A day trip to Gjain Canyon in South Iceland
Gjáin is a small canyon located close to the historical farm Stöng in Þjórsárdalur valley in South Iceland. Gjáin is one of the most magical places you will find in Iceland, it was formed thousands of years ago and is believed to be the home of many elves (believe it or not). Gjáin is located about 135 km away from Reykjavík, the perfect day trip to and it’s also located close to some other interesting places worth visiting.
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From the historical farm Stöng there is a relatively easy hike to the northern part of Gjáin about 2 km, where you will find the waterfall Gjárfoss. The waterfall is small but very beautifully framed by stunning rock formation. You can also drive past Stöng little bit further to the parking lot on the south side of Gjáin and walk down steps into the valley.
The surroundings in the valley is spectacular and very peaceful, you feel like your’re in another world with the volcanic structure nature, lava caves, waterfalls, ponds and the basalt columns rocks all around you. The valley is also known for its amply vegetated surroundings and varied birdlife during the summer. It is believed that four lava fields have flowed there, the youngest called Þjórsárdalshraun flowed about 4,000 years ago.
Good to know
If you are visiting Gjáin during summer we recommend you give yourself some time to enjoy the area, especially if the weather is good. The valley is accessible all year round but during winter it is very important to check weather and road conditions before travelling, also the road to Gjáin can be bumpy as it is a dirt road so a 4X4 is recommended.
Gjáin is about one and half hour from Reykjavik. Take Ring Road nr. 1 towards Selfoss, drive through the town and then take road nr. 30. Drive for 10 minutes and then turn right on road nr. 32, then drive for about 25 minutes and then turn left on road nr. 327. From there it's about 20 minutes drive to the historical farm Stöng.
Other places in the area worth visiting
On the way back you can turn left and drive further to the road leading to Háifoss Waterfall. Háifoss is the third highest waterfall in Iceland, about 122 meters high and is located on the edge of the highlands near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. The view over this stunning waterfall with the beauty of the icelandic nature in the background makes this place the perfect location for photography.
You can also go back on road nr. 32 and drive for few minutes and then turn left to Hjálparfoss waterfall. Hjálparfoss or the “Help’s Falls” is located in Þjórsárdalur valley, just north of one of the most active volcanos is Iceland, Hekla. The waterfall runs from the river Fossá that merges with Þjórsá, Iceland’s longest river, not far from the waterfall.
After a long day it's ideal to drive to the town Flúðir and relax at the Secret Lagoon or The Old Pool (Gamla Laugin). The pool is a natural hot spring and 38-39° degree hot water constantly runs into the pool. The area around the pool is beautiful with the ruins from the old locker rooms and steaming hot springs around the pool give the place a magical feeling. The facilities around the pool where renovated and now offer showers, changing rooms, outside deck, bar and eating area.