Walking between two tectonic plates is an adventurous experience! You can do that while Hiking in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. Just like the Vikings, let's hike and explore Thingvellir National Park!
Thingvellir National Park - Iceland's First-Ever 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. It remains one of the most popular national parks internationally.
Iceland's First-Ever Parliament
It is the first national park in Iceland. The national park 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!
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!
Where Exactly Is þingvellir National Park Located?
Primarily, þingvellir National Park is a part of the Golden Circle of Iceland. Situated on the north shore of Lake Thingvallavatn, it's only 30 miles east of Reykjavik - Iceland's capital city.
Geology Of Thingvellir National Park
The geology of this national park makes it an ideal spot for hiking.
Þingvellir National Park rests between two powerful forces: the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The result of their meeting is a remarkable ridge known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which increases in length each year as they drift apart by 2.5 cm (1 inch) annually—a staggering reminder of how dynamic our planet truly is!
Travel to the spectacular Thingvellir National Park in Iceland - one of only a few places on Earth where you can actually witness the Mid-Atlantic Ridge above sea level!
Here, you'll be able to see firsthand how this ridge has created remarkable geological quirks such as faults and fissures caused by the movement of tectonic plates.
The breathtaking sights at Þingvellir will leave an unforgettable impression that's sure to last long after your visit is over.
Hiking In Thingvellir National Park
The best way to experience the beauty and grandeur of Thingvellir National Park is by hiking. With its steep cliff walls and canyons, breathtaking views, and plentiful trails, you'll be sure to get your heart pumping as you explore this natural wonder.
How To Start Hiking At Thingvellir National Park?
Your journey will begin at the Hakid Visitor Center at the Thingvellir National Park. The walking routes to the hiking trails start here. Park your car at the visitor center, and you'll be able to explore Thingvellir National Park freely on that day!
This parking ticket gives you access to each area of Thingvellir, so feel free to visit multiple places in a single day if that's what you'd prefer.
You can get all the information about the trails from the visitor center. However, if you are traveling with a guided tour service, you are good to go.
Are There Proper Hiking Trails In þingvellir National Park?
Yes! There are proper hike trails at Thingvellir National Park. The main hiking trails are kept in excellent condition, with a combination of gravel paths, dirt walkways, and wooden boardwalks.
You can expect some steep inclines here and there - especially on the hike up to the waterfall followed by a trek returning to the visitor center but for the most part, it's rather level terrain.
To enhance your knowledge of the park, there are informational signs available in both English and Icelandic dispersed throughout.
From gentle paths that lead to hidden lakes and majestic waterfalls, to more challenging climbs up steep peaks and deep gorges - there's something for everyone!
Thingvellir Hiking Trails
There are three hiking trails at the þingvellir National Park:
Set off on your Thingvellir hiking trail from the great Almannagjá fault - a sloping path situated near Hakið Visitor Centre that is bordered by both the North American Plate and Eurasian Plate. Here, you will embark on an extraordinary adventure unlike any other!
You have a chance to tread the paths between two tectonic plates - something rarely experienced elsewhere, if ever.
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!
Öxarárfoss Waterfall Hike
Embark on an unforgettable journey through Thingvellir National Park, and explore the captivating Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail. With this hike, you'll wander through a stunning crater that marks where two tectonic plates converge.
Öxarárfoss Waterfall is only a short 4.5-mile jaunt from the visitor center, but with its even terrain and stunning scenery, you'll hardly realize that time's passing.
The railing system and boardwalk will guide you directly up to the majestic waterfall in no time! Imagine being deep within this fault line - it's sure to be an unforgettable experience.
How Much Time Do You Need For Hiking At Thingvellir National Park?
The answer to this question varies, depending on which corner of the sprawling 35-plus square mile park you plan to visit. The Öxarárfoss Waterfall Hike, for example, will take around 4.5 miles to complete, whilst the Almannagjá Fault Trail takes approximately a whole day to explore.
What Things To Keep For Hiking?
When planning your trip to Thingvellir National Park for hiking, make sure you bring the following items:
- Rain Gear
- Comfortable and sturdy hiking boots
- Drinking Water
- Small first-aid box
- Hiking sticks or trekking poles
Is This Hike Safe For Children?
Yes, the trails in Thingvellir National Park are very family-friendly and suitable for children of all ages.
Just remember to keep your little ones close enough so that you can keep an eye on them and stay safe on the trails! You can also help them get more out of their experience by teaching them about the park's history, geology, and wildlife.
Do You Need A Permit To Visit Thingvellir National Park For Hiking?
No, there is no permit needed to enter or hike in the Thingvellir National Park. You just need to follow the safety instructions provided by staff at the visitor center upon arrival.
Thingvellir Free Walking Tour (Recommended)
Every day at 10 AM, Park rangers invite you to explore Thingvellir – free of charge! This one-hour journey begins inside the historic church and progresses with a guided walk through Thingvellir’s surrounding areas.
With each step, guests will discover more about this place's storied past. So join us as we uncover insight into Iceland's most cherished national park!