12 Things To Do In Thingvellir National Park Iceland
Thingvellir national park is located on the Golden Circle route and is one of Iceland’s most frequently visited attractions. This area contains interesting landscapes and has significance both historically and geologically.
This is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and an important historical location in Iceland. Visit all year round and explore one of the most unique geological sites in the world!
Thingvellir national park was established on the 100th anniversary of Iceland’s parliamentary assembly.
Nature of Thingvellir
Thingvellir national park is a natural wonder of the world. Where is the geology and ecosystem of Thingvallavatn show me a Unique whole? Thingvellir national park area is part of the Atlantic Ocean ridge that runs through Iceland. There you can see the consequences of the erosion of the earth‘s crust in the gorges and cracks in the area.
What does Thingvellir mean in Icelandic?
The name Thingvellir literally means assembly plains and the place symbolizes the history of Iceland. The Icelandic Parliament was founded there as early as 930, making it the oldest operating Parliament globally.
Where is Thingvellir located?
Located in southwest Iceland around 28 miles (45 km) northeast of Reykjavik. It’s the first stop for travelers on the Golden Circle and is located on the Ring Road. This is known as the birthplace of Iceland as a nation, and home to the oldest ongoing Parliament in the world.
How to get to Thingvellir national park?
Thingvellir national park is a 45-minute drive from downtown Reykjavik. This is usually done by renting a car in Reyjavik or from Keflavik airport. This drive is scenic and you can enjoy landscapes.
Or else you can opt for one of the tours.
Public transport does not run between Reykjavik and Thingvellir.
Thingvellir as a symbol of independence
When the European movement for independence reached Iceland, at the beginning of the 19th century, the sagas and landscape of Thingvellir were revitalized. Thingvellir then played a dominant role in Icelandic society, symbolizing its independence.
1. Thingvellir Centre and amenities
There is a regular 40-minute multimedia display in languages like English, Danish, French, Icelandic, and German. Details about the National Park, its history, Thingvellir hiking trails, and horseback, riding trails are all listed together
Car parking and toilets
Car parking cost about 750 ISK (5$ USD) for a regular car. This is a full-day car parking charge.
Toilets are located at the P1 Car Park by the Visitors Centre and charge around 200 ISK. These are open from 9 AM to 6 PM.
2. Geological History of the Thingvellir national park
About 3000 years ago, an 8 km long eruptive fissure opened in Thingvellir Valley, and multiple eruptions followed one after another. The last eruption in the area occurred around 2000 years ago when an ash crater arose from the bottom of Lake Thingvallavatn. Volcanic activity in the area has been dormant since then, but the question remains not whether, but when it will start up again.
The plate boundaries can be seen so clearly at Thingvellir because by the end of the last ice age, about 11000 years ago, great volcanic eruptions happened in the Thingvellir area.
These eruptions kept Lava flowing, reaching miles and miles, and making the vast area more rugged and spectacular, creating Heights in depressions.
This makes the Thingvellir the best place to view this astonishing, natural phenomenon, as the landscape before you will display the drifting of the tectonic plates in the traditional dramatic way Icelandic nature loves to do!
You can walk in the seismic rift Valley, that marks the border between the two continents
What is the best time to visit Thingvellir?
Between July, and October, when the trees at the park are in full bloom and can experience the unparalleled beauty of nature.
Opening timings: 9 AM to 6 PM (daily)
Almannagja is a gorge within Thingvellir national park, which marks the end of the North American tectonic plates. It is possible to hike through and have a beautiful waterfall within it.
Almannagja marks the boundary of the Mid-Atlantic rift, which runs through Iceland. Nowhere in the country is this remarkable feature more distant than in Thingvellir national park. At different points within it, it is possible to see both the clips that mark the ends of the continents, and when diving through it, you do ascend one of them and descend the other.
The movements of the tectonic plates as they slowly pull away from each other, give the park many distinctive features. It is littered with ravines, many of which are filled with crystal clear, spring water and it is coated in lava rock.
The movement of the plates also created Almannagja. As the North American plate pulled West, it could no longer sustain its weight, causing what used to be the age to break free of the continent in an earthquake. This left the Almannagja Gorge between two-segment, the gorge varies in width, but at several points can be walked through. A waterfall tumbles in one part of it, called Oxararfoss, which can easily be reached on foot.
Why is Thingvellir the best place to see continental plates move apart?
The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet at Thingvellir. For a long time, they have been slowly drifting apart, creating the dramatic and rugged rift Valley which runs through the sight. They move farther apart at a rate of about 0.79 inches (2 cm) every year.
