I try to incorporate UNESCO World Heritage Sites into my travels whenever I can. So when I visited Iceland last year, I added Thingvellir National Park to the top of my destinations list. We rented a sweet VRBO house on the shores of Lake Thingvallavatn in the park where we spent several nights, drinking wine in the evenings by a cozy woodstove, watching birds dive into the lake for their dinner and marveling at our good fortune to find such a place.
I am so glad that I saw Thingvellir. The stunning vistas that go one forever with no manmade structures spoiling the view are fabulous. (I always say that it does my heart good to see such places.) But in addition, Thingvellir is the site of the world’s first parliamentary proceedings, beginning in 930 AD. And it just so happens that it’s one of the world’s rift valleys; the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet here. No wonder it’s a World Heritage Site! You know those certain places you visit where you leave a little piece of your heart behind? This is one of those places.
I stood here and imagined how it must have been hundreds of years ago when people traveled from all over Iceland to meet on these plains.
Several hiking trails are easily accessible from the main road through the park.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Iceland found that 62% of the respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist. Some people oppose building roads for fear of disturbing the homes of the “Hidden Folk.” I saw this little rocky entry below and thought it was a likely spot for an elf to at least find temporary shelter.
I love the plants in Iceland. So different from our desert plants at home.
Icelandic is a difficult language.
I’m still not sure why there are so many cairns in this spot.
I can’t pass up farm animals. Must…take…photos…
What’s at the end of the rainbow? Thingvellir!
I took the next two photos from the lakeshore outside of our rental house. Note the geothermal activity in the background! Once in awhile I caught a whiff of sulfur.
Is this your kind of vacation destination? Learn more about Thingvellir: