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Discover sites of global importance

Did you know that no less than four areas in South Iceland have been designated as UNESCO areas? That‘s right; we have a UNESCO Global Geopark and three UNESCO World Heritage sites, covering almost 25% of Iceland’s area! Encounter these destinations, and you will quickly see why they are worthy of protection. 


How to visit

 


You can easily see jaw-dropping scenery within a five-minute walk from the car park. Our advice, however, is to take your time and explore further. The visitor centers are always a good first stop, where you get a deeper understanding and appreciation of the destination. From there, you can go for a refreshing hike, relax in the peaceful natural surroundings, or experience a thrilling outdoor activity.

Plan your visit: Outdoor activities | Culture and heritage | Sustainable travel

Where to go


Þingvellir national park

Þingvellir national park is just famous for both its historical and geological significance. It is arguably Iceland‘s most historic site, as the world‘s oldest existing parliament first met here in AD930. This is where Icelanders would gather annually to solve disputes and recite the law of the land for centuries. Geologically, Þingvellir is located in a rift valley between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia. The place is characterized by steep rock walls, deep ravines, and pristine lake scenery.

Learn more about Þingvellir

Vatnajökull national park

The immense Vatnajökull National Park covers 15% of Iceland or over 14.000 km2. It is characterized by diversity on all fronts, landscape, biosphere, cultural remains, or service levels. It may be placed into two categories: uninhabited highland areas with limited services and lowland areas with higher service levels. The park‘s visitor centers are all located in lowland areas. Each has an exhibition about the park‘s nature and cultural heritage.

Learn more about Vatnajökull national park

Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Katla UNESCO Global Geopark covers 9 % of Iceland or just under 10.000 km2. The geopark includes geological features of global significance. Over 150 volcanic eruptions have been recorded in the area since the 9th century, reshaping the landscape and influencing where people settled. You will find many of Iceland‘s top attractions within Katla UNESCO Global Geopark, including Skógafoss, Dyrhólaey, and Sólheimajökull.

Learn more about Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Surtsey island

Surtsey is one of the world’s newest islands, the most filmed and researched, and one of the most restricted. Ever since a volcanic eruption in 1963 heaved it up out of the waters 18km (11 miles) southwest of Heimaey, its progress has been monitored. This has given scientists a fascinating insight into how a new island evolves, how flora and fauna develop, and so on. Because of this, very few people are now allowed to visit the island, and special permits are only granted for scientific research.

Although you will probably never step on Surtsey island, visiting Vestmannaeyjar islands will bring you closer to this unique UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the island, visit the Eldheimar museum.

Learn more about Surtsey island

Enjoying the view at Fjallsárlón. Photo by Þorvarður Árnason

Discover UNESCO destinations

Þingvellir national park

Þingvellir national park

Þingvellir national park is a UNESCO World Heritage site for historic and geological reasons.
Þingvallavatn lake

Þingvallavatn lake

Þingvallavatn is Iceland's largest natural lake.
Surtsey

Surtsey

An island formed in a volcanic eruption in 1963.
Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk is a nature reserve within Katla UNESCO Global Geopark
Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

A 60-meter high waterfall with a footpath behind the cascade.
Skógafoss

Skógafoss

An iconic waterfall within Katla UNESCO Global Geopark
Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull

A glacier-capped volcano in Katla UNESCO Global Geopark
Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull

An outlet glacier descending from Mýrdalsjökull.
Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey

A nature reserve within Katla UNESCO GLobal Geopark
Reynisfjara, Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar

Reynisfjara, Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar

A black sand beach, basalt columns and sea stacks by Reynisfjall mountain in Katla UNESCO Global Geopark.
Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Katla Geopark includes geological features of global significance.
Þykkvabæjarklaustur

Þykkvabæjarklaustur

An historic church site snuggled in Álftaver pseudo-crater area

Álftaversgígar

Pseudo-craters formed by the Eldgjá lava flowing over wetlands in 934-940.
Vík

Vík

The village of Vík is situated in the center of Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Hvolsvöllur

Hvölsvöllur is the westernmost village in Katla UNESCO Global Geopark
Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur is the easternmost village of Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Kirkjugólf

Kirkjugólf, or ‘the church floor,’ is an 80 square meter expanse of columnar basalt stone slabs.