The sight of a waterfall cascading from a height is one of the most captivating natural wonders in the world. Actually, it’s breathtaking to witness water hitting the rocks or splashing in all directions. Possibly, you can relate to a city or a beach or any other tourist attraction by visiting similar places near you. But, you can feel the view, scent, and touch of a waterfall only by experiencing it live. In fact, every waterfall is unique in its height, force, color, and even taste. Check out our list of the 20 largest waterfalls in the world. Some of these are unimaginably tall and some magnificently wide.
Every waterfall in this list is a representation of the unmatchable grandeur of mother Earth. Falling from thousands of feet high into a pool, the view of these foamy waterfalls covered in mist will leave you spellbound. Some of these places even offer adventurous hiking trails, campsites and more. Delight the traveler in you by checking out some of the biggest waterfalls in the world during peak seasons. A handy list below will be an amazing guide for your next trip to these waterfalls.
Rhine Falls, Switzerland
Rhine Falls in Switzerland is the largest waterfall in Europe. This waterfall is 23m (75ft) tall, and 152m (499ft) wide. This waterfall was formed in the ice age, more than 15,000 years ago on the Rhine river. The Rhine river flows through four different countries before it enters the North Sea. River High Rhine in Switzerland drops to form the spectacular Rhine Falls between Zurich and the Cantons of Schaffhausen. This waterfall offers the best views of this historic river in the whole continent. There, you’ll find an observation deck on the Zurich side, where you can witness this grand waterfall.
Jog Falls, Shimoga, India
Jog Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. This waterfall lies in the beautiful Shimoga district in Karnataka, India. It drops from a height of 253 meters (830 ft). In fact, it’s the second tallest plunge waterfall in India. Seasonal, the waterfall looks best during the monsoon months of June till September. Tourists may bathe in this waterfall on the Jog Falls tour. It is one of the most popular tourist activities in the Shimoga district. Comprised of four falls, namely Raja, Rani, Roarer, and Rocket. They present a splendid scene. Raja is the highest of the four, Rani (Queen) slithers elegantly down, and Roarer is the noisiest. Then, Rocket dives like a jet.
Sutherland waterfall arises from the overflowing Lake Quill in Milford Sound located on the South Island of New Zealand. Lake Quill is at 580 meters (1,904 feet) above sea-level on a mountain top. Sutherland drops in three cascades – upper (229m), middle (248m), and lower (103m). This waterfall was discovered by a Scottish settler named Donald Sutherland and is named after him. You can reach this waterfall on the Milford Track from the base at the Quintin Public Shelter. It is approximately a 90-minute hike. Perhaps, enjoy an adventurous hike followed by breathtaking lake and waterfall views at the summit. This year-round waterfall can be best hiked during the summer months from October to April.
Ban Gioc–Detian Falls, China
Ban Gioc–Detian Falls flows on the China-Vietnam border and comprises of two waterfalls. Although the Cao Bong Province is not a major tourist attraction in China, it is home to many hidden gems like the Ban Gioc–Detian Falls. This waterfall is also the largest in Vietnam. While reaching this waterfall can be difficult, it has some amazing views of a lifetime that you cannot miss. You can either take a bus from Hanoi to Cao Bong or hire a bike or car from Hanoi. Ban Gioc–Detian Falls, China plummets for a distance of 1000 meters (3280 ft) in a series of four cascades. This waterfall has the highest cascade at 70 meters (230 ft) dropping at a width of 200 meters (656 ft).
Check out the natural wonder of an ice-toned beauty under the colorful northern lights in Iceland‘s Gulfoss falls. This iconic waterfall offers the breathtaking sight of Olfusa River rushing off a cliff and flowing into a stream. The misty waterfall hides the stream on the ground so it looks as though the water disappears in thin-air after dropping off the cliff. This 245 meters (804 ft) wide waterfall’s sheer force is a magical sight to witness for tourists. Although it’s just a 32 meter (105 ft) cascade, this waterfall is one of the major power-generation sources in the country. A good time to visit the falls is during summer afternoons for the best views. There are various tours available from cities of the South Coast to this waterfall. A guided tour to the Golden Circle is the best way to reach Gullfoss waterfalls and nearby attractions.
