Photo by Els Slots.

Thingvellir National Park is a Norse/Germanic archaeological site containing the remains of the place where the Alþing met in the Middle Ages.

Once a year, residents from all over Iceland gathered here in the open air for two weeks to make judicial and administrative decisions. The site continues to have an iconic status for the national Icelandic identity. It is located in an impressive natural volcanic setting, and on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that separates the North American and Eurasian continents.

Community Perspective: although being one of the most geologically fascinating sites globally, it was only inscribed on cultural criteria. The relationship between the natural and cultural aspects of the site stays somewhat intangible. The site is easy to reach as it is part of the Golden Circle, but “don't do one of the tour bus trips from Reykjavik. Renting a car and allowing yourself a full day here is worth it”.

Map of Thingvellir

Load map

Community Reviews

Write a review


Malta - 15-Feb-23 -

Thingvellir by Clyde

I visited this WHS in 2022 as a very early rise and shine visit (since I couldn't sleep much due to sun almost never going down in the summer months in Iceland). The WHS proper within the Thingvellir National Park is always open 24/7 and parking (any time) in most of the car parks comes with a fee payable by credit card in one of the machines. I parked just next to the visitor centre (still closed when I arrived and eventually left), and in front of it is a very nice viewing platform as well as the UNESCO WHS inscription plaque.

The only really OUV (arguably more of a national value really) lies in the "story" related to the Lögberg”, the rocky outcrop marked with a white  flagpost (the Iceland flag is only flown during the visitor centre's opening hours) where the Speaker of Parliament had his seat and from where public speeches were held. If truth be told this current location might not even be the exact location after all due to changes in the surrounding landscape. In my opinion this should really be extended to a mixed site to cover the interesting natural features of the national park which are by far more tangible than the current WHS as it stands. 

From the visitor centre I followed two main signposted hikes, mainly on wooden boardwalks, which are worth doing, namely the hike to the Öxarárfoss waterfall and further beyond if you are not pressed for time, and the hike down to the wooden church by the water and straight ahead to the Silfra fissure where you can also swim and dive between two major tectonic plates. After a bit of birdwatching, since it was still very early, I headed back to my car to fetch my drone and I spotted someone else coming towards me. At such an hour, I was sure it was a WH traveller, and indeed it was Philipp who shares my same 'obsession' of visiting WHS in sunny weather (as much as possible) and this is certainly not a given in Iceland.


Ireland - 23-Jul-22 -

Thingvellir by Digits

We first visited a quiet, sunny Thingvellir in the summer of 2013, as a standard one-hour stop off on the aforementioned Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik, which also took in Gullfoss, Strokkur Geyser and some snowmobiling. The previous reviews are correct, in that a tour stop off didn’t bring the depth that the site otherwise could being a visitor. Yes, we got the magnificent backdrop and the importance and age of the parliament and its link with the sagas - what UNESCO terms “a unique reflection of medieval Norse/Germanic culture”. We walked the boardwalks and took in the cliff-top view from the unvisited visitor centre. But we have no memory of agricultural or parliamentary remains (outside of the Logberg) and to be honest, I don’t remember even reading any information boards at all! Always open and free to enter (which is not always Iceland’s strong point), it is a unique site that warrants more time than a standard tour can give.

A subsequent Silfra snorkelling trip was made several years later, which is reviewed in the tentative listing for the extension of the WHS.

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 21-Aug-20 -

Thingvellir by Els Slots

Thingvellir is probably Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction (well, the geysers may just beat it), but surely the core of the country’s national identity. Its meaning has already been well explained by previous reviewers: it comprises the remains of the place where the Althing, the Icelandic ‘parliament’, met yearly to make judicial and administrative decisions. I’ll focus a bit more on the practical details of visiting as I was surprised by some.

I arrived by car from the north (road 36) and was immediately confused about where to park. There are signs, and there are numbered parking lots, but the pros and cons of those were unclear. I ended up in parking lot P2 which is at the northern end of the park. It is paid parking, it costs 750 ISK per full day (4,60 EUR). You pay with a credit card at a machine after typing in your car registration plate number. P1 and P5 are also paid, but lot P3 is free however located a few hundred meters further away. P4 is for the handicapped only. 

