Thingvellir National Park is a spot where nature takes the center stage! It is one of the three wonders located on the Golden Circle Route, in Iceland. Visit Thingvellir national park on an easy-day tour and witness the glory of this UNESCO World Heritage Site yourself!
- Destination Name: Thingvellier National Park
- Location: Golden Circle Route, Iceland
- Opening Hours: 24 Hours
- Open Days: All Week Except Fridays
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Accessibility For Disable Persons: Partial
- Best Months For Visit: April, May, Sept, & Oct
- Ideal Season: Round The Year
- Area: 9270 sq km
Quick Question - Can you recall this iconic fight scene from the Season 4 of the series "Game of Thrones? The location is jaw-dropping and seems like a true land of the Vikings. Well, it was shot at Thingvellir National Park, one of Iceland's greatest natural wonders that we are talking about in this post.
This awe-inspiring park offers its visitors a chance to explore winding paths through rocky terrain, filled with waterfalls, fjords, breathtaking landscapes, and rare wildlife.
Whether you’re looking for an unforgettable wilderness adventure or simply want to take in Iceland’s unparalleled beauty up close, there's something for everyone at Thingvellir National Park!
In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the details about visiting this stunning park—from what activities are available year-round to tips on tourist etiquette around local wildlife. With our complete guide, you can make sure that your time at Thingvellir will be nothing but amazing.
Quickly About Thingvellir National Park - Iceland's First Parliament!
When you think of Iceland's stunning landscape and captivating scenery, Þingvellir National Park will likely come to mind. Even if you have never been there yourself, the imagery of this remarkable destination is unmistakable.
Fun Fact: The word Þingvellir (Icelandic for Thingvellir) is derived from Old Norse Þingvǫllr. If we break it, it comes down to two words. First is þing which means assembly. The second is vǫllr meaning fields. That makes it the word Assembly Fields. It is compared to the English word Thingweald from the Anglo Saxon þing and weald.
This natural wonder offers truly captivating views, from crystal-clear lakes and continental plates to underwater caverns and volcanic terrain! Situated on the north shore of Lake Thingvallavatn, it's only 30 miles east of Reykjavik - Iceland's capital city - allowing for a quick journey that results in an unforgettable experience.
Visiting Iceland? Don't pass up the opportunity to explore this truly unique and otherworldly park, with its spectacular scenery that can be found nowhere else.
Historical Significance Of þingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is more than just a stunning landscape. It has a particularly rich history and cultural significance, as it was the site of Iceland's first parliamentary assembly in 930 AD. It is also home to Althing, the world's longest-running parliament!
This eventually led to Iceland's Commonwealth period, a time of autonomy and liberty for the Icelandic people prior to their attachment to Norway. Þingvellir remained the site of these meetings until 1798.
A monumental reason why Þingvellir is so revered by Icelanders is that it was here that the country embraced Christianity in 1000 AD, an imperative decision made due to Norway's looming invasion. Prior to this transition from Paganism and their Norse Gods, Icelanders existed as spiritual people of faith and culture that had been passed down generationally.
After careful consideration, the pagan law speaker Þorgeir Þorkelsson made a historic decision at this pivotal moment. He paused for one day and night in order to make his conclusion known with certainty.
The Thingvellir National Park was established in 1930, during Iceland's period of independence from Denmark. During this time, Thingvellir National Park was recognized as a protected area, focusing on preserving its history and precious cultural heritage for future generations.
Where Exactly Is þingvellir National Park Located?
Thingvellir National Park is located in the Thingvallavatn Lake Region of southwest Iceland, a few miles east of Reykjavik. It is situated on two tectonic plates, making it an extremely geological place.
How To Get To Thingvellir National Park?
The Thingvellir National Park is easily accessible from Reykjavik.
- Upon reaching Reykjavik, take the journey along Road 1 (the Ring Road) northbound for 10.5 miles (17 km).
- Head to Road 36 near Mosfellsbær.
- Once you reach Mosfellsbær, cruise through the town and take the very first exit at the roundabout to join Road 36.
- Take Road 36 and let the road signs be your guide on a journey to Thingvellir National Park.
Bonus Alternative Route (Recommended May Through September)
- Begin your journey to Thingvellir National Park by heading south on Route 1 from Reykjavik.
- When you come across Road 431, take a sharp left and continue onto Road 435 for some breathtaking views of Thingvallavatn Lake.
- Afterward, turn left onto Road 360 before starting to descend down the mountain.
- Once you travel 6 miles more, take right on Road 36 - this will lead directly back to the visitor center upon arrival.
