Iceland offers an unbelievable adventure into one of the most unique and rugged landscapes in the world. Hike through the stunning wilderness of Iceland’s highlands, explore the magic and mystery of a glacier, and take an unforgettable walk atop one of these monsters.
Iceland is a land of glaciers, lava fields, and waterfalls. Hike through Iceland’s untouched wilderness on an active glacier adventure that feels like you’re exploring a hidden world.
Although the nation attracts many visitors every year, most will stay on the interstate highways near their automobiles and only see the most popular attractions. But, on the other hand, hikers have the chance to uncover all of the hidden gems and experience the ultimate serenity of Icelandic nature, which is unrivaled in the world.
The country hosts numerous glaciers, from Sólheimajökull and Svínafellsjökull in South Iceland to Vatnajokull, the mighty ice-cap of Iceland. The stunning landscapes and waterfalls of Iceland need no introduction. It is home to attractions like Northern Lights, Skaftafell Nature Reserve, Skógafoss waterfall, Reynisfjara beach, and many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
The glacier hiking tours of Iceland take you through icy escapades, ice-capped mountains, glacier walking, sightseeing icebergs, glacier kayaking, and ice cave visits. On these tours, you get to explore natural formations, moulins, falling glaciers, volcanoes, and the significant attractions of Iceland. You even learn about the history of the glaciers and visit places captured in famous movies and shows.
1. Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike
One of the fascinating glacier hiking tours in Southern Iceland is the Sólheimajökull glacier hike, a glacier outlet of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Mýrdalsjökull has a length of 8 km and a width of 2 km. It is famous as the fourth largest Iceland glacier and one of the most visited glaciers because of its vicinity to the capital city. This glacier hiking tour on Sólheimajökull take around three hours.
Sólheimajökull has also been a part of the famous TV series, Game of Thrones. It is the place where John Snow encountered the White Walkers, “beyond the wall.” You can easily spot the unique long stretched black lava veins that run through the glacier. Underlying the dark veins is Katla, one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland.
Visiting the Sólheimajökull glacier is much more than mere glacier hiking. Although, it takes 60 to 90 minutes to hike through the glacier.
After reaching the top, you would learn more about ice formations and the factors affecting glacial health positively and negatively. You can even spot natural structures besides the glacier, such as lagoons, volcanoes, mountains, and ice caves. The Sólheimajökull glacier is one of the finest places to relish an Icelandic experience. Unfortunately, the glacial lagoon beneath the base shows that it is significantly reducing due to irreversible climate changes.
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano that started erupting near the glacier is closely located and monitored. You do not have to worry about the unprecedented eruption of Katla volcano while touring through the Sólheimajökull glacier. Instead, enjoy the crevasses, blue ice, and ice formations that leave most people in awe. The glacier provides an easy view over the South Coast as the surrounding peaks are not very tall.
Sólheimajökull glacier is located right next to Iceland’s well-known Ring Road, which makes it the ideal stop on your trip along the south coast of Iceland. The Jökulsá á Sólheimasandi flows from the glacier’s meltwater to the tongue. You can easily do this self-drive day excursion, which is available all year. Aside from the guide, the tour has a maximum capacity of twelve persons. It is appropriate for both novice and expert glacial trekkers.
2. 3-Hour Skaftafell Glacier Hike
The three-hour-long Skaftafell glacier hiking is among the Nordic country’s most sought-after activities. It is a must for Game of Thrones fans. In addition, you get to see Hvannadalshnukur, the country’s tallest peak, and other mountains during the walk. Skaftafell glacier is a short tour located at the outlet of Vatnajokull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier.
During the Skaftafell glacier hike, you also view ice-capped mountains, picturesque landscapes and admire the geographical significance. The area surrounding the glacier has been a part of movies like Interstellar and James Bond. A noticeable and fascinating fact of the tour is the glacier moulins. These are ancient ice sculptures turned blue because they have trapped oxygen.
The typical vertical moulin is formed due to the melting water into the cracks and fissures. On the surface of the glacier, you would also notice crevasses and deep crack ice formations. The tour is available all year long, but the best time to visit is during the winter. At this time, you also get to explore through the ice cave tunnels.
The steel frames and crampons on your boots will make walking on the Skaftafell glacier smoother and safer. The guide would also provide the necessary equipment such as ice axes, harnesses, crampons, and helmets. The self-drive day tour is available all year long and happens in small groups.
This tour is operated in small groups so you will get to know the guide personally. You get to spend 1.5 hours on ice after reaching the glacier. The trekking path will follow some of the pathways of Jon Snow from the TV show.