A pole with signs in Icelandic awaited me at the start of the trail, signs to… yes to what actually? There were things on it like “Lögberg 350m” and “Hakid 300m”. I decided to just follow the main path along the ridge, where I encountered the following (fortunately with information panels in English too):

  • The intriguing “Drekkingarhylur”, which turned out to be a place where women were drowned as punishment. They were tied in a bag and thrown into this water hole.
  • The “Lögberg”, which is really what it's all about: this is a rocky outcrop where the Speaker of Parliament had his seat and from where speeches were held. The exact location is unknown and may have moved due to changes in the landscape. Where they think it was, a large Icelandic flag now flies.
  • “Snorri’s Hideout”, which includes the remains of an encampment where the visitors to Parliament stayed overnight during the two weeks of the meeting. With some imagination, traces of it can be seen in the grass.

I ended up at the Visitor Center. There’s a mildly interesting exhibition that can be viewed for 1000 ISK (6 EUR). No entrance fee to the park itself is charged. Remarkably I found also that there is no café or restaurant or another ostentatious tourist complex within the park area. The visitor center has a souvenir shop and a refrigerator full of soft drinks and the ubiquitous sandwiches, but that’s all. A bit further along road 36 there is a Service Centre with a few more amenities, but nothing like the craze at Geysir or Gulfoss.

The site is not huge, I spent 2 hours on a leisurely visit that covered all of the upper and lower areas I think except the Öxarárfoss waterfall. I was intrigued by the signpost ‘Silfra 400m’ at the bridge. It brought me and some other curious travellers to a fissure that has been formed due to the Eurasian and North American plates drifting apart and subsequent earthquakes. Its clear groundwater and location within the continental rift make it an interesting spot for scuba divers, however, for a casual visitor there’s not much to see.

Read more from Els Slots here.

Grendel Gongan

USA - 18-Apr-19 -

Thingvellir by GrendelGongan

This could probably be said of all World Heritage Sites, but a little bit of research makes a huge difference for how you'll experience Thingvellir. If you do the standard stop-off along the Golden Circle, you'll see a very nice view across a scenic valley (assuming the weather is clear, which is a big gamble based on my admittedly limited experience in Iceland), a lovely waterfall, and, if you go to the gorgeous new visitor center, an excellent introduction of the geological, ecological, and cultural importance of the park. But Thingvellir (and, really, Iceland in general) is a place that deserves a deeper dive. Read up on the geology of Iceland before you go. Given that most of the world's plate boundaries are underwater, it's rare enough to be able to walk between continents (as you can do here), but to be able to stand atop the world's longest (and mostly submerged) mountain range, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is an even rarer opportunity (your choices are basically Iceland and the Azores). As one of the only large islands in the North Atlantic, the flora and fauna of Iceland are isolated and unique, and Thingvellir is one of the best places to see both (especially the flora, though I understand that this is one of the few places near Reykjavik where you can see Arctic foxes, which I sadly did not). Above all, if you want to make sense of Iceland, read its literature to understand why Thingvellir is the beating heart of the nation. Ireland is the only other country I've been to in which the written and spoken word bear as much weight as they do in Iceland. If you're very bold, read the Icelandic sagas before you go (or visit the Culture House in Reykjavik for the abbreviated versions and a look at some of the original manuscripts), but at the very least I can strongly recommend the work of Halldór Laxness, Iceland's only Nobel laureate, who lived just down the road from Thingvellir. All the tourist literature will tell you that Thingvellir was the site of the island's Viking Age parliament, which is true. What's remarkable is why it was chosen for that purpose, and why it has remained the site of major events in Icelandic history from the adoption of Christianity to the foundation of the modern republic: the cliffs there make a natural amplifier, meaning that speakers could be heard by a wider audience. Literature, law, and the landscape are the three major forces that shape Icleandic culture, and that Venn diagram overlaps most obviously and most spectacularly at Thingvellir. If the truth be told, though, other World Heritage Sites are more visually spectacular, and the importance and gravitas of the site are easily missed without some study. The payoff, though, is that doing your homework in advance will never pay off more lucratively than at Thingvellir.

