A walk in the park. That’s what comes to mind when describing a trip to Iceland’s beautiful Thingvellir National Park in Iceland.
Thingvellir is the first stop on Iceland’s Golden Circle. The park is known for being the site of Iceland’s first parliament as well as the location where two tectonic plates, the North American and Eurasian plates, are breaking apart at about 2.5cm a year. You can actually walk down part of the rift in the park’s notable Almannagja Gorge. Other attractions at Thingvellir include Oxararfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir Church. Activities in the area include trout fishing and snorkeling in the continental rift at Silfra Lake.
The park is peaceful, beautiful and touristy. As part of the Golden Circle, along with Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir is one of the most visited places in Iceland. This isn’t one of the outlying areas of Iceland where the feel is more adventurous and remote.
Despite the buses and many tourists, the park does deserve a walk through. The walk down the rift is pretty cool, and the area around the church is blissfully beautiful. Plan to spend an hour or two walking the beautiful grounds.
Thingvellir is located about 30 miles from Reykjavik. There are several entrances to Thingvellir from the highway. The first entrance takes you to the visitors center located on a ridge overlooking the park. At this location you can park in a field and pay the parking fee via credit card in a small building next to the visitors center. Take a photo of your license plate before leaving your car, for that’s what you will need to pay for the parking.
The visitors center is really unnecessary (for me at least) and it’s located away from the main part of the park below. I wish I had parked below (if possible) to avoid walking back up the ridge at the end of my visit.
From the visitors center you can walk down the Almannagja Gorge to the main part of the park. This is where you can walk between two continents, North America and Europe.
A beautiful stream runs through the middle of Thingvellir. The water is ever so clear!
Thingvellir Church (Þingvellir Church) sits above the stream.
Inside the church.
These buildings are near the church.
Oxararfoss Waterfall is one of the key attractions at Thingvellir. The waterfall is located within a rather long walking distance down the main rift path.
There were a lot of people at Oxararfoss on my visit and I had to work to get a shot with just a few people in the photo.
Oxararfoss means Axe Falls. The waterfall is on the Oxara River and the river was frozen when the first settlers reached the river. The settlers used an axe to cut through the ice to claim the river and surrounding area, so the story goes.
Thingvellir is a beautiful and interesting place that deserves a look. But after about an hour I was more than ready to leave for the next destination on the Golden Circle.