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Best Ice Caves in Iceland

Learn about the most captivating Icelandic ice caves

|August 28, 2023
Gabija is passionate about traveling and writing. In her free time, she likes to read, try out different cuisines, or embark on outdoor adventures.

Iceland has numerous ice caves, from the Crystal Ice Cave in Vatnajökull to the man-made Into the Glacier ice tunnel on Langjökull, and not to mention the new ice caves that form every year. Each one has its unique quirks, colours and activities. So, which ones are the most worth visiting? Here, we will discuss some of the best ice caves in Iceland one by one and recommend the best tours to experience them in all their glory.


Ice cave tours in Iceland

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING ICE CAVES IN ICELAND

Curious about visiting Iceland’s ice caves? Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about Iceland’s glacial and ice caves.

WHICH IS THE BEST ICE CAVE IN ICELAND?

It's entirely up to you to decide! First of all, they're all different and offer their own unique features. Visit the man-made ice tunnel if you want to admire what a human desire can do, and if you're looking for great photos, Crystal Ice Cave is right for you. Katla Ice Cave is unique for its geology and can be visited all year round, and Falljökull Ice Cave can be combined together with an unforgettable glacier hike!

CAN YOU VISIT ICE CAVES IN ICELAND ON YOUR OWN?

Since the glaciers are constantly moving and unpredictable, it is impossible to visit glaciers and natural glacial ice caves without a certified glacier guide. Book a glacier or an ice cave tour to see these marvels of nature.

WHEN CAN YOU SEE ICE CAVES IN ICELAND IN SUMMER?

Most ice caves can only be visited during the winter season, except for Katla Ice Cave and the man-made ice tunnel at Langjökull, which can be visited all year round.

ARE THERE ANY ICE CAVES NEAR REYKJAVIK?

Langjökull and Katla Ice Cave are relatively close to Reykjavík (approximately 132 and 152 km), while Crystal Ice Cave and Falljökull Ice Cave are located in the South East region. Although most of these ice cave tours have a pick-up from Reykjavík option, for example, the "Into the Glacier" experience or Katla Ice Cave Tour.

Katla ice cave which can be visited all-year round

WHAT IS THE BEST MONTH FOR ICE CAVES IN ICELAND?

Generally, winter months from November to March are prime time, as colder temperatures make the ice more stable and safe. However, remember that each year is different, and weather conditions vary. Katla Cave and the man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull are accessible year-round, making any month great for ice caving. For the most current information, we keep our ice cave tours page updated with the best times to visit.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ICE CAVE IN ICELAND?

When it comes to sheer size, the crown will go to the Vatnajökull Ice Caves. Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, boasts numerous ice caves, each unique and massive in its own right. However, these icy giants aren't static; they evolve with the changing seasons and glacier movements.

TOP 5 BEST ICE CAVES IN ICELAND TO VISIT

Woman Inside the Icelandic Ice Cave

Woman inside an ice cave in Iceland

Ice caves are found all over Iceland but are constantly changing. As we have stated before, the glacier ice in Iceland is greatly affected by geothermal activity, which also adds to the incredible uniqueness of the country’s ice caves. One would probably not think that ice caves would form in a country known for volcanic eruptions and its geothermal activeness, but in Iceland, you have it all.

1. Langjökull Ice Cave

Man Made Ice Cave in Iceland

Man-made ice tunnel in Iceland

Location: Langjökull Glacier

Season: Year-round

In 2010 two men called Baldvin Einarsson, and Hallgrímur Örn Arngrímsson took a bold decision to make their dream of bringing people not only around but also inside the glacier.

They brought in Ari Trausti Guðmundsson, a renowned geophysicist, and he started studying, planning, modeling, and carefully preparing for construction. When the ice cave at Langjökull was opened, it became the world's biggest man-made Glacier Ice Cave.

A tour of the ice cave can be done in many different ways, depending on what else you’d like to see of our incredible country. You can visit the man-made ice tunnel alone from Reykjavik and Husafell, or even combine it with the wonderful Northern Lights. Choose your favorite and book your adventure to Langjökull Ice Cave now!

2. Crystal Ice Cave

Man inside of Crystal Ice Cave in Iceland

Crystal clear blue ice cave in Iceland

Location: Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier

Season: November - April

The Crystal Ice cave is the one you have probably seen photos of. It has been visited since 2011-2012, and high hopes are that we can continue to do so. Its inside is carved out by a large glacial river every summer and is located in the beautiful Breiðamerkurjökull, which also provides water and ice to the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

 

Inside the Crystal Ice Cave Tour

 

The inside of the cave is somewhat like a crystal dome, and this is where the name comes from. The light shines through the thick ice, making the color a vivid blue. This ice cave is worth visiting for any adventure seeker or photography lover. Book onto our 2 day South Coast ice cave and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon tour during winter and get to experience this fantastic ice cave alongside a variety of other Icelandic wonders.