A couple of random tips: if you can help it, don't do one of the tour bus trips from Reykjavik. Renting a car and allowing yourself a full day here is worth it. I particularly recommend the back road (roads 435 & 360 from Reykjavik) which take you through some breathtaking and almost entirely deserted scenery. If you're pressed for time, the visitor center, Lögberg, and Öxaráfoss waterfall are all doable fairly quickly and are all rewarding. I took extra time to hike to some of the ruined farmsteads on the valley floor, which I also recommend. Not only does it give you the chance to walk between Europe and North America and to see firsthand the relationship between nature and culture in Iceland, but it's a great chance to get away from the crowds (which can be a bit overwhelming at the top of the cliff) and have a corner of this unique World Heritage Site to yourself.

Jay T

USA - 30-Dec-18 -

Thingvellir by Jay T

Thingvellir National Park has to be one of the most geologically fascinating sites I have visited, sitting atop the rift between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. It isn't the geology on its own which got this park inscribed as a World Heritage Site, though it provides a stunning backdrop, particularly in winter as the black basalt cliffs stand in stark contrast to the snowy plains. But the geology is what made this an ideal site for the founding of the Althing, the oldest parliament in the world, which met at Thingvellir annually. At the base of the cliff formed by the edge of the North American plate is a rock outcropping the Icelandic people call the Lögberg, or Law Rock, which is now marked by an Icelandic flag. Here, the legislature would meet, and the law would be read to the people gathered on the plains below. The assembly was open to all free men, who would bring their families and camp on the fields of the rift valley in what must have been an incredible social gathering. The Althing no longer meets at Thingvellir, having moved to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik almost 175 years ago. Still, Thingvellir National Park is a stunning site to see, and, after having visited the site this past January, I would love to return to see it in summer.

Logistics: Thingvellir National Park can be reached by numerous tours operating out of Reykjavik or by private transporation; there are numerous trails on site, as well as parking lots above and below the Althing site.

Ian Cade

UK - 01-May-05 -

Thingvellir by Ian Cade

This was a really interesting and rewarding place to visit and as Paul Tanner states is an essential part of any trip to Iceland. We visited on a beautiful late September day when the bright autumnal colours were staring to show, and it made this a great experience.

Though somewhat intangible the relationship between the natural and cultural aspects of the site are very noticeable. The rift between the Eurasian and North American plates provide a large plain, ideal for the purpose of annual meetings whilst the banks of the plates themselves provide a great point from which to survey the whole area. The relationship between natural and cultural factors is something very noticeable in Icelandic history and culture, but this is one place where it is very evident.

The importance of the site historically is very important being the site of the world’s oldest Parliament, this being essentially the first political institution of the European ‘New World’. In terms of remains there is not much to see, just outlines from the walls of Buð small temporary booths used as houses when the Alþing was in session. There is a also a small church.

The drive out from Reykjavik is very nice, being well sign posted, and with some great scenery in the distance. The mountains and glaciers tantalise with glimpses of the more rugged natural delights that Iceland’s interior and North West Coast hold in store.

On the same day we also visited the spouting hot springs at Geyser, the Kevið crater, Skalholt Church, Sigur Rós’ recording studio at Álafoss, and the magnificent waterfalls of Gullfoss (perhaps my highlight of my all too brief view of Iceland). These can mostly all be viewed on the ‘Golden Circle’ tours running from Reykjavik, though it worked out better for us to hire a car. This also enabled us to round of the day watching the sunset over Reykjavik from the hot-pots of the Árbæjarlaug swimming pools, the perfect way to round off one of the best days of travelling I have ever had.


