Faxi Waterfall

Faxi waterfall is a true gem in South Iceland.

Faxi Waterfall

Faxi waterfall is a true gem in South Iceland.

Faxi waterfall is an impossible place not to fall in love with. 

With a short drop enclosed by shrub-strewn meadows and tight patches of pine forest, these breathtaking rapids spread across the riverbank to create a welcome, picturesque addition to South Iceland’s scenery. 

Faxi is found on the Golden Circle sightseeing route, a mere five-minute detour off the main trail. It is considered a side-attraction rather than a major one because it is far more serene, and far less powerful, than nearby Gullfoss waterfall.

For that reason, Faxi—or Faxa, as it is sometimes referred to—is considered lower in rank than its neighbours, but that does not mean it is any less worthy of admiration. The main sites that comprise the Golden Circle are Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal springs and Gullfoss waterfall, though just like Faxi, there is much more on offer for those who know where to look. 

If you are planning on experiencing this area during the coming year, make sure to check out our fantastic Golden Circle Bubble experience. Not only will we ferry you to each top site, but will also provide a transparent bubble from which you can spend the night looking out over the Northern Lights, or landscapes bathed under the Midnight Sun.  

The waterfall’s name likely has its origins in the Icelandic word for a horse’s mane, ‘fax. Indeed, it is apparent why someone would make such a connotation; the waters ripple and shake over the rocks like the hair of a stallion blown back in the wind. In such moments, it is hard to shake the ancient and mystic ambience that Iceland so quickly instils upon its visitors.

Faxi is a waterfall in Iceland
(Photo Credit: Attila Balatoni)

Faxi is also known as Vatnsleysufoss, which means ‘Empty Falls’. The reasons behind this name are unknown, and appear to fly in the face of the truth, for the waterfall runs smooth and powerful throughout the year. The falls reach 7 metres in height, which appears small considering its grand 80-metre width. 

Faxi waterfall can be found 12 kilometres from Geysir geothermal springs and 18 kilometres from Gullfoss waterfall, while only nine kilometres from the charming village of Reykholt.

Can you eat at Faxi waterfall?

A landscape shot of Faxi waterfall
(Photo Credit: Attila Balatoni)

While its building might not look like much from the outside, the restaurant, Vid Faxa, makes for a lovely lunch stop thanks to its prized menu and splendid views over Faxi. Stopping in is a welcome break from the mad dash the Golden Circle can be, especially for travellers with a full appetite and craving for quality. 

Chilling on the restaurant’s wooden deck, you’ll have your choice of coffee, tea or soda, and will likely want to order one of the succulent hamburgers that have helped bolster Vid Faxa’s reputation as more than just a roadside snack joint. If meat is not your thing, the restaurant has recently tried their hand at baked treats, which is particularly promising for anyone with a hankering for chocolate whilst out on the road. 


Travelling to Iceland?

Check our overnight tours with a driver guide that includes a one night stay in a bubble.
See Guided Tours

*Starting from ISK 74.900 per person

bubble in iceland

Salmon ladder and fishing at Faxi waterfall

A salmon ladder at Faxi waterfall
(Unsplash. Photo Credit: Adam Jang)

Have you ever seen a sobbing child’s tears stop midway at the sight of ice cream? We have and it’s always a heartwarming sight. Ice cream has that same show-stopping effect in Iceland. Come cold, winter or hurricane; ice cream parlors like Valdis are always in business.

Directly beside the waterfall is a salmon ladder built by compassionate locals so migrating salmon can swim upriver unbothered by the falls’ thrashing white waters. It is easy to miss this feature entirely given how entrancing the waterfall is, but it is possible to watch the fish jump and navigate their way up this small concrete channel during certain months of the year.

The salmon ladder besides Faxi
(Photo Credit: Attila Balatoni)

As the presence of a salmon ladder would suggest, the Tungufljót river is considered one of Iceland’s best fishing spots. Some companies allow anglers to stand right at the waterfall base, which makes for as iconic memories as it does photographs. Aside from salmon, fishermen can also catch brown sea trout weighing up to 15 pounds.  

There are a handful of regulations regarding fishing in Tungufljót to keep in mind, however. Aside from the license one must have, there is a limit of two fish per pole, and fishermen must release all fish over 70 centimetres. 

If you’re hoping to experience fishing here, it is recommended you go with a professional guide, as not only will they point you to the right areas, but will also be on hand with the correct equipment.

Réttir - The Annual Sheep Round-Up in Iceland

Sheep in Iceland
(Unsplash. Photo Credit: Zosia Korcz)

Réttir refers to the annual sheep round-up that takes place throughout Iceland in September. During the summer months, farmers allow over 800,000 sheep free-reign of the island, only to collect them again before the hardships of winter roll in. At Faxi, visitors can observe a réttir herding pen from the waterfall’s viewing platform.

This shepherding event is one of Iceland’s oldest social and cultural traditions, though it takes place today with the aid of ATVs, sheepdogs, horses, and local volunteers. If you arrive at Faxi during the right time of year, there is a chance you will see age-old custom in action, and could even get involved yourself. 

The name Réttir is taken directly from the historic pens used to sort the collected sheep. First, a circular fence is built with triangular sections that branch off it like sun rays. Each section is then allocated to a specific farmer and his flock. After the sorting is done, Icelanders tend to party the evening away, focusing on serving delicious lamb meals between well-earned alcoholic beverages.

Naturally, sheep have been an essential part of the Icelandic way of life for centuries, providing nourishment, wool and collective purpose.

How do I get to Faxi waterfall?

Faxi waterfall
(Unsplash. Photo Credit: Chris Liverani)

Faxi waterfall can be accessed throughout the year; fortunate given the winter and summer each dramatically alters this feature’s appearance without ever stripping it of its beauty. 

Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, is approximately 104 kilometres from Faxi waterfall, roughly a 90-minute drive, more or less. If you are looking to travel to this site directly from the city, we recommend you stick to the following route; 

  • Drive along Road 01 (Vesturlandsvegur) until you reach Mosfellsbær town.  
  • From Mosfellsbær, divert onto Road 361 (Þingvallavegur)
  • After Lake Þingvallavatn, head westward onto Road 365 (Lyngdalsheiðavegur). 
  • You will arrive at Laugarvatn village. Continue onto Road 37 (Laugarvatnsvegur) before heading down Road 35. It is here you will find a turning into Faxi waterfall car park. 

Most visitors will visit Faxi as part of their Golden Circle adventure, in which case, they need only watch out for signposts. Given the waterfall is between Gullfoss and Geysir, it is best to visit during the latter half of your sightseeing experience, considering you visit the national park first. 


Travelling to Iceland?

Check our overnight tours with a driver guide that includes a one night stay in a bubble.
See Guided Tours

*Starting from ISK 74.900 per person

Privacy Preference Center