aerial view of Fjaðrárgljúfur river

Nestled in Iceland’s southeast is the enchanting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, stretching over 2 km with a 100-meter depth. This fairy-tale spot, with a meandering stream, is not just a picturesque sight; it’s a journey back in time.

Carved by a glacial river during the ice age, today it’s a lush oasis, boasting vibrant vegetation. Its fame skyrocketed after featuring in Justin Bieber‘s video, “I’ll Show You.”
The canyon’s ancient tuff walls, about 2 million years old, add to its mystique. Here, nature tells its own spellbinding story, blending history with breathtaking beauty.

Unraveling the Formation of Fjaðrárgljúfur

canyon formation

You know, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon’s story is pretty fascinating. It’s like it stepped right out of the Ice Age, about 9,000 years back. Imagine a massive glacier retreating and leaving behind this beautiful lagoon. That’s the start of our canyon’s tale.

As the lagoon’s waters found their way, they began to flow over the land. This wasn’t just water; it was like a sculptor, carrying rocks and bits from the glacier, slowly but surely carving the landscape. It’s like the stream had a mind of its own, digging into the earth, creating the canyon we now gaze at in awe. Fjaðrárgljúfur isn’t just a place; it’s a piece of history that tells a story about the earth’s past. How cool is that?

Where to Witness Fjaðrárgljúfur

It’s nestled in Skaftárhreppur County, right in the heart of Iceland’s southeastern region. If you’re coming from Reykjavík, gear up for a bit of a road trip – it’s about 248 kilometers away. That’s roughly a 3-hour and 10-minute drive, but hey, that’s without any pit stops along the way.

And if you find yourself in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, you’re super close – just a 20-minute drive. We’re talking a mere 11.9 kilometers away. Want to punch it into your GPS? The coordinates are 63.7713° N, 18.1718° W. Trust me, the journey is as awesome as the destination. The landscapes you’ll see along the way? Absolutely breathtaking!

Navigating Your Journey to Fjaðrárgljúfur

iceland road trip

Let me break it down for you about getting to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. If you’re cruising along Ring Road 1 in a counterclockwise loop, keep your eyes peeled for the turnoff to the canyon. It’s cleverly tucked in about 20 minutes before you reach the charming little town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Look for the sign that says Road Nr. 206, aka Holtsvegur. That’s your golden ticket! From there, you’ve got a short and sweet drive of about 3 km (that’s around 1.86 miles) until you hit the parking lot.

Best Spots to Stay

hotel bedroom

Now, let’s talk about the cool places you can crash at near this stunning canyon.

First off, there’s Hotel Geirland. Imagine cozying up in a lovely double bedroom after a day of canyon adventures – that’s what you get here. It’s a favorite for many! Then, check out Hotel Laki in Efri Vík. This place is a gem, especially if you love waking up to breathtaking views. It’s all about the scenery and comfort here. And have you heard of Icelandair Hotel Klaustur? It’s got this modern, chic vibe that’s really cool. Perfect for when you want a bit of contemporary comfort in the midst of nature. Last but definitely not least, Magma Hotel. If you’re in the mood to splurge a bit and treat yourself, this is the place. It’s like luxury meets nature – a fantastic combo!

If you’re scouting for the coziest spots near Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, the guesthouses are just fab. Glacier View Guesthouse? It’s like waking up in a winter wonderland every day. Then there’s Hunkubakkar Guesthouse, oozing with that rustic, snug-as-a-bug vibe. Eldhraun Guesthouse is your quiet little escape – seriously serene. And Klausturhof Guesthouse? It’s so welcoming, you’ll feel like family.

Craving something a tad different? Check out the nearby cottages and cabins. Eldhraun Holiday Home and Hörgsland Cottages are like your own little slice of Icelandic paradise.

Oh, and for my camping buddies – remember, wild camping is a no-go along the South Coast. Stick to those designated campsites to keep the place as lovely as you found it.

Hiking Adventures in Fjaðrárgljúfur

hiking in Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Let’s chat about the hiking paths at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, because they’re something else!

So, Option A for you adventurous souls: The Fjaðrá river, which flows right through the canyon, usually keeps it cool with low water levels. That means you can actually hike inside the canyon – pretty awesome, right? Just a heads-up, you might have to wade through the river a couple of times, so bring along some sandals or wade shoes.

The walk? It’s a bit of an adventure, not gonna lie. But the deeper you go, the more jaw-droppingly beautiful it gets. And the view from the deepest part? Absolutely unparalleled. But hey, quick note – this hike isn’t the best idea in winter. Safety first!

Option B is great if you’re not into the idea of wading through water. It takes you up to this awesome viewing platform on the edge of the canyon. The view from there is something else – you can see the whole area, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Just a little advice: make sure to stick to the path and don’t wander into the restricted areas for photos. We all want to keep this place as beautiful as we found it.

