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Tucked into the stunning south, surrounded by Iceland's iconic attractions, is Breiðamerkurjökull. This glacier outlet captures the frozen and ancient ice as it's released from the hold of Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier. As if the amazing glaciers weren’t enough, it also forms incredible ice caves. Learn more about this natural wonder.

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What is Breiðamerkurjökull?

Breiðamerkurjökull is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier. A glacier outlet is a tongue or flow of ice that extends from the cap, resembling a frozen river flowing out from the main ice mass. A simple analogy is to envision your hand, where the palm represents the ice sheet and the fingers represent the outlet glaciers through which the ice flows. Breiðamerkurjökull is one of these outlet glaciers, extending like a finger from the larger ice cap, Vatnajökull.

Breiðamerkurjökull is famous for the ice caves that have formed in its valley. These unique wonders showcase the incredible color spectrum which ice can create, from blues to blacks. The ice caves are incredibly beautiful and popular with visitors; however, they can also be dangerous. If you are hoping to visit, make sure you book an ice cave tour.

View of blue crystal ice cave with black streaks throughout

How are Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier Ice Caves Formed?

The ice caves of Breiðamerkurjökull are ever-changing. The push of the Vatnajökull glacier moves the ice further down the outlet, which means the caves are constantly moving. It isn't just the location that moves year on year; with ice melting during the summer and freezing again in the winter, every year the ice caves form new shapes, patterns, and inlets.

It's important to note that ice caves and glacier ice caves are formed differently. Ice caves can be a cave that is just partly covered in ice. A glacier ice cave is formed from the sheet of the glacier, meaning that while inside, you are covered by nothing but the ice above.

When to Visit Breiðamerkurjökull?

Although the glacier and surrounding scenery are captivating all year round, the best time to visit Breiðamerkurjökull and its ice caves is in the winter. This is when the ice is frozen making the unique tunnels and holes. Make sure you booked onto a guided tour of the crystal caves which run from October to April.

View of a crystal ice tunnel up to the surface

Where is Breiðamerkurjökull?

Tucked into Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland, Breiðamerkurjökull extends between the ice sheet and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It’s close to many other attractions, like Diamond Beach and Skaftafell. The drive from the capital is 380 km.

How to Get to Breiðamerkurjökull?

Reaching Breiðamerkurjökull is pretty straightforward as it's on the Ring Road. As a popular route for sightseers, there are a few options when it comes to visiting Breiðamerkurjökull and the ice caves.

Car

If you are on a self-drive tour, getting to Breiðamerkurjökull is pretty straightforward. Take the R1 from the capital in a southerly direction. The R1 is a maintained road, which means you can drive here all year round. On the way, you may want to stop at some of Iceland's other top attractions, like the black sand beaches and Skógafoss Waterfall.

Bus

Even if you don't drive, you can still get to this incredible national park. From the capital Reykjavik, you can catch a bus headed to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The bus number is 51 and runs from Sunday - Friday (not on Saturdays).

Tour

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to learn about Iceland’s unique geography is to take an ice cave tour. Some multi-day tours take you along the R1 stopping off at the breathtaking Breiðamerkurjökull to explore the caves, before heading to another incredible location.