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Iceland is a land of many natural wonders and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is up there with some of the most beautiful spots on the island. A verdant green gorge cuts through the landscape with a crystalline river weaving between the sheer cliffs. When the sunlight hits the chasm, the rock seems to glow golden, making this one of the most picture-perfect spots in Iceland. With a short walking trail along the canyon, it’s an ideal stop to stretch your legs along Iceland’s south coast.
Aerial view of Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in the South Coast of Iceland.
Best time to visit
All year round
63.77141687680506, -18.171756646505575
Distance from Reykjavík
255km (158mi)

Experiencing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon on Foot

The history of Fjaðrárgljúfur

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a 100-metre-deep ravine that runs for 2 kilometres across Iceland’s beautiful landscape. A ribbon of glacial river wends through the bottom of the canyon, catching the light when the sun comes out. It is this river (the Fjaðrá River) that created the great chasm in the landscape as glacial meltwater tumbled through the rocks and eroded the chasm away over thousands of years. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is said to have formed at the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. But some of the rock at the bottom of the canyon dates back millions of years.

Aerial view of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon on the South Coast of Iceland.

How to experience Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Iceland

The best way to experience this natural wonder is on foot, following the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike. From the designated car park, this short hiking route runs the length of the canyon and is around 2 kilometres (1.3 miles) long. It takes just under an hour to walk the length of the canyon and back to the car park. Along the way, you’ll get to see one of Iceland’s most beautiful sights – a ravine twisting through the landscape with a rushing, clear river at its core. Mossy greenery clings to the rocks and, in the sunlight, the cliffs appear to glow golden. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is certainly one of the most photogenic spots in Iceland and the short hike here is well worth it.

At the end of the canyon, you’ll find the tumbling cascade of Mögáfoss waterfall. This is also where you can stop at the Fjaðrárgljúfur viewpoint and admire the canyon from above. The Fjaðrárgljúfur hike is not an arduous trail, so it can be suitable for families with kids who love the outdoors.

Getting to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is fairly easy from Reykjavík. It sits just off the main Route One ring road that loops around the entire island. Simply follow the Route One road out of Reykjavík and along the south coast until you reach the turn-off for Fjaðrárgljúfur along Road 206. The canyon is just before the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Fjaðrárgljúfur is not as popular as some of the other natural wonders of the south coast, so you don’t get the same crowded feeling as at Skógafoss waterfall or Reynisfjara Beach. Due to time restrictions, day tours don’t tend to stop at the canyon. However, several in-depth multi-day tours of Iceland’s south coast include the hike at Fjaðrárgljúfur.

Where have I seen Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon before?

Fjaðrárgljúfur is the most famous canyon in Iceland. In 2015, the canyon was featured in the video for Justin Bieber’s ‘I’ll Show You’ which led to a huge influx of tourists and Beliebers to the area. Adding to the canyon’s popularity, it was also featured in the TV series Game of Thrones where it was the spot where John Snow and Daenerys Taergeran flew dragons above the fantasy landscape. Seeing how beautiful the canyon is, visitors to Iceland flocked to this pristine spot, so much so that the natural landscape was disturbed by constant foot traffic. The Icelandic government decided to close the canyon hiking path to allow for nature to grow back. Fortunately, it recovered and is open again now.

Aerial view of Vík í Mýrdal village in the sout coast of Iceland. Church in the foreground.

Sights and attractions close to Fjaðrárgljúfur

The closest settlement to Fjaðrárgljúfur is the little village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, where you’ll find a small selection of overnight accommodation. There are also a couple of cafés and supermarkets. Fjaðrárgljúfur is also an excellent place to stop and stretch your legs if you are making the long drive from Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón glacier lake – a further 130 kilometres (80 miles) along the Route One main road. Jökulsárlón is one of Iceland’s most unique sights where glowing blue icebergs float in a serene lake at the base of a glacier. Just across the road from Jökulsárlón, the Black Diamond Beach is where you can stroll the jet-black sand of Iceland’s south coast where crystal-clear orbs of ice litter the shore like scattered diamonds.

In the other direction, the charming coastal village of Vík is 68 kilometres (42 miles) away from Fjaðrárgljúfur. In Vík, there are plenty of options for lunch or dinner in local restaurants and pubs and it has a wide selection of overnight accommodation. There are also loads of activities at Vík – ziplining over the Icelandic landscape, the interactive Lava Experience and ATV riding across a black-sanded beach. Stretching for miles along the coast from Vík, the Reynisfjara black-sanded beach is a popular stop along the Route One main road on the south coast. Between Reykjavík and Fjaðrárgljúfur, it is an excellent place to stop, get something to eat at the café, and stretch your legs along the soft black sand as the powerful waves of the North Atlantic crash against the shore. Just be sure to heed the warning signs and stay well back from the water’s edge.

All About Fjaðrárgljúfur

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