Arctic Adventures offers a range of glacier adventure tours of various lengths and difficulty. We offer glacier hiking, ice climbing, and ice cave excursions from three locations in Iceland: Skaftafell, Sólheimajökull, and Reykjavík. Whether you are a glacier guru or a novice, you are sure to find a trip that suits you.
We offer a wide selection of meeting on location glacier tours or with a Reykjavík pick-up
Iceland is often nicknamed the land of ice and fire due to the fact that glaciers and volcanoes cover a large part of it. In Iceland, the two sometimes mix, meaning that some glaciers even have a hidden volcano underneath them, for example, Eyjafjallajökull and Snæfellsjökull. These phenomena, known as stratovolcanoes, can have a dramatic impact on the surrounding region when they erupt.
Visiting the glaciers is a must in Iceland and most visitors choose to book a tour. The main glaciers to visit are Snæfellsjökull, Drangajökull, Eiríksjökull, Langjökull, Hofsjökull, Tungnafellsjökull, Vatnajökull, Mýralsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. From these glaciers run outlet glaciers, some of which are pretty famous, like Breiðarmerkurjökull (home to the Crystal Ice Cave) and Sólheimajökull.
Most of the glaciers are located in the South or the Midlands because more snow falls there than manages to melt away. This occurs when damp winds heading over the North Atlantic give rise to the air over Iceland. The air gets colder and more saturated before turning into drops which become crystals that fall down, if it is cold enough the crystals will turn into snow. When the winds reach the north, most of the moisture is already out of the air which results in less precipitation. About 20% of precipitation falls over glaciers.
The glaciers cover about 11% of Iceland’s surface area, which is equivalent to about 11,400 km² (4,402 sq mi) or 103,125 km² (39, 817 sq mi). Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier, covers about 8% of the land.
It is believed that the last ice age came to an end about 10,000 years ago, following this came a period of warmer conditions. Iceland is thought to have been completely glacier-less (or at least almost) about 9,000 years ago. This, along with the milder weather, lasted until around 2,500 years ago, when Iceland became colder once again and the glaciers that we see in the present times started to form.
Around the year 1995, glaciers started shrinking rapidly and now make up about 20% of Icelandic rivers and waterfalls. Vatnajökull Glacier has been shrinking at an alarming rate and predictions are that the glaciers in Iceland will only continue to melt, creating even more streams that will carve their way around Iceland. This is also thought to impact the rising sea levels, as the melting glacier water will, in the end, join the sea.
Volcanoes and their eruptions can also affect the melting of the glaciers, something that was very evident when the Eyjafjallajökull stratovolcano erupted in 2010. The glacier shrunk considerably and its rivers and waterfalls gained flow.
Most of the glaciers in Iceland can be seen right off the Ring Road. They are mainly located on the South Coast of Iceland and in clear weather, you can see them from afar.
If you are staying in Reykjavík, the closest glacier to you is Mýrdalsjökull’s outlet, Sólheimajökull. It can be seen from Road 1 when weather conditions are clear, otherwise, you can join a glacier hike to explore.
If you are on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula you will easily spot the beautiful Snæfellsjökull that thrones the lava-covered land. You will need to drive for about 1.5 hours from Reykjavík before you begin to catch a glimpse of the icy wonder.
If you’re driving or taking a tour to southeast Iceland, the glaciers will be in your line of sight for most of the journey. This is because the southeast is covered in glaciers; you’ll even find the largest ice cap located here as it stretches its outlets down towards the road.
In the Westfjords you will find only one glacier, Drangajökull. It is hard to reach this isolated beauty but there are some hiking trails and tours in the area.
Glaciers should never be visited without an experienced, knowledgeable guide.
When making a bucket list for Iceland odds are that you wrote down “go on a glacier hike” and you were right to do so, the island is after all named after ice. But there is only one problem you might encounter; there are too many tours and options to choose from. Fear not, we are here to help!
The first questions that need to be asked are:
After that, you might want to consider the time you have in Iceland. If you are staying only a short amount of time, maybe on a stopover or simply prefer the Reykjavík city life then Langjökull, Sólheimajökull, Kötlujökull and Snæfellsjökull are the closest glaciers. These can easily be visited on day tours from the city.
Sólheimajökull, “home to the sun glacier”, then invites you to explore its incredible blue ice and all the wonders it creates all year long with these options:
Up next, we have the magical Kötlujökull, an outlet from Mýrdalsjökull as his brother Sólheimajökull. Not too long ago, a natural ice cave was found here that lasts throughout the year. At the time, this was completely new and had never been known to exist in Iceland. Kötlujökull is named after the volcano Katla as it sits under the glacier. This is why the tour, which is available from Vík and Reykjavík, has been named the Ice Cave under the Volcano.
If you are staying for a longer period in Iceland, over 3 days or more, then your glacier tour options scale opens even wider. You have time to visit the Vatnajökull Glacier area, the largest glacier in Europe, and with that comes endless options for even more glacier adventure. Here are the options for meeting on location tours, made possible with a rental car, or on a multi-day tour.
For winter traveling in the region, you could join a Crystal Ice Cave tour, the most popular ice caving tour year after year. You could do the glacier hiking and ice caving combo called Into the Glacier or join a shorter glacier hike, the Glacier Wonders (available all year). Those who want to go further up on the glacier can then join the Glacier Explorer (available all year) but if you are there in summer the Glacier Grand Slam is ideal!
When choosing a glacier hike, multi-day tours give you many intriguing options, both with and without accommodation, with pick-up, or including a rental car (a self-drive trip).
Again, we have to ask questions:
Those who want to stay the night in Reykjavík but join glacier hiking experiences, as well as other fun activities on day trips, can look at our adventure packages in Iceland. Where you get 10% off each day trip.
Those who want to join a guided tour with a glacier hiking experience that travels further out of the city, exploring hidden gems and staying at farm hotels, can look at our multi-day adventures in Iceland.
Finally, those who would like to do a glacier hike but have their own vehicle should explore our range of self-drive tours in Iceland.