Essential Iceland Self Drive
If you are travelling to southern Iceland, you would be sorry to miss a visit of Thingvellir’s historical and natural bounties! At the edge of the country’s biggest lake (Thingvallavatn), visitors will cross a vast lava field saturated with historical significance. Famous for being the location of the world’s oldest parliament (Allthing), the site is slashed by a great rift valley that has marked the surrounding landscape in astonishing ways.
While visiting Thingvellir, you must go to the “hemicycle”. Even though the original monument no longer a remains, the site has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2004. The Allthing was created by the Viking people here in 930 and founded the liberal state of Iceland(930-1262). Icelandic democracy, a prodigious anachronism for the Middle Ages, was put on hold under periods Norvegian and Danish rule. However, Thingvellir is also the place where Iceland declared its independence in 1944.
A hub of geologic activity, Thingvellir straddles Europe and America. It is the location of the rift valley that delineates the crest of the mid-Atlantic ridge, where the two continents drift apart. The landscapes and atmosphere here are totally surprising. Around its large lake Thingvallavatn, green meadows as far as the eye can see. An ideal spot for a serene picnic, it is also the starting point for countless lovely hikes.
– We would recommend for you to climb to the top of the Almannagja fault, where you’ll find a beautiful view full of surprising contrasts. From here, walk to the Oxara River to discover the Oxararfoss waterfall.
– Thingvellir’s vast plain is marked by numerous parallel fissures. One of these, Peningagja, has been filled by the clear waters of the Langjokull, the “long glacier” of Iceland’s central highlands. Traditionally, travellers throw in a coin and make a wish here…
– Go for a little walk around Thingvallavatn and observe its remarkable flora and fauna. The lake is home to stickleback fish and arctic char and attracts many different birds(harlequin ducks, whooper swans, merlins, etc.)
About 50 km northeast of Reykjavik, it is east to get to by car on route 36. From Laugarvatn take route 365 (25km) and from Geysir, route 37, then the 365 (55km).