For your convenience, you can either hire a car and explore the national park at your own pace or join one of the numerous professional tours headed to the site.
10 Must Things To Do At Thingvellir National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds an assortment of wonders ready to surprise you. We highly recommend doing these 10 must things to experience Thingvellir National Park at its best.
1 - Visit Althing - World's Longest-Running Parliament
Immerse yourself in history at Thingvellir National Park, the site of the world's first parliament. Althing is one of Iceland’s most amazing landmarks, with stone remnants still visible today from the booths that were originally constructed out of turf and rock!
Nearby you can also find evidence of agricultural activities performed between the 18th and 19th centuries. If you're a history enthusiast this attraction should not be missed!
Established in 930AD, the Althing meeting spot served as a site of assembly for Iceland's representatives until 1798. These gatherings took place over two weeks annually and featured important decision-making concerning laws and plans for the nation.
In Reykjavik, a permanent stone structure was constructed to house these meaningful meetings - making it one of the most incredible experiences within Thingvellir National Park, not to mention all of Iceland!
2 - Visit Thingvellir Church
Thingvellir Church is an important national monument located at Thingvellir National Park. Established in 1859, this church is the oldest building in Thingvellir and a vital part of Iceland’s history and culture.
This stunning wooden structure features beautiful stained-glass windows that were donated by Danish King Christian IX - as a gift of friendship and peace. Thingvellir Church is now home to many religious events throughout the year such as weddings and christenings.
3 - Walk Between Two Tectonic Plates At The Mid Atlantic Ridge
Exploring Thingvellir National Park offers a truly unique experience, especially when you venture into Almannagja Gorge and traverse between two continents in the rift valley.
Here lies the boundary of the North American tectonic plate and Eurasia's plate, both visible from various points in the gorge as they emerge from Iceland’s terrain. It is certainly one of the most awe-inspiring sites to behold!
Step out of this world and onto the unique path between two continental tectonic plates at Almannagja. Home to one of the few places on our planet where Earth's crust is clearly visible, a visit here is sure to be an unforgettable experience for all.
Witnessing these massive chunks of land juxtaposing against each other should not only be on everyone's must-do list when visiting Thingvellir but also makes it Iceland’s coolest attraction!
4 - Hakid Visitor Center
Don't forget to make a stop at the Hakid Visitor Center, located close to the main viewing point and Almannagja's footpath. Note that opening hours may vary depending on the time of year - often extending late during summer months when more tourists are visiting this exquisite park.
Throughout the year, Thingvellir National Park's Hakid Center provides interactive exhibits featuring the history of Iceland and Thingvellir. Additionally, you can find all sorts of information about this unique park as well as a cafeteria and souvenir shop to explore! And don't forget to grab yourself one of their helpful guides so that you can truly get the most out of your visit here.
5 - Go On A Horseback Riding Tour
If you want an immersive experience of being a character in Game of Thrones, look no further than the ancient pathways that traverse Thingvellir National Park.
For centuries, this has been the resting point for travelers on horseback across Iceland and today those placid trails still remain—ready to be explored by visitors looking to journey through history from atop majestic steeds. What are you waiting for? Saddle up and embark on your own adventure!
Please Note: If you desire the unique experience of horseback riding, this activity is provided by a tour company outside of the park.
6 - Explore Lake Thingvallavatn - Iceland's Largest Natural Lake
Here's yet another wonder of Iceland.
Lake Thingvallavatn is a veritable playground for biodiversity. The unique combination of lava and water creates an exceptional nutrient-rich environment that gives rise to over 50 different types of invertebrates and 150 plant species! That's wonderfully surprising.
At 32 square miles, Lake Thingvallavatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland and even reaches a depth of 374 feet. Unfortunately, due to its frigid waters swimming isn't an option here. However, angling - or fishing - is a hugely popular activity at this destination with four distinct species of Arctic Char for visitors from all over the globe to enjoy!
7 - Explore Hiking Trails (Highly Recommended)
With various hiking trails in the park, there's something for everyone! Whether you're a beginner or an experienced hiker, all of these paths are either easy or moderately difficult. That means you don't have to push yourself too hard to still enjoy the breathtaking views.