UK - 01-May-05 -

Thingvellir by Solivagant

A trip out to Thingvellir is an essential part of any trip to Icelend - as well as providing an opportunity to see some Icelandic scenery (albeit a long way from the wildest!) you will reach a place which interesting both for its

a. Geology – this split in the rocks in the photo is the Mid Atlantic Ridge which runs across Iceland as it spreads at around 2 metres per century (Near Myvatn in the north there is a rather nice piece of evidence of this as a water pipe has been parted as it crosses the gap!)"Interesting" as this scenery might be however it is worth noting that it is NOT relelvant to the inscripion of this site which is inscribed on PURELY cultural grounds as a "Cultural Landscape"!

b. History – the site of what claims to be the oldest parliament in the world (starting in 930). The Icelanders gathered here once a year and the Speaker of the Parliament would stand atop the Logberg, or Law Rock, to read the law to the members in the valley below to the left. These are the aspects which Iceland and UNESCO (via ICOMOS) consider make this location a place of universal value!

If you haven’t got your own transport there are daily trips taking in Geyser as well.

Site Info

Full Name
Thingvellir National Park
Unesco ID
3 6
Archaeological site - Viking Cultural Landscape - Associative Cultural Landscape - Relict

Site History

2004 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations



The site has

Visiting conditions
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever ALS AYB Adam Hancock Aed1111 Afshin Iranpour Aidan Coohill Airpunk Akacesfan Alexander Barabanov Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Ali Zingstra Alicemears AliciaLee711 Allison Vies Ammon Watkins Amohanty Andersgrau8 Andrew Wembridge Angela Vandyck Anna Olshäll Anna Wludarska Anonymous15788 Argo Artsybrea Artsybrea Artur Anuszewski Ask Gudmundsen Aspasia Atila Ege AustralLights Bamse Bazikoln Beckyjzw Berteig Bgbaum Bin Birgitte Sørensen Blegg Bob Parda Bodil Ankerly Boroka Szamosi Bosswench Bram de Bruin Brett Baumann Buffy Butterflybird CHJLondon CalvinLoh Carlo Medina Carlo.bergonzini Carlos Garrido Carstenhansen CascadianRain Catchant Cb Cec Chapnis Chenboada Chris Law Christer Sundberg Christoph Chunsian01 Circlingthebucketlist Cjones Claire Bradshaw ClaireWhiteley Cluckily Clyde Cody Ayers Corinne Vail Craig Harder Ctravel CugelVance Cyberczar Dachangjin3 Dan Dan1306 Daniel C-Hazard Daniel Gabi DannyB DeanS Debatecoach Debfc Dennis Nicklaus DennisNL87 Dgjohansson Dibro Digits Dimitar Krastev Dirk-pieter Dkabanov Dn1206 Don Irwin DonPolarBear Donald M Parrish Jr Donnico Dorejd Doubanjiang Duesi73 Dutchnick Eanna81 Echwel Eddypc07 Edstar500 Elia Vettorato Elindomiel Ellen Nielsen Elliot Els Slots Eminga Eric Lurio Eric PK Erik G Eva Kisgyorgy FGKJR1492X FS Fan Yibo Farinelli Fedekiwi Federico P. Feldhase Femke Roos Ferrocastor Filip Murlak Filippo Ubaldi Fool79 Fozzak Frank Britton Frederik Dawson Frenchsapho Gary Arndt Geo George Evangelou GeorgeIng61 Ghostbear Gi Gianmarco Gijs Gile363 Gilles Gisella GithaK Grendel Gongan Grimloch Hadrianus Haining Guan Hammeel Handballrama Harald T. HaraldOest Harry Mitsidis Hdhuntphotography