Iceland is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. One of the most popular of these is exploring one of the country’s many national parks. Snaefellsjökull, Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Parks are home to some spectacular glaciers, waterfalls and hiking trails. Another one of Iceland’s most frequently visited national parks is Þingvellir (or the anglicised version, Thingvellir). Not only is it one of the three stops on Iceland’s famed Golden Circle route, but it also has a fascinating history concerning Iceland’s government.
Thingvellir National Park – When to visit
The most popular time of year to visit Thingvellir National Park is from May to September. Not only are there more hours of daylight, but the weather is more pleasant during this time of year. It’s also fishing season on lake Þingvallavatn. During the summer months of June, July and August, the weather is especially lovely. You will also find many day tours running from Reykjavik. It’s a bit colder in the winter, especially December January and February. Reduced daylight hours will not afford you as much time to see the park, so we recommend visiting during the warmer months.
Thingvellir National Park – How to Get There
Located about 28 mi (45 km) northeast of Reykjavik, there are several different roads that you can take to reach Thingvellir National Park. If you’re coming from Reykjavik, take Road 1 going north. Once you’ve driven through Mosfellsbær, take the first exit on the right in the roundabout. This exit will lead you to Road 36, which goes to Thingvellir.
When coming from other stops on the Golden Circle like Geysir and Gullfoss, you’ll need to take Road 35 which goes to Road 37 towards Laugarvatn. Once you’ve gotten to the roundabout just outside Laugarvatn, take the first exit to your right onto Road 365 and then Road 36 to Thingvellir.
Thingvellir National Park – What to See and Do
Besides fishing and hiking, you can also go horseback riding and diving at Thingvellir. Perhaps one of the most interesting activities at the park is the Silfra fissure. For those who don’t know, Iceland is literally splitting in two! The volcanic island sits atop the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are slowly moving apart. The result? A massive crack in the ground that is growing year after year. Seeing continental drift in action and up close is pretty cool. Just be sure you don’t fall!
Camping is another favorite activity in the park. You can camp in two different areas during high season, from the beginning of June to the end of September. Children under the age of 13 can camp for free, and a group of 10 or more adults receives a 15% discount when they pay in full. You’ll need to obtain camping and fishing permits from the Information Center when you arrive. Þingvallakirkja or “the church at Þingvellir” is also open daily from mid-May to early September.
Lastly, Iceland’s Parliament or Althingi started here. It’s the oldest Parliament in the world, dating back to 930 AD. You’ll find this extremely important historical site in the park.
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