Hraunfossar and Barnafoss

Take in the majesty of these waterfalls and discover the mythology of the local area.

West Iceland
The Barnafoss waterfall
Hraunfossar waterfall with autumnal colors
The Hraunfossar waterfall in winter covered in ice
The Barnafoss waterfall
Hraunfossar waterfall with autumnal colors
Best time to visit
All year
Every day
Charging station

Hraunfossar waterfall and Barnafoss waterfall form a dramatic pair of sapphire-blue cascades

Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are a group of beautiful waterfalls located on the Hvítá river in West Iceland. Spend an hour or so here wandering the meandering paths and admiring the natural splendor of the falls.

You’ll encounter Hraunfossar, or ‘Lava Falls’, first. These are a series of interwoven streams that run directly off a lava field, hence the falls’ name. They span a total width of around 900 meters (2,950 feet), creating a beautiful sight as they roll gently into the turquoise river below.

Further upstream, you’ll find Barnafoss, whose name means ‘Children’s Falls’. This is a dramatic and powerful waterfall that has carved its way through the volcanic rock. You’ll spot a stone arch above it, that has a folk tale associated with it.

Together, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss form one of the most breathtaking sets of waterfalls in Iceland. They’re easy to access too, being just a half-hour drive off the Ring Road. This means you can easily add them to any road trip through West Iceland.

Another 20 minutes up the 518 road you’ll find the Deildartunguhver hot spring.

The legend of Barnafoss

Although there are many folk tales associated with the waterfall called Barnafoss, perhaps the most famous is the one about two boys who lived on a nearby farm.

The story goes that one day, the boys’ parents used a stone bridge to cross the falls on their way to church. The boys had been told to stay at home, but as young children tend to do, they got bored and followed their parents over the bridge.

On their way over, they lost their balance and fell into the falls below. Once their mother realized what had happened, she put a curse on the bridge that meant anyone who crossed it would drown.

Soon after, the stone bridge was destroyed in an earthquake.

Other attractions in the area

Water coming out of colorful rocks at Deildartunguhver hot spring


Marvel at the gushing waters of Europe’s most powerful hot spring.

15 km (9 mi)

Town of Borgarnes from above


Learn about the Viking settlement of Iceland in the local haunt of a legendary figure from the sagas.

60 km (37 mi)

The town of Akranes with mountains in the distance


Visit the outdoor folk museum and a historic lighthouse in this cute coastal town.

88 km (55 mi)

A kittiwake flying above cliffs in the Breiðafjörður bay

Breiðafjörður bay

Surrounded by rugged peaks and studded with islands, discover Iceland’s second-largest bay.

95 km (59 mi)