One of the most popular hikes in 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 must take advantage of when visiting this incredible country.
Read on for our tips and advice for hiking in Thingvellir National Park…
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Popular Thingvellir National Park Hikes: Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail and Almannagjá Gorge Hike
Our guide will show you how to do the popular Thingvellir National Park hikes of the Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail and the Almannagjá Gorge Hike.
Along the way, you’ll see all sorts of incredible landmarks including Thingvellir Church, Thingvallavatn Lake and of course Öxarárfoss (“Axe Falls”). Here’s how…
Almannagjá Gorge Hike
Near 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 and is where your Thingvellir hiking trail begins.
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 750 ISK for the full day. This parking ticket actually allows you to park anywhere in Thingvellir National Park on that day, so you could visit this part of Thingvellir 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 only about three minutes from the centre’s entrance.
Before you walk through the plates, make sure you take a look at the views of Thingvellir National Park from the viewing platform. They’re stunning!
There’s also a charming sundial on this viewing platform. Imagine coming here at ‘Golden Hour’ and seeing this dial glint in the sunlight!
Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail
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 and find the jewel of Thingvellir National Park: Öxarárfoss Waterfall.
After following the path through the plates, keep walking until you spot a wooden viewing platform with the Iceland flag flying high. Turn right at this point 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.
Öxarárfoss Waterfall is about 4.5 miles (7km) from the visitor centre but it’s flat most of the way and the walk is so beautiful that you’ll hardly notice the time passing.
If you’ve missed the signposts you should have seen by now, 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 we can give you as this waterfall is a little hidden… but it’s well worth it when you do finally find it! Keep reading as we’ll also include a map below, which should help you to find the waterfall.
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, we’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.
What Else Will You See On This Öxarárfoss Hike?
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.
Here are a few landmarks to look out for along this Öxarárfoss Hike:
Before you reach Öxarárfoss, you’ll see a number of information boards to tell you about various landmarks and points of interest. One of these is Drekkingarhylur, which is a deep pool of water with a mini waterfall in the background. Drekkingarhylur roughly translates as ‘drowning pool’ as between 1602 and 1750, at least 18 women were sentenced to death by drowning here.
Aside from the viewing platform next to the Thingvellir Visitor Centre, you’ll also come across a viewing platform during your hike to Öxarárfoss. You can easily spot it thanks to an Icelandic flag flying high and you’ll be able to get some stunning photos of the lakes and rivers that are all around this area. There are steps on this viewing platform to take you higher up but these are also good for rest breaks if you’re tired as well!
Thingvellir Church & Cemetery
If you cross the footbridges to get to the other side of the park from where Öxarárfoss is then you’ll spot a beautiful church. This is Þingvallakirkja (Thingvellir Church), one of Iceland’s first churches, and dates back as far as 1859. It’s small but picturesque and next to it is a charming cemetery with only around thirty graves.
Close to the church, you’ll find a couple of dive schools. These offer you the chance to snorkel or scuba dive in the Silfra Fissure, which is a rift formed in the North American and Eurasion tectonic plates. Silfra is the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates – and it has such clear water for optimum viewing!
At over 50 square miles, Thingvallavatn is Iceland’s largest lake. You can see it from the viewing platform near the visitor centre but you can also take some stunning photos of it from near Thingvellir Church and the roads that curve around it.
Thingvellir National Park Hiking Map
We couldn’t find a set address for this part of Thingvellir and the Hakið viewpoint, but Google Maps has it listed, so you can just head there if your phone allows you to.
Otherwise, these are the GPS coordinates you need: 64° 15,327’N, 21° 7,691’W
And as promised, here’s how the hike we’ve described above looks if we roughly plot it on Google Maps:
Once you’ve seen the church, you can go back the way you came or you can walk past the car park nearby and hike back up to the visitor centre if you’re able to. It’s pretty steep but manageable if the weather isn’t bad.
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 well over 35 square miles.
But if you follow the instructions for the Thingvellir hikes we’ve mentioned above and start your hike at the visitor centre, admire all of the waterfalls, plus the church on the other side ready to complete a full circle back to where you started, then we’d recommend setting aside three to four hours to get the most out of your visit.
It’s roughly 4.5 miles (7km) from the visitor centre to Öxarárfoss Waterfall. This is mostly in a straight line and has a flat path most of the way too, so you should find it quite easy. But you also need to factor in the time it takes to get back to your car too.
Therefore, three or four hours gives you plenty of time to photograph everything, walk at a relaxed pace, rest a bit along the way and admire the views without rushing.
What Hiking Gear Do You Need?
To fully enjoy your Thingvellir hike, you’ll need the right gear:
- Sturdy and comfortable hiking boots
- Comfortable walking trousers
- Sunglasses (even in winter and early spring, the sun can be quite bright when reflected off the lakes)
And if you’re going to do this hike in autumn, winter or early spring then you might also need:
- Windproof and waterproof jacket (ski jackets are often the best option)
- Thermal tops and leggings
- Merino wool or fleece jumpers
- Thermal socks (or at least really thick socks)
- Crampons for your boots
- Gloves, scarf and winter hat
Thingvellir National Park Tours
We appreciate that not everyone can embark on an Iceland road trip or self-drive Golden Circle itinerary to go on this hike. The great news is that there are plenty of coach tours and private excursions that will take you out this way.
More Useful Info About Thingvellir National Park
Reykjavik to Thingvellir National Park: Thingvellir is about 30 miles from Reykjavik and is best reached by car (taking around an hour). You can easily include hiking in Thingvellir National Park within a Golden Circle itinerary too.
Don’t Miss 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. Each of these destinations are about an hour’s drive from Thingvellir National Park. There’s also the geothermal pools at Laugarvatn Fontana to bathe in, which are just 40 minutes away.
Visitor Centre Opening Times: 9am – 6pm
Parking Costs: 750 ISK 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 Winter: It’s absolutely possible to still see all these highlights even when visiting Iceland 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.
There are a number of excellent hotels, B&Bs and cabins across Iceland to suit a range of budgets. We’ve listed a few firm favourites below or you can view a larger range here.
One of our 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 South 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 accommodation options:
- Icelandair Hotel Fludir: The Icelandair Hotels are always pretty good, with great locations throughout Iceland and modern bedrooms and lobbies. Simple but stylish.
- Uthlid Cottages: Nothing quite beats staying in a traditional wooden cabin in Iceland complete with private hot tub and incredible views.
- Golden Circle Apartments: 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 beautiful Laugarvatn Fontana spa is nearby!
Read More About Iceland & Plan Your Trip
Take a look at all of our Iceland travel blogs for tips, advice and inspiration galore to help you plan an epic trip to Iceland!
- Want to read about more Iceland hiking trails? Check these out!
- Planning an Iceland road trip? Check out our easy 5 day Iceland road trip itinerary or this 3 day Golden Circle itinerary!
- Want to avoid common first-timer mistakes? Here’s what to avoid in Iceland (and what to do instead!)
- Like knowing all there is to know about a country before visiting? Here are all the important must-knows for travelling to Iceland.
- Are you looking for budget tips? Here are some simple food items you can take to Iceland – to save big on food costs!
- Wondering what to bring back home with you as a souvenir? Check out these authentic Iceland souvenirs!
- And finally, for some simple Iceland photography tips: Check out this beginner’s guide to Iceland photography that we’ve written just for you.
We hope this guide to hiking in Thingvellir National Park has proved useful. We also hope you enjoy your visit to this incredible part of Iceland! Do you know of any other Thingvellir hiking trails that are well worth it? Let us know in the comments!
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