With all the tourists on the Golden Circle these days, I’d suggest skipping the loop and making your way over to Glymur Waterfall. In my opinion, this is the best day trip out of Reykjavik.
Glymur Waterfall At A Glance
Here are a few quick stats to get you started with Glymur Waterfall:
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Length: Approximately 5.5 miles but depends on which route you take
Best Time To Hike: During summer months
Getting To Glymur Waterfall From Reykjavik
To get to Glymur Waterfall from Reykjavik, you will need to rent a car.
Renting A Car
There are plenty of car rental options at the Keflavik International Airport and in the city of Reykjavik. The only downside is that most car rental options are expensive. Keep this in mind as you set your budget for your Iceland adventure.
Note: Rental cars are cheaper if you book them early and book them for the off-season. You should also be prepared to drive a manual as automatic vehicles are far more pricey.
To reach most destinations in Iceland, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, however, Glymur can be an exception to that.
The majority of the route from Reykjavik to Glymur Waterfall is a paved highway. The only rough patch of road can be found just before the trailhead.
This 100 meter long road is a bit bumpy, but we made it in a 2-wheel drive car the first time we hiked up to Glymur Waterfall.
Directions From Reykjavik To Glymur Waterfall
The route to the waterfall is very straightforward. Simply take Vesturlandsvegur/Þjóðvegur 1 from Reykjavik until you reach Hvalfjarðarvegur 47 (if you cross a bridge to go over the bay, you’ve gone too far).
Follow 47 for 34 kilometers where you will turn right toward Glymur. It is difficult to miss and it’s very likely that there will be other hikers taking the same route.
The Drive To Glymur Waterfall
The best part of the drive to Glymur Waterfall is the scenery.
With the bay on your left and waterfalls lining the highway on the right, there’s magic to see the entire drive.
We even stopped on several occasions to take pictures. If you choose to stop on the highway as we did, be sure to pull over where there’s a designated spot for stopping (i.e. a parking lot).
Glymur Waterfall Hike
I’ve talked about Glymur before and have posted pictures but not to the extent that this place deserves.
This is the ultimate destination for people visiting Reykjavik, especially those who are crunched for time. During both of our trips to Iceland, this hike was at the top of our itineraries.
Glymur Waterfall is located an hour northeast of Reykjavik and is one of the easiest destinations to reach from the capital.
Did You Know? Glymur is the second tallest waterfall in the country. According to Mbl.is, Glymur was generally considered the tallest waterfall in Iceland until 2011 when Morsarfoss was measured and ultimately surpassed Glymur.
Getting To The Trailhead
From the highway, reaching the trailhead is simple.
There is a small dirt road leading off the highway that will bring you to the start of the trek. The dirt road is bumpy, but nothing that a 2WD car can’t handle.
From the trailhead, start hiking east toward the river in the distance. The trail is well-defined at the beginning of the hike so it’s difficult to get lost.
Crossing The Botnsa River
During the hike up to Glymur Waterfall, you will encounter at least one river crossing.
The trail to Glymur Waterfall lead us directly to the Botnsa River, which contained a log bridge and a wire to help you cross.
Although the river was incredibly fast-moving, we were able to cross on the log bridge without issue. This was in late August.
During our second trip to Glymur Waterfall, we visited in late September. The log bridge to cross the Botnsa River was completely flooded and the river itself was raging.
We were unable to cross so we simply hiked up the west side of the canyon toward the falls.
Note: The best time to hike to Glymur Waterfall is during the summer months when the river is under control and you can cross the log bridge.
Of course, it is possible to hike year-round, but it is much more dangerous and wild.
Loop Hike Or Out-And-Back?
There are essentially 3 different routes you can take during your hike up to Glymur Waterfall.
You can choose to hike the entire loop, which takes you across the Botnsa River, up to the top of the canyon the right side, and back down on the left side of the canyon.
Or, you can choose to hike out-and-back either on the right side of the canyon or the left side of the canyon.
We have tried all three of these options and have found that the entire loop trail is the best way to see everything that Glymur Waterfall has to offer.
Hiking the loop trail will allow you to see the canyon and waterfall from all angles.
Note: If you decide to hike the entire loop (approximately 5.5 miles), keep in mind that there are TWO river crossings; one river crossing at the bottom of the canyon and one at the top of the waterfall. You WILL get wet crossing the river at the top of the watefall.
Who Can Hike This Trail?
We recommend this hike for anyone in decent physical condition. There are many ascents and descents along the route and it can be difficult if you aren’t in shape.
Although I think this is an awesome trail for kids who like to hike, remember that there are river crossings and the wind can be ridiculously strong in this part of Iceland.
We also don’t recommend this hike for anyone with a fear of heights.
During our second trip to Iceland, we went with a friend and she had a difficult time climbing up to the top of Glymur Waterfall because she was afraid of heights.
Let’s just say that this hike is not for the faint of heart.
