Fjaðrárgljúfur
Two Wandering Soles
Nína ÞorkelsdóttirNína Þorkelsdóttir

A law student with a bachelor's degree in music living in Reykjavik. Likes outdoor activities, literature, black coffee, running, classical music and red wine. Instagram: @ninahjordis. 

Travelade OriginalPublished 8. August 2017

Fjaðrárgljúfur: A Gorgeous Canyon Made Famous by Justin Bieber

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon in the southeastern region of Iceland. It was largely overlooked by tourists until Justin Bieber featured this hidden gem in a music video.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is located in southeast Iceland, not far from the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. This 1.2 miles long and 330 ft. deep canyon was formed around nine thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. There’s a river that flows through the canyon called Fjaðrá. 

Although Fjaðrárgljúfur is located only 2 miles away from the Ring Road, it’s not completely accessible by car. You will have to park at a parking lot and then there’s a short hike that leads you to the canyon. The hike is very easy and takes you through a very lovely scenery. 

If you are driving the Ring road anyway, I recommend that you take the time to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. The detour will take a half an hour or so. 

I heard of Fjaðrárgljúfur for the first time when Justin Bieber came to Iceland to shoot a music video. In the music video, the pop star appears swimming in the ice cold Fjaðrá river wearing nothing but white Calvin Klein underpants. Bieber featured several other attractions in south Iceland in his video, such as Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the DC-3 plane wreck in Sólheimasandur.
 

 

I have to admit that I hadn’t seen Bieber’s music video before visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur so I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I visited the canyon around noon on a Saturday in early August. As we approached the canyon, the full parking lot indicated that we were certainly not the only visitors there. We got out of the car and started walking upwards. We walked for just a couple of minutes until we were above the gorge, looking over the beautiful Fjaðrá river.
 

A photographer in Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, Iceland.

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in the summer.

The view was stunning and we could even see a whole family taking a dip in the clear (and cold!) river. We walked a bit further until we reached a viewpoint. We stopped there for a bit just to gaze at the canyon and take some pictures.

On our way back, we noticed some guys jumping into the river from a rock. I was amazed by their bravery, the river seemed way too shallow to jump in it from such a great height.

Needless to say, we didn’t follow in their footsteps, and headed back to the car.

People gazing at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, Iceland.


Q & A

How do I get to Fjaðrárgljúfur?
Fjaðrárgljúfur is located around 4 miles west of the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur in south Iceland. If you’re driving the ring road to the east, there’s a sign on your left hand that says Fjaðrárgljúfur. Drive for a couple of minutes until you reach the parking lot.

GPS points are N63° 46' 16.026" W18° 10' 19.506".

Is it accessible for all kind of cars?
I would think so, yes.

Is the hike difficult?
The hike is short and not very demanding.

Can I go there in the wintertime?
Yes, unless the snow is very heavy.

Is there entrance fee?
Nope.

Is it OK to step outside the fenced off area?
No. First of all, it could be dangerous to walk to the edges of the cliffs (like Justin Bieber did). Secondly, trespassing can harm vulnerable vegetation growing in the area.