3. South Coast Sightseeing & Glacier Hiking
This South Coast & Glacier Hiking Tour is perfect if you want to make the most of your day while exploring the magnificent south coast and adding some adventure with the glacier hiking. The South Coast covers the southern part of Iceland and is often told to be the most beautiful part of the country. It is full of natural sites and artificial activities. During the tour, you hike the Sólheimajökull glacier. You also get to see attractions like Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Reynisfjara beach, and Skogafoss waterfall. Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the first stop of the tour.
Walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and capture picturesque moments with friends and family members. Also, experience the thundering vibrations created after the water hits the grounds while standing behind it. A smaller hidden, narrow gorge waterfall named Gljufrabui is situated right beside it. You can reach Gljufrabui by walking on the river’s small stones.
Skogafoss is also famous as South Coast’s pearl. The majestic waterfall has a height of 60 meters and arrives from Eyjafjoll Mountains east cliff. The view makes it the most photogenic waterfalls of Iceland. Presently, the water falling is carved into the mountain in a small gorge. However, it was not always this way. The frequent rainbows above the waterfall make it even more magnificent.
Just beside the waterfall is a small staircase that shows a view of the gorge and crashing water. You take 527 steps to reach atop and proceed towards the glacier hike. The next activity is the Sólheimajökull glacier hike. It is an outlet of Mydralsjokull, the fourth largest glacier of Iceland. Your walk takes 1 to 1.5 hours to cover and offers a breathtaking view of the ice formations and a few rare natural phenomena.
Lastly, you visit the famous Reynisfjara black sand beach. Reynisfjara is one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in the world. Reynisfjara is distinguished by its black volcanic sands, smooth pebbles, unusual rock formations, melancholy atmosphere, and powerful Atlantic waves slamming on the coast. The spectacular Hálsanefshellir sea cave and the Gardar cliff, consisting of dark lava columns, are also close by Reynisfjara. From the beach, you can also see the arching cliff of Dyrhólaey rising above the water.
4. Vatnajokull Glacier Hike
The Vatnajokull glacier hike travels you to a different planet! It is famous as the largest European glacier, and walking towards it will undoubtedly be the highlight of your adventurous trip. First, you get to witness the depths of the Vatnajokull glacier. Then, you gear up at the glacier’s foot after reaching via a super jeep. While walking through a mighty glacier, crevasses, and ice ridges, you get to see ice sculptures.
Keep an eye out for the moulins as they make seasonal appearances. Moulins appear like vertical-shaped ice caves. They are formed when the glacier water melts and seeps into the cracks. The water drains down through a waterfall or stream and makes a moulin. Besides moulins, you also have a chance of finding dirt cones formed from the ashes lying below the ice caps.
Moreover, the glacial formations keep changing. Even revisitors or people who have seen the glacier’s pictures can’t match it with the current appearances. During the tour, you will get views over attractions like the South Coast and Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Breiðamerkurjökull is the outlet of the Vatnajokull glacier. Many icebergs that have broken off this glacier float on the serene waters before completely drifting off to the sea.
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon situated in the southeast of the country. The icebergs broken from the Breiðamerkurjökull become visible at this lagoon. You get to witness blue crevasse, icy plains, and natural ice sculptures while taking the Vatnajokull glacier hike tour. Besides this, the guide keeps you informed about the attractions and takes you back in time by sharing the history.
The self-drive day tour is available between April and October and happens in small groups of twelve people. The departure takes place from Hali Farm – in South Iceland, and it requires a moderate fitness level to cover. During the tour, you spend 1.5 of 3.5 to 4 hours on the glacier. The duration doesn’t exclude the time taken by the bus to the glacier. Therefore, it’s best to arrive 20 minutes before departure.
5. Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike & Ice climbing
The Sólheimajökull ice climbing and glacier hiking tour is perfect for any adventure travelers that want to add a bit more thrill to their glacier experience in Iceland. Climbing the glacier is such a fun experience. The guide will find part of the glacier that suit everyone in the group to climb, so this tour is okay to join even though you have never been ice climbing before.
Sólheimajökull is the Mydralsjokull glacier’s tongue situated in close vicinity to the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic glacier. Jagged mountains and black sand expanses surround the Sólheimajökull glacier. You can even witness glacial lagoons in front of it. On this glacier hiking & ice climbing tour you will get magnificent views over the South Coast, one of the most beautiful place in Iceland.
The Sólheimajökull glacier has ever-changing and impermanent ice. Therefore, the guide will often scout new crevasses. You will also learn about ice formations atop the mountains. The trek teaches you vertical ice shaft skills to bring you to the glacier’s center, also known as the moulin. The spectacular vista of the cold glacier takes 30 minutes to reach.
