© Credits to istock / KonstantinMaslak
© Credits to istock / KonstantinMaslak

Dettifoss: the biggest waterfall in Europe

2 minutes to read

Not many European waterfalls find their spot on those top lists of "the most beautiful waterfalls in the world". It's not easy to compete with Niagara, Iguazu, Victoria and others. However, there are a few magical waterfalls in Iceland that sometimes end up there: the jaw-dropping Gullfoss (in the Golden Circle) and the thunderous Dettifoss (in the Diamond circle). If you are coming to Iceland, make sure you visit them both. These two are the places where Mother Nature is at her most unfiltered self. And the best part is that you can actually walk right up to the waterfall. In a good old Icelandic manner, there are (almost) no barriers.

© Credits to istock / Andrew_Mayovskyy
© Credits to istock / Andrew_Mayovskyy

The Diamond circle is a 260 km long sightseeing route, considered northeastern alternative to the more popular and equally interesting Golden circle. If you are coming to this part of Iceland, except for Dettifoss, don't skip the charming town of Húsavík, the Ásbyrgi canyon, the Hverfjall volcano, and Myvatn lake. In case you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will enjoy Grjótagjá, the famous Jon Snow's Cave. 

However, the highlight of the Diamond circle for me is the mighty Dettifoss (its name is not so creative, translated it means "collapsing waterfall"), the one that served as a background for the opening scene of Ridley Scott's movie Prometheus.

It's easy to get here (you can come as a part of a tour but also by your own car), as it's just off the ring road route. You only need to decide which side of it you wish to stand one. To see the falls from the West, you need to take the 862 Road, and to see it from the East you get the 864 road. Whatever you decide, you won't be disappointed. My advice is to make sure you have enough time to visit it from the both sides!

Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss, Islande

This hundred meters wide waterfall belongs to the Vatnajökull National Park. The water of Jökulsá á Fjöllum River falls for more than 44 meters, and has an average water flow of 193 m³/s. Maybe these numbers don't mean much to you. Practically, it means that it's impossible to have a conversation next to the waterfall because you won't be able to hear anything. Also, if you touch the nearby rocks you will fell they are vibrating because of the power of this waterfall. 

One of the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of my days in Iceland are the rainbows that used to "follow" me everywhere I look. Here, like in many other places, you might see number of them just over the waterfall. Yet another Kodak moment in Iceland!

© Credits to istock / MykolaIvashchenko
© Credits to istock / MykolaIvashchenko

Within the same canyon and fed by the same river, there are two more waterfalls worth visiting:  Selfoss (a 15 min walk from Dettifoss) and Hafragilsfoss (a short distance north of Dettifoss). 

Lake Mývatn
Lake Mývatn
Mývatn, Islande
Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths
Jarðbaðshólar, 660 Mývatn, Iceland
Grjótagjá Cave
Grjótagjá Cave
North Island Drive Northwest, Atlanta, Iceland
Hverfjall
Hverfjall
Hverfjall, Iceland
Ásbyrgi Canyon
Ásbyrgi Canyon
Ásbyrgi, Islande

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The author

Natacha Costa

Natacha Costa

Hello, I will tell you about the south of France, the Azores, Iceland, among other places, here on itinari. Traveling has taught me more than any school, and I am excited to be sharing this passion of mine with you!

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