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All About Dettifoss Waterfall in Iceland

Iceland is a Land of Fire and Ice and waterfalls. It has an impressive number of waterfalls. Some have even counted over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. With this enormous number, it’s not possible or realistic to see them all during your trip to Iceland.  

North Iceland happens to be the home to one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. People from all over the world come to Iceland to witness its beauty. Not many European waterfalls are on the top of the list of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. While it is not Niagara Falls, Dettifoss can easily hold its head high and proudly stand next to it as it is a very magical one.

A female tourist sitting at the edge of the Dettifoss waterfall

How to get to Detifoss waterfall in Iceland

Dettifoss waterfall is located in the Vatnajökull National Park in North Iceland. It is on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Its sources are at the foot of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull. It supplies the river and waterfall with all these huge masses of water. The Jokulsa river is the second-longest river in Iceland. In a section of about three kilometers, there are three beautiful waterfalls and one of them is Dettifoss.

It is a part of the Diamond Circle – a well-known route we already spoke about. For most of the people than coming to see it, it is just one of the stops on the route. For others, whom waterfalls fascinate, it is the most important one.

It is very easy to get there hiring a one-day Askja tour or with your own rental RV. There are two ways to get to Detttifoss. One is the easier way which involves the Ring Road and heading onto road 862.

It takes around 22 kilometers to drive from here to the parking lot. It is free of charge and it is around 800 meters (2624 ft ) from the waterfall so it is not a long walk. We do recommend to get a pair of nice trekking shoes although the route is not difficult and there is no hiking involved. It is just much more comfortable to walk when there are lots of loose stones on the path, You should not have any problems driving on this route and you can do it in a standard 2WD small car. On the west side, you will find a viewing platform prepared for the tourists so they can watch the flow of the waterfall.

If you want to observe it from the west side, then you should take road 862. If you want to admire the power of the Dettifoss from the east side, you take road 864.

Road 864 is more difficult as it is a gravel road. Whether or not it will be possible to take this route depends a lot on the roads conditions and time of the year. It is closed during the winter. As this is a gravel road, you should definitely go for a 4x4 vehicle for your trip. You will find a parking lot in here as well, which is located right next to the waterfall. Here there is no viewing platform and this is the side where you can see the waterfall just from the edge of the rocks. Be careful though! The rocks can be slippery and dangerous!

Tourists at the edge of the Dettifoss waterfal - special care needs to be kept when approaching it

Independent of which way you choose, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Both give you a unique and impressive view of the waterfall. The best would be to give enough time to visit it from both sides.

Dettifoss waterfall facts

This waterfall is not only famous because of its power and beauty but also because it was the background of the scene in the famous movie Prometheus by Ridley Scott. The starting scene was filmed just there. Not only did Ridley Scott notice this beautiful waterfall. Jon Leifs (1899 - 1968) composed a song entitled Dettifoss in honor of the waterfall.

It is the most powerful waterfall in Iceland and in Europe. It is 100 m (322 ft ) wide and 44 meters (144 ft) high. It really makes a great impression when you first look at it you almost cannot believe that nature has such power. The water overflows here with such power and speed that it gives you a bit of shiver when it ends its trip in a deep Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is said that the average water flow is 200 m3 (52834 gals) per second. The amount of water depends though at the time of the year as well. So in case of very strong rain, it can go from 200m3 to 600m3 (15,8503 gals). It is even hard to imagine! Its power can be seen from far away fro the waterfall. Even when you are 1 kilometer (half a mile) away you can see the swirling water flowing in the cascade.

A view on Dettifoss waterfall in a summer day

You should be extremely careful when watching the waterfall from the edge as mentioned already the rocks can be slippery. Your safety is much more important from another selfie; please remember that.

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