National Parks

Enjoy our nature

A protected area is not a piece of land that we're not allowed to enjoy. On the contrary. A protected area is defined as an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources. By declaring an area protected, we secure our and later generations' right to enjoy unspoilt nature. Protected areas can be expected to be of special interest to tourists, as they are Iceland's main natural treasures. Therefore, tourists are encouraged to visit protected areas and enjoy what they have to offer while complying with the rules that apply to them.

Three National Parks

Visitors come to experience Icelandic nature, to enjoy its beauty and to learn from it. National Parks demonstrate and awaken respect for the environment. The role of National Park staff is to provide information to Park visitors. In teaching young people to respect the environment, we are laying the foundation for broader respect, tolerance and sensitivity towards our planet. Environment and Food Agency of Iceland mandates National Parks and other protected areas in Iceland. 

There are now three National Parks around the country, each with its own particular points of interest.

Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. Covering a total area of 12,000 km2 (11% of Iceland), few other places in the world exhibit the effects of such a wide range of natural phenomena. The battle between ice and fire still rages within the National Park's boundaries.

Thingvellir, “Symbol of the Icelandic Consciousness”, is in a rift valley between the American and European geological plates and Lake Thingvellir contains species of fish found nowhere else.

Snæfellsjökull National Park, is at the foot of a volcano and glacier, and is steeped in mystery and romance; it is the only Park that reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops.

Other categories of protected areas

Other categories of protected areas according to the nature conservation act are Nature Reserve that are areas protected for its importance for wildlife (flora and fauna) and landscape, Natural Monuments that are areas protected due to special geological formations e.g. volcanoes, fossils, minerals, waterfalls etc, Country Parks that are areas first and foremost protected for its importance for outdoor recreation and finally a category for habitats, ecosystems and species. In Iceland there are 31 plants protected according to the nature conservation act – the protection is under revision in connection to recently published red list for plants.

For further information we recommend you to view Environment and Food Agency homepage at www.umhverfisstofnun.is