Iceland - Thingvellir National Park, October, 10, 2014 - Beautiful view of people walking in the seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

©Nido Huebl/Shutterstock

Þingvellir National Park

Top choice in The Golden Circle

The world’s oldest parliament, Althingi (pronounced ál-thingk-ee; also called Alþing) was uniquely situated at this monumental site where two tectonic plates meet. In AD 930, Vikings would hold meetings among this awe-inspiring geology, which created a natural amphitheatre. A boardwalk snakes between this enormous crevice on the earth’s surface, below deep canyon walls. The gap between these North American and Eurasian tectonic plates continues to grow by 2cm each year.

At the site is the significant Oxara waterfall. In the Middle Ages, people were put to their death by drowning, in this very pool below the 20m cascade. To the south sits Thingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, containing one of the most unusual diving opportunities out there. Here you can descend into Silfra Gorge's glacial waters between two tectonic plates.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Golden Circle attractions

1. Tectonic Plates

0.92 MILES

The Þingvellir plain is situated on a tectonic-plate boundary where North America and Europe are tearing away from each other at a rate of 1mm to 18mm per…

2. Alþingi Site

1.75 MILES

Near the dramatic Almannagjá fault and fronted by a boardwalk is the Lögberg (Law Rock), where the Alþingi (Parliament) convened annually. This was where…

3. Búðir

1.85 MILES

Straddling both sides of the Öxará river are the ruins of various temporary camps called búðir (literally 'booths'). These stone foundations were covered…

4. Þingvallakirkja

1.85 MILES

Behind the Þingvallabær farmhouse, Þingvallakirkja is one of Iceland’s first churches. The original was consecrated in the 11th century, but the current…

5. Þingvallabær

1.87 MILES

The little farmhouse in the bottom of the rift, Þingvallabær was built for the 1000th anniversary of the Alþing in 1930 by state architect Guðjón…

6. Þingvallavatn


Filling much of the rift plain, Þingvallavatn is Iceland’s largest lake, at 84 sq km. Pure glacial water from Langjökull filters through bedrock for 40km…

7. Glymur

9.25 MILES

At the head of Hvalfjörður, and up Botnsdalur valley, lies Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall (198m). From the trailhead, it’ll take a couple of hours to…

8. Ljósafoss Power Station

12.98 MILES

The 1937 Ljósafoss Power Station catches the outflow of lake Úlfljótsvatn and turns it into electricity. In 2016, an elaborate state-of-the-art multimedia…