There are three hiking trails at the þingvellir National Park:
i - Almannagjá Fault
If you're looking for an easy, picturesque walk to take in the area's unique beauty, then the "Almannagjá Fault" is just what you need. Located close to the visitor center and with a man-made path running through it along two distinct tectonic plates, this spot offers amazing views that will be sure to leave a lasting impression!
ii - Lögberg – Drekkingarhylur Trail
The Lögberg – Drekkingarhylur Trail is a short, but rewarding journey that can be completed in under an hour. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to explore breathtaking sights such as Lögberg Law Rock and Althing meeting spot as well as historic sites like the legendary Drowning Pool. Come experience this easy one-mile trail today!
iii - Öxarárfoss Waterfall Hike
For a truly unique experience, take the easy hike to Öxarárfoss waterfall from Almannagjá. The railing system and boardwalk will guide you directly up to the majestic cascade in no time! Imagine being deep within this fault line - it's sure to be an unforgettable experience.
8 - Go For Diving!
If you'd like to explore Thingvellir beneath the surface, there are only two authorized diving sites. However, a permit is necessary prior to your dive and divers must have certification in drysuit usage—wetsuits will not be accepted for safety reasons.
The two diving points are:
If you love swimming as much as exploring, this freshwater lake is the perfect spot for you! You'll need to swim a bit in order to get to the continental rift but it will be worth it. The water here is amazingly clear and pristine so you can explore all of the rocky caves that have formed beneath.
For any underwater enthusiast, Silfra must be high on the list of destinations to visit. It's like swimming through history as you dive between two continental plates and enjoy unparalleled visibility up to 300 feet with crystal clear waters.
Although wildlife may be scarce due to the freezing temperatures, this unique experience is worth braving for the chill!
9 - See Öxarárfoss Waterfall
Öxarárfoss Waterfall is a must-see destination in Iceland, thanks to its convenient location and easy walk from the car parking. While it may be smaller than other waterfalls throughout the country, this man-made creation still manages to captivate visitors with its stunning beauty. Make sure you don't miss out on experiencing one of nature's finest creations!
Despite its small size, Oxarafoss is incredibly picturesque and perfect for capturing brilliant photos. From the vibrant greens of springtime moss to the cool blues of winter snow, this waterfall is an absolute delight year-round.
Whether it's lush grass or thick foliage carpeting the rocks surrounding its gushing waters, you won't be disappointed in your visit!
10 - Camping At The Thingvellir National Park
If you're looking for a more adventurous way to explore Thingvellir National Park, why not consider camping out in the area? Now that sounds like a truly out-in-wild experience!
Please Note: Whether you wish to camp for the night or linger a few days longer, visitors of this national park are provided with two premier camping locations. A permit must be purchased at the Information Center upon arrival. However, reservations ahead of time aren't necessary!
Two Camping Locations In Thingvellir National Park are:
i - Vatnskot
If you're in search of a vista that overlooks Lake Thingvallavatn, then this campground is the perfect destination. Situated on the grounds of an ancient farm site, it affords stunning lake views and makes for an unforgettable experience.
ii - Leirar
Located directly off of the renowned Golden Circle tourist trail, Leirar is a massive campground located nearby to the Tourist Information Center and it's broken down into four smaller campsites. Despite their close proximity to one another, each site can be easily accessed on foot.
Are There Any Reliable Tour Services Available?
Yes, there are a number of tour services available at Thingvellir National Park. We suggest booking ahead as the park can become crowded during peak season.
If you're looking for an immersive and educational experience, we recommend Thingvellir Tours. Their knowledgeable guides will take you off the beaten track and showcase Thingvellir's hidden gems.
Try Golden Circle Day Tours!
Here is a viable option for you in case you are looking for a credible tour service. Try Golden Circle Day Tours.
Golden Circle Day Tours is a leader in the field of tours in Iceland and has been around for over a decade now. With professionally trained staff, it safely takes you through Iceland with a selection of well-planned and guided tours.
Join The Classic Golden Circle Day Tour To Visit Thingvellir National Park
- Duration: 8 Hours
- Cost: ISK 8990 Per Person
- Starting Location: Reykjavik
Are There Any Restaurants At The Park?
Yes, Thingvellir National Park has several restaurants located throughout the park.
Is There Any Entrance Free?
At Thingvellir, the entrance is completely free of charge!
What Is The Best Time To Visit?
The Thingvellir National Park is open all year round and the best time to visit will depend on what type of activities you plan on doing.
What Kind Of Clothing Is Required?
For Thingvellir, you should make sure to wear comfortable and warm clothing. Do not forget your hiking boots.
Is The Park Accessible For People With Disabilities?
Yes, Thingvellir is fairly accessible for people with disabilities. There are several well-marked and accessible trails as well as wheelchair ramps in the area. However, some of the more challenging trails may not be suitable for those with mobility difficulties. Please contact Thingvellir National Park before visiting.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
Yes, it is highly recommended to have travel insurance when visiting Thingvellir.