Thingvellir National Park

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.

entry sign to Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

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.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

a snowy mountain with barren plains in front in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

a snowy mountain in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Several hiking trails are easily accessible from the main road through the park.

a hiking trail in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

a view of Lake Thingvallavatn, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

a blue lake under a cloudy sky in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

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.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

I love the plants in Iceland. So different from our desert plants at home.

groundcover in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Icelandic is a difficult language.

road sign outside Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

I’m still not sure why there are so many cairns in this spot.

cairns on the shore of Lake Thingvallavatn, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

I can’t pass up farm animals. Must…take…photos…

sheep near Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

sheep near Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

What’s at the end of the rainbow? Thingvellir!

a green meadow in Iceland, near Pingvellir National Park, with sheep and a rainbow

I took the next two photos from the lakeshore outside of our rental house. Note the geothermal activity in the background! One in awhile I caught a whiff of sulfur.

a view from the shore of Lake Thingvallavatn, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Lake Thingvallavatn, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Is this your kind of vacation destination? Learn more about Thingvellir:

Thingvellir National Park (in English)
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Thingvellir National Park

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23 comments

  1. Sonel

    Wow Ruth! It’s sooooo gorgeous there! So beautiful and peaceful and I bet cold … but I don’t mind the cold. I prefer it above the heat, so I think I would enjoy it just as much there as you did. Of course you can’t miss the chance to let us see the cute farm animals. They are adorable! That one looks like he was talking to you as well. 😀
    Stunning shots hon and thanks so much for sharing. Next time I want to hide in your suitcase and go with. 😆 *hugs*

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  2. Great photos Ruth, and good info. This park is very big medicine for geologists and geophysicists. A boundary between two plates isn’t normally an easy thing to see, and you sat there by a warm fire with a drink in your hand. Very cool. We stopped in Reykjavik for a few days and plan on returning to see the rest of the island. How was your rental? ~James

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