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Almannagjá Gorge: A Geological Divide

Almannagjá Gorge (or Canyon) is a favorite amongst those taking on the Golden Circle route in Iceland. Many make Almannagjá one of the stops along their road trip around the island. And once you learn a little more about Almannagja and its geological significance, it’s easy to understand why.


In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about Almannagjá Gorge: what it is, where to find it, and what you can expect from visiting this magical place. Let’s dive into the golden child of Iceland's Golden Circle.


Almannagjá , Iceland


What Makes Almannagjá Gorge So Special?


Almannagjá Gorge is one of the most exciting things to see on the Golden Circle in Iceland. You see, Almannagjá is much more than just an 8-kilometer-long canyon; it’s a geological wonder. Almannagjá Gorge marks a geological divide or separation.


It is the boundary line of the famous Mid-Atlantic Rift, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates continuously push apart. So, even though Almannagjá Gorge is a truly breathtaking sight as a canyon and natural wonder, what it represents geologically is quite significant.


Where is Almannagjá Gorge in Iceland?


Almannagjá Gorge is a mere 50 kilometers from our capital city and inside Thingvellir National Park, one of the first attractions you’ll find along the Golden Circle route. This makes Almannagjá a great day outing from Reykjavík, although we’ll always favorite it as a stop along a Golden Circle road trip.


Thingvellir National Park

How to Get to Almannagjá Gorge


There are a couple of ways that one can visit Almannagjá Gorge:


Book a Spot on a Tour


Because it’s such a landmark in Iceland and so close to Reykjavík, you will find that it is included in a lot of tours here on the island. If you don’t want to book a spot on an existing tour package, you can also negotiate a custom private tour with one of the tour operators or a local guide. But if you’re planning on visiting during our summertime, please make sure that you book well in advance since summer is our peak season here on the island.


Drive Yourself


We will always advocate for your own transport on the island, since it’s the only way to stay in complete control of your time and trip itinerary. Driving to Almannagjá via the Golden Circle in Iceland is easy.


Take Route 1 and then the first exit on your right at Mosfellsbær, which is Route 36. Shortly thereafter, you will arrive at the western entrance of Thingvellir National Park. Once inside Thingvellir, you can simply inquire at the Visitor Center about where to find the gorge and the rest of the attractions inside the national park or use the map and follow the signs.




The Best Time to Visit Almannagjá Gorge 


You can visit Almannagjá all year round, and since the Golden Circle is one of our paved main roads, it’s also kept in pretty good condition even through the challenging driving months of winter. But visiting Almannagjá Gorge is still an outdoor activity, which will always leave you somewhat dependent on the weather.


This immediately puts the colder months of the year on the back foot, especially winter with its 35+ kilometer an-hour winds, snow storms, 4 hours of daylight, etc. Most would recommend going during the warmer months of the year (from April to September), but even then, we recommend you keep an eye on the Iceland weather forecast as the Iceland weather can be pretty fickle.


If you want to visit during our summer season in Iceland (May to September), we recommend that you visit early morning or late afternoon. That way, you’ll miss the majority of our peak season crowds.


Almannagjá Gorge’s Dark History


When visiting the canyon, you will find a place where a bridge crosses the Oxara River at some of its deepest waters. This pool, known as Drekkingarhylur, symbolizes much darker times in Iceland’s judicial system during the 16th and 17th centuries. The name Drekkingarhylur translates to Drowning Deep Pool.


A total of 18 women were drowned here by being put in a sack and held underwater with a stick after being sentenced to death. Their crime? Adultery. The worst part of this story is that most of these women were either completely innocent or raped. Those who pass the pool today bow their heads in respect and memory of those who so senselessly lost their lives there.



almannagjá Golden Circle


Other Things to See & Do Around Almannagjá Gorge


There’s much more to do in the area than just hike through and marvel at Almannagjá. These are just a few things to add to your trip itinerary if you want to explore the area further:


Where to Stay Near Almannagjá Gorge


Whether you want to make it a pitstop along your road trip or just want to stay over in order to explore the area better, you will find a myriad of accommodation options that’ll suit your needs and requirements.


You can try one of our hotels, such as ION Adventure Hotel, if you want a bit more of a luxurious stay. Björk Guesthouse (no relation to the famous musician) is a great way of staying comfortable without paying an arm and a leg. Thingvellir Campground is the ultimate budget-friendly solution and a great way to really immerse yourself in the Icelandic landscape.


Almannagjá Gorge: One of the Must-see Golden Circle Sights


With such intriguing history, natural beauty, and geological importance, it will be a shame to miss out on Almannagjá Gorge during a trip to Iceland. Rent a car in Iceland and either make it a day trip or part of your Golden Circle road trip, but don’t miss out on this gorgeous gorge!


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