10 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Any visitor to Iceland will learn that the country is home to seemingly endless natural wonders, and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is no exception. A worthy stop along Iceland’s Ring Road, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon features a quick climb to view the rugged canyon from above. If you are traveling the southern stretch of Iceland’s Ring Road (and you should!), read on to find out more about visiting this beautiful canyon.

All About Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon features a rugged, moss-covered canyon carved into the land by the Fjaðrá river. From the main platform, you can view Mögáfoss waterfall on its way to the canyon floor. It is said that the canyon was formed 9000 years ago by the water erosion of glacier runoff. Visitors can view the canyon from above by walking uphill from the parking area to the viewing platform. Overall, it’s a perfect place to take in some of the unique landscapes and photo opportunities Iceland offers.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you may also know that part of the series was filmed in Iceland. There is apparently a scene in season 8 where the dragons fly through Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. I did not know that this particular spot was a filming location when we visited, and feel like this might mean that I need to re-watch some episodes to relive our visit!

How to get to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

driving the Ring Road
Driving the Ring Road

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon can be easily accessed when traveling along the southern section of Iceland’s Ring Road. Specifically, we visited on the second day of our itinerary as we traveled between Vik and Höfn. There is so much to see along this southern section, and it felt like we had very little driving time between stops.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is located approximately 68 km east of Vik (a 1-hour drive) and 208 km west of Höfn (a 2.5-hour drive). It is an easy stop along the Ring Road and offers the unique views that make this drive so spectacular. There is a sign indicating the turn for Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, and the parking area is found just 3 km off the main Ring Road.

Tips for Visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon waterfall

When is the best time to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon?

As with any popular location in Iceland, it is always best to visit either early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the crowds. July and August are peak season in Iceland and many of the country’s tourist attractions see large groups of people or even tour buses arrive throughout the day, which can impact your experience. If you are traveling the Ring Road and depending on the length of your itinerary, it can be difficult to time your visit perfectly. If you are visiting in the off-season or even shoulder season, you can expect fewer crowds. However, the weather at these times may be less desirable (and more unpredictable).

We visited in the late morning on a beautiful July day and loved the views and experience here! Our day started in Vik and included a bit of backtracking to visit the Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Reynisfjara Beach before continuing east to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. We arrived mid-morning, and there were maybe ten other cars in the parking lot, which was a great sign that we were going to have a quiet experience.

how far is the climb to view Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon?

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon path
The path to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is well marked and maintained

The climb to the viewing platform at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a relatively short one. The walking path, or trail, is 3.1 km out-and-back with 103 m of elevation gain. The path is clearly marked and maintained, and I would say that this is an easy walk for visitors of all ages.

How much does it cost to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon?

There is no cost to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. It is also free to park here, which is not always the case at Iceland’s tourist stops!

How long should you plan to stay at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon?

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
It was a sunny day on our visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Our stop at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was a quick one, as we had a very busy day planned! I would say that 45 minutes to an hour is an appropriate amount of time to spend here; you’ll get the chance to climb to the viewpoint, enjoy the surrounding area, and snap a few photos before returning to your vehicle.

What should you wear on a visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon?

We were fortunate to have amazing weather on our trip to Iceland. The day that we visited Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was blissfully warm and sunny, and we were able to enjoy the day wearing a t-shirt, pants, and comfortable hiking shoes. However, the weather in Iceland can definitely be unpredictable, so you’ll want to plan for a bit of everything when thinking about your Iceland packing list! Even though we experienced great weather, we packed rain gear and warm layers and kept these handy in our camper van in case they were needed.

As mentioned, we were traveling in a camper van, making it easy to assess the weather at each stop and determine the appropriate clothing and footwear that we needed. However, if you are not traveling this way, it’s best to pack layers and check the weather on Vedur.is before heading out.

Is Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Kid-friendly?

I would say that Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is appropriate for visitors traveling with children. The climb to the viewpoint is not super long and the area includes guardrails and a viewing platform for safety. If you are traveling with kids who are up for a bit of an uphill walk, this is a great place to stop! If they’re anything like me, they will particularly enjoy seeing the waterfall drop into the canyon.

Our visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

camping in iceland
Woke up to this beautiful view knowing it would be a great day!

We spent our first night in Iceland at Vik Camping and woke up bright and early to make the most of our upcoming day. Opening the door to the van and seeing the gorgeous cliffs and sunshine, we knew it would be an amazing day (and we were right!).

Because of our jam-packed travel itinerary (we were traveling the entire Ring Road in only seven nights), most of our days were extremely busy with either driving or stopping to take in as many sights as possible. Starting our morning from Vik on our second day in Iceland, we first grabbed a coffee at Skool Beans (located at the Vik Camping area) and then drove up to view Vík i Myrdal church. We then backtracked to visit the Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Reynisfjara Beach (both of these being must-see locations, in my opinion) before continuing east on our counter-clockwise Ring Road journey.

