Iceland has thousands of stunning waterfalls, but Dettifoss, located in North Iceland is the largest of them all! Here’s your ultimate guide to visiting Dettifoss Waterfall.

What’s special about Dettifoss?

Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe and the largest waterfall in Iceland by volume, sprawling 100 meters wide and 44 meters tall. A rough estimate of about 193 cubic meters of average water flow over the falls every second. There’s no doubt you’ll feel tiny in the shadow of this mammoth waterfall.

Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe

Where is Dettifoss waterfall

Dettifoss Waterfall is located in Northern Iceland, not far from Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri. Tucked inside the vatnajökull national park, you can reach Dettifoss in 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Akureyri. The road distance is 82 miles (133 km).

From Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, Dettifoss is 323 miles (521 km). The drive takes about 6.5 hours without stops.

Similar to the Golden Circle near Reykjavik, Dettifoss is one of the most prominent features of Iceland’s Diamond Circle which also includes sites like Godafoss, Myvatn, and Husavik, Iceland’s whale watching hub.

the location of Dettifoss

How to get to Dettifoss with a rental car

Dettifoss isn’t far from Iceland’s famous Ring Road, also known as Route 1. As you approach the waterfall, you’ll turn onto Road 862 and follow it until you reach Dettifossvegur vistri, the road that leads to the parking lot for Dettifoss.

Which road to take when driving to Dettifoss? 862 or 864?

There are actually two different roads that you can take to reach Dettifoss, Road 862 and Road 864.

Road 862 follows the west side of the glacier river jökulsá á fjöllum, leading to Dettifoss. This is a paved road and open from late April to December. You’ll find a large parking lot at its end that leads to viewing platforms. If you decide to try and visit during the winter months, be sure to check road conditions in advance to be sure the road is open.

Road 864 follows the east side of the river and is only open from the end of May to the start of October. Road 864 is a gravel road. It’s highly recommended that you have a 4×4 vehicle to drive this route. The parking lot at the end is much smaller than the western side of Dettifoss.

what road to take? road 862 or 864 to dettifoss

Which side of Dettifoss is best for viewing?

Because there are two ways to reach Dettifoss, on opposite sides of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum which flows from the vatnajökull glacier, there are also two different viewing platforms.

The western side of Dettifoss is the better of the two options if you have a standard vehicle. The views from either side are similar but the road to reach Dettifoss western edge is easier to navigate. There is also plentiful parking here, bathrooms, and a short walk to reach the viewing platform. Many visitors say that you’ll probably get wet on this side of the falls from mist and spray!

For an alternative way to see the waterfall and skip the crowds, the eastern side of Dettifoss can be a fun alternative in the summer months. You can also see the nearby Sellfoss Waterfall more easily from this side. Keep in mind that in the peak season (July and August) the parking lot can fill up quickly! There are no bathrooms on this side of the waterfall.

The walk to reach either sides viewing platforms are similar and steep.

The view of Dettifoss Waterfall from Road 862 👈 vs Road 864👉

Dettifoss waterfall view from road 862
Dettifoss waterfall view from road 864

What is the best time to visit Dettifoss?

Dettifoss is best visited in the summer months (June to August) when the snow and ice has melted and you can see the waterfall up close. Road’s will be open in summer, making it very easy to reach if you have a 4×4 vehicle.

The road to reach Dettifoss is often closed in winter due to harsh weather conditions and snow and ice on the roadway.

the summer look of Dettifoss waterfall

Best rental car to rent for this trip

Getting to Dettifoss Waterfall means you might need to navigate gravel roads. Road 862 is the paved route and you can easily use a standard vehicle to reach the waterfall this way. This road tends to open earlier in the year than Road 864.

The alternative route, Road 864, is a gravel road and more difficult to traverse. While its technically possible to drive this road with a standard car, a 4×4 vehicle is much more ideal as you’ll have to travel over potholes and other rugged sections to get you to your destination.

Iceland car insurance guide

Rent a cheap car with Firefly Car Rental to Dettifoss waterfall!

Renting a cheap car with Firefly Car Rental is the best way to get to Dettifoss waterfall. You’ll be able to reach the waterfall easily with one of their inexpensive 4×4 vehicles.

Conclusion

Dettifoss Waterfall is one of Iceland’s most impressive natural wonders and a great destination to set off in search of by rental car!

Book your Iceland car rental with Firefly Iceland Car Rentals for some of the cheapest prices and more reliable vehicles in the Land of Fire and Ice.

Best cheap rental car option for North Iceland

DUSTER

Dacia Duster or similar | Manual | 4×4 | 2020-2021 (CFMX)

Group E2 Reservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model. or similar

  • 5 Passengers
  • 3 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Manual
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 116 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
TIGUAN

VW Tiguan or similar | Automatic | 4×4 | 2020-2021 Model (IFAX)

Group: OReservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model. or similar

  • 5 Passengers
  • 3 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • Adjustable Steering
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
  • Fog Lamps
DUSTER

Dacia Duster or similar |Manual| 4×4 (CFMN) -2022-2024 New Model

Group E2 Reservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model.

  • 5 Passengers
  • 3 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Manual
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 116 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
VITARA

Suzuki Vitara or similar|Manual| 4×4 (IFMN) | 2022-2024 New Model

Group F Reservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model. or similar

  • 5 Passengers
  • 3 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Manual
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
TIGUAN-GREY

VW Tiguan or similar|Automatic|4×4 (IFAR) | 2022-2024 New Model

Group: OReservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model. or similar

  • 5 Passengers
  • 3 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 176 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
  • Fog Lamps
SORENTO

Kia Sorento or similar | Automatic | 4×4 (SFAN) | 2022-2024 New Model

Group: O2 Reservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model.

  • 5 Passengers
  • 4 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 164 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
PAJERO

Mitsubishi Pajero or similar | Automatic| 4×4 (FFAR) | 2022-2024 New Model

Group: I Reservations are made by car category only. We cannot guarantee a specific car model. or similar

  • 5 Passengers
  • 5 Large
  • 5 Doors
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning

Suitable for the highland F-roads. Please read Terms & Conditions.
You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 213 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking