Thingvellir | Credit: Keryn Means
Walk through history at Thingvellir National Park
Parliamentary seats don’t have to be stuffy old buildings, especially when Vikings are involved. Althing, Iceland's Parliament, was founded in 930 A.D. as an open-air assembly in Thingvellir shortly after Iceland was settled by Vikings. Representing all of Iceland's clans, it met at this location until the 19th century, when it moved to Reykjavík. Thingvellir National Park, established in 1930 to protect the remains of the original parliamentary site, is set on the northern shore of Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, about an hour and half from the center of Reykjavík (the assembly had quite a nice view while they discussed politics).
You can still see the old parliamentary benches made of turf and stone. A hike through this area is a must, but if you are short on time (or on kids ready for hiking), head to the viewing station on top of the ridge for a spectacular look at the mountains, plains and lake.
Geography tip: Thingvellir is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the point where the North American and Eurasian plates come together. You can see great fissures and stones jutting out from the ground.
Best time to enjoy: year round