National Parks in Iceland

National Parks in Iceland

The unspoilt sprawling natural wonders of Iceland look torn straight from the chapters of a fairy-tale, where each turn of the page reveals a new active spluttering volcano, cascading waterfall, mist-snagging mountain peak and mirror-like lake, all longing to be appreciated. This enigmatic land has fjords, glaciers and highland plains in abundance, and thankfully there’s three national parks in Iceland to protect, preserve and nurture this unique ecosystem. Experience the geysers and hot springs, or the delicate and diverse array of Nordic flora and fauna (that’s able to prevail in all manner of weather conditions). Either way, there’s something for all levels of nature enthusiasts to be in awe of here. So, for those longing to encounter some of the most intricate and diverse terrains the planet has to offer, you’ll find our curated list of the national parks in Iceland offers the helping hand needed to get you started on your own Icelandic escape.


  1. Þingvellir National Park
  2. Vatnajökull National Park
  3. Snæfellsjökull National Park


Þingvellir National Park

Kicking things off is Þingvellir National Park (also known as Thingvellir National Park), the closest to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik (just a 45-minute drive away), nestled in the southern region of the island. This park is one of the three main stops along the epic Golden Circle route and a must for history buffs, having acted as the focal point for the world’s first parliament, Althingi. Coincidently, this is also where two tectonic plates meet, making it a magnet for geography enthusiasts too. The monumental site has been a mecca for tribes throughout the ages, from the early Icelandic settlement of the 9th century, to more recent travellers, who hail from far and wide in a bid to experience the magnitude of this geologically significant spot. Sitting proudly atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it’s held together by the continuous Icelandic volcanic eruptions, producing new lava that saves it from ripping apart completely. This means waterfall chasers and keen hikers can continue to explore the parks jagged cliffs, scenic trails and dew-coated grasslands. Those that journey here can wander through Almannagjá - the slip of narrow valley that knots and marks out the Mid-Atlantic Rift boundary - or dip into the depths of the glass-like waters of Silfra fissure, the perfect underwater escape for all things snorkelling and diving. Whether it's coated in thick layers of snow or glowing under the midnight sun, Þingvellir is a park with year-round natural beauty that’s longing to be explored and appreciated.

pingvellir national park


Vatnajökull National Park

Next on the list of national parks in Iceland, it’s none other than Vatnajökull National Park, which sprawls across a staggering 14% of the country and claims the title of Europe’s second largest national park in the process. Its mammoth size makes it even more alluring for keen and curious travellers, given that there’s plenty of ground to cover. The park is home to everything from glacial flood-carved canyons and powerful waterfalls, to ten jagged volcanoes scattered throughout. But it’s the sheer magnitude and differing landscapes that evoke this otherworldly sense, making it well worth the some four-hour drive from Reykjavik. Plus, there’s plenty of places to stop and rest your head en route. Of course, the park’s real showstopper is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where the neighbouring Breiðamerkurjökull glacier feeds floating icebergs into the lagoon's watery depths, with some continuing to drift out to sea before washing ashore. The iceberg fragments act as a stark contrast to the coastlines black sands and make Diamond Beach a must visit spot when touring Iceland. It’s not all oversized ice cubes and long walks along the beach though, and there are plenty of magical ice caves, walks and scenic hike trails boasting panoramic views thrown in for good measure too.

Vatnajokull national park diamond beach


Snæfellsjökull National Park

The last one on our list of national parks in Iceland is for all the wildlife lovers out there, as this captivating animal haven offers wide lavascapes of age-old magma, bird-filled sea cliffs and mountains topped with glaciers. Snæfellsjökull National Park is nestled among the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the western coast of Iceland and is day trip-able from Reykjavik. Named after its resident glacier and volcano (which lay beneath the icecap for over 700,000 years), the dormant stratovolcano offers a national park experience unlike any other. More experienced hikers who are eager for a challenge, can climb to the peak (a staggering 4744ft tall), where expansive views of the landscape meeting the sea await. From great heights to 35 metres below the surface, there’s also the chance to discover more about Iceland’s impressive geology hidden within its depths. A trip underground to the Vatnshellir Caves (with a trusted guide of course), reveals 8000-year-old lavas tubes in a spectacular array of colours. For those that prefer being on ground level, there’s still plenty of coastal paths, rocky coves and lava rocks coated in moss to explore. One thing is for certain, the incomparable beauty of Snæfellsjökull National Park will no doubt capture your heart and leave you longing to stay just a little longer...

Snaefellsjokull national park