Thingvellir-cliffs
Destination Europe

Golden Circle Tour – Þingvellir National Park

Posted on
January 12, 2020

The Golden Circle is Icelands most popular destination and consists of Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, the powerful Gullfoss waterfall and the explosive geysir geothermal area.

We booked our Golden Circle Tour with Grayline and set off to explore on the rainiest day of our visit to Iceland and it took just under an hour to get to our first destination, Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park.

Þingvellir National Park is probably the place I wanted to visit most on our holiday to Iceland as it is located in a rift valley where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.

I wasn’t aware that the area was also of great historical and cultural significance, but our tour guide told us that it is also the birthplace of the Althing, Iceland’s parliament that was founded in 930 AD. It was here that the nation’s most powerful leaders would meet to decide on legislation and carry out brutal Viking-age justice. 

We took our South Coast Tour of Iceland with Reykjavik Sightseeing and I have to admit that our Grayline Tour was nowhere near as good, mainly because it was obvious from the very start that there was a very strict timetable to stick to. When we arrived at Þingvellir, we were given just 40 minutes to explore.

You can see the fault lines from the coach as you head into the national park and we were dropped off at the Visitor Centre, which is based at the Hakid viewpoint.

We then headed down the footpath which leads down into the great Almannagjá fault, which marks the boundary of the Mid-Atlantic Rift, which runs through Iceland.

Thingvellir-Fissures

This rift is the space between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates which are continuously pulling away from each other at a rate of around 2.5cm per year.

The ground at the lower level, to the right is the Eurasian plate, whereas the higher ground to the left is the North American plate.

Rift Valley

We were lucky enough to arrive fairly early, so got to explore unhindered and enjoy the views, before it was time to leave.

Be warned that it does get very busy, as we found when it was time to head back to the coach.

Þingvellir National Park is definitely somewhere we would spent at least a couple of days exploring normally and there are hotels and campsites nearby if you wanted to explore the hiking trails.

If you do intend to book a Golden Circle Tour, I would recommend asking how long you will spend in each location, as we would have liked at least 90 minutes here as we didn’t even get a chance to go into the visitor centre.

To be continued………

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15 Comments
  1. Reply

    Sabina Green

    January 13, 2020

    Thanks for the top tips, it looks like a wonderful adventure. We have never been to Iceland, but after seeing how beautiful it is we would love to.

  2. Reply

    Hayley McLean

    January 13, 2020

    Oh wow, this looks like such an amazing trip for you guys! The views are just stunning. A shame you didn’t get longer to explore though, good tip!

  3. Reply

    Jasmine M

    January 14, 2020

    This National Park looks absolutely beautiful and like it was filled with a lot of adventure. I will definitely have to plan a trip there to visit for sure.

  4. Reply

    Rosey

    January 14, 2020

    The history aspects of it really were cool. Love the pictures.

  5. Reply

    DianaZ

    January 14, 2020

    I really appreciate experiences like these that are rich in history. Will definitely note on my list if I go to Iceland someday.

  6. Reply

    Dollie

    January 14, 2020

    What a beautiful place this is. I love visiting such nature reserves.

  7. Reply

    Lyndsey O'Halloran

    January 14, 2020

    Those are some views. What an amazing place to visit!

  8. Reply

    Eloise

    January 14, 2020

    your photos look amazing! I would LOVE to visit there some day soon… I would like to take my kids as well so they can see such beauty in the world ; )
    I love National Parks!

  9. Reply

    Laura Schwormstedt

    January 15, 2020

    Oh wow what an incredible expierence for your family! I really want to go to Iceland soon

    Laura x

  10. Reply

    Sarah | Boo Roo and Tigger Too

    January 15, 2020

    Looks like such a beautiful place to visit and explore. So much knowledge to be gained about the area.

  11. Reply

    fashionandstylepolice

    January 15, 2020

    What a beautiful place. I would love to explore it with the kids.

  12. Reply

    karen

    January 18, 2020

    Iceland is on my bucket list, and places like this are why. What a gorgeous place to visit and spend time in. Lovely photos!

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KARA GUPPY
Bournemouth

Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk