Summary: Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and the largest in terms of volume discharge It's fed by meltwater from the massive Vatnajökull glacier.

The Dettifoss waterfall is located in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is claimed to be the second most powerful waterfall in Europe (after the Rhine Falls) and the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of volume discharge (with an average water flow of 193 cubic metres per second). The waterfall is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which flows from Vatnajökull glacier (the biggest ice cap in Europe) and collects water from a large area in Northeast Iceland. The milky colour of the waterfall is due to the fact that the river is fed by the sediment-rich glacial meltwater.


The waterfall is 100 metres in width, and and drops 44 metres into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.


Dettifoss was featured in the 2012 science-fiction film Prometheus, where it represented the landscape of a primordial Earth-like planet (Wikipedia) and in the 2013 movie ‘Oblivion’ starring Tom Cruise.

Getting to Dettifoss

The waterfall is accessed year-round from the western side via Route 862, which is a sealed road. An older, 2WD gravel road (Route 864) on the eastern side is passable only in summer, but arguably provides a better vantage point of the falls. Dettifoss is one of the sites which make up the famous Diamond Circle of North Iceland, so as with many of Iceland’s popular attractions it’s best go early or late in the peak summer season.

From the carpark, there’s a 400m (10min) walk down a steep rocky trail, with lots of vantage points as you get nearer to the waterfall for a photo. It’s possible to get right up to Dettifoss from the east side, while from the west side the path takes you to the cliffs on the opposite side of the falls.


More information

This was one of the many waterfalls (and countless other natural attractions) on our week-long Circuit around Iceland.

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