You experience safe footing while reaching the destination while wearing crampons. Sólheimajökull stands for “Sun World Glacier.” It lies concealed underneath Mt. Katla’s ice top, which is about to erupt. The glacier is pure white and complements the surrounding mountains in its magnificence.
You can easily view people climbing up or down the glacier once you reach the destination. You also get to see the glacial lagoon. The initial portion of the hike would also show the clear visibility of the blackish lava ash area. The glacier has experienced layers of eruptions throughout centuries.
The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption is the most recent. The lava ash area during the first portion of the hike is due to this reason. You might have to jump over small creeks coming from the melting glacier. The blue ice is almost 500 years old and visible during the walk. This self-drive day tour is available for small groups of six people. This means that you will get very personal experience with your glacier guide. The tour lasts for four hours, and you spend 2.5 to 3 hours on the ice.
6. Blue Ice Cave & Glacier Hike in Skaftafell
This Blue Ice Cave & Glacier Hike tour departs from Skaftafell Nature Reserve in South Iceland. It is located around 4 hours from Reykjavík and is a self drive tour. This means that you will have to drive to Skaftafell on your own to meet up with your guide. The tour is therefor ideal if you have rented a car and are driving along the south coast of Iceland.
The combination of viewing the Blue Ice Caves and trekking on the glacier is an unforgettable event. The expedition culminates in the Skaftafell Blue ice tunnels, which lie deep within the Vatnajökull glacier. The four-hour journey is definitely worth the money, time, and effort invested. The shapes and architecture of the ice cave are continually changing, so there is something new to see every time you visit.
The natural ice cave is produced once the glacier is severed from the glacial river in the center. The Blue ice cave is only accessible during the winter season. Unlike some of the other ice caves in Iceland, it changes shape practically every season. Furthermore, the structures do not always form in the exact location. The Blue Ice Cave is located on Vatnajökull’s tongue. The latter is Europe’s biggest glacier and a popular tourist destination in Iceland. Getting to the caverns is one of the most difficult challenges in the country.
The journey begins on the main road of Skaftafell terminal. The area is well-known for being home to the country’s natural southeast reserve. Skaftafell Nature Reserve has some of Iceland’s most spectacular landscapes.
The hike begins at the ice cap’s southernmost point. The Vatnajökull glacier contains the Hvannadalshnkur mountain range, Iceland’s most extensive mountain range, and the tallest peak. While traveling through the glacier, you will be able to witness moulins and other fantastic ice structures.
7. Skaftafell Glacier Hike & Ice Climbing
Just like the Blue Ice Cave & Glacier Hike tour mentioned above, this tour departs from Skaftafell Nature Reserve in South Iceland. The 4 hour drive from Reykjavík to Skaftafell makes this the ideal tour if you are up for some thrilling adventures on your self driving trip along the south coast of Iceland.
On this tour you will be following in the footsteps of James Bond! The tour is perfect for adventure enthusiasts as this tour involves glacier hiking and ice climbing as primary activities. Skaftafell Nature Reserve is a part of Vatnajokull National Park and the glacier that you will be climbing is an outlet glacier for Vatnajokull glacier, the largest European glacier. You can view almost 2000 meter high ice-covered peaks from Skaftafell. Its background is featured in movies like James Bond, Interstellar, and the Game of Thrones show.
The four-hour tour also gives a view of the Hvannadalshnukur, the highest peak of the country. The Skaftafell glacier is part of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, encompassing a national park, glaciers, and other formations. You will meet up with your guide at the terminal in Skaftafell. Reaching the foot of the glacier takes 15 minutes from there. After that, you trek through the mesmerizing white blankets.
During the entire tour, you would witness moulins, natural phenomena. In theory, it’s a vertical canyon that cuts the ice cap deeply. Besides this, you also notice ancient sculptures filled with oxygen and showing blue light. While trekking, you will receive abundant opportunities for climbing shafts using ice axes.
You get three hours to capture moments to share on social media and build memories with friends and family members. However, the glacier changes frequently, i.e., remains impermanent. Therefore, it is necessary to have an experienced guide familiar with moulin for climbing or new crevasse, especially while traveling with friends and family members.
The ice climbing and glacier hiking tour is moderately challenging to cover, so you should have good physical health to go on this enthralling adventure. Even on an uneven surface, the glacier hike is perfect for a physically fit person. The tour is great for experienced climbers and those who have never been on a glacier before. Your glacier guide will lead the way and find some great activities for everyone in the small group. It is a self-drive day tour available all year long and happens in small groups. The weather of Iceland is also unpredictable. So, you wear two layers of clothing, with the primary being waterproof.
