-half-hour round trip.

    What Should You Expect on the Hike To Glymur Waterfall?

    Embarking on the Glymur Waterfall hike is like stepping into an adventure novel where each chapter unfolds new wonders and challenges. Here's a sneak peek into what awaits, offering just a taste of the myriad experiences that come with hiking in Iceland.

    glymur waterfall hike

    Preparing for the Journey

    Before you lace up your boots for the Glymur waterfall hike, it's crucial to check the weather forecast on due to Iceland's rapidly changing weather. Being prepared will ensure you have the best experience possible.

    Starting the Hike

    The Glymur Waterfall trail is easily visible from the parking area. Right from the start, expect magnificent views that only get more impressive as you advance. This initial segment sets the tone for an adventure amidst Iceland's stunning natural scenery.

    Reaching Glymur Waterfall

    The highlight of the hike is, without a doubt, reaching Glymur Waterfall itself. Glymur falls dramatically 198 meters (650 ft) down into a lush canyon, a sight that rewards the effort of the hike. During the trek, you'll need to cross the river Botnsá twice; initially, at the base with the help of a log and wire (available from June to September), and then again above the waterfall, where waterproof boots will come in handy, or you'll be getting your feet wet.

    Return Journey and Rewards

    The hike spans over 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) and features a winding and narrow path with little shelter from the elements. Upon returning, a visit to Hvammsvik Hot Springs can provide a soothing end to your day. The entire route not only offers breathtaking views of Whale Fjord but also a sense of accomplishment.

    glymur waterfall trail

    What Are the Must-Have Essentials for the Glymur Waterfall Hike?

    If you're heading out on the Glymur Waterfall hike, here's your checklist to ensure you're prepped and ready for an adventure that's as safe as it is breathtaking:

    • Appropriate Footwear: Waterproof hiking boots are non-negotiable. You'll be crossing rivers and navigating wet, slippery terrain, so solid grip and dry feet are key.
    • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Layer up! Iceland's weather is notorious for swift changes. Include a waterproof jacket and thermal wear, and don't forget a hat and gloves.
    • Water and Snacks: Hydration is crucial, as is fueling your body for the energy-intensive hike.
    • Environmental Care: Bring a reusable water bottle and bags to pack out any trash. It's all about leaving no trace and protecting Iceland's pristine wilderness.
    • Headlamp or Flashlight: Even if you plan to hike during the day, you never know what unexpected detours or delays may come your way. A light source is always a wise choice.

    When Is the Best Time to Visit Glymur Waterfall?

    The best time to visit Glymur Falls in Iceland is a topic worth considering carefully to ensure both an awe-inspiring and safe hiking experience. Here's a quick guide to help you plan:

    • Best Time to Visit: The optimal period for hiking to Glymur Falls is between June and September. During these months, the Icelandic weather tends to be more stable and accommodating, offering warmer temperatures and less precipitation, thereby enhancing both the safety and enjoyment of the hike.
    • Log Availability: For those looking to cross the Botnsá River without getting their feet wet, a log accompanied by a wire for balance is typically in place by June. This essential aid is removed around October/November each year as conditions become too slippery and hazardous for safe crossing.
    • Winter Visits: It's generally not recommended to attempt the hike during winter months. The removal of the log for river crossing and the potential for severe weather conditions greatly increase the risk of accidents. Indeed, there have been fatalities, underscoring the need for caution.

    Glymur waterfall visit

    Photography Tips and Best Views

    Snapping that perfect shot of Glymur and its breathtaking surroundings takes a bit more than just hitting the shutter button. Here's how you can capture the essence of this majestic waterfall and its landscape:

    • Early Bird or Golden Hour: Aim for the early morning or late afternoon to capture Glymur in the softest light. The lower angle of the sun adds a magical glow and elongates shadows, giving your photos an extra layer of depth.
    • Panorama Points: Don't miss the panoramic views from the top of the hike. It offers a sweeping vista of the canyon and the waterfall. Perfect for those wide-angle shots!
    • Unusual Angles: Experiment with angles by capturing the waterfall from the base or finding a vantage point that includes the surrounding flora for a unique composition.
    • Long Exposures: Use a tripod and experiment with long exposure settings to soften the water's flow, creating a mystical effect around Glymur.
    • Rainbow Moments: If you're lucky, a rainbow might appear at the base of the waterfall. Be ready to capture this fleeting but magnificent sight.

    What Else Can You Do Around Glymur Waterfall Iceland?

    After marveling at Glymur Waterfall, you will find plenty more to explore, including cultural and natural attractions that offer a deep dive into Iceland's rich history and stunning landscapes. Here's what else you can enjoy:

    • Historic Towns: Steer your adventure towards the nearby towns of Akranes and Borgarnes. Not only are these towns perfect for grabbing some refreshments, but they also boast over a millennium of history waiting to be explored. 
    • The Settlement Centre in Borgarnes: This place provides an invaluable insight into Iceland's vivid history with exhibitions dedicated to the Icelandic sagas and the birth of the nation. It's a must-visit for history buffs.
    • War and Peace Museum in Akranes: This museum highlights the significant period between 1940 and 1945 when Iceland was occupied during World War II, showcasing the profound impact it had on the nation.
    • Haafell Goat Farm: Perfect for animal lovers, the farm is focused on the preservation of the Icelandic goat. Visitors can learn about conservation efforts and even shop for goat-related merchandise—a unique take-home from Iceland.
    • Natural Wonders: Don't miss the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. Located near Glymur, these contrasting beauties offer a serene view of calm rivulets flowing off lava rocks at Hraunfossar and the dramatic, turbulent waters of Barnafoss rushing through a narrow canyon.

    Glymur attractions

    Preparing for Your Journey to Glymur Waterfall

    Venturing to Glymur Waterfall is indeed an adventure worth the trek, promising unparalleled scenic beauty and a fulfilling outdoor experience. As we've explored, preparing adequately with the right gear, knowing the best times to visit, and capturing the essence through photography are key to making the most of your trip to this natural wonder. 

    For those planning this adventure, consider renting a campervan in Iceland for an economical yet comfortable travel option. Iceland, known for its high cost of living, makes the campervan an appealing choice, allowing you to save on accommodations while immersing fully in the majestic landscapes that Iceland has to offer.

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