4. Oxararfoss waterfall:
The Oxarafoss Waterfall is situated within Thingvellir national park in southwest Iceland, undeniably the most scenic natural attraction of the place.
The waterfall flows out of the river Oxara, cascading, in drops over the clips of Almannagja Gorge, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates
The waterfall has a height of 13 m (44 feet) and an average width of 6 m(20 feet). The pool of water at the base of the waterfall is dotted with large, smooth rocks, which get especially icy in winter. The waterfall can be visited year-round, but expect large crowds during the peak season in summer.
During the depths of winter, the waterfall is entirely frozen over. Ice climbers have been known to scale it, but this should only be done by experts.
5. Thingvellir church
This is a beautiful, historic church that looks like something out of its simpler past.
Wooden broad walks and a few bridges lead to the other side of the river where there is a photogenic Thingvellir church.
After Iceland accepted Christianity around 1000 CE, to build a church, its tower was sent from Norway as a gift from there, delightfully named King Olaf the Stout, according to the history of Norwegian kings written by Snorri Sturluson, the Icelandic poet, and historian. It stood as a fine little addition to the lush natural surroundings where Iceland’s government formed and operated for centuries.
The church currently on this site dates back to 1859 and is called Thingvallakirkja. Small in size, but not less beautiful for it, the church with its wooden interior, resembling more of a cabin in the snow-filled, puts them in the House of Worship. The historic church has been repaired and updated a number of times over the years, but even today, the little church looks like something out of the past.
6. Scuba diving and Snorkeling in Silfra Fissure Iceland
What made Silfra?
The product of Iceland’s location on the border between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian tectonic plate. It is called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
A large rift lying at the rim of the lake Thingvallavatn, which is filled with glacial water from Langjokull glacier about 50 km away. The water travels through the finest natural filtration of dense lava fields before it reaches Silfra. Touch the moving lava rocks and get a feel for the power and uniqueness of Icelandic in complete calm. The water that flows into the fissure is so pure that divers and snorkelers can enjoy unparalleled visibility of up to 100m. Nowhere else you can snorkel between two tectonic plates.
What to wear on snorkeling?
Under the dry suit, you should wear warm, long-sleeved undergarments. The best choice is thermal or fine wool. With thermals inside and the protection of a dry suit, you manage to stay dry and warm. So there is a small chance you may become wet. So in that case, it’s better to take a spare set of clothing after snorkeling.
What equipment is provided while snorkeling?
You will be provided with a dry suit (waterproof), a neoprene hood, and gloves to protect your head and hands from the cold. You will be provided with fins, a mask, and a snorkel.
You will swim in a lazy current, a stream of glacial water that flows slowly in the fissure. The pure glacial water filling the rift has been filtered by lava rock for decades, so feel free to take a sip of water while you are there!
Can you take photos of the snorkeling in Silfra?
There are underwater cameras that take photos during the tour. These are included in the Snorkeling package.
In Snorkeling you spend about 30 to 40 minutes in water, the total duration of the tour is around 2 to 4 hours including training and instructions. You need to prebook your tickets. They will provide a guide who will assist you and take your photos and lead you through the fissure. Usually, one guide is provided for 6 snorkelers.
The Silfra fissure has four main parts: the big crack, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. When you enter the pool, you feel the current slowly pushing you forward. If the current is not strong enough, you will use your flippers to propel yourself.
What is the depth of Silfra?
This is 100m (330 ft) long and the greatest depth is 63 (207 ft) m and the shallowest point has a depth of half a meter, but diving to this depth is seldom done as it requires technical diving skills. The maximum diving depth that is permitted is 18 m. The tectonic plates are so close here that you can almost touch them both at the same time.
Snorkeling or diving In Silfra in winter between continents
Due to the constant flow of freshwater coming from underground and flowing to Silfra, the water temperature is stable at 2 to 4°C. The water is in constant motion and, therefore, is unable to freeze. Diving and Snorkeling are possible at Silfra all year round!
The air temperature in winter ranges between -10°C, and +5°C.
Opening: November to February
What are the prerequisites for snorkeling?
- Age Limit: The minimum age is 16 years (guardians approval is needed for minors till 18 years )
- The minimum height is 150 cm (4‘9“)
The minimum weight is 45 kg (99lbs)
- Maximum height is 200 cm(6’5”)
Maximum weight is 120 kgs (265 lbs)
- You need to know how to swim independently
- Physically fit
- Shouldn’t be pregnant
- You don’t need a driving license to go to snorkeling in Iceland. Go snorkeling in the Silfra Rift, part of Thingvallavatn Lake, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
What is the temperature in Silfra?
