There is a reason Þingvellir National Park is a hot spot on the Golden Circle, one of the most popular tourist routes in Iceland. It's home to some iconic sites and activities that thrill visitors from all over the world. The national park highlights the sheer uniqueness of Iceland and how its geography shapes the landscape, culture and beyond. It marks the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and is the only place on Earth to see this fascinating feature.
Given the UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 2004, Þingvellir is also recognised for its historical significance. Often referred to as the “birthplace of Iceland's democracy", this site was home to the first parliament to exist in Iceland and one of the oldest worldwide.
But it isn’t just the history and geology that attracts so many visitors. Dotted throughout the park are plenty of things to do that make visiting Þingvellir National Park a highlight of your time in Iceland.
1. Icelandic horse riding
The celebrated Icelandic horses draw visitors to the island. When combining the incredible Þingvellir National Park and riding the most in-demand horse breed, you’ve got one of the best ways to explore the area. There are two established horseback riding trails throughout the park. Along your ride, you’ll pass incredible natural landscapes that will make you feel like you’ve just stepped out of Game of Thrones!
Find out more about horseback riding in Iceland. Why not combine your horse riding with snorkeling, perfect for a well-rounded day in Thingvellir National Park!
2. Öxarárfoss Waterfall
Öxarárfoss Waterfall in Þingvellir National Park is one of the most popular attractions in the park. The Öxará River forms the waterfall and the waterfall drop is 13 meters. Although this does make it small compared to other waterfalls in the area, it is a very photogenic fall. During the winter months, you can expect this waterfall to be fully frozen.
Visiting the waterfall is straightforward. Start from the visitor center and follow the path. The walk is approximately 10 minutes.
3. Þingvellir Church
With all the incredible geography and geology in the area, visiting a church may not be an obvious thing to do. However, the Þingvellir Church is definitely worth a visit when you are in the area. Typically it is closed for tours, but you may be able to contact them ahead of time to see if you can go inside.
The church is simply idyllic. Painted white and green, it sits within stunning surroundings and compliments the view. Around the church, there is also an ancient graveyard that you can visit.
4. Hiking Trails
Getting out and hiking is one of the best ways to explore Iceland. Þingvellir is no exception. With many iconic sites, interesting features and rivers to explore, hiking along its many paths and routes is an excellent way to see even more. If you have time on your guided tour or are on your own self-drive tour, you can follow well-marked trails to several natural landmarks, including:
5. Lake Þingvallavatn
The largest natural lake in Iceland is located within the boundaries of Þingvellir National Park. Lake Þingvallavatn takes up 32 square miles and is 374 feet deep. Explore the lake and its surroundings by following the walking paths around it. Or try your hand at fishing! There are four different types of Arctic Char living in these waters and attract anglers from across the world.
6. Almannagjá Gorge
This eight-kilometer-long gorge is one of the few places on Earth where you can see two tectonic plates meet. These plates are still slowly drifting apart. This unique spot holds great significance in Icelandic history, as it was here that the world's longest-running parliament was established. Lawmakers would read new laws for the crowds to hear above the Almannagjá Gorge. It holds a special place in the hearts of Icelandic people and represents some of Iceland's oldest history.
7. Snorkeling at Silfra Fissure
One of the most popular and famous things to do in Þingvellir National Park is snorkeling at Silfra Fissure. It was formed by an earthquake that created a crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This fissure is filled with glacier meltwater from the nearby Langjokull glacier. The reason this spot is so famous for snorkeling is the incredibly clear water. In fact, it has some of the best visibility in the world. So not only can you swim between two continents, but you can also snorkel in one of the coolest places on Earth!
8. Learn to Scuba Dive
If snorkeling isn't enough of a challenge for you, consider exploring Silfra Fissure through scuba diving. Book a course and obtain your PADI license at this incredible location. Once certified, you'll be able to explore the fissure up close and venture deeper into the water. From the depths, you can get close to the rocky crater and witness the remnants that the tectonic plates left on this incredible spot. If cold temperatures concern you, our drysuit course will help you prepare properly for a dip in glacier water.
Are you ready to explore Þingvellir for yourself? Why not take a look at our Golden Circle and South Coast tour, where this famous national park is just one of the highlights you'll experience over the course of 3 days.