A hike to Iceland’s secret waterfall, Bruarfoss

While we were in the land of fire and ice we drove around the ring road and stopped at many waterfalls and went on many easy adventures in Iceland but the best of them all was our hike to find Iceland’s bluest secret waterfall, Bruarfoss!

Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia

Brúarfoss translates to ‘Bridge Falls’ and is a relatively small waterfall compared to many of its Icelandic counterparts like Gulfoss & Detifoss.  What it lacks in size it makes up with its icy blue waters.  Often labeled as ‘Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall, it is one of Iceland’s hidden gem. 

We spent an afternoon following up a stream, hiking through meadows and running into friendly and shaggy haired Icelandic horses till we made it to waterfalls with the help of a couple of locals.

Facts about Bruarfoss 

Brúarfoss is roughly one hour and twenty minutes east of Reykjavik. The waterfall takes its name from a stone arch that once stood over it, acting as a bridge for those who wished to cross. According to legend, this natural stone bridge was destroyed in 1602 by a minion of the Skálholt episcopal see. At that time, Iceland was suffering a severe famine, and by destroying the bridge, the minion prevented the starving peasants from reaching the bountiful lands claimed by the church.

Hike to Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia

Brúarfoss makes up just a small part of Brúará, whose origins lie in the mighty Hvita river which runs from the glacier Langjökull.  This is why the water is an icy blue color. The glacial river Brúará falls, ends in a U-turn at the base of the waterfall, where the river is concentrated into a deep crevice. The blue rapids of the river are pretty strong and the area surrounding waterfalls is lush green with plenty of plants and flowers in summer.

How to visit Brúarfoss, Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall

To get to Brúarfoss, you have to be prepared to hike a bit. The only way to see Brúarfoss is by hiking. A visit to Brúarfoss requires a 7 km (4.4 miles) round trip walk and will take about 3 to 4 hours or longer if you pause for a lot of photos.

There once was a very short walking path to get to Brúarfoss. This trail was located on private property but this original trail is now closed. Visitors in the past trampled the fragile plant life and left behind trash and human waste, causing locals to close this trail.

Now, you can hike on a new longer path that leads to Brúarfoss waterfall. making this a much longer walk.

Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
How to hike to Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia

We probably would have got to the waterfalls faster if we had not paused for so many photos and what is the fun in that!?

Not sure why the boy got his baseball gloves to Iceland, but D has many pictures of his glove in different areas in Iceland and insisted on playing catch with his Dad on the volcanic soil 🙂

Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
Shaggy and friendly Icelandic horses

Visiting the secret waterfall Bruarfoss 

Most waterfalls in Iceland are off the ring road and are well marked but Bruarfoss is off the beaten path and a little difficult to get to.  If you are doing the Golden Circle trip,  between Geysir and Þingvellir Park, take route 37. Most directions point you through a neighborhood of summer homes, which is actually private property and you would be trespassing if you take that trail.  

How to get to Bruarfoss | Outside Suburbia
If you see this sign, you are on the right track

Instead of going into the summer house area, stop right before the 355 road, immediately after crossing the bridge.  You would be coming from Laugarvatn Fontana and heading to Geysir on 37. There on your left, you can park and walk upstream along the river for about 3.5 km. On Google Maps, it is called Brúarfoss Waterfall Official Parking.

From the parking lot walk a few steps to the stile to get onto the hiking trail. This stile stops cars from driving inside and also keeps the horses in.  The walk upstream is beautiful and should take about 4 to 5 hours.

Along the way, you will see two smaller waterfalls:
Hlauptungufoss sits at about the halfway point to Brúarfoss
Midfoss is just a short walk from there

Halfway through we thought we were lost and turned back, luckily we ran into some locals who lead the way.  They lead us to the sign and a bridge.  Once we crossed the bridge we could hear the waterfall. 

How to visit Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
We made it to Iceland’s Secret Waterfall – Bruarfoss

After a little more walking from Midfoss, you will arrive at Brúarfoss. The wooden bridge spanning the river is a great place to take photos. But to take photos at the water’s edge, you can cross the bridge and walk down to the riverbank. IMO Brúarfoss is more impressive from the bridge.

We were spellbound once we saw this secret waterfall, by far, this is one of our favorite waterfalls in all of Iceland. We stopped at quite a few on our drive around the island; both named and well-marked and other unnamed ones.

Was Brúarfoss worth it?

This is a difficult question to answer. Our family enjoyed the hike up to Bruarfoss and it was one of our favorite waterfalls. We spent close to 5 hours though. If you are short on time, or if you don’t feel like spending the day hiking 7 km round trip to see a waterfall, skip Brúarfoss.

However, if you are looking for more to do while driving the Golden Circle, or if you are on a mission visiting all the waterfalls in Iceland, Brúarfoss is worth the visit.

Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia
Kids admiring how blue the water is!
Bruarfoss: Iceland's Secret Waterfall | Outside Suburbia

Brekkuskógur, Iceland

The popularity of Iceland as an adventure destination has steadily increased over the years.  The special thing about Iceland is that if you have a camper, you can drive around and park anywhere, spend the night exploring to your heart’s content.  This also means it is easy for people to trespass private spaces, litter, and trample its delicate natural landscapes. 

If you are going waterfall chasing in Iceland to find this secret waterfall, just be mindful and respectful of the surroundings and enjoy the beautiful Bruarfoss.

You might also like:
10 Easy Adventures in Iceland
Snowmobile ride on a Glacier
Hiking & a Zodiac boat ride through Glaciers
Northern Iceland Diamond Tour
A perfect 7 day Iceland Itinerary

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