Þingvellir ( or "þingvellir" in Icelandic") is the name of the entire national park which includes the popular tourist stop of the same name, þingvellir national park. The park also includes parts of Thingvellir lake and the surrounding area. The park has an area of 9270 ha or about 93 km². Being a national park the speed limit is only 50 kilometres per hour to protect the birds and plants. Here the Icelandic parliament Alþingi ("Althingi") was established in 930 AD, making it the oldest parliament in the world. Here the chieftains would meet once a year during the summer to amend laws, settle disputes and appoint juries. Today the Icelandic parliament has a newer building in the capital city Reykjavik, but the national park is still is worth a visit.
Geologically it is also a very important place since it is where tectonic plates meet, the American and Eurasian to be exact.
In English it is best to write is as "Thingvellir" even though the correct form is Þingvellir. In tourist guides and other literature you may encounter it written with a "P" which simply is wrong. The "Þ" ( Thorn) is pronounced very similar to the English "th". Therefore writing Thingvellir invites to pronounce it in the most correct way possible.
Probably the best known and most visited waterfall in Iceland. Gullfoss translated means "golden waterfall". It has a total height of 32 meters, which is divided into two steps ( 21 and 11 meters), where the water of the river Hvitá flows down.
It is part of the so-called "Golden Circle Day Tour", which you can easily complete in eight hours from Reykjavik; it never fails to stun its visitors with its beauty. The tour also includes a visit to Geysir and Þingvellir.
At Gullfoss you find to parking lots on different levels. One up high which gives you a very good overview over the waterfall. Up there you also find the Gullfoss service area, with a restaurant and cafe where you can also purchase souvenirs. Most golden circle tours have their lunch break either here or at Geysir. From there you have a few paths bringing you closer to the waterfall and also stairs to the lower plateau. At the lower parking lot you have a different view which is not less impressive. If you have time you should read the information boards which apart from the facts will also tell you the story of Sigríður Tómasdóttir. She is told to have saved and preserve the waterfalls from being exploited for a power plant. Above the falls you will also find a stone memorial depicting here profile.
During the private tour by superjeep or as we call it the "golden circle on the rocks" we continue and take you up to langjökull glacier.
The word geysir (or as written in English, geyser) originates in Iceland with Geysir, as it is called, being the first geyser known to Europeans. So without knowing your may have been using an Icelandic word for a long time. The origin of the word is "geysa" which means "to gush". Located in the valley Haukadalur, just south of Gullfoss waterfall. The oldest sources which mention hot springs in this region can be traced back to 1294, when they were activated by an earthquake. According to some research it has been active for about 10 000 years. While the old Geysir is inactive, Strokkur, which is also located in the Geysir area spouts every 5-10 minutes, with the water reaching about 15-20 meters from the ground. The old Geysir was apparently able to reach up to 170 meters, but research done in 1846 showed that it reached about 50 meters, which still is very impressive. The old Geysir has decreased in activity and until a few years ago it was aided by adding soap. This practice was stopped due to environmental concerns.