Explore the Icelandic South Shore; Waterfalls, volcanoes, glacial lagoon and black sand beaches
Duration: 6 days/5 nights
Thingvellir is a favorite stop among travelers along the Golden Circle route. It has been a National Park in Iceland since 1928 and was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2004. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century it was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althing, the world’s first parliament.
The location may seem a bit out of the way, but the unique geology created a natural amphitheater perfect for public speaking including the high rock wall of Logberg (Law Rock), where the laws of the land would be recited from memory.
Aside from its historic interest, Thingvellir holds a special appeal for nature lovers. It is the visible site of the mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and are being pulled apart at a rate of 2 centimeters (nearly an inch) per year. The geology here is not only interesting to learn about but also spectacular to behold.
At Almannagja, on the west side of the plain, you can see the easternmost edge of the North American tectonic plate, which is normally submerged in the Atlantic Ocean. On the east side at the Heidargja Gorge, you are at the westernmost edge of the Eurasian plate.
There is much to explore in the park including the 20 meter (66 ft) Oxara waterfall, and the Nikulasargja Gorge, better known as Peningagja (Money Gorge) because it is customary to toss coins (and sometimes credit cards!) into the icy-cold water and make a wish.
Thingvellir is also home to Lake Thingvallavatn known best for Silfra Gorge, an extraordinary dive site where you are literally swimming between continents in clear, glacial water.