The Gullfoss (Golden Falls in English) is arguably the most spectacular waterfall in Europe and possibly the finest located in a Subarctic setting. For much of the colder months of the year, the canyon into which the Gullfoss plunges is covered in massive ice formations, giving the waterfall a particularly spectacular setting. It is one of the sites of the ‘Golden Circle’, a series of Iceland’s top attractions that are typically done as a day trip from Reykjavik.
It is uncertain exactly when the Gullfoss was first discovered, but it was probably known by the Middle Ages when Scandinavians began to settle in Iceland. For a brief period in the 20th century, a power plant was considered for the falls, but a lack of funds and negative public opinion thankfully killed the project. A plaque commemorating Sigriour Tomasdottir, who protected the falls from development, is located near the top of the falls.
The Gullfoss is fed by the Hvita River, which flows across a wide stepped plain in Southwest Iceland. Although the drop occurs in two stages and only totals 105 feet, it is the amazing setting of the narrow rocky canyon, which appears like a rip in the Earth, that’s the real draw. The flow is generally about twice as heavy in the summer months as it is in the winter months.
The Golden Falls are located in a very accessible part of Iceland, and the tourist Golden Circle route brings hundreds (sometimes thousands) of visitors to the falls every day, depending on the time of year. Web: http://gullfoss.is (official website).