Frequently cited as being one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, Godafoss is a 40-foot (12-meter) high and 100-foot (30-meter) wide fall located in the Skjálfandafljót River. It is along the route leading to the Sprengisandur highland plateau, which is huddled between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.
What makes the waterfall so spectacular is the 330-foot (100-meter) wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon dug by the powerful river over the centuries. In typical Icelandic fashion, though, the canyon and waterfall are sort of split in two by black lava promontories, which only adds to the uniqueness of the place.
But more than just a pretty sight for sore eyes, Godafoss holds a significant role in Icelandic folklore due to its implication in the Christianization of the country. Rumor has it that in the year 1000, Iceland’s law-speaker and local Chieftain Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his heathen statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall upon returning from the Alþingi, where he had decided that Icelandic religion would be of the Christian confession from this point forward. Þorgeir then decided to christen the mighty cascade the “waterfall of the gods,” in commemoration of recent events. A befitting name if there ever was one, even a millennium later, as only a place graced by the gods could hold such beauty and splendor.
Godafoss is located 51 kilometers (31 miles) east of Akureyri and can be reached in 45 minutes by car via route 1. There are many day trips to Godafoss available in Akureyri for visitors who prefer to not rent a car. As with every waterfall in Iceland, accessing Godafoss is completely free of charge.