Iceland is known for its impressive landscapes and interesting terrain, and if you’re busy compiling an itinerary of things to see on the Golden Circle in Iceland, Almannagjá Gorge should definitely top the charts.
Almannagjá offers visitors an almost other-worldly experience, and in this article, we will be doing a deep dive into this impressive natural wonder and what you can expect from a visit to one of the most famous spots along the Golden Circle route in Iceland.
Almannagjá Gorge; an Overview
Visiting Almannagja is one of the best things to do in the Golden Circle in Iceland, and is, in fact, one of the first stops along the route. Almannagjá Gorge is not just one of the most impressive Golden Circle sights, clocking in at a staggering 8 kilometers long, but it actually marks a very significant geological landmark.
Almannagjá Gorge marks the boundary of the Mid-Atlantic Rift where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates push apart. Although there is a road that will take you all along the Gorge, there’s nothing like taking on one of its hiking trails, truly immersing oneself in all the Gorge has to offer, and getting up close and personal to some of the natural wonders it holds.
Where is Almannagjá Gorge?
Almannagjá Gorge is located in our famous Thingvellir National Park in the southern part of Iceland, which is one of the first stops on any Golden Circle road trip. The distance between the capital city of Reykjavik and Thingvellir is about 50 kilometers, making a day trip possible during our summer months with plenty of daylight hours.
How to Get to Almannagjá Gorge
You can choose to visit Almannagjá Gorge in one of two ways:
Via a Tour
There are many tour operators and guides here on the island that will be able to take you to Almannagjá. Either as part of an existing tour package they offer or as a customized private tour that you can arrange with them. Just remember to book well in advance if you are planning a summer trip to the island, since this is considered our peak season.
Via a Self-drive
This will always be our preferred method of traveling and exploring the island. Whether you’re planning on making Almannagjá a day outing or a stop along Iceland's Golden Circle route, reaching the Gorge from Reykjavik is pretty simple. Just get on Route 1 and then take Route 36 which will be the first exit on your right at Mosfellsbaer. Soon you will reach Thingvellir National Park’s western entrance.
When is the Best Time to Visit Almannagjá Gorge?
Almannagjá Gorge is open to the public all year round and getting to Thingvellir is also easy as the main road is paved and well-maintained, irrespective of the season. But, as an outdoor venue with outdoor sights and activities, the seasons and the weather are something you’ll need to take into consideration when planning your trip.
The first important thing to keep in mind is that the colder months of the year here do not just bring freezing temperatures, but also harsh weather elements such as blizzards and winds of up to 35+ kilometers an hour. So, visiting any outdoor attraction or attempting an outdoor activity during this time, especially during our winter season, will be extremely uncomfortable. Add the few daylight hours you have to work with (between 4-5 hours mid-winter), and planning an outdoorsy trip itinerary will be an absolute nightmare.
We suggest either planning your trip during the summer season in Iceland, or during one of the shoulder months (April, May, or October), which will also help your holiday budget stretch a bit further.
The Darker Side of Almannagjá Gorge
It’s hard to live for thousands of years without any skeletons in your closet, so when one digs into Almannagjá’s past, you will come across its darker side. The deep waters that can be found by the bridge over the Oxara River played a nasty role in the judicial system of the 16th and 17th centuries. This pool is called Drekkingarhylur which translates to ‘Drowning Deep Pool’.
Here women who were found guilty of adultery were drowned by placing them in a sack and holding them under water with a stick ‘till they stopped moving. The most shocking part of this is not even the barbaric way adultery was dealt with, but rather the fact that of the 18 women who drowned there, many were either victims of rape or completely falsely accused. Today, it’s custom practice to bow one’s head when passing the pool in respect to those women who lost their lives there.
Things to Do & See Near Almannagjá Gorge
There is an abundance of exciting things to see and do in and around Almannagjá Gorge. These are a few things you can look forward to:
- Visit Oxarafoss Waterfall
- Dive or snorkel the Silfra Fissure (keep in mind that you will need a valid diver’s license with sufficient experience under your belt if you specifically want to go diving)
- Have a relaxing soak in Laugarvatn Fontana
- Go snowmobiling across Langjökull Glacier
- Visit Fridheimar Tomato Farm
Where to Stay Near Almannagjá Gorge
If you would like to take advantage of everything the area has to offer and are planning on staying overnight for a night or two, the following accommodation comes highly recommended:
- ION Adventure Hotel (if you’re looking for a touch of luxury)
- Björk Guesthouse (a comfortable stay at affordable rates)
- Thingvellir Campground (for the ultimate cost-effective stay whilst fully immersed in the Icelandic landscape)
Almannagjá Gorge; Visit This Geological Wonder On Your Golden Circle Road Trip
We highly recommend taking on the Golden Circle route in Iceland as a road trip. It’s an exceptional road that has some of Iceland’s best attractions along the way, including Almannagjá Gorge.
If you rent a campervan in Iceland you will take care of both your transport and accommodation, and you’ll be able to use the Camping Card to maximize savings for the most budget-friendly holiday whilst camping in comfort. So, organize that campervan so you can get on the Golden Circle and check out the gorgeous Almannagjá Gorge!