What To Pack For Glymur Waterfall
Since this is such rugged terrain, it’s important to pack the right gear for your hike up to Glymur Waterfall.
Here are a few things you shouldn’t forget:
1. Proper Hiking Shoes
Be sure to wear proper hiking shoes (running shoes work well, too) during your hike as it can become steep and muddy in many places.
If you plan on crossing the log bridge, remember that they are slippery. Shoes with adequate grip will be especially beneficial and help you balance on the lop.
2. Warm Clothes
Regardless of the time of year you visit, you should always come prepared with warm clothes for an Icelandic hike.
In both instances (August & September) we wore multiple layers, hats, and gloves. The wind is crazy in this area and you will catch a chill without proper clothing.
Iceland is extremely windy no matter where you are but imagine being in a canyon where the wind is being funneled straight toward you.
I highly recommend bringing some sort of windbreaker jacket with you. This will help you fight off the blustery breezes that sweep through the canyon.
The weather in Iceland is completely unpredictable, which is why I suggest packing a raincoat for your hike up to Glymur Waterfall.
Our Northface raincoats double as a windbreaker, so we were fully prepared for whatever weather was thrown at us.
5. Snacks and Water
As with any hike, bring enough water to last for nearly 6 miles and enough food to fuel your body.
We found that the Bonus grocery stores had the best deals on food and supplies. If you’re on a budget, be sure to shop there.
✅ For the best views, be sure to stop on the far side of the canyon (east side) and walk out toward the cliff’s edge.
Be aware of the strong gusts when approaching the edge and don’t get too close, but this is the best place to see the waterfall in all of its glory.
✅ We were eager to fly our done by Glymur Waterfall but as it turns out, wind is just too much for our drone to handle.
If you’re thinking of flying your drone while visiting Iceland, remember that this country is crazy windy. Don’t risk losing your drone.
Where To Stay Near Glymur Waterfall
Although Glymur Waterfall is only an hour outside of the small capital city, Reykjavik, it’s easier to stay a bit closer to the trailhead.
Here are a few places you should consider staying during your trip to Glymur:
These beautiful cabins are located just 45 minutes from Glymur Waterfall along Lake Thingvellir.
If you plan on visiting Thingvellir National Park, you’ll be just 20 minutes from the entrance.
Planning on visiting in the winter? Lake Thingvellir Cottages are a great place to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
Just 25 minutes from Glymur is Solvellir Holiday Home. These highly-rated cabins range in size to accommodate to groups of different sizes.
Although these cabins are off-the-beaten-path, you’ll enjoy the charm of the brilliant nature around you. Hop in the sauna to warm up after a cold trek up to Glymur Waterfall.
More Attractions In The Area
Hiking to Glymur Waterfall is an awesome day trip by itself, but if you’re spending more time in this area just outside of Reykjavik, here are a few more things to add to your itinerary:
1. Thingvellir National Park
About 45 minutes from Glymur Waterfall is the famous Thingvellir National Park.
Here you’ll see where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.
You can hike around this incredible park and enjoy the scenery or you can scuba dive between the tectonic plates for an experience you’ll never forget.
For more information on diving in Silfra Fissure, check out this guided tour.
2. More Waterfalls
There is no shortage of waterfalls in Iceland, so get out and explore as many as possible.
During your drive from Reykjavik to Glymur Waterfall, you’ll find tons of waterfalls lining the road.
To make the most out of your day trip to Glymur Waterfall, stop at all of the beautiful waterfalls along the way. They are so easy to access and you’ll be blown away by each one of them.
Enjoy the calm scenery at Hvalvatn, a lake just east of Glymur Waterfall.
After venturing the top of the falls, pack some snacks to bring with you to the lake and sit in solitude for a while. This is a great place to wind down after your epic adventure.
4. Landbrotalaug Secret Hot Springs
These secret hot springs can fit up to two people; this is the perfect place to soak your muscles after a demanding hike.
Pack a few beers to sip on as you enjoy wild Icelandic nature.
5. Krosslaug Hot Pot
Another hidden gem in the area is Krosslaug Hot Pot, a small hot spring pool that can fit up to 4 people at a time.
Although Krosslaug is located just a few miles northeast of Glymur Waterfall, you’ll need to drive up and along the coast for an hour to reach these hot springs.
The effort to get here is worth it; the water is hot (many hot springs in Iceland are just warm) and it’s completely free to use.
Important Note: Please help keep Iceland beautiful for centuries to come. Clean up after yourselves wherever you venture and obey the rules set in place.
For more incredible day hikes in Iceland, check out our post Day Hikes In Iceland: 15 Amazing Trails.
The Wrap-Up: Glymur Waterfall
Glymur Waterfall is one of the most magical places in Iceland and its close proximity to Reykjavik makes it very accessible.
Whether you’re in town for a short stopover or you’re here for an extended amount of time, this is the perfect day trip from Reykjavik.
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