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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Þjófafoss waterfall in the river Þjórsá


Þjófafoss waterfall when the river Þjórsá is in full force
Þjófafoss waterfall when the river Þjórsá is in full force

The waterfall Þjófafoss is part of the Þjórsá river that stretches from the Icelandic Highland all the way to the south shore in the Southern Region of Iceland. It is the longest river in Iceland, 230 kilometers from Bergvatnskvísl, the northernmost source at Srengisandur. According to folklore and history, the waterfall got its name from practice in the old judiciary system in Iceland, as thieves were thrown into the waterfall to finish their sentences. Almost without exception, none have ever been seen again. The waterfall is south of the beautiful mountain of Búrfell. The river is a "tamed beast" as the water flow is controlled and supervised by Landsvirkjun, the main producer of electricity in Iceland. As a consequence, sometimes the river dries up, and the powerful waterfall almost disappears. A bit strange, but would probably have been welcomed by some of the criminals who were thrown into the waterfall ages ago.

Þjófafoss waterfall is in the South Region on the map of Iceland
Þjófafoss waterfall is in the South Region on the map of Iceland

We recommend the south side

Þjófafoss waterfall and surrounding area
Þjófafoss waterfall and surrounding area

The waterfall is accessible from both sides, although there is a considerable distance between access to the north side and the south side, as it is impossible to cross the river by the waterfall. Access to view the waterfall Þjófafoss the south side is easier and also more impressive. For those interested in photography, having the mountain Búrefell as a background is also more impressive than the flatland background from the northern side. But then again, you need to view the waterfall when the water is not being utilized by the power company.


Access is quite easy

Þjófafoss waterfall has a beutiful lava around it
Þjófafoss waterfall has a beutiful lava around it

If you are driving on the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the southern region of Iceland, you take a turn on Landvegur Road Nr. 26 between Selfoss town and the village of Hella. You drive approximately 45 kilometers north, and you will see a sign for Þjófafoss waterfall. The drive to the parking lot by the waterfall is about 4 kilometers.


Iceland has so many waterfalls that you could easily travel the whole country for summer and only photograph waterfalls. You would never run out of motives as you can always find one more waterfall. Some of the waterfalls are well-known and advertised. One of them is Þjófafoss or the "waterfall of thieves." Allegedly the waterfall got its name from the judiciary system in old Iceland, as thieves were thrown into the waterfall to finish their sentence. The waterfall is in the river Þjórsá south of the beautiful mountain Búrfell. The river is a tamed beast as the water flow is controlled and supervised by Landsvirkjun, the main producer of electricity in Iceland. As a consequence, sometimes the river dries up, and the mighty waterfall almost disappears. A bit strange, but would probably have been welcomed by some of the criminals who were thrown into the waterfall ages ago.


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