During our first trip to Iceland, it was our goal to get off the beaten path as much as possible. This island has been explored ten times over and we wanted to find a few hidden gems that weren’t swamped with tourists. This mindset led us to Gjain, Iceland, the most magical waterfall on the island.
If you’re planning your trip to Iceland, I highly recommend adding Gjain Valley to your itinerary. I can promise that you’ll be blown away by the natural beauty of this place.
Renting A Car For Gjain, Iceland
In order to reach Gjain, you’ll need to rent a car. During our trip to Iceland, we had success renting from Iceland Car Rental. If you’re looking for an honest company, I’d rent your car through Iceland Car Rental.
Be sure to rent a 4WD vehicle. There are so many places in Iceland that will require a high-clearance vehicle and 4WD. Although it will be a bit more expensive than renting a small compact car, it’s completely worth it.
Getting To Gjain, Iceland
By car, the Gjain parking lot is exactly a 2-hour drive from the Reykjavik city center.
With your 4WD vehicle, take Route 1 until you reach Skeiða-og Hrunamannavegur, also known as 30. Turn left and continue on this road for approximately 18 kilometers. Turn right onto Þjórsárdalsvegur, also known as 32. You’ll remain on this road for the remainder of your drive.
Enter these coordinates into your GPS and it will bring you directly to the Gjain Valley parking lot: 64.149054, -19.736256.
Note: The last mile of the drive is an F road. This means you MUST have a 4WD vehicle to reach the parking lot. Rental car companies monitor whether or not you drive on F roads, so don’t risk it.
When we visited Gjain, we did not have a 4WD car. We were forced to leave our car on the side of the highway (NOT ADVISED) in order to see this magical valley. We hiked for several miles across volcanic sand and rock to reach the Gjain parking lot (see picture above).
Don’t be like us. Rent a 4WD car.
Hiking To Gjain Valley
The hike from the Gjain parking lot to the valley is really short and easy. It shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to reach it from the parking lot. This “hike” (if you want to call it that) can be achieved by people of all fitness levels.
Once you reach the valley, don’t forget to explore beyond the main waterfall. If you continue to follow the river upstream, you’ll find several other hidden waterfalls that seem to go unnoticed by many visitors.
Gjain, Iceland In Game Of Thrones
To add to Gjain Valley’s awesomeness, it was one of the sets for the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones. As you can see in the video below, Gjain, Iceland was where Arya Stark and the Hound argue about “water dancing”, which she learned from the sword fighter, Syrio Forel.
You can find this scene in season 4 episode 5.
Map From Reykjavik To Gjain
To reach all of our desired destinations in Iceland, we used our phone GPS. Since we have Google Fi as our service provider, we are able to get international data for the same price as domestic data ($10/GB). We use this on all of our travels and we highly recommend it.
Psst! Full disclaimer: The Google Fi link above is a referral link, which means we earn credit toward our bill if you become a customer. We ONLY recommend products we use and love.
Although many people refer to Iceland as the land of fire and ice, I like to think of it as the land of endless adventure. Around every turn is another waterfall, gorge, glacier, or hot spring to explore.
It’s no surprise that you can find lots of other Iceland hidden gems and adventures near Gjain. Here are a few more to add to your list:
The closest must-see landmark to Gjain is the Stöng longhouse, located just 5 minutes down the road. Here, you’ll find a reconstructed longhouse, meant to replicate a farmstead from the early 12th century.
A 30-minute drive north will take you to one of the most epic waterfalls in Iceland, Haifoss. As the fourth tallest waterfall in Iceland, you won’t be disappointed by its beauty and power. The canyon surrounding the waterfall is so dramatic and offers its own breathtaking views.
One of the coolest places to visit in Iceland is Landmannalaugar. This nature reserve will make you feel like you’re walking on another planet; the landforms and colors are otherworldly.
It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive from Gjain to Landmannalaugar, but the effort is worth it. Find and explore an amazing hiking trail in this nature reserve before returning to Reykjavik for the night.
Want to discover more hidden gems in Iceland? Check out our post: Iceland Hidden Gems: 7 Best Places to Get Off the Beaten Path.
The Wrap-Up: Gjain, Iceland
Don’t pass up this off the beaten path destination in Iceland. When we visited, we were the only travelers here, which is hard to come by on this island. Add Gjain to your Iceland itinerary and see this magic fairyland for yourself.
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