Iguassu or Iguazu waterfall is located in both Brazil and Argentina with the bulk of it situated on the Argentinian side. There is a popular legend about this waterfall. The story goes that a deity wanted to marry a girl. However, she fled with her lover in a canoe on River Iguassu. Outraged by this act, the deity cut the river into two, thus forming the waterfall. This is one of the largest waterfalls in South America consisting of more than 275 mini waterfall cascades. The highest point of this waterfall is 82 meters (269 ft). The thick rainforest cover near this waterfall is another natural beauty to experience.
Browne Falls, New Zealand
New Zealand’s famous photographer, Victor Carlyle Browne discovered breathtaking waterfalls inside the Fiordland National Park in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. Carrying his name, Browne waterfall is the highest in New Zealand, cascading from a height of 836 meters (2743 ft). This waterfall flows from Lake Browne. Although the waterfall itself is not a popular tourist attraction, the Fiordland National Park offers various hiking and trekking trails on which you can check out this magnificent waterfall as well.
Yosemite Falls, California
Yosemite Falls is a 746 meter (2425 ft) waterfall in the Yosemite Valley in Sierra Nevada, California. This waterfall comprises three drops namely upper Yosemite, the middle cascades, and lower Yosemite falls. This waterfall has the best views during the late spring season. A popular legend among the Ahwahneechee people in this region says that the plunge pool at the base of the waterfall is under the control of evil witches. They also believe that women who take water from this pool will be sucked into it and that the collected water turns into snakes. Today, this waterfall offers steep hikes and amazing views that no one should miss.
Gocta Cataracts is a perennial waterfall in Peru that drops from 771 meters (2530 ft) above sea-level. This waterfall can be reached on an easy day-trip from Chachapoyas. The best views include a heavy torrent from October to April, during the peak rainy season. You can reach the waterfall after am easy two-hour hike. This waterfall was kept a secret for a long time by the locals as they feared the curse of a blond mermaid who is said to reside in it. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the evergreen Amazon surrounding this waterfall.
Vinnufossen Waterfall in Sunndal, Norway
Vinufossen or Vinufallet is the tallest waterfall in Europe at a height of 853 meters (2838 ft). This waterfall in Sunndal village is one of the must-see tourist destinations in Norway. It stands at sixth place in the list of highest waterfalls in the world and falls in four stages before hitting the ground. By taking just a ten-minute walk from road 70 along the marked path at the bottom of the valley, you will be able to get an up-close view of the falls. The waterfall flow is fed by the melting of the Vinnubreen glacier.
Salto Para Falls
Salto Para Falls acted as a traditional boundary of Ye’kuana and Kalina tribes in Venezuela. This waterfall is the second-widest waterfall in the world at a width of 5,608 meters (18,400 ft). Although it has its highest drop at 60 meters (197 ft), it has a powerful flow of 3540 cubic meters per second. This is a half-moon shaped waterfall with lush-green forests on either side created by the culmination of two large rivers. There is no road-route to reach Salto-Para falls. However, you can take a boat trip to view the misty charm of this ginormous waterfall.
Tugela, South Africa
Tugela falls in South Africa cascades as multiple cataracts in the KwaZulu National Province. This waterfall is named Tugela and in the Zulu language, it means ‘surprise’ or ‘startling’. It’s named like this because the waterfall may completely dry out during certain times of the year and yet plunge beautifully during heavy rains. The falls sit on the Tugela River which originates in the Drakensberg Escarpment. This waterfall’s total drop of 947 meters (3110 ft), makes it the second tallest in the world. You can enjoy a 7.5 mile (12km) hike in the mountains enjoying the fabulous scenery of the falls and the forests around it.
Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia
Plitvice Waterfalls inside Lake Plitvice National Park in Croatia is the largest in the country and is popular for the breathtaking views of 16 interconnected waterfalls. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world as it offers stunningly incredible water views. The highest drop among the 16 is at 77 meters (255 ft) above ground. This waterfall attracts more than a million tourists every year, especially during summers (July to September). You can visit Plitvice falls during the spring and autumn for smaller crowds and beautiful fall colors.