Skool Beans cafe Iceland
Skool Beans cafe in Vík

All of these early morning stops meant that we arrived at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon mid-morning. In planning for our trip, we knew that the weather in Iceland could vary greatly throughout the day and among different regions of the country. However, once we arrived at the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon parking area, we were confident that the weather would remain beautiful for our visit to the canyon. I grabbed the camera and we headed up the path to check it out. The climb was short and relatively easy, although it is a bit uphill.

One of my favourite parts about visiting this spot was standing at the main viewing platform and watching and listening to the waterfall drop from the cliff and into the canyon below. We were lucky to have such a warm and sunny day for our visit, but I can imagine that the views with grey or moody skies would be equally impressive. The gravel path and viewing platforms here meant that the climb to view the canyon felt less like a rugged hike and more like a walk, but it was enjoyable nonetheless and a great way to stretch our legs. Our visit here lasted about 45 minutes, as we had many other locations on our itinerary for the day.

Next up was a hike to Múlagljúfur Canyon, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and Diamond Beach before ending the day with a late night (meaning 10:30 pm) dinner in Höfn. This jam-packed day along Iceland’s southern coast was one of our favorites for the entire trip!

Things to see in the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Area

As mentioned, we visited Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon on a particularly busy day in our Iceland Ring Road itinerary. Thankfully, when traveling in July, we were able to take advantage of the many hours of daylight to make the most of each travel day. Touring the country in our Happy Campervan was also very convenient as it meant that we did not need to search for restaurants or places to rest; we had everything we needed in our vehicle with us, and could stop whenever we wanted! In addition to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, listed below are the stops that we made on our busy day of driving between Vik and Höfn.

Dyrhólaey Peninsula

Puffins at Dyrhólaey

If you are interested in birdwatching, this is a perfect location for puffin viewing. These little seabirds are my absolute favorite, and I could have stayed all day watching them fly out to sea and return to the cliffs. If you are visiting between the months of May to August, you will have a chance to see puffins here. It was the perfect way to start our day!

Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach
Walking along Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach offers a lot of unique features in one stop; black sand, hexagonal basalt columns, and crashing waves. However, be sure that you do not turn your back on these waves as this location can actually be quite dangerous. This is a must-see location along Iceland’s southern coast, but we needed to walk a little way down the beach in order to avoid the crowds and have a more peaceful experience.

Vík i Myrdal Church

Vik church
Pretty views of Vík i Myrdal Church

This charming church is nestled at the top of a hill amongst rugged cliffs and fields of lupine (which can typically be seen in Iceland during the months of June and July). While I had this church on our list of places to visit, I was surprised at just how close it was to the campground in Vík. It was a great spot for photos; facing away from the church, you can get a great view of the coastline and ocean.

Múlagljúfur Canyon

Incredible views at Múlagljúfur Canyon
Incredible views at Múlagljúfur Canyon

The views at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon are just a warm-up for the epic Múlagljúfur Canyon; the great thing is that both of these locations can be visited in the same day. If you are planning to stop at Múlagljúfur Canyon to see some of the Instagram-worthy views for yourself, you will need to reserve a few hours in your day and be prepared for a hike. However, it is totally worth it, and this was one of my favorite stops in our jam-packed, epic day!

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We arrived here in the early evening to a nearly-empty parking lot. Because of the extended daylight in the summer months, our later arrival meant that we could still view the stunning ice formations in this glacier lagoon, with the added bonus of having the place nearly to ourselves. However, if you’re looking to take in some of the tourist opportunities here, such as the boat tours on the lagoon, you will need to plan to visit earlier in the day. I loved the way that the light showcased the different features of each iceberg, bringing out the colors and unique shapes.

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach Iceland
Ice chunks and black sand at Diamond Beach

Across the road from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is Diamond Beach. The ‘diamonds’ here are chunks of ice that wash up on the beach as the ice makes its way out of the lagoon and into the ocean. These chunks of ice vary in size and shape and contrast with the black volcanic sand on the beach. The day that we visited seemed not to have as many chunks of ice as I had expected, but I have seen photos where the beach is lined with more chunks of ice than you can count! This spot was still worth a stop – it’s not that often that you find a beach that is literally dotted with ice!

Is a visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon worth It?

Múlagljúfur Canyon
Múlagljúfur Canyon

Given the choice between Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Múlagljúfur Canyon, I preferred the views at Múlagljúfur Canyon. However, more time is needed to visit Múlagljúfur Canyon and it involves more hiking which can be difficult if you are short on time or have mobility concerns.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a beautiful place that we included in a jam-packed day of visiting Dyrhólaey Peninsula, Reynisfjara Beach, Múlagljúfur Canyon, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and Diamond Beach as we traveled between Vik and Höfn. I do not regret stopping at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon on our epic day along Iceland’s Ring Road!

I hope that this article helped you plan your visit to Iceland’s Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon!


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About Rachel Dale

Hi, I’m Rachel! I’m a travel and outdoor enthusiast from Alberta, Canada. I love exploring the natural landscapes and cultural highlights of countries around the world. My favourite activities include hiking, running, and searching for my next best cup of coffee or new favourite restaurant. I am excited to document my travels here and hope that you can find inspiration for your next bucket-list trip!