There are tons of waterfalls scattered around Europe and around the world, and all have their merits. But Europe is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world—whether it’s due to that waterfall’s height, its sheer uniqueness, its geothermal qualities, or other special features. Although there are, of course, hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls to choose from, this is my personal list of some of the best, not-to-be-missed waterfalls in Europe, places that are more than just a bit of water flowing down over a cliff. In no particular order, here they are:
# Krka, Croatia
You may have seen my recent article about the most awe-inspiring national parks in Europe, where I mentioned Krka National Park as a good alternative to Plitvice Lakes (due to the fact that swimming in Plitvice Lakes is prohibited, but swimming in Krka National Park—even near the beautiful, cascading falls—is popular with locals and tourists alike). The Skradinski Buk Falls are actually one of Croatia’s most well-known tourist attractions, and they’re certainly a sight to see—rather than the water flowing in one clean line down the falls, the falls is a collection of nearly twenty separate falls which range in height. But the Skradinski Buk Falls aren’t even the only set of falls in the park. One of the best ways to get out and see other collections of falls is to organize a boat tour along the river.
# Langfossen, Norway
When it comes to the tallest waterfalls in Europe, Norway definitely packs a punch. It’s home to all of the top five tallest waterfalls on the continent, as well as plenty of others in the top fifty tallest. Vinnufossen ranks as the tallest waterfall in Europe and the sixth-tallest in the world, but personally, I think Langfossen is a much more impressive waterfall to visit. This is partly because, unlike many other waterfalls in Norway which have been harnessed to provide hydroelectric energy, Langfossen still roars freely down the high cliffs and into Åkrafjorden. It’s possible to take beautiful pictures of the waterfall with the fjord in the foreground, plus there are a couple quaint Norwegian villages scattered around the shores of the fjord.
# Rhine Falls, Switzerland
Although the Rhine Falls lack in height compared to some of the other entries on this list, they more than make up for that in terms of width. Indeed, the falls spread across the river for nearly 500 feet, and during the summer, given all the snowmelt in areas upstream from the falls, you’ll find an impressive amount of water pouring down over the falls. One of the best areas to view the falls from is on a boat in the Rhine River, where you’ll be able to see nearby Wörth Castle and Schloss Laufen (‘schloss’ means ‘palace’ in German). There are also a number of viewing platforms on both sides of the river.
# Terme di Saturnia, Italy
This geothermal waterfall, located near the village of Saturnia, has been popular with bathers since the Roman times—in fact, take a dip in the spa-like waters and you will be following in the footsteps of many a nobleman! There are a few different waterfalls located in the area, including the Mill Falls and the Falls of Gorello. Some spots require entrance fees, like the spa waters of the Terme di Saturnia Spa Resort, but at other places, you’ll be able to take a dip—and take in the beautiful, natural scenery—free of charge. What’s not to love about relaxing in warm (and some say, therapeutic) waters in the middle of quaint Tuscany?
# Gljúfrafoss, Iceland
There’s nothing more mysterious than a waterfall cascading down into a cave, which is exactly what you get with this place. Getting to the waterfall is not for the claustrophobic: you’ll have to slide through a narrow crack in the rock to get into the cave where you can see the waterfall. But once you’re inside, you’re sure to be impressed by the look of the falls, which seem to come out of nowhere. There’s also a viewing platform about halfway up the falls for a different sort of view—just make sure you wear waterproof shoes, as the spray tends to get your feet a bit wet.
Directions: click here
# Bigar Waterfall, Romania
Bigar waterfall often wins accolades for being the most impressive waterfall in the world—reason being, it’s one of the most unusual waterfalls in the world! The water fans out around a conical protrusion of rock covered in bright green moss, splitting off into hundreds of smaller streams that flow down into the river below. The effect of this is that the water creates a sort of shimmering veil around the rock. When you’re done gaping at the waterfall, you can also hike up and see the cave that the water flows from. Just make sure you wear good shoes, as the path can be a bit slick depending on when you visit.
# Pliva Waterfall, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s what’s behind this waterfall that really makes Pliva Waterfall so impressive. Of course, the 70-foot cascades are impressive in their own right, but behind the falls, you’ll be able to see the town of Jajce, which rises high up onto a hill, dotted with historical buildings and fortifications and crowned by a 14th-century fortress. Head down the river from the main waterfall, in the direction of Pliva Lakes. There, you’ll find smaller waterfalls alongside watermill huts, many of which date back to the late 19th century, during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These lie dormant today, but they were once key in grinding down locals’ wheat—and they add a little something special to the beautiful scenery, not that it needs anything extra!
Directions: click here
# Parc de Saint-Pons, France
The waterfall in Parc de Saint-Pons, located in Southern France, about a half-hour drive from Marseille, is a bit off the beaten path for most tourists, and it’ll take about an hour or two to hike out to the waterfall. It’s worth it, however, to take the walk. The wide set of waterfalls flow down over mossy cliffs before spilling into the river below. But perhaps what makes this waterfall most interesting is the nearby Cistercian abbey, the Abbaye de Saint-Pons, which dates back to the early 13th century but has been abandoned since the 15th century. This means that the place stands relatively untouched and unaltered even to this day, as a neat little bonus to your visit to the waterfalls.
# Gullfoss, Iceland
Gullfoss, or the “Golden Falls” of Iceland, is an impressive sight to see. The water comes from the Lángjökull Glacier, and the falls get their name from the color of the water as it flows in the sunlight. It’s a three-tiered set of falls, each with impressive height and girth, and given the sharp turn in the course of the river between the upper falls and the lower falls, you won’t find a similar view anywhere else in the world. Although there was a lot of talk about putting in a hydroelectric plant and taming the falls, this never ended up happening, and the falls today flow free and wild—and are likely to do so for a while in the future, given that they are currently protected national property.
# Gásadalur, Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands may not be the first place that you think of when you’re planning your trip to Europe, but there’s so much charm in this small set of islands located midway between mainland Europe and Iceland. Gásadalur village is home to fewer than fifty people, despite the fact that it’s relatively easy to access by roads thanks to recent infrastructure that’s been put into place. And the falls, which cascade down over high sea cliffs—with the village and the surrounding mountains in the background—are a very special sight which has featured on postal stamps and more!
With all the different national parks scattered around Europe and all the impressive scenery in various countries, it’s difficult to narrow this list down to just ten waterfalls! What’s the most interesting waterfall you’ve visited in Europe? You’re invited to share your favorites (and photos!) in the Comments section down below.