Dettifoss in Iceland is second-most impressive falls in the whole of Europe. Flowing from the melting of Vatnajökull glacier, this waterfall covers a large area in north-east Iceland. This waterfall is 330 miles (531 km) away from Reykjavik. It’s part of the Diamond Circle, similar to the Golden Circle for Gulfoss. Diamond Circle comprises of major attractions like Húsavík, Ábyrgi Canyon, Lake Mývatn, and Dettifoss waterfall. You can take a day trip to the Diamond Circle and end your day staying at the Dettifoss Waterfall base. There is a small observation area from which you can witness this waterfall up-close. However, its mist and the many rainbows can be witness miles away from the falls.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border is one of the seven natural wonders in the world. This waterfall drops down into a large pool called the Devil’s Pool. The waterfall on the mighty Zambezi River is the world’s largest during times of good rains in the previous season. Interestingly, it peaks later, after the Barotse swamps overflow. David Livingstone, the discoverer of this waterfall named it after Queen Victoria. It is called the “Smoke that Thunders” in the Lozi language. This waterfall looks like a magnificent curtain of falling water. You can check out the ariel view of this thunderous waterfalls on a helicopter tour over Victoria Falls. There are also many day trips to both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides of the Victoria Falls. This waterfall is 1,708 meters (5,604 ft) wide and 108 m (355 ft) tall.
Pearl Shoal Waterfall, China
Pearl Shoal Waterfall in Jiuzhaigou valley inside a national park is part of the World Biosphere Reserve. This waterfall is fed by one of the major tributaries of the Bailong River. The falls are 162.5 meters (533 ft) wide 40 meters (137 ft) high. This waterfall is surrounded by seven beautiful villages. It is a popular tourist destination in China attracting millions of people every year. Don’t forget to check out the outward concaves of this waterfall which is its unique geological feature. This waterfall is crowded especially during the warmer months.
Khone Falls, Laos
Khone Falls in Laos is the largest waterfall in south-east Asia and the widest in the world. it covers a whopping distance of 6 miles (9.7 km) in succession rapids. It is also a one-of-a-kind falls to witness. Historically, this waterfall acted as the biggest barrier for colonizers navigating the Mekong River. The highest rapid drops from a height of 21 meters (69 ft). However, it is indeed awe-inspiring to witness the series of cascades rushing into one another in this waterfall.
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Kaieteur Falls is the largest single-drop waterfall in the world by volume. It’s a powerful waterfall that erodes the river bed causing it a muddy coloration. This waterfall plunges from the Potaro River at a height of 226 meters (741 ft). The average flow of this mighty waterfall is 663 cubic meters per second (23,400 cubic feet). This waterfall is in the center of the Guyana rainforest of Kaieteur National Park in South America. The Kaieteur special airstrip is just a 15-minute walk from the top of the falls. You can also go on a Guyana River and Nature Safari guided tour to reach the falls. There are also several local tour operators who will guide you on a trip to this spectacular waterfall.
Niagara Falls, US – Canada Border
Niagara Falls consists of a group of three falls near the southern reaches of the Niagara Gorge. They spread across the border of the USA in New York and the province of Ontario in Canada. The largest of the three is known as Horseshoe Falls, Sometimes, it’s called the Canadian Falls. Meanwhile, Bridal Veil and American Falls lie within the USA.. Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls are separated by Goat Island. The same hold true for the American Falls with Luna Island. These islands also lie with New Yorks’ boundaries as well.
This waterfall attracts millions of tourists throughout the year on both sides. Hence, there is a lot of development on either side with hotels, casinos, viewpoints, and much more. Some of the must-try activities in this waterfall are the “Maid of the Mist” boat tour, and the Niagara Falls sightseeing tour. You could try the Niagara-on-the-lake tour in Toronto
Angel Falls in Venezuela is the tallest waterfall in the world dropping from a height of 979 meters (3212 ft). This waterfall has two drops with the largest plunge at the height of 807 meters (2,648 ft). Angel Falls is a popular tourist attraction in the Canaima National Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. This waterfall gets its name after pilot Jimmy Angel who first spotted it in 1937. You can reach this waterfall on a boat ride in Canaima. There is also a wide range of options for a night camping in the National Park. Estimates reveal that hikers take about nine and a half days to ascend to the top of the waterfall. You can also explore the many attractions in and around Canaima National Park on a 5-day excursion tour.