8. Glacier Walk & Glacier Kayak
The glacier walk and kayak tour seem like a two-for-one offer, as you can see floating icebergs with kayaking and walking on the glacier. The picturesque view of the floating icebergs becomes visible after reaching the Sólheimajökull glacier. Nothing offers a much better experience to a new traveler than walking on one of the most magnificent Iceland glaciers.
Adding the kayaking tour to the Sólheimajökull glacier walk makes it even more refreshing. The views from the glacier’s tongue are much more jaw-dropping than from the coastline. The dynamic icebergs of Iceland have an ever-changing nature. You get to paddle a kayak through the lagoon while viewing these icebergs up close.
While paddling, don’t miss out on the chill and calm water with blue and white ice contrast. The water also has dark volcanic ash from the eruptions over the past centuries. Besides this, you also sightsee ice sculptures and crevasses.
The tour is often available between May and September and lasts for 5.5 hours. You get 2.5 to 3 hours for glacier walking and kayaking. The guide would also share knowledge about the structures, formations, and history of the land while you are on tour. So, you relish the history of the land while enjoying two different activities.
9. 5 Hour Glacier Hike in Skaftafell
The five-hour glacier hike in Skaftafell is one of the ultimate tours that take you through the Falling Glacier of Iceland – Falljökull. The tour provides an experience of the different and beautiful aspects of the glacier. Presently, it offers hidden areas, extra-long hikes, soul-touching escapades, and even more.
The tour departs from Skaftafell Nature Reserve in South Iceland. This self driving tour is located around 4 hour drive from Reykjavík. This means that you will have to drive to Skaftafell on your own to meet up with your guide for the tour. The tour is therefor ideal if you have rented a car and are driving along the south coast of Iceland and are looking for something to make your trip extra special.
Located in Skaftafell Nature Reserve, Falljökull is Vatnajokull ice cap’s outlet. It appears as if the glacier’s ice is crashing into a landslide from afar. It seems as if the ice is flowing towards the ocean’s foot. Hiking through such a glacier means that you need to stay ready for curvatures, speed winds, ice sculptures, and moulins.
Falljökull is among the most visited Iceland glaciers. Even though the hike is challenging, it is worth the effort when you reach the top. The tour begins with a short bus ride to the ice cap’s foot. It proceeds with a short hike towards the Vatnajökull ice cap. Next, you move towards the glacier with the guide.
Skaftafell National Park has been used as a filming site for several Hollywood films and television programs, and it is commonly used to depict the Himalaya Range. So, in addition to the visual splendor for which the glacier is famed, you can be confident that you will observe various exciting sights at the glacier.
After reaching the site, you’ll be awestruck by the breathtaking landscapes and cold white glaciers. Iceland and its glaciers have suffered significantly as a result of global warming. Additionally, the tour guide would provide extensive information about the same. Along with these sites, you’ll see the South Coast.
10. South Coast, Glacier Hike & Northern Lights
The South Coast, glacier hike, and Northern Lights tour would embark you through Skógafoss Waterfall, Reynisfjara beach, and Sólheimajökull. It will include glacier hiking, glacier walking, visit waterfalls, sightseeing the volcanoes, and hunting the Northern Lights. The sixteen hours tour departs from Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik in the morning. You will experience a full day of adventure before you arrive back to your accommodation in Reykjavik in the evening.
The tour begins with a visit to the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, where the water pours from a height of 60 meters. At regular intervals, you would feel a cold wind and see water blossoming. The fall is surrounded by snow-capped peaks throughout the winter, while during the summer, it turns lush green. Next in line with the itinerary are the Sólheimajökull glacier and Reynisfjara black sand beach.
The Sólheimajökull glacier is famous for offering stunning scenery in southern Iceland. As you move towards the glacier’s tongue, you would hear crackling sounds. After hiking the glacier, you would proceed towards the world-famous Black Sand Beach – Reynisfjara. It offers magnificent basalt columns slightly away from the shore and the Atlantic Ocean’s waves roaring towards the sand.
Next in line is Skógafoss waterfall with a crest pathway through 527 steps. It even offers a lowland view of the South Coast atop the steps. The place is also renowned for the hidden treasure of Viking settler Þrasi Þórólfsson in a cave behind Skógafoss. The last activity of the tour would include hunting the Northern Lights. The lights are weather-dependent and appear sharply in a black sky.
At night, you would easily spot luminescent orange, flaming red, and violet auroras. After hunting the Northern Lights, you will proceed back to Reykjavik at midnight. The tour happens between September and April. This is because the northern lights are only visible in this season. It incorporates a maximum of nineteen people along with the guide.