Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. Together with Þingvellir and Geysir, Gullfoss forms the Golden Circle, a popular day tour for tourists in Iceland. Gullfoss means "the golden fall".
From Reykjavik to Gulfoss it is a 115 kilometer drive to the east.
Gullfoss can be reached by two sides of the river. The easiest and most beautiful is the east side, but the way to the fall is dusty. Near Gullfoss there is a parking lot that can be quite busy. From the parking you look down on the waterfall which gives a good impression of the power of the waterfall. From there you can descent over a wooden staircase. You will pass several point from which you can take beautiful pictures. Best place is to walk to the base of the waterfall.
Gullfoss is a wide waterfall in the river Hvítá with a total height of 32 meters. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice 32 m deep. The crevice, about 20 meter wide, and 2.5 km in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m³/s.
During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there was much speculation about using Gullfoss to generate electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners, Tómas Tómasson and Halldór Halldórsson, to foreign investors. However, the investors attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. The waterfall was later sold to the state of Iceland, and now the waterfall is protected.
Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson was determined to preserve the waterfall's condition and even threatened to throw herself into the waterfall. Although it is widely believed, the very popular story that Sigríður did save the waterfall from use is not true. A stone memorial to Sigriður, located above the falls, depicts her profile.