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Visiting Þjórsárdalur Valley with its Fairytale-Like Features

Not too far from the hustle and bustle of the cities lies an incredible valley with fairytale-like features: huge waterfalls, strong rivers, and some of the greenest landscapes in Iceland. Þjórsárdalur has it all, and in the text below, you can find out why it is a must on your Iceland holiday.


Thjorsardalur Valley vs. Þjórsárdalur Valley vs. Pjorsadalur Valley: Which is Right?

Even though it may look like the same letter, Þ and P are very different and pronounced completely differently. The first letter “Þ” in Þjórsárdalur is pronounced like the “th” in the English word “thing.” That’s why “Þór” is translated into “Thor” in English. The right translation from Þjórsárdalur would then be Thjorsadalur. 

Which one is right? Well, the only one that really needs to be corrected is the Pjorsadalur. To impress the Icelanders, you can write it as Þjórsárdalur. Still, the basic pronunciation of Þjórsárdalur and Thjorsadalur will sound the same to non-native-speaking Icelanders. There are some connotations and a specific melody in how Icelanders talk, but that’s going overboard for a simple holiday in Iceland.

The History Behind Þjórsárdalur Valley

In 930, Iceland was considered completely populated, and the settlement period was over. From 930 until 1104, the settlements in the Þjórsárdalur Valley flourished, and the Icelandic Vikings were happy. Mount Hekla decided to put an end to that happiness with a massive eruption that buried the entire valley in a thick layer of volcanic ash and pumice.

In 1939, archaeologists excavated farm ruins in Þjórsárdalur. They now protect them with a structure and keep them as a museum for visitors. The farm was rebuilt further south in the area to show how people lived in the Settlement Era in Iceland.

þjórsárdalur valley

Where is Þjórsárdalur in Iceland?

Þjórsárdalur Valley is in the south Icelandic highlands, in the middle of the glaciers Vatnajökull, Hofsjökull, Langjökull, Myrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. With a view like this, it’s not hard to imagine why the settlers chose this place. 

Þjórsárdalur is not far from the Golden Circle route, making it a reasonable stop for a multi-day trip. It’s unfortunately quite some distance from the capital, but still close enough for a day trip from Reykjavík (about 120 kilometers, or roughly a 2-hour drive). 

How to Get to Þjórsárdalur in Iceland

Even though the Thjórsárdalur Valley is in the Icelandic Highlands, you won’t need a 4x4 to reach the area. The road going through it is paved and well-maintained, so almost any type of car will do fine. 

From Reykjavík as a Day Outing or Overnight Trip

The road from Reykjavík to Þjórsárdalur isn’t complicated, even if it takes some time. When you leave the capital, head out on Ring Road 1 and continue until you can turn onto Road 30, roughly 16 kilometers after Sellfoss. Continue on Road 30 until turning onto Road 32, which will take you straight to Þjórsárdalur Camping Ground.

Via the Golden Circle as a Road Trip Stop

If you take the Golden Circle clockwise, you can go south on Road 30 after visiting Gullfoss in Iceland. When you’ve passed Fludir, you should see an exit to Road 32 heading east. This road will take you to Þjórsárdalur. If you go counterclockwise, it will be the same as going from Reykjavík. 

Via Tours

Even though Iceland’s public transport is well-developed, it doesn’t reach all the way out to Þjórsárdalur. You can take several tours from the capital or the nearby towns into the area. Just make sure you read up on the attractions in this park since the tours go to and between specific attractions in the Þjórsárdalur Valley. 

Hiking Þjórsárdalur Valley

This valley is a hiker’s paradise with large green areas and stunning tall waterfalls. Here are the two most popular hiking trails:

Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur

If you are in the Thjórsárdalur Valley, there is no way you can miss out on this gem. Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur is like an oasis in the volcanic landscape with its lush landscape and stunning river. The hike starts at the original Stöng Farm – the excavated one. It’s about 2-2.5 kilometers back and forth, so it doesn’t require much effort. 

Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur

Haifoss Falls

This 10-kilometer-long hiking trail goes to the northern part of Þjórsárdalur, where the 122-meter-tall waterfall falls in the Fossa River. The 10-kilometer route takes you from the recreated Stöng Farm to the Haifoss Waterfall. If you don’t want to hike, you can always follow the long gravel road 332, which technically isn’t an F-road but is still hard to drive without a 4x4 car.

When is the Best Time to Visit Þjórsárdalur?

Like most sites in Iceland, summer will be your best shot. Summer has milder weather, higher temperatures, and plenty of daylight hours to explore the area. If you visit in the fall or spring, you will likely face unpleasant weather in the build-up to or the remnants of the winter season. 

Spring also means more difficulty crossing rivers and streams, and melting winter ice makes for more powerful rivers and streams. The winter is not a season we would advise anyone to visit Þjórsárdalur unless you want to brave blizzards, winds of 35+ kilometers an hour, and deal with ice and snow on trails.

How Much Time Will You Spend at Þjórsárdalur?

If you simply want to drive around and tick off some of the sights, you’ll only need about 1-2 hours. If you want to hike and take your time at the attractions, you’ll need to allocate at least a full day to Þjórsárdalur Valley. 

Haifoss waterfall

Þjórsárdalur Valley: Our Own TV Star

The rebuilt Stöng Farm is not only a good historical recreation, it has also featured in the world-famous Game of Thrones. It's one of the villages used in one of the Wildling attacks, which makes Þjórsárdalur a must-stop on a Game of Thrones tour in Iceland. 

Other Things to See & Do at Þjórsárdalur and Surroundings

When visiting Þjórsárdalur, there are plenty of spots to visit and things to do while in the area, such as:

  • Búrfell – a nearby mountain and regional landmark.

  • Hjalparfoss – a waterfall close to Haifoss.

  • Thorsmork – a popular nature reserve and hiking trail.

  • Fimmvorduhals – a popular hiking trail. 

  • Ice cave tours – at any nearby glacier.

Where to Stay Near Þjórsárdalur

Depending on budget and preferred accommodation style, you have quite a few options near Þjórsárdalur:


Þjórsárdalur Awaits You

This magnificent valley is not to be missed. Þjórsárdalur has an incredible history and stunning surroundings marked by historical sites and natural wonders. Whether you’re planning on making Þjórsárdalur a day outing or part of your road trip, the only thing left to do is to rent a car in Iceland and begin your Þjórsárdalur adventure!

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