One of the best hikes in Iceland’s Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is the Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail, which also allows you to walk through a crater where two tectonic plates meet.
Iceland is full of dreamy and otherworldly adventures just like this, and is something you absolutely must take advantage of when visiting this incredible country.
Read on for my tips and advice for hiking in Thingvellir National Park…
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Where do the Iceland Tectonic Plates Meet?
Found near to the Hakið Visitor Centre in Thingvellir National Park, you’ll find both the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate on either side of a sloping path. This is known as the great Almannagjá fault.
Pretty incredible, right?
You actually have the opportunity to walk through two tectonic plates; something you’re unlikely to be able to do in many other places, if at all.
You can park at the Visitor Centre for 500 ISK (roughly £3.66) for the full day. This parking ticket actually allows you to park anywhere in Thingvellir National Park on that day, so you could come to this part of the park as well as other locations on the same day if you want to.
You won’t have to walk far from the Visitor Centre to see the Almannagjá fault, as it’s literally about 3 minutes from the centre’s entrance. Before you walk through the plates, make sure you take a look at the views of the Thingvellir landscape from the viewing platform. It really is something else entirely!
There’s also a pretty cool sun dial you can find on this viewing platform. Imagine coming here at ‘Golden Hour’ and seeing this dial glint in the sunlight?
There’s no set address for this part of Thingvellir and the Hakið viewpoint, but these are the GPS co-ordinates you’ll need:
64° 15,327’N, 21° 7,691’W
Failing that, Google Maps has the Hakið viewpoint listed, so you can just head there if your phone allows you to.
How to Find the Famous Öxarárfoss Waterfall
Once you’ve spent some time admiring the great Almannagjá fault in the tectonic plates, it’s super easy to follow the trail to go find the other superstar of Thingvellir National Park: Öxarárfoss Waterfall.
After following the path through the plates, keep walking until you spot a wooden view deck with the Iceland flag flying high. Turn right at this point onto the viewing deck, and spend some time admiring the gorgeous views.
Continue to follow the path away from this decking, and along the way, you’ll spot several smaller waterfalls you can photograph and admire.
You’ll need to walk for about a mile and a half before you need to turn left and left again to find the ultimate jewel: Öxarárfoss Waterfall (and you should find it’s been signposted a few times so far). If you’ve missed the signposts, then just remember that the waterfall is hidden behind the rocks on your left (when facing away from the Visitor Centre). I’m afraid these are the best directions I can give you as this waterfall is a little hidden… but it’s well worth it when you do finally find it!
Lots of photographers come here for picture perfect photos of the waterfall, so you may find it a little busy when you arrive. But as you’ll want to take your time here, you won’t struggle to get a beautiful photo of your own.
If you happen to have a spare water bottle on you, I’d highly recommend walking to the water’s edge and filling up from one of the mini falls. The water is crystal clear, refreshingly cold (especially in the winter) and tastes divine!
You can’t get more fresh than that!
Did you know? Öxarárfoss Waterfall is also home to a Game of Thrones filming location. Arya rides past the waterfall in Season 4, Episode 10.
Other Things to See in Thingvellir National Park
Don’t let the Öxarárfoss Waterfall be the last thing you see when in this part of Thingvellir National Park.
Follow the paths around to the other side of the rivers and lakes, and you’ll find several quaint bridges, a traditional church, Icelandic houses, and yet more incredible views of the landscape.
How Much Time Should You Spend Hiking in Thingvellir National Park?
If you’re wondering how much time you should spend hiking in Thingvellir National Park, this answer is really going to differ depending on what area of this vast park you’re going to. After all, the park in its entirety stretches for miles and miles.
But if you’ve taken my advice and started your hike at the Visitor Centre, admired all of the waterfalls, plus the church on the other side ready to complete a full circle back to where you started, then I’d recommend you set aside 3 or 4 hours to get the most out of your visit. This leaves you plenty of time to photograph everything, walk at a relaxed pace, rest and admire the views without rushing.
Reykjavik to Thingvellir National Park: Thingvellir is just under 25 miles (40 km) from Reykjavik, and is best reached by car (taking about 40 minutes).
What to See Nearby: Aside from the beauties of Thingvellir itself, it’s not far from here to get to other incredible highlights of the Golden Circle, such as Gullfoss Waterfall, Strokkur Geysir and the Secret Lagoon Spa. Each of these destinations are about an hour’s drive from Thingvellir National Park.
Visitor Centre Opening Times: 1st June – 31st August: 9am – 7pm | 1st September – 31st May: 9am – 6.30pm.
Parking Costs: 500 ISK (roughly £3.66) for a full day’s parking. You can use your parking ticket anywhere in Thingvellir National Park on the same day.
Thingvellir National Park in the Winter: It’s absolutely possible to still see all these highlights even when visiting in the Winter months. You may need to tread steady and always wear proper walking boots, but you won’t miss out on any of the main attractions.
Where to Stay in Iceland
There are a number of excellent hotels across Iceland to suit a range of budgets. I’ve listed a few firm favourites below or you can view a larger range here.
One of my recommendations on where to stay in Iceland would be within the Golden Circle. Not only does this give you a great base for visiting some of the star attractions within the South of Iceland, but also increases your chances of seeing the Northern Lights tenfold compared with staying in Reykjavik and other large towns.
Here are some fabulous Iceland hotel recommendations:
The Icelandair Hotels are always pretty good, with great locations throughout Iceland and modern bedrooms and lobbies. Simple, but stylish.
Nothing quite beats staying in a traditional wooden cabin in Iceland, complete with private hot tub and incredible views.
These apartments are super modern and spacious, found in a great location just beckoning the Northern Lights to dance overhead and put on a show for you. Plus, the super beautiful Laugarvatn Fontana spa is nearby!
I hope this guide has proved useful – enjoy your visit to this incredible part of Iceland! Where are you most excited to see first?
Are you after more Iceland hiking spots? Check out this blog!
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