The water temperature is 2 to 4°C (35 to 37°F) all year round.
Is there any life found in Silfra?
There is a lot of colorful seaweed, including a bright green variety known as troll hair.
The beautiful Spring River Oxara flows partly in the Almannagja gorge on its way to the lake, reducing a stunning waterfall where it enters. Some fissures are partially submerged with groundwater, and the crystal clear water leaves scuba divers in Silfra with the feeling of hanging in the air. The unique experience has put the Silfra fissure on the top 10 list of diving sites in the world.
What is the cost of snorkeling?
The cost of snorkeling in Silfra fissure is 17490 ISK (US$127)
7. Hiking is one of the main activities in the park (by foot)
Haklo’s viewing point is by far the best way to get perspectives of the entire landscape. The point commands views of drifting plates, which may be why tourists flow to the site.
A little walk down the valley takes you to the scenic terrain surrounding Almannagja and Thingvellir Rift Valley.
The divide on either side of the gorge is facing the North American and Eurasian continents, respectively. While the elevated side is towards the North American continent, the side toward Thingvellir Lake commands views of the Eurasian continent.
Can I see the continental plates move apart with bare eyes?
Witnessing the actual movement of the continental plates is nearly impossible. So if you want to feel the rush of actually spotting a difference, you have to visit them every once in a while!
8. Thingvellir hiking trails (by cycling)
Hiker’s dream come true, Thingvellir Lake is nothing less than a dream and just looking at it, makes time freeze.
Of these top trials are
i) Oxararfoss waterfall
Enjoy this 4.2 Km loop near Kjosarhreppur, the capital. Generally considered an easy route, takes an average of one hour and 32 minutes to complete.
This is a popular trail for birding, camping, and hiking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. The trial is open year-round and is beautiful to visit at any time.
ii) Logberg- Drekkingarhylur
This is a 1.6 km trial, which is considered an easy route. This takes an average of 36 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking and running.
This is a 7.6 km loop considered an easy route. It takes an average of two hours and 20 minutes to complete. The hike is not challenging and it’s mostly marked up to the waterfall of Oxararfoss.
iv) Thingvellir loop
This is a 10.5 km loop trail, generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of three hours to complete.
It has a stunning lake and is surrounded by mountains and Wilderness. This is a popular trail for hiking and walking.
9. Horseback Riding
The two designated horse trails run through the national park. One lead on along the Skogarkotsgata trail into the Stekkjarja fault and up by way of Langistigur. The other path takes you north to the Hrauntun farm site and across the Sandskeid flat to Mount Armannsfell, and from there to the west along the National Park.
Thingvellir National Park doesn’t operate any horse tours or rentals but numerous companies around do so.
10. Lava Cave Iceland
Visit Raufarholshellir- a stunning geological paradise that was formed after a volcanic eruption that happened around 5000 years ago. The cave is a magical place, famed for its vivid colors, fascinating rock sculptures, and a host of other things that will inspire awe and wonder in equal measure.
The footbridge has been built and impressive lighting in this part of the tunnel highlights the changing colors and clearly shows the powerful volcanic activity that formed the tunnel.
You should wear warm outdoor clothes
Good hiking shoes are recommended.
Duration: 1 to 3 hours
Cost: 7400 ISK (54$USD)
Game of Thrones filming at Thingvellir national park
Game of Thrones has chosen a dramatic landscape for the filming of its episodes. No wonder they found Thingvellir national ideal for the shoot of the episode featuring Arya and Sandro Cleganes. This also makes an appearance when Brienne and Hound come face-to-face for a ferocious fight.
11. Fishing in Lake Thingvallavatn
Lake Thingvallavatn is the biggest lake in Iceland, It is 83.7 km2 and reaches 114M, where it is deepest. It is the fisher’s dream to do fishing in the lake.
Fishing season: May 1 to August 31
Prime time: May for Trout, Mid May to July for Char
12. Camping at Thingvellir national park
Thingvellir Park has two camping sites, which are equipped with amenities like showers, toilets, washing machines, and dryers.
1. Leirar Hey Siri large camping site which is divided into four camping grounds and is open throughout the year.
2. Vatnskot Is located by Lake Thingvallavatn and is open from June 1 to September.
The campus is only allowed to camp at the designated campsite.
Don’ts at Thingvellir
- Don’t mess up the environment
- Cooperate with the management and maintain this site’s best form.
- Do not wear uncomfortable footwear
- To Beat the cold and enjoy yourself to the fullest, good hiking shoes, and even crampons are needed.
- Do not swim in Silfra without guidance
- Do not fly drones
- Click pictures and record videos, but adhere to the rules.