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Skaftafell Glacier vs. Solheimajokull Glacier

What are the differences, and which one is better?

|May 27, 2022
Gabija is passionate about traveling and writing. In her free time, she likes to read, try out different cuisines, or embark on outdoor adventures.

Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull glaciers are probably two of the most visited glaciers in Iceland. Many people come to Iceland with the same questions—how are they different, and which one is better? In this blog post, we'll try to answer those questions.


Iceland is called "The Land of Ice and Fire" for a reason. It is a place where two of nature's powers collide. On one side, we have bursting volcanoes and soil filled with geothermal energy; on the other, there are majestic glaciers. And in this blog post, we'll discuss the latter ones.

Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull are two glaciers located in southeastern and southern Iceland, around 170 kilometers apart. But what other differences do they have, and which one is more worth visiting? We'll try to answer both of those questions in this blog post.

Skaftafell Glacier

Skaftafell Glacier is located within Skaftafell Nature Reserve, in the southeastern part of Iceland. Along with Svínafellsjökull, it is part of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The full Icelandic name of this glacier is Skaftafelljökull, consisting of the name "Skaftafell" and the suffix "jökull", meaning glacier in Icelandic.

Largest Glacier in Iceland Aerial View

Skaftafell, Skaftafellsjökull glacier, Iceland

Today, Vatnajökull covers around 8% of the total area of Iceland, but it's decreasing year by year. That's why it is important to talk about sustainability and the effect climate change has on glaciers. Our glacier guide Eric Solie recently discussed why is it important to care about the glaciers and shared his experience of working as a guide in Skaftafell. You can read the full interview with Erik here.

Guided Glacier Hike on Skaftafell Glacier in Iceland

Guided Glacier Hike on Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland

Skaftafell glacier hike is one of the best ways to get to know the glacier and its ecosystem better. The experienced glacier guide will lead you through the most astonishing glacier formations in Iceland. If you're looking for something even more adventurous, check out this Vatnajökull ice cave with a glacier hike tour.

Sólheimajökull Glacier

Sólheimajökull glacier is part of a larger Mýrdalsjökull, located in the south of Iceland. It is one of the most easily accessed glaciers. It can be reached from Iceland's capital Reykjavik by the Ring Road, the country's main road. Sólheimajökull's main features are its huge ice cracks and lava ashes that cover some parts of the glacier.

Solheimajokull glacier in South Iceland

Sólheimajökull Glacier in South Iceland

Sólheimajökull glacier is perfect for glacier hiking and ice climbing. It's not a surprise that Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike is among the most popular tours among our travelers. If you're up for a challenge, combining glacier hiking & ice climbing might be just the right option for you.

Guided Ice Climbing Tour on Icelandic Glacier

Ice climbing on Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland

Sólheimajökull glacier, the same as the other glaciers in Iceland and around the world, faces the challenges of climate change. "In the last five years, the rate at which the glacier's been retreating is about 130 meters, so more than one football pitch every single year," says Francesco Li Vigni, who has been working as a glacier guide at Sólheimajökull for the last five years. The glacier is also decreasing in height by losing about 20-30 meters per season.

You can see the full video here:

 

Glacier Guide Discusses Glacier Retreat | Sólheimajökull Glacier

 

If you want to learn more about glaciers and sustainability, you can join our new eco-friendly tour on the Sólheimajökull glacier!

Differences between Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull | Which one is more worth visiting?

How are the Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull glaciers different and which one of them is more worth visiting? To answer that question, we asked for our glacier guide, Francesco Li Vigni's help.

"The two glaciers are very similar and at the same time very different, each having its own features. For example, on the South Coast of Iceland, where the Sólheimajökull glacier is, the volcanic ash on the glacier is more common, and you can find the contrast of black and blue while on Skaftafell, the most unique feature is the icefall itself. You will be surrounded by a frozen waterfall falling straight from a mountain towards you.

If you're wondering which glacier to choose for a visit, I would suggest choosing the glacier which is closest to your travel plans and the area you're planning to visit."

You can see the full video on the differences between Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull glaciers here:

 

Sólheimajökull vs. Skaftafell glaciers: Which one is better?

 

So, which one you would like to visit first—Skaftafell or Sólheimajökull?

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