Heidisaacson Hft Hipty94 History Fangirl Homadism Hurrvinek Hyoga Iain Jackson Ian Cade Ibonez Ih0000 Ingatastic Ingrid Itahue Ivan Rucek Izzet Ege J Mitchell JGirlJGirl J_neveryes Jaakkotoivanen Jacob Otten Jan-Willem Jana and Matt Jancidobso Janklak Jaroslav Klement Jason and Corrinna Jay T Jaysutton79 Jballard650 Jeanne OGrady Jennbadgley Jkayer JoStof JobStopar JohanneB John Westray John booth Join-our-journeys Jonas Kremer Jonas Martinsson Jonathanfr Jose Antonio Collar Joseph C. Joshuakirbens Jsalda Judit Dalla Judith Tanner Julianna Lees Julie July Juropa KB1 KarenBMoore Kasia M. Kbecq Keith90245 Kelise Kelly Henry Kenneth Kehoe Kevin Padley-Knight Kinstell Kjlchiang Kjluebke Klara Woodson Klaus Bondar Knomadc Kristinapunzi Krisztina zill Ksherlevi Kurt Lauer Kutasp LaVale Lameduck99 Larry F Lars Bogstad Lars Jensen Lauren Lillybett Liverpool1023 Loic Pedras Longdutch Lorenzo Mejino Lorenzo2022 LuHa Lubos Lier Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar Lukasz Palczewski Luki501 MMM MaYumin Majkl20 Malcolm Malcolm Turner Malgorzata Kopczynska Marcel staron Mardigny Margotberg Marie Morlon Marina Markus Marta Lempert Martin Lind (Switzerland) Martina Rúčková Marton Kemeny Matthewgibbs MaxHeAnouBen Maxine Eisenberg Małgosia Łupicka Mbeese Michael Andersson Michael Ayers Michael Novins Michaelsballard Michal Marciniak Michelle.has.murphy Michiel Dekker Mihai Dascalu Mikal Ahmet Mikek Mikeupowers Mikeyboyracer Mikko Mikko Syrjä Milan Jirasek Missvaro Misswanderlust MistyMauve90 Mkprescott MoPython Mohboh Monica Brode Monica66 Monika and Rini Mr20170 Mtlmr NCosta Naim Y Nan Neil McPaul Nej153 Niall Sclater Nicole Kilian Nihal Ege Nikolamus Nikolasruffet Nils Kronenberg Nmocosta Nmocosta79 NoahFranc Nomad99 Nykri Olli-Pekka Turunen PKalnai PabloNorte Paczeterson Paolosan82 Pascal Cauliez Pat Martin Patphilly Patrick Matgen Patrik_globe Patty Verhoeven Paul RYKEN Payen de La Garanderie Isabelle Peltzi Peter Alleblas Peter Day Peter Lööv Philipp Leu Philipp Peterer Phillipmeng Pieter Dijkshoorn Pjblinn Polyommatus_icarus Rahelka Ralf Regele Randi Thomsen Raphael Reiseblitz Ricardo Silva RobRos Robin Frank Roccobot Rodinia Roel Sterken Roger Ourset Rogue_Onesie Rom Roman Bruehwiler Roman Koeln Roman Raab Ronald Lange Rvanbuskirk Rvieira Ryan09sb S. Anril Tiatco S1m0n3t4 SHIHE HUANG Sabrina Liebehentschel Sachin Sam Mason Samy Scubarrie Seanzhao777 Shaun Ankers Shijie ZHU Sibariam Simmot2019Z Simonh Sisa_p Siuyeetam Sliny Solivagant Sophie Sschooler Stanislaw Warwas SteO153 Stefan Loov Stephanvermeulen Stephen Brooker Stephen S. Kamin Super-Sophie Sutul Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tasmith87 Tatiana Nikulnikova Tecia The Salmons Thomas Buechler Thomas Harold Watson Thomas van der Walt Thorben TimAllen Timothy C Easton Tingmelvin Tino A Offner Tjagmax Tkinou Tom Flaten Tomas.zaruba Tommy W Tonioto Tony H. Tony0001 Topaas Torkjell Djupedal Travel Addicts Travelindan Travelure Trevni Triath Trine Truls Brekke Tsunami V&M Vernon Prieto Vicente B. Avanzado Jr. Victoria | Bridges and Balloons Vidiot Viv Volker1972 WHS Lux Walter Waxwing Werner Huber Westwards Wolfboy Wuzefelix Xangadib Yi Han Goh Zach Zhenjun Liu ZiggyAngelo8 ZivaB Zizmondka Zoë Sheng