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The Geological Wonders of Almannagjá Gorge

Updated: 3 days ago

The word canyon or gorge usually conjures images of deep crevices, a desolate, dry landscape of rock and sand. But that is definitely not what you’ll find at Almannagjá Gorge in Iceland. Although there are rocky outcrops and a definitive divide at Almannagjá, it’s also characterized by water and lush vegetation.


But it’s not just its beautiful aesthetics that make Almannagjá one of the most famous Golden Circle sights in Iceland; it’s the gorge’s geological importance. So, if you’re planning a trip to the island soon and would like to know why you can’t miss out on stopping at Almannagjá Gorge, read on. This geological wonder will blow your mind!



Almannagjá Gorge

The Importance of Almannagjá Gorge


Almannagjá Gorge is considered one of the most important things to see on the Golden Circle in Iceland. This 8-kilometer canyon marks a significant geological divide. For those who don’t know, Iceland sits on top of the Mid-Atlantic Rift, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pushing apart (hence why we have so much volcanic activity on the island).


Almannagjá marks the line of separation between these two continents. So not only can you marvel at the beauty and power of nature at Almannagjá, but you can also say that you’ve walked the Mid-Atlantic divide.


The Location of Almannagjá Gorge in Iceland


One of the first main attractions along Iceland’s Golden Circle route from Reykjavík is Thingvellir National Park, which is also exactly where you’ll find Almannagjá. Since it is just 50 kilometers from the capital city, it’s possible to make a visit to Almannagjá Gorge a day outing, but we’d recommend making it a stop along a Golden Circle route road trip.


Almannagjá Gorge, Golden Circle

Getting to Almannagjá Gorge in Iceland


If you would like to visit Almannagjá Gorge, you can:


Book a Spot on a Guided Tour


Because of its geological importance and the fact that it’s so close to the capital city, Almannagjá Gorge is a destination that’s included in quite a few tour packages here on the island.


So, if you’d like an experienced and knowledgeable guide to take you through the gorge, then you can book a spot on one of these tours, which range from day tours to multi-day holiday packages. Or you can ask one of our tour operators or local guides to take you on a custom private tour.





Drive There Yourself


We believe driving yourself is the best way to experience the island and visit the gorge, especially since it’s located so conveniently close to the Golden Circle in Iceland. Driving to the gorge from Reykjavík is also very easy. Get on Route 1 and take a right at Route 36, the first exit at Mosfellsbær. Soon, you’ll find yourself at the western entrance to Thingvellir.


Camper rental Iceland

When to Visit Almannagjá Gorge


Almannagjá Gorge is open to the public all year round. The Golden Circle is also one of our paved main roads that are well maintained and won’t pose such challenging driving conditions as other roads in the more remote regions of the island during our harsh winter season. But this doesn’t change the fact that visiting Almannagjá is an outdoor activity and, therefore, is impacted by the weather.


So, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the Iceland weather forecast, especially before heading out, and you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be able to take on our winter months with snow, ice, and winds reaching speeds of up to 35+ kilometers an hour. For the best weather, you’ll have to visit during our summertime in Iceland.


Just remember that you’ll need to compete with our peak season pricing and peak season crowds during this period. For a more budget-friendly experience while still enjoying milder weather, we recommend visiting during one of the shoulder months (April, May, or October).


Almannagjá Gorge’s Dark Background


It’s hard to believe that this incredible natural wonder was once the scene of great injustice in our penal system. During the 16 and 17th centuries, adultery was something that was not tolerated, and the punishment was severe.


Drekkingarhylur, a deep pool near the bridge that crosses the Oxara River in Almannagjá Gorge, is one of the places where brutal punishments were doled out. The guilty were placed in a sack and held underwater with a stick till they became lifeless.


What makes these punishments even more brutal and unjust is the fact that the vast majority of people found guilty of this crime was women, most of whom were either falsely accused or the victims of rape. Today, those who pass by this spot must bow their heads in memory of the 18 women who died there.


almannagjá fault

Other Things to See & Do Near Almannagjá Gorge


If you want to extend your adventures in the area or want to add interesting things to see and do to your road trip itinerary, the following come highly recommended if you’re near Almannagjá:


Places to Stay Near Almannagjá Gorge


If you would like to stay over for a night or two to properly explore the area and all it has to offer, you will find plenty of accommodation options. For a more luxurious stay, the ION Adventure Hotel is a good option. For an affordable yet comfortable stay, Björk Guesthouse works well. If you’ve opted for a campervan adventure, a spot at Thingvellir Campground will get you in the midst of all the action.


Almannagjá Gorge: the Golden Child of the Golden Circle


As one of the main attractions along the Golden Circle route in Iceland and the geological importance it holds, Almannagjá Gorge can be considered the golden child of the Golden Circle and a highlight that simply cannot be missed during your trip to the island.


Rent a campervan in Reykjavík upon arrival to sort out your transport and accommodation during your stay in Iceland, and make Thingvellir and Almannagjá Gorge one of the first stops on your road trip around the island.

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