northern iceland guide

N09 - Barnafossar and Hraunfossar**

how to get there
Distance from Keflavik ~ 166 km (100 mi)
Travel time ~ 2 hours

The Barnafossar Falls, also known as Bjarnafoss, is part of a system of waterfalls formed by the Hvítá River, which originates in the Lungjökull Glacier.

Barnafoss translates from Icelandic as “children's waterfall;" however, the name doesn't refer to the waterfall's size but to a folktale. According to legend, two boys, who had to stay home, decided to follow their parents who went to church. When they were passing a natural stone-bridge that was above the waterfall, they felt dizzy and fell into the water and drowned. When their mother found out what had happened, she put a spell on the bridge saying that nobody would ever cross it without drowning himself. Thankfully, the bridge was later demolished in an earthquake. According to another version, the locals destroyed the bridge so that no one would get hurt.
Hraunfossar is located nearby, just down the river stream. The falls are famous for their unique origin: they were formed by rivulets of the Hvítá river which came out of the Hallmundarhraun lava flow like a long one-kilometer (0.6 mi) strand of cascades that laced within the rough grooves of the lava. Hence the name Hraunfossar, which translates as "lava falls."
Nowadays, a small bridge has been thrown across the Hvítá River, where tourists can see both waterfalls at once - Barnafoss and Hraunfossar.

Near the waterfalls, there is a free parking lot and a good restaurant.
photography recommendations
Photograph at golden hour. After sunrise or before sunset. Take a walk along the river and look for the best angle to shoot from.