timelapse of bruarfoss waterfall in iceland

From being a hidden gem amongst thousands of Iceland’s waterfalls, Brúarfoss in South West Iceland is now getting the recognition it very much deserves!

Although not as big as many other famous waterfalls in Iceland with a mere height of 5 meters, Brúarfoss has one unique feature that makes it really special: The vivid blue colored water that earned it the title “Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall”.

The waterfall is surrounded by dark volcanic rock formations, creating a really good contrast to make the blue water pop. Since its recent rise to fame, Brúarfoss is now part of many Golden Circle tours along other attractions like Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss.
It also used to be really hard to reach, but now, a new trail was created to make the hike shorter from the parking lot.

If tours are not your speed, self-drive is also an option. Regardless, it’s definitely a worthy spot to visit during your well-deserved Icelandic vacation.

Brúarfoss History

Brúarfoss, or “Bridge Falls” in English translation, got its name from the old stone bridge that used to be over the Brúará River for people to cross.

In the old times, it was said that the bridge was destroyed by a minion of the Skálholt episcopal see to prevent hungry peasants from entering and destroying the rich land during a famine.

In the early 20th century this bridge was replaced by a new one, now serving as the viewing point for visitors coming to catch a glimpse of Brúarfoss.

Behind its heavenly beauty Brúarfoss is surrounded by a dark history. It is where the body of Danish bishop Jón Gereksson was thrown after being covered in a bag that is tied to a stone.

The murder is believed to be rooted in a messy love affair between the bishop, a local woman named Margrét Vigfúsdóttir, and her lover. When the bishop tried to kill Margrét’s lover out of jealousy, she offered her heart to anyone willing to kill the bishop, which the son of a chieftain, Þorvarður Loftsson, willingly did.

Why is Brúarfoss Water Blue?

The water running in the falls originally came from Langjökull glacier. Then, the water streams down to Hvita river before coming up again to the River Brúará and finally forms in Brúarfoss.

So what actually turned the water blue? During glacial erosion, a powder is produced when rocks and gravel are churned out by glaciers, this powder is called glacial silt, rock flour, or glacial flour, whatever the term you like to use. The glacial water has a lot of these and they are very light, which means they sit on top of the water.

Glacial silt absorbs light (the shortest light waves which are indigo and purple) and appears blue in color, which in turn, makes the water it floats on blue as well. Glacial silt is the main reason other lakes which look turquoise or blue also got their color.

Where to Find Brúarfoss and How to Reach it

Brúarfoss Waterfall is in the South West of Iceland, part of the Golden Circle. Specifically, it is sandwiched between Geysir and Laugarvatn.

Great news! As of April 2023, a new parking lot was created for Brúarfoss making the whole journey easier than ever! Through the parking lot here, the walking time was shortened to a measly 5 minutes.To find the route, type in Brúarfoss Parking in Google Maps.

Do note though, that the road going here is more rocky, and you are required to pay a parking fee depending on the type of car you have; for a standard one or an SUV, the fee is 750 ISK, and for larger types, may it be a mini bus or a camping van, it will go higher. You can pay through an app called Parka, which you should probably download since it can also be used for parking in other places in Iceland.

Obviously, the new trail is a great alternative if you just want a quick trip instead of taking the much longer hiking trail.

Speaking of tha hiking trail, this is your second option, and despite being more time and energy-consuming, it will take you to two other waterfalls, – Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss,- before reaching Brúarfoss. This is one of the reasons this path is still taken even with the new one being built.

The hike is generally easy since the trail is mostly flat and will take you 2 hours back and forth depending on your speed and how much you stop. But some parts can be muddy, especially if you hike during or after a rain.

The parking lot is searchable on Google Maps, you can just type in “Bruarfoss,” and there you will find “Brúarfoss Waterfall Official Parking.” Use that route as a guide as you take the 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Reykjavik either through Hveragerði or the Golden Circle route through Þingvellir National Park.

You can reach Brúarfoss only by car, so it’s good to rent one. But you can also choose a Golden Circle tour that includes Brúarfoss as one of the destinations in their itinerary.

As mentioned, most Golden Circle tours don´t offer a visit to the waterfalls, but if a private tour is more your style, here in Bubble Iceland, you can plan a custom itinerary and add Brúarfoss as one of your destinations. Even better, custom private tours come with a complimentary stay to our unique and completely transparent Bubble hotel.

What Can You Do Around Brúarfoss

Well, you’ve probably come to the destination for obvious reasons: one, to enjoy the pretty blue-colored falls, and two, to take some gram-worthy photos. Just these two alone are both worth the while. But there are also other things to do around.

The 2-hour round trip hike towards Brúarfoss and back will allow you to pass by two other bonus falls, Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss

Hlauptungufoss is also known for its blue color, though it’s not as blue as Brúarfoss. It’s the first fall you’ll pass through, followed by Miðfoss. To make the most of your hike, stop over these two to take photos, relax, and replenish yourself during your 2-hour journey.

After your visit, noteworthy restaurants and cafes are nearby Brúarfoss. If you’re craving something sweet, Efstidalur Farm, just 2km away from the trail, offers ice cream freshly made from their farm. But aside from that, they also have a restaurant called Hlöðuloftið that offers farm-to-table food made from crops, meat, and dairy products they harvested.

Although a little further, Mika is another sweet spot about 9 km away from the trail and can be located in the cute village of Reykholt. Aside from great dishes, it is a well-regarded restaurant that also offers a collection of chocolates. It’s a good option if you want a complete meal ending in a perfect note with a delectable dessert.

For something more unique, Friðheimar Greenhouse, also in Reykholt, specializes in tomato dishes with ingredients coming from their own tomato farm. The overall feel of the place is cozy, and it offers a range of options, from tomato soup to freshly made dishes and drinks.

When is the Best Time to Visit Brúarfoss?

For a more safe and easier hiking experience, summer is the ideal time to visit Brúarfoss, to be more specific around the months of May to September. With the sunny and clear weather, it will not be freezing during your visit so you can take your time. It is also ideal for hiking, since the trails will be in better shape eliminating the muddy tracks which makes the journey unnecessarily harder. It’s also good to wear your trusty hiking shoes even in summer (that is if you will choose the hiking trail).

Although the paths are icy and much more slippery during winter, the landscape doubles up on looking dreamy with the snowy surrounding that perfectly compliments the dark volcanic rock formation and the shining blue water. It’s quite literally a winter wonderland during this time of the year, but if you decide to visit and go for the hike, you will need full hiking gear and pay closer attention to your strides for safety.

If you visit in winter, just keep in mind that the road going to any parking lots will be covered in snow or ice, for this reason, it is ideal to have a 4×4 car and only go if you are used to driving in this kind of weather. Also make sure to check the road conditions before proceeding with your visit.

In spring, icicles can still be found around the fall in combination with the usual greenery but you should only choose days when it will not or did not rain if you will be hiking.

Other Attractions Near Brúarfoss

Being in the heart of Iceland’s Golden Circle Route means you get to enjoy other nearby attractions during your visit at Brúarfoss.

The closest attraction, just 15 kilometers or 20 minutes drive away, is the ever-famous Geysir, also known as “The Great Geysir” in Haukadalur valley. It is the first recorded hot spring that occasionally shoots up hot water and steam in Europe, therefore giving the name “geyser”, which in English means “to gush ”, to other similar hot-water spouting hot springs all over the world. The Great Geysir used to shoot up to 230 feet of water from ground up, but is now more dormant than other geysers within the Geysir Geothermal area. That being said, if you’re looking to witness more active hot-water shooting springs, then Strokkur Geysir should be your best bet.

Just 10 minutes away from Geysir or about 25 minutes drive away from Brúarfoss, is Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most beloved waterfalls and amongst the top attractions in the Golden Circle. Gullfoss is an enormous waterfall with a two tier drop, the first one being 11 meters or 36 feet high and the taller final drop standing 21 meters or 69 feet. It’s an overwhelming landscape to take in with the waterfall stretching 175 meters or 575 meters wide!

In the charming village of Fludir, about 21 km or about a 30 minute drive from Brúarfoss, you can find the secret lagoon, and dip in its warm water playing around the temperature of 38-40 celsius. It’s the perfect stop over to warm yourself and relax during your Golden Circle tour while at the same time exploring the charming town of Fludir.

Lastly, about 40 minutes (45 km) away from Brúarfoss, you can reach the UNESCO World Heritage site Þingvellir National Park. It’s amongst Iceland’s greatest wonders, and is considered the nations’ birthplace. Þingvellir National Park is both a historic and geological site, so getting there, you will not only appreciate the majesty of Iceland’s unique geological features but you will also learn a lot about Iceland’s roots and history.

Things to Note Before Visiting Brúarfoss

First and foremost, no matter what time of the year you decide to visit, just to be sure, wear waterproof boots. If you’re taking the hiking trail, some parts of it can be muddy, so having grippy shoes will save you the stress.

You will also definitely want to be dressed warmly with a waterproof layer of some sort since Iceland’s weather is a bit of a trickster. To stay hydrated and energized throughout your hike (again, if you decide to do so and not take the shorter and newer trail) snacks and water will do you good.

And if you’re bringing snacks or any sort of disposable things, pack another bag so you don’t leave your trash behind. If you don’t have one, just stash the junk in your backpack during your entire visit. There are no garbage bins around the fall, and it used to have littering problems in the past that even led to an old path being closed, so to avoid another mishap and preserve the fall’s beautiful surroundings, do not leave any wastes.

Lastly, to capture the wonderful moment, take your camera along, may it be a phone or a professional grade cam, it doesn’t matter, just something that will capture Brúarfoss’ beauty for a lifetime.

Robert Robertsson

Hey, I'm the founder of Airmango. My love affair with travel and entrepreneurship kicked off in 1994 in Iceland. Fast forward through two decades, and I've been lucky enough to weave my career through five different countries. Each place has left its mark on me, not just in my personal life, but in how I approach business too. With Airmango, I'm bringing all those global insights and experiences to the table – it's like seeing the world through a business lens.