National Parks in Iceland
The Largest national park in Iceland
Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north, so that today's park covers 13% of Iceland and ranks among the largest national parks in Europe.
Despite a large part of the national park being underneath the icecap of the glacier Vatnajökull, its landscape is diverse, predominantly due to the interplay of volcanic activity and glaciers. Few other places in the world exhibit the effects of such a wide range of natural phenomena as Vatnajökull, where the battle between ice and fire still rages, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.
Þingvellir National Park
Situated on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides being a location of historical significance, Þingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features. Almannagjá is a canyon formed between two tectonic plates, a visual representation of continental drift.
The Snæfellsjökull National Park
This was the first national park that was established in Iceland, the boundaries of which reach out into the sea. Standing at the foot of a volcano and glacier, Snæfellsjökull National Park is the only park that reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops.
Undisputedly the main attraction of the National Park is the Snæfellsjökull Glacier—the beautiful magnet of the western Peninsula. This active volcano, which stands 1,446 m high, provided the setting for Jules Vernes' famous Journey to the Center of the Earth.col02