Goðafoss, sometimes referred to as the ‘Waterfall of the Gods’, is a stunning horseshoe-shaped cascade in North Iceland. Falling from a height of 12 meters (40 feet), the waterfall spans a width of 30 meters (100 feet).
You’ll find Goðafoss on the Skjálfandafljót river, just off the Ring Road (Route 1). It’s undeniably one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, and is a jewel in the crown of the Diamond Circle route around the country’s north.
The meaning and origin of the waterfall’s name is open for debate. In modern Icelandic, ‘Goðafoss’ can be interpreted as either ‘waterfall of the gods’ or ‘waterfall of the goðar’. The ‘gods’ reading would refer to the Norse gods that the pagan Vikings worshiped.
The other interpretation refers to goðar, the first chieftains of Iceland in the Viking era. A since-disproved 19th-century folk tale says that the waterfall got its name from the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði.
In the year 1000, he introduced Christianity in Iceland and made it the official religion. It is said that he threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall after making this change at the Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. There’s no record of this story in the Icelandic sagas though, so it appears to have been made up!
By far the best way to reach this beautiful waterfall is by car. Once you arrive in the parking lot, you’ll find a walking trail which will guide you to the best views of Goðafoss.