So, you want to know how to best visit Thingvellir National Park? Looks like you’re one of those interested people who like to explore national monuments? You’ve come to the right place! Thingvellir is by far the most important historical place for the people of Iceland. This guide will teach you everything you need to know before you visit Thingvellir.
We have so many exciting things to cover! Þingvellir is a site of both historical, cultural, and geological importance. It’s also possibly the most popular tourist destination on the island – interesting, right? We’ll obviously talk about why that is.
We’ll also talk about how to visit this Icelandic shrine, how to get there and how much time you will need to visit Thingvellir. Other topics like Vikings, murder and movies will also be covered! You’ll get a step by step guide, answering every question you may have about this place. Let’s get started!
Thingvellir National Park is a park in the country of Iceland, in the Atlantic Ocean in North-eastern Europe. It’s located in south-eastern Iceland. You’ll find it 50 km, 30 mi, from the central Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Þingvellir National Park is a beautiful nature reserve. It is the oldest but smallest of the 3 national parks in Iceland. The other two being Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull. The name Þingvellir comes from the Old Norse Þingvǫllr. You put together þing thing/assembly and vǫllr field and get assembly field.
It is actually very easy to visit Thingvellir National Park. As mentioned it is possibly the most visited site in Iceland. This means that there are plenty of organized tours going there. It is part of the famous Golden Circle that we will talk more about later.
You can not really visit Thingvellir by public transport. Line 15 will take you from central Reykjavik to the outskirts of the metropolitan area. From there you still need to take a long taxi ride to the park. You will with this combination get there in less than 1 hour. But, there is a but, it’s not for the “normal” public transport price since it costs almost 100€/person, yeah, that’s right.
We came in a car and we definitely recommend bringing a car. The park itself is more than 90m2 large. With that said, almost all the important places are within walking distance.
The ultimate budget travellers might consider hitchhiking. It is quite common in Iceland and it is considered very safe. At the same time, it’s not the usual thing you would do to visit Thingvellir, but you can definitely try.
One important thing to point out is that the Keflavik International Airport is not the same as the Reykjavik Domestic Airport. In fact, it will take you close to 1 hour from the International Airport to the capital.
If you want to visit Thingvellir directly from the airport, it will take you about 1.5 hours by car from the Keflavik International Airport. It’ll take about half that time, 45 minutes, from central Reykjavik.
All World Heritage Sites are by definition amazing. We as humankind have picked them to be protected for current and future generations. What makes Thingvellir National Park so special that in 2004 the UNESCO decided to include it on the list?
Thingvellir is unique because it’s the location of one of the oldest parliamentary like institutions in the world. More than 1000 years ago an early form of democracy happened here. In 874 the Norse started settling on Iceland. 56 years later, in the summer of year 930, the new settlers of Iceland met here for a 2-week session. They called the gathering the Alþingi. It was such a success that they continued doing so every year.
Geographically the Alþingi met in a river valley. This happens to be where the Eurasian and the American tectonic plates drift apart.
If you want to know more about the UNESCO site itself then click the ‘More’ button below. If you want to get more information on how to best visit Thingvellir National Park then read on.
When you visit Thingvellir National Park you will be doing quite a bit of walking. Bring your best walking shoes or even your hiking boots. There are at least 4 large parking in the park to make it easier to visit the different locations if you want to shorten your visiting time. If you are not in a hurry, which you shouldn’t be there are also several hiking trails to walk.
The best time to visit Thingvellir National Park is between May and October. That is if you’d like to have the nicest weather. Even if you come in the winter the main paths are actually ploughed several times weekly. It is best to first contact the Visitor Center if you are travelling in the winter. This to get first-hand info on the current conditions.
Don’t get too excited about the weather though. Thingvellir is a windy place. Iceland is windy. It is always a great idea to bring a down jacket, windbreaker or rain jacket.
The Hakið Visitor Centre is in a new building next to where the main P1 parking is. The parking is also where the pubic toilets are, use them when arriving.
In the Þingvellir Visitor Center, you find plenty of great information about the park, its nature and history. It’s a brilliant, first of its kind, interactive multimedia show. Þingvellir literally comes alive on the large screens. It takes about 40 minutes to view the whole show. There is also a short film about the whole exhibition here. Here they also have maps of the park. They show where the trails are and point out other places of interest so you can visit Þingvellir well prepared.
If you want to this is also where you find a small cafeteria and a souvenir shop.
Öxarárfoss is the only waterfall in Þingvellir National Park. It flows from the river Öxará over the Almannagjá. The pool at the base of the waterfall is filled with rocks and is often extremely icy during winter. Legend has it that during the settlement period in Iceland’s early history, some settlers encountered a frozen river. They then dug a hole in the ice and put an axe in it to claim the land. The word öxi means “axe” in Icelandic. The waterfall is one of the main attractions you shouldn’t miss when you come visit Þingvellir National Park. It is located on the eastern end of the rocky fault line. There is a path from the nearby car park leading up to it.
It’s becoming more and more important to find those wonderfully Instagrammable places. We all want to get those perfect stunning and unique shots. We’re also guilty of that, always looking for the best spots with the best views. We spend time to research where to find the best photo opportunity in every place we visit.
If you want to visit Thingvellir National Park like a pro, keep reading!
Below we’ve put together the top photo spots we found in Thingvellir for you. So, here we go!
As your schedule is very likely packed, you might want to figure out how much time you need to visit Thingvellir National Park properly.
On average, we would say that most of the visitors spend in the park for 2-3 hours. That was roughly about the same time we spent in Thingvellir as well.
During this time you’ll be able to walk most of the trails close to Visitors Center and see the best things.
Here’s our summary of some of our travel tips and advice. All useful when planning to visit Thingvellir National Park.
So, that’s a wrap! What do you think? Would you like to visit Thingvellir National Park? We had a great time in the park and highly recommend the trip.
Perhaps, after reading all this you still have questions? Was something unclear? Still don’t know how to visit Thingvellir? That’s what we have the Comments section for. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Here you find all the external links we refer to in the text. On top, we have added other links that we found useful when planning to visit Thingvellir National Park.