Brúarfoss, Iceland’s hidden gem (and how you can find it)

Far from the maddening crowds lies one of this Islands most stunning waterfalls. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that this couple has a love affair with Iceland and Brúarfoss is just another reason why you would too.

No wonder Iceland has seen an increase of 20% growth in visitor numbers each year since 2010, where can you find hidden gems like Brúarfoss, just a stone’s throw off the highway – well not quite a stone’s throw, but I’ll get to that.

Brúarfoss is unlike Iceland’s more popular waterfalls that attract swarms of busloads of tourists. We actually did a u-turn out of an over-crowded parking lot at Gullfoss as we passed an agent placing parking tickets on cars. Don’t get me wrong, Gullfoss is a spectacular must-see landmark, but if you don’t like crowds you’ll just have to time your visit accordingly. We were there in February and it wasn’t half as busy.

So what’s different about Brúarfoss?

Lots. To start with, it’s a bit of a mystery as you have to work hard at finding it. Which, by our standards, makes it that much more intriguing. There are no road signs to help you – Waze (our onboard GPS) had us circling Thingvellir National Park before we realized that, “hey, weren’t we just here 45 minutes ago?”

Stopping and asking directions wasn’t much help either. The individual at one of the park’s visitor centers was unsure himself and it wasn’t until after scouring a detailed road map of the area that we found the Brúar river. At least we found the river… and that led us to Laugarvatn.

A secret location? A hidden gem? All the mystery just fueled us on.

Thirty minutes later we arrived at Laugarvatn where we once again solicited help from a clerk in one of the very few stores in this small town.

Following his direction and 11 kms later up Hwy 37 led us to a farm called Efstidalur. Efstidalur is a family owned cattle farm that offers lodging and a restaurant (and delicious homemade ice cream).

Secret Bruarfoss, IcelandFurther directions came from one of their staff members who discreetly provided us with the finishing touches to our search. “Head out to the main road, leave your car at the first bridge and hike upstream for about an hour and fifteen minutes.”

And, so we did.

Bruarfoss, Iceland parkingJust after the bridge you can pull your car off the road into a small gravel parking lot. I doubt it was meant for us, but none the less no one is going to bother you if you park here. We’re both delighted to see that there were no cars, no buses, no throngs of people. Actually there was no one around at all. This was ours to discover all on our own, just the two of us. What a day to spend in Iceland.

Brurarfoss, IcelandGrab some water and your hiking shoes and head upstream. Follow the path (of course it’s not marked) that runs along side the river, it’s a relatively easy hike and we had fun doing it.

Bruarfoss, IcelandDon’t forget there are many a Kodak moment along the path leading up to the falls, so don’t forget your camera.

CiaoMary at Bruarfoss, IcelandThe falls are really quite beautiful. We probably could have gone further along the path but we were quite satisfied with shooting in this location. And, it didn’t take us an hour and fifteen minutes as first suggested. We were at the below location in less than an hour.

The cropped fallsIf you get a chance to visit Iceland I encourage you to find Brúarfoss. It’s a little isolated, and it takes a bit of effort to get to, but it’s a great hike and I know you’ll enjoy it.


You may also want to check out these Iceland tagged blogs:
A photographers guide to the most stunning waterfalls in Iceland (and how to find them)
Reindeer burgers, blue landscapes, warm water and cool inspiration
Chasing Aurora, horses, hot dogs, waterfalls and more


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  1. Scott H

    You two look great. Hoping Jaimie and I get a chance to do this someday once the kids are all grown up. Until then, I will subscribe and live vicariously through your exploits.


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