3. Katla Ice Cave

Explore the Katla ice cave in Iceland

Location: Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Season: Year-round

Katla Ice Cave tour will take you into a unique ice cave that lies under the volcano. This ice cave is located on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Kötlujökull, which is named after the Katla Volcano. It sounds a bit complicated, I know. But all you need to know is that you'll be on a glacier, hiking up to a volcano, to see one of the most beautiful natural ice caves in Iceland.

Another awesome thing about the Katla Ice Cave is that it can be visited all year round, thanks to its geology. Contrasting blue and black ice walls distinguish this ice cave from the others.

4. Skaftafell ice caves

Ice Cave tour at Falljökull Glacier in Iceland

Location: Falljökull Glacier, Skaftafell National Park

Season: October - April

Part of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell National Park is home to stunning landscapes, including the "Falling Glacier," Falljökull. Once standing independently, Skaftafell joined the Vatnajökull National Park in 2008, making it a part of one of the largest national parks in Europe.

Also called “Crystal Ice Caves”, these glacier caves found in the region are formed by a glacial river that flows through the glacier in the summer. As winter descends, the water within these caves freezes, bringing about the stunning ice caves we see today.

The hike to the Skaftafell Ice Cave, set high on the glacier, is a part of the adventure, with the breathtaking icy landscape accompanying you throughout the 30-45 minute journey.

 

 

The cave is so high up on the glacier, it’s accessible earlier in the season than the Crystal Ice Cave or others. The higher you go on the glacier, the colder, so the cave is more stable and less affected by the warmth of the summer or other natural causes. 

Inside, you will see a unique spectacle of shimmering ice walls and ice formations. Each year is like a fresh roll of the dice, as guides discover new glacier caves of varying sizes and locations!

But remember, exploring glacier caves should always be done as part of guided tours for safety. Glacier guides offer valuable insights about ice caves, ensuring a safe and informative experience.

5. Vatnajökull ice caves

Ice cave in Europe's largest glacier - Vatnajökull

Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier, is so massive it covers more than 8% of Iceland. That's a lot of ice! And within this frosty giant, the Vatnajökull National Park is a wonderland of over 30 glacier outlets like Falljökull and Breiðamerkurjökull, and other natural ice caves just waiting to be explored

On this vast expanse of ice, which is like a small country in size, you can strap on your hiking boots and march across one of the largest glaciers in the world that you can actually hike on. And your trophy for this icy expedition? The awe-inspiring glacier ice caves tucked within its folds.

Sure, the Crystal Ice Cave gets a lot of attention, but the glacier's ever-changing nature means that new caves are being formed every year. That's the magic of it – every season brings the potential for new icy wonders to be discovered

Aerial view of Vatnajökull glacier in south Iceland

However, the majesty of these glacier caves shouldn't fool you into thinking this is a do-it-yourself adventure. The ever-changing glacier conditions and unpredictable weather make the exploration of these caves a significant safety challenge. 

Plus, let's be honest, the glacier and outlet names can be a tongue-twister even for the locals. But that's where our seasoned guides step in to help. They're out on the glacier daily and know their way around like the back of their hand.

With guided Vatnajökull tours, you get more than just an adventure - you get the expertise of guides who know every icy cranny of these caves. They ensure your ice-caving journey through the glacier is safe, educational, and an experience you'll treasure.

Iceland’s ice caves are a testament to the country's ethereal beauty, shaped by extreme climate and geological forces. They're dazzling show-stoppers that guarantee a serious "wow" moment. These natural and man-made wonders offer an unparalleled experience, making a visit to at least one of these caves a must for any Icelandic adventure.

Each cave has its unique charm, whether it's the Crystal Ice Cave's shimmering walls, the sheer scale of Langjökull's tunnels, or the volcanic imprint on Katla Cave.

But remember, as awe-inspiring as Iceland’s ice caves are, they aren't places to wander into unprepared. Guided ice cave tours and ice climbs, professional advice, and the right gear are key to keeping your icy adventure both exciting and safe.

Time to put on the crampons and hit some of the chilliest, most thrilling spots around!

 

Recommended tours to visit natural ice caves in Iceland

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