The Best Glacier Hikes in Iceland
Stepping out onto the surface of a glacier – or ducking inside one of the spectacular ice caves – is a highlight of a stay in Iceland. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you rise to the challenge of a hike across its crevassed surface, grateful of the grip from the crampons you’ve strapped onto your feet. Meanwhile, gazing in wonder and awe at the glittering blue interior is simply extraordinary, the very best kind of reward for your effort and exertion. If you’re keen to explore these remarkable bodies of ice, let us tell you about some of the best glacier hikes in Iceland.
Located close to the ring road in South Iceland, this is one of Mýrdalsjökull’s outlet glaciers and arguably the best glacier hike Iceland has to offer. It has a lagoon in front of it, is flanked by mountains and boasts ice walls that can be climbed with the aid of ice axes. Your tour operator will equip you properly with helmet, harness, ice axe and crampons, as well as stiff climbing boots. Hike across its surface in the company of an experienced guide who can help you navigate deep crevasses and imposing ice ridges. If you’re fit enough to make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most incredible views in Iceland.
Skaftafell is the starting point for a fabulous hike on Falljökull, or Falling Glacier, one of the outlet glaciers of the Vatnajökull ice cap. A winding path leads to this unusual glacier which tumbles over the cliff as a dramatic ice fall. There are two glacier hiking options. A relatively easy hike gets you to the base of the icefall, while a more challenging ascent of the glacier involving ice climbing and rappelling is also possible. Make sure you keep an eye on the ground from time to time, and not just in case you fall. The area around the base of the glacier is littered with glacial mice, which are in fact rounded stones covered with bright green moss.
Hike to the top of the glacier that tops one of literature’s most famous volcanoes. Snæfellsjökull inspired Jules Verne to write his bestselling novel “Journey to the center of the Earth” – the fictional entrance was via the caldera at the top. After getting kitted out with the equipment you require, hike upwards across the ice. At the top, the views are extraordinary, looking west out over the Atlantic Ocean towards Greenland, north in the direction of the Westfjords or over the striking Snæfellsnes Peninsula itself. To reach the summit it’s one of the most demanding glacier hikes in Iceland but immensely satisfying. It’s perhaps even more special under the Midnight Sun.
If your glacier hike in celand has whetted your appetite to learn more, or you’d love to walk on a glacier but don’t have the time or the physical capability, then consider a visit to Perlan. Its ice and glacier exhibit provides a comprehensive introduction to this aspect of the Icelandic landscape, including the impact of climate change. Its focal point is an ice cave constructed inside one of Perlan’s iconic tanks. Walk through an ice tunnel that’s 100 metres long. Inside, the temperature is maintained at between -15 and -10°C. Touch the frozen walls and study the ice close up without even leaving the building. It’s the easiest glacier hike in Iceland but also a lot of fun.
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