Öxarárfoss Viewpoint

Photo Credit Icon Landslag Architects

Öxarárfoss Viewpoint

  • Icon for path Path

Þingvellir National Park, the most visited tourist destination in Iceland, is a place of great historical significance and unique landscapes. All design within the park strives for a coherent overall infrastructure that protects nature and endures the constant flow of visitors.

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    National parks

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    UNESCO sites

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    UNESCO global geoparks

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    Main roads

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Mass tourism and fragile nature
Þingvellir National Park is a natural wonder on an international scale and the first Icelandic UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also an intrinsic part of Iceland’s history, as the country’s historic democratic Parliament, Alþingi, was founded at Þingvellir. The large number of visitors at Öxarárfoss waterfall, along with Þingvellir’s unique natural surroundings and cultural significance, posed a challenge when building the infrastructure and getting materials to the construction site.

Removable structure

The viewpoint was constructed as part of the overall site plan, and it is therefore coherent with other infrastructure in Þingvellir National Park. It is designed with aesthetics, nature, and safety in mind, with birch platforms floating over the landscape and a few rocks peeking through the manmade structure - a reminder that nature comes first. The viewpoint was constructed in an area in which the large influx of tourists had left wounds in the landscape, and it is designed in a way that it can be removed without disruption to the area. Most of the building materials were flown in by helicopter to minimise disturbance. Other materials were transported to the site using small machines, at a time of the year when the paths could withstand the weight of the vehicles. The platform is designed for durability and has the capacity to accommodate the large number of guests visiting Þingvellir National Park every day. Most platforms at Þingvellir have not required any major maintenance, even though some of them have lasted over 15 years.

Key facts

  • Location

    Þingvellir National Park, S-Iceland

  • GPS points

    N64° 15' 35.40" W21° 07' 10.80"

  • Protection Framework

    National Park and Unesco World Heritage site

  • Estimated number of visitors a year

    About 1,200,000 visitors in 2016

  • High season

    4,100 visitors per day on average in 2014-2016

  • Low season

    1,500 visitors per day on average in 2014-2016

  • Project Owner

    Þingvellir National Park

  • Designer

    Landslag Landscape Architects and Gláma-Kím Architects

  • Year of construction


  • Materials


  • Grants

    The southern part of Þingvellir National Park received ISK 232,500,000 in 2018-2021 where a part of the grant was used for Öxarárfoss platform