And if you’ve got the time and you’re feeling adventurous, why not try Option C? It’s the whole package – you get the dry, scenic experience of Option B, plus the fun of wading through the canyon like in Option A. It’s the perfect way to get the full experience and really see what the canyon has to offer.

Ensuring a Safe Visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur

Firstly, Fjaðrárgljúfur is pretty safe by Icelandic standards, but as with any new place, it’s wise to come prepared. Here are some tips:

If you find the water levels are high, maybe give going into the canyon a miss. Wading through the river is necessary, and it can get tricky if the water’s too deep.

If the water’s low and wading’s on the agenda, do yourself a favor and pack some sandals or wading shoes. They’re a game-changer for comfort.

Here’s a big one: stick to those marked paths. When one person veers off, it’s like a trailblazing parade. Plants get squashed, grass gets trampled, and those mud pits? They just balloon. The canyon’s had to shut down a few times because the trails got roughed up. Staying on the path helps keep this natural beauty, well, beautiful.

Winter visits are a whole other ball game. Jumping into the river is not the best idea – it’s icy, and the water’s depth can be super deceptive. Plus, the cold can be a shocker!

Lastly, keep an eye on those road conditions, especially around Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Road Nr. 206. Icelandic weather can throw some curveballs, and you’ll want to be prepared. When spring and fall hit, this place turns into a marshland. Melting snow and showers make the trails a muddy slip-n-slide. And who wants to ruin their kicks, right?

Status of Fjaðrárgljúfur: Open or Closed?

impassable road sign in Iceland

Remember back in April 2018 when Fjaðrárgljúfur hit pause for the first time? It was all about protecting the greenery and keeping visitors safe. The damage was no joke, and guess what caused it? Yep, wandering wanderers.

This drama’s on repeat. The canyon’s had to close up shop a few times since then. And here’s the thing: sometimes, it’s closed for TLC. The plants here are a sensitive bunch. So, before you plan your big trip, check those official websites for updates.

Pop Culture: Justin Bieber in Fjaðrárgljúfur

You remember those spots where Justin was strolling in the “I’ll Show You” music video? Yeah, they’re a no-go zone now. Seriously, stick to the rules and signs. They’re not just there for show – they’re to keep you safe and nature happy!

No sneaking over ropes, no hanging out on cliff edges without a proper lookout. And hey, even if others did it before, stepping on moss? Nope, don’t do it. Oh, and those little side paths others made? Nah, better to stick to the main trail.

The Environment Agency’s on a mission to fix up the mess we made on the plants. But imagine, it might take ages to sort it out! Let’s play by the rules and give nature a hand, yeah?

In the beginning of Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” video, he’s strutting on a cliff, taking in the epic view of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon.

Then, around 1:09, the spotlight swings back to Fjaðrárgljúfur. The camera gives a glimpse of the canyon all empty before shifting to Bieber, casually splashing around in his undies.

Once that video hit the big leagues, Fjaðrárgljúfur went from an under-the-radar gem to an absolute sensation! Suddenly, it’s a must-see in the Southeast, and the tourists just keep pouring in.

The video’s also got other hotspots like Skógafoss Waterfall, Dyrhólaey Cliff with a view of Sólheimasandur, that Airplane Wreck on Sólheimasandur, plus Ring Road 1, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and the dreamy Diamond Beach.

Winter Wonders at Fjaðrárgljúfur: A Snowy Spectacle

frozen river in Fjaðrárgljúfur

Winter at Fjaðrárgljufur is breathtaking, but it’s not always easy to access. That road? Yeah, it’s often shut tight thanks to heavy snow. Trust me, trying to bulldoze through will only mean getting your wheels stuck. Respect the signs, folks!

But hey, if by some winter miracle the road’s open, brace yourself! The stream’s still gushing, but those hills? Draped in snow, it’s like stepping into a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Need the lowdown on that road to Fjaðrárgljúfur? Hit up and scout for road number F206. It’s your best bet for the latest scoop!

Nearby Gems Around Fjaðrárgljúfur

Mt. Lómagnúpur

There’s Kirkjubæjarklaustur with its Kirkjugólf Basalt Floor and waterfalls like Stjórnarfoss and Systrafoss. Then there’s Systrastapi Cliff, pretty stunning!

And don’t miss out on Kirkjugólf’s Church Floor Basalt Columns and the enchanting Eldhraun Lava Fields. Fagrifoss and Foss á Síðu Waterfalls are pure magic!

And that’s not all! There’s Dverghamrar, Mt. Lómagnúpur, Skaftafell National Park, Hofskirkja Church, Svartifoss Waterfall, Svínafellsjökull and Falljökull Glaciers, Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Hvannadalshnúkur Summit, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and even Diamond Beach! These spots are like a dream waiting to be explored!

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.