Fardagafoss waterfall is a stunning East Iceland waterfall near Egilsstadir, a hidden attraction only accessible by hiking.
Currently, no guided tours will take tourists directly to the waterfall but travelers can take a short detour to Fardagafoss by taking a self-drive tour along the ring road and East Iceland, like this 11-Day Ring Road and Eastfjords Tour.
While in the region, there are also plenty of activities to choose from, including seeing the northern lights and visiting a wild reindeer safari.
Fardagafoss waterfall lets visitors enjoy Iceland at its best. Although reaching its location is only possible through a short hike, the waterfall’s trails offer unparalleled views of stunning Icelandic landscapes. Likewise, the Fardagafoss waterfall itself is a sight to behold.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by G.Mannaerts. No edits made.
About Fardagafoss Waterfall
The land of fire and ice is rich in natural attractions, particularly waterfalls. There are as many as 10,000 falls in the country, but only over 200 have official names. One is the Fardagafoss waterfall, just about three miles (five kilometers) from East Iceland’s unofficial capital, Egilsstadir.
Features of the East Iceland Waterfall
Fardagafoss waterfall is a gorgeous middle-sized waterfall of the Midhusaa river. From a cliff of 66 feet (20 meters), the cold waters of the river cascade dramatically into a rocky crevasse and then towards a narrow gorge.
Because of the uneven terrain in the area, guidebooks sometimes count two more minor falls downstream as part of the central Fardagafoss falls. But the main waterfall is easily the most prominent because of its height and surrounding landscapes.
The beauty of Fardagafoss lies in its natural setting in a rocky ravine. It rests on a gorge of rocks and lava formations, covered mainly by moss, especially in spring and summer. Its pool of water at the bottom is relatively shallow because of the many piles of rocks in it.
Although you can only explore the attraction up-close by hiking, it is still visible from the road in some locations. It’s ideal for families or groups who need to run off a little energy after riding in the car.
However, families with small children or mobility issues may find it difficult to reach the falls because of the uphill trail. The trail is easy for most visitors but involves uphill hiking.
What Makes Fardagafoss Waterfall Special?
The best features of the East Iceland attraction are arguably the base and cave behind its falling water. Midhusaa river flows through a small gap in the cliff. The cascading water projects far enough from the rock wall that visitors can walk behind.
Like its counterpart on the South Coast, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Fardagafoss allows viewers to see its beauty from a 360-degree perspective. The small gap behind Fardagafoss may not be as grand because it is smaller and steeper, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Besides, fewer crowds are visiting here so you will have a better time exploring its magnificence.
Fardagafoss waterfall also hides the remains of a collapsed lava cave. Today, visitors can still access the area behind the falls and see the cave ruins, holding onto chains bolted to the rocks.
Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by ActiveSteve. No edits made.
History and Folklore of Fardagafoss Waterfall
Apart from its natural beauty, the Icelandic waterfall has a rich history and folklore beneath its waters and rocks.
The collapsed lava cave of Fardagafoss waterfall is awe-inspiring yet mysterious because of the local legend about its origins.
According to one Icelandic story, a terrifying giant or female troll lived in the cave, keeping a gold-filled cauldron in her lair. Before the lava cave collapsed, visitors could look for the treasure behind the waterfall. But throughout history, there has been no proof that anyone ever found gold.
Another story says that an outlaw hid inside the cave some centuries ago but was driven out by locals not long after.
Finally, the third folklore explains that the Fardagafoss cave used to be a tunnel that wove through the mountain to the fjord or a nearby waterfall, Gufufoss.
Regardless of which version seems more believable, there is no denying that these local stories make the attraction more attractive. Some tourists who visit the area like to wish on the waterfall to embrace its mysteries and legends.
How to Get to Fardagafoss Waterfall
Fardagafoss is in East Iceland, near the town of Egilsstadir along Route 93. The falls cascade down the side of the Fjardarheidi (spelled Fjarðarheiði in Icelandic) mountain heath.
Fardagafoss stands out thanks to its natural beauty and convenient location. The waterfall parking area is just three miles (five kilometers) from the town of Egilsstadir.
If you’re coming from the capital city, Reykjavik, the drive will take you over a distance of 397 miles (639 kilometers). Upon reaching the town of Egilsstadir, you need to head out to Seydisfjardarvegur road, where you can quickly locate the parking area for Fardagafoss tourists.
Meanwhile, the hike to the waterfall covers less than two miles of trail from the parking area. It usually takes just around 25 minutes of trekking to reach the tourist spot. Visitors may hike down to the base and view the remains of a collapsed lava cave behind the falls.
Since Fardagafoss can be an easy hike from the parking area, it’s simple to fit a visit into a busy day exploring the East Iceland region.
To visit Fardagafoss, you can take a self-driven tour of the ring road and take a brief side journey. Self-drive tours allow you to explore Iceland at your own pace and see sights other visitors miss.
Is There Anything Nearby?
Town of Egilsstadir
Visiting Fardagafoss waterfall means a chance to explore the picturesque landscapes and best attractions of East Iceland.
Before or after exploring the waterfall, travelers should not miss the scenic town of Egilsstadir. There are many charming accommodations in Egilsstadir, restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and even an airport. The town is rapidly growing, and tourists will enjoy its delights.
Moreover, you may also visit the East Iceland Heritage Museum while in town because it features regional history and culture. For example, one permanent exhibit covers the Icelandic reindeer population, and another shows how people lived in rural households in the past.
East Iceland Natural Water Attractions
A trip to the Eastfjords without exploring any of its popular bodies of water is almost a wasted opportunity. So on your way to Fardagafoss waterfall, you may add a few more Icelandic attractions.
For example, there are many hot springs in the region. In particular, Vok Baths is a luxury spa near the waterfall featuring geothermally warmed water for a refreshing soak. You may choose to swim in their pools or its nearby Urridavatn lake, where fishing and boating are possible.
Not far from the area is the famous Lake Lagarfljot, which provides a pastoral backdrop for a scenic drive in the region. In local legend, a monster called Lagarfljotsormur or Lagarfljot wyrm inhabits this lake. Looking for the beast can be fun for residents and visitors.
If you can’t get enough of seeing just one waterfall, you may take a trip to Gufufoss waterfall, just 11 miles (18 kilometers) away from Fardagafoss. Much like Fardagafoss, Gufufoss waterfall does not see heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for those visitors looking for lesser crowds and untouched landscapes.