Exploring Öxarárfoss: A Gem in the Heart of Thingvellir National Park

Öxarárfoss Waterfall

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Öxarárfoss, a hidden gem in Thingvellir National Park's heart. Whether you're an adventure junkie, a nature lover, or a Game of Thrones fan, this spellbinding waterfall promises a remarkable journey.

    Trust us to guide you through this unforgettable Icelandic experience, and let's embark on a visual and thrilling adventure. Ready? Let's dive in!

    What Makes Öxarárfoss a Must-Visit in Iceland?

    Öxarárfoss, a spectacular waterfall within Thingvellir National Park, is a must-visit on your Icelandic journey. But why, you may ask, should this be a part of your itinerary?

    This stunning cascade is a highlight of Thingvellir and a key feature of the Golden Circle, Iceland's famed tourist route known for its breathtaking natural wonders. Picture an enchanting waterfall amidst the rugged beauty of this renowned park, contributing to a landscape teeming with geothermal phenomena and historical significance. 

    Öxarárfoss isn't just another Thingvellir National Park waterfall - it's a standout attraction within the Golden Circle, offering a unique and remarkable glimpse into Iceland's natural splendor. But let's not just take our word for it; let's dive into the facts and history of Öxarárfoss to understand its significance fully.


    What Are The Facts and History of Öxarárfoss?

    The Thingvellir waterfall, Öxarárfoss, carries a rich tapestry of facts and history. Here's what makes it unique:

    • Öxarárfoss was part of a Game of Thrones filming location, wherein the Oxararfall Waterfall Trail became the rocky path leading to the Bloody Gate, where news of Arya's aunt Lysa's death in the Vale was revealed.
    • Folklore attributes prophetic powers to Öxarárfoss, with its color at midnight on New Year's Eve believed to predict the fortunes or conflicts of the forthcoming year.
    • With a height of 13 meters (44 feet) and a width of 6 meters (20 feet), the waterfall features a rock-studded pool at its base that becomes icy in winter.
    • Álluring year-round, Öxarárfoss attracts peak crowds during the Icelandic summer and transforms into an ice climber's challenge in deep winter.
    • Öxarárfoss is a human-made waterfall with a unique history dating back to the ninth century. Geologists and historians have confirmed that the river Öxará was intentionally diverted centuries ago to direct its waters into the Almannagjá ravine. 

    öxarárfoss waterfall

    Where is Öxarárfoss Located?

    Öxarárfoss is nestled within the expansive Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwestern Iceland. Accessible and well-connected, it is approximately 53 km (33 mi) northeast of Reykjavík, Iceland's vibrant capital. 

    A 50-minute drive along Route 36 from Reykjavík will lead you directly to the park's entrance. Öxarárfoss, with its pristine surroundings and dramatic landscapes, is situated in the park's heart, making it an easy-to-reach destination for anyone exploring the wonders of Thingvellir.

    How to Reach the Öxarárfoss Waterfall from the Parking Lot?

    Reaching Öxarárfoss waterfall from the parking lot presents several options, each offering its unique blend of adventure and experience. One popular choice is the 4.3 km (2.7 mi) loop trail. This moderately challenging route winds through Iceland's stunning landscape and takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes to traverse. 

    For a more concise hike, opt for the 1.9 km (1.2 mi) out-and-back trail, which is also of moderate difficulty but requires less time to complete. If you seek a brief visit, park at the Öxarárfoss Parking area and enjoy a 15-20 minute walk to the waterfall. From the visitor center, a roughly 7.2 km (4.5 mi) straight and flat path leads you directly to Öxarárfoss. 

    Note: There is a small parking fee at the Öxarárfoss parking lot of about 500 ISK (approximately $5) for the entire day. 

    thingvellir national park waterfall

    What are the Highlights of the Öxarárfoss Hike?

    The Öxarárfoss hike in Thingvellir National Park is filled with captivating highlights, starting right from the designated parking area. A well-marked and maintained trail, complete with wooden stairs and a paved path, leads directly to Öxarárfoss, ensuring an accessible and enjoyable journey. 

    One of the most remarkable aspects of this hike is the opportunity to walk through the Almannagjá Gorge. This striking crevice showcases Iceland's dynamic geology. As you approach Öxarárfoss, the sound of cascading water and the sight of its misty spray become increasingly prominent, enhancing the anticipation. 

    The trail itself is a blend of natural and historical wonders, offering views of the park's rugged terrain and glimpses into Iceland's geological past. The hike culminates at the enchanting Öxarárfoss, where the waterfall's beauty and the surrounding landscape create a truly memorable experience.

    Why is Öxarárfoss a Unique Part of the Thingvellir Experience?

    Öxarárfoss waterfall is not just a highlight of Thingvellir National Park, but it also stands out as one of the best waterfalls in Iceland. Its unique characteristics distinguish it from other attractions in the area. 

    The waterfall's dramatic cascade over ancient bedrock creates a striking contrast against the park's expansive lava fields and tectonic rifts. Seasonal changes bring a dynamic beauty to Öxarárfoss – from a vibrant, flowing cascade in summer to a serene, frozen sculpture in winter, offering varied and stunning photographic opportunities. 

    This versatility makes Öxarárfoss a quintessential example of the diverse and captivating waterfalls that Iceland is renowned for.

    öxarárfoss hike

    The Unparalleled Magic of Öxarárfoss

    Isn't it time to turn your dream of exploring Iceland into reality? Imagine the freedom of discovering Öxarárfoss and its mesmerizing beauty at your own pace. Renting a campervan in Reykjavík is your ticket to this unforgettable adventure.

    Just last summer, we had a customer, Antonia, who embarked on this journey. She shared, 'Waking up in the campervan, with the first light of dawn breaking over the Icelandic landscape, was magical. The drive to Öxarárfoss was breathtaking, and experiencing the waterfall's majesty up close was a moment I'll never forget.'

    With a campervan, you're not just planning a trip; you're crafting an experience, complete with the comfort of a home on wheels and the flexibility to chase the Northern Lights or linger longer by the waterfall's mist. Why wait for a perfect moment when you can create it with a campervan journey to Öxarárfoss? Join adventurers like Sarah and make memories that last a lifetime.

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