Glymur Waterfall day hike, a day trip from Reykjavik. An exciting day trip to the second-highest waterfall in Iceland. Read how you can do it without a guide!
About the Glymur Waterfall day hike.
The Glymur waterfall is of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. It is an astonishing 198 meters high and is Iceland’s second-highest waterfall. Located at the very end of Hvalfjörður, which is a fjord not too far from Reykjavik.
The hike is one big fairytale and takes you through a small wooded area, through caves, across rivers, and then onto a big canyon.
It is probably one of the most exciting day trips you can do from Reykjavik on your own. I used to go here with my parents during weekends or days off. It is a cool hike that takes you up to beautiful views of the waterfall and the fjord. It has everything; adventure, hiking, nature, crossing rivers, and stunning views as a reward! The best thing is, it is completely free and you can do it on your own!
This hike is not difficult, but it has some tricky parts and you need to be in decent shape. Also, you need to be ready for a bit of adventuring! The path takes you above the waterfall, there you have to cross a river – by foot. There is no bridge 🙂 If this kind of stuff excites you, then keep reading!
Facts about the trail:
Ascent: 325 meters
Duration: 3-4 hours
What to bring?
Decent hiking shoes since it is quite the climb. Also, you will have to cross the river twice if you do the whole loop. The first time you walk over a log, which depending on the time of year will be wet. The second time is on top of the waterfall. Take your shoes off and wade through the river.
So if you don’t feel like walking barefoot bring an extra pair of shoes and socks that can get wet! Bring a towel, in case you want to dip into the river.
There are no facilities around so bring food and drinks! Please take all your trash, don’t litter.
When to go?
The best time to visit is in the summer, probably from June to September. However, the trail is open all year so if the weather has been really good and there is not much snow it is doable earlier and later. We say probably because it depends heavily on the weather conditions. Make sure you check the weather forecast and trail conditions before you go up.
How to get there:
The waterfalls are about an hour’s drive(70km) away from Reykjavik. Located in the fjord named Hvalfjörður which means Whalefjord.
From Reykjavik follow road NR1 out of the city until you reach the Hvalfjördur Tunnel and go right onto road NR47 towards Hvalfjördur. In the middle of the fjord after about 35-40Km, you will find signs pointing to the parking spot of Glymur. The location of the parking spot is on both Google Maps and Maps.Me.
There is an info sign at the parking spot and signs pointing you towards the waterfall and trail.
From here you can also follow your way up north through the fjord and connect back with ring road Nr1. Leading towards the Westfjords, Snaefellsnes, or Akureyri.
Where to stay:
Since this is a day trip from Reykjavik there is no need to stay anywhere close by. It is only an hour’s drive from the city. In case you are going up further north towards Westfjords, Snaefellsnes, or Akureyri. Consider staying at Borgarnes about 50 min drive from Glymur. So you don’t have to drive back and forth to Reykjavik.
Glymur Waterfall day hike, a day trip from Reykjavik.
We took the exit right before the tunnel in Hvalfjörður and started driving down the fjord. Halfway into the fjord, we came across the remains of an old British Navy base. The British briefly occupied Iceland in WW2. The rusty remains here are one of the last reminders of that time.
Always exciting to see old war stuff, and we spent a while there taking pictures. In case you want to read more about it check out this Wikipedia page. Back in the car, we continued our path into the fjord. It seemed to go on forever! But we did not mind because it is gorgeous.
After about 15-20 minutes we saw the sign to Glymur, Exciting! This path has gotten quite popular with both locals and tourists over the years, so it can get a bit crowded. But there should be enough parking for everyone. Just try to come on a weekday instead of the weekend, then there will be fewer people 🙂
At the parking is an info sign about the hike with a map and directions.
Time to start hiking
From here we began the trail to Glymur. After 10 minutes we arrived at the first adventure of the trail: crossing the river below.
The size of the river can change depending on when you go if you do have to wade a bit just take off your shoes and hold onto the rope. It is a nice start to the hike and wakes you up a bit.
We continued, the scenery keeps getting more and more beautiful. Then the trail lead us into a cave! This cave is of course not big, but it feels very cool to have to go through a small cave, makes you feel like in a fairytale.
Then the trail gets a bit steeper, going up the canyon. When you are hiking up, don’t forget to look back – the view becomes stunning as you get high enough to see the fjord again and the canyon below you. The contrast between the green canyon, blue skies, and the fjord is breathtaking.
Then the canyon finally reveals the majestic waterfall – Glymur! It is hard to describe how exactly impressive this waterfall is. Cascading into a deep, green canyon, birds flying around everywhere and the river below. It is truly amazing. One picture is of course not enough for this majestic waterfall:
We took a few minutes to awe at the waterfall and the scenery around and hiked on. The path then led us above the waterfall. I always find it very impressive to see above a waterfall, where all this energy of Glymur comes from.
After walking for a while above the waterfall, next to the river, it was time to cross it. There are a few spots to do it. Of course, it depends on you and where you want to cross and it changes a bit every year. It takes some courage to take the first step into the cold water. But once we were in, there was no turning back!
The water reached mid-calf and the current was not too strong – just very very cold! We made it across and dried our cold feet and put them back in the shoes to continue.
The trail then leads back down – continuing to impress us with the views. On the way down it started to rain a bit. The rain just added to the mystique of the area and we embraced it. Luckily it didn’t rain too hard and we made it semi-dry back to the car! Hoping to see some álfar (elves) and tröll (trolls) on the way back but they were in hiding.
Fun fact: a majority of Icelanders still believe in elves or huldufólk (hidden people). We believe that they live in certain rocks and only show themselves on special occasions. A place like Glymur is definitely a location where you might get a chance to spot them 😉
Not convinced yet? Check out this cool drone video by Koala Discovers on Youtube.