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GLACIER TOURS IN ICELAND
Don't stay far and experience the glaciers in Iceland in every possible way: riding on snowmobiles, going on a hiking tour with crampons, entering an amazing ice cave or navigating between icebergs in the famous glacier lagoon. More than 10% of Iceland is covered with glaciers, including the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. Check below all the details about glaciers in Iceland and don't leave the island without taking part in one of our fabulous glacier tours, a true Icelandic experience you will never forget.
- What is a glacier?
- A glacier is a large mass of ice that is formed on the top of a mountain and slowly descends down the slope in the shape of a tongue. Glaciers, although they appear stable and unchanging, they slowly deform as they flow, creating crevices, ice caves, and more. More than 10% of Iceland is covered in glaciers. Unfortunately, due to climate change, glaciers in Iceland have lost 7% of their volume in the last 20 years.
- How are ice caves formed in the glaciers?
- Among all the different landscapes and formations you will see in the glaciers in Iceland, one phenomena will certainly grab your attention above anything all the rest: the glacier ice caves. The ice caves are formed due to the water that runs through or under the glacier. This water, which often comes from the glacier's surface due to the melting ice, enters the ice through a glacial mill and leaves the glacier's snout downward. The heat transfer from the water causes enough melting to create a cavity inside the ice filled with air. Afterwards, the movement of the air causes the caves to expand.
Another reason these ice caves are formed is the geothermal heat from hot springs under the ice or the volcanic vents. As the glaciers are in continuous movement, each year different ice caves are formed and we look for the best and most spectacular ones to explore. The Vatnajökull glacier is the largest glacier in Europe and therefore the best place to visit an ice cave but there are also incredible ice caves located in other glaciers in Iceland.
- How many glaciers are in Iceland?
- The 13 largest glaciers have a combined area of 11,181 km² (out of about 11,400 km² for all glaciers of Iceland). Here is our list with the most famous glaciers in Iceland, the top 5 glaciers you should visit in Iceland:
- Vatnajökull glacier: It is the largest glacier in Europe and is located in the southeast of Iceland, occupying about 8,000 km2, which represents 8% of the total area of Iceland. The glacier is located on a chain of volcanoes that are close to 2000 meters high, incluidng Grímsvötn and Bárðarbunga. Just a few years ago, Vatnajökull had a quiet but fascinating eruption inside it that would last for a few months. When the part of a glacier goes into a valley it is known as a glacier tongue. The Vatnajökull is made up of numerous glacial tongues, each with their respective names. The most famous sites on the Vatnajökull glacier are the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Black Diamond beach, where you will see the icebergs that break off the glacier floating around and arrive at the shore, creating an incredible contrast with the volcanic black sand.
Mýrdalsjökull glacier and its glacial tongue Sólheimajökull: Mýrdalsjökull glacier is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. Two places stand out above all, its glacial tongue Sólheimajökull, where trekking excursions on the glacier take place, and the Katla volcano, which is located inside. This volcano is one of the largest and most active in Iceland, and here is an ice cave that can be accessed throughout the year by booking the tour from Vík or Reykjavík. The fact that it is located near the well-known Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, make it the ideal glacier to visit on a day trip through southern Iceland. Renting a snowmobile is also another of the most popular ways to explore this glacier.
Langjökull glacier: Langökull glacier is the second largest in Iceland at 953 km2. It is located in the west of the island and it is the closest glacier to Reykjavík. The way to explore this glacier is by booking the popular tour to the ice tunnel that is inside. Entering inside this incredible man-made ice tunnel, you will reach an ice cave and enjoy impressive views of the glacier formations. Yo can also complete this glacier experience with a snowmobile tour outside the glacier.
Eyjafjallajökull glacier: Did you even bother trying to pronounce the name correctly? It's a mouthful! This glacier is the sixth largest in Iceland and is located in the south, near Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The eruption in 2010 spewed ash into the atmosphere causing chaos around the whole world and thus making a name for itself Today it is possible to explore this glacier on a snowmobile or super jeep tour.
Snæfellsjökull glacier: The glacier and volcano on the Snaefellsnes peninsula is not only known for being the place where Jules Verne's characters accessed "the center of the Earth" but also for appearing in various Icelandic sagas and novels. For many people, both Icelanders and around the world, this volcano is one of the world's energy centers and has a mystical power that is difficult to explain in words. The entire area surrounding the glacier and the Snaefellsjökull volcano has been designated as one of the three National Parks of Iceland. If you are really adventurous, the hiking tours in this glacier are made for you, as they can be really demanding. If not, better see it from below and enjoy all the amazing places around the glacier.
- What activities can I do in a glacier in Iceland?
If you really want to explore a glacier in Iceland (and you should do it!), the most popular way is by joining a hiking tour on the glacier. You don't need to have experience or any special equipment and can choose between two different glaciers: Vatnajökull or Myrdalsjökull. For Vatnajökull glacier hiking tours you need to get there on your own but for Myrdalsjökull there are also tours departing from Reykjavík.
Don't feel like walking that much? Then join one of the snowmobile tours in Iceland, they are offered on both glaciers and also in Langjökull departing from Reykjavík or Gullfoss. You will surely get amazing views of the glaciers in Iceland.
Another amazing activity, of course, is entering an ice cave. The ice caves that appear every year in Vatnajökull glacier are fascinating but if you are in Iceland during summer months better check out the tour 'The Ice Cave Under the Volcano'! With departures from Reykjavík and Vík, this ice cave at Myrdalsjökull glacier is accesible the whole year!
Last but not least is our beloved man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull glacier, a truly unique experience taking place on the second largest glacier in Iceland. And although you can visit Jökulsarlon glacier Lagoon at Vatnajökull glacier on your own, we recommend booking the amphibian boat tour or the speedboat tour, which will navigate you through a sea of floating icebergs. .
Where do the glacier tours in Iceland take place?
The glacier tours in Iceland take place in three different glaciers in Iceland: Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, Myrdalsjökull and Langjökull. If you are not traveling around Iceland and don't have a rental car, don't worry. You still can explore a glacier! Simply join one of the glacier tours that departures from Reykjavík, such as the ice cave under the volcano, the hiking tour at Myrdalsjökull and South Coast, the Ice tunnel tour or the snowmobile tour at Langjökull.
What is included in a glacier tour in Iceland and what should I bring?
All the necessary safety equipment is included, such as the crampons for hiking but you cannot forget your hiking boots. Please come prepared with warm clothing suitable for cold weather. This includes waterproof jackets, pants, hiking boots, hats, gloves, scarves, sunglasses and of course, a camera.
What can I do on my own on the glaciers in Iceland?
Of course you can visit sevearl different places like Jökulsárlón glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach on your own and you take in spectacular views from different glaciers from afar but stepping on a glacier on your own is completely forbidden. The tour guides are glacier experts, they know everything about the glaciers and security comes first.
When should I visit the glaciers in Iceland?
You can see and explore the glaciers in Iceland throughout the whole year. There are some activities that don't run the whole year, like the ice caves in Vatnajökull, which are only accesible between November and March, or snowmobiling at Vatnajökull. You can check the availability of every tour by clicking on each tour page. Fortunately, the glacier hiking tours in Iceland are available the whole year but you have to book them in advance!
Important note: All activities in the Icelandic nature are carried out under the own responsibility of the clients. ISLANDICA s.r.o. is not responsible for any accidents that may occur during the activities or due to the actions of the participants. The people who participate in these outings are accepting these conditions when booking a tour. ID 833