The glaciers and ice caps of Iceland cover 11.1% of the land area of the country and have a considerable impact on its landscape and meteorology. Glaciers are also contributing to the Icelandic economy, with tourists flocking to the country to do one of the amazing glacier activities. Many Icelandic ice caps and glaciers lie above volcanoes, such as Grímsvötn and Bárðarbunga, which lie under the largest ice cap which is also a supervolcano Vatnajökull. When volcanic activity occurs under the glacier, the resulting meltwater can lead to a sudden glacial lake outburst flood. The glaciers are a true natural phenomenon and it’s an amazing experience the surface, which is ice formed thousands of years ago. Glaciers are constantly in motion. The glacial ice gives in to gravity’s forces and slowly flows and forms over time. The locations where the glacier flows more rapidly and cracks, giant crevasses are formed. These crevasses are very dangerous and are one of the reasons why it is dangerous to go on the glacier without a specialized, experienced tour guide who can ensure people’s safety and enjoyable experience.
The Icelandic word for the glacier is jökull. The existing glaciers in Iceland are 13 and some of the most famous are Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, and Eyjafjallajökull.
1. Glacier walk
Glacier walks are one of the most popular experiences in Iceland that you can do over the glacier. It is an amazing experience exploring the landscapes of Icelandic glaciers. You can do glacier walks on few places in Iceland such as Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Eyjafjallajökull and some others. Although the glacier walks look really easy – still walking on the glacier is extreme activity, so it is good to be made with glacier guides. All the glacier walk companies are providing crampons for your hiking shoes, or special hiking shoe for glacier and all other relevant equipment needed for safe and enjoyable glacier walking. There are different glacier walk tours in length and duration, so it depends on your walking conditions and preferences.
2. Glacier climbing
If you are a more active person I will recommend you ice climbing. The groups are usually small in order to ensure a unique personal experience. It does not need to have any prior ice climbing experience to be able to participate in the group because the tour can be extreme as you want.
3. Glacier caving
This is one of the most inspiring experiences on the glacier. Ice caving experience could be a real adventure around Blue ice and crystal caves. The biggest ice caves in Iceland are on the largest glacier Vatnajökull. Walking around the ice cave is a once in a lifetime experience, so put it on your bucket list.
4. Glacier kayaking
The glacier kayaking adventure you can experience in the magnificent Heinaberg Lagoon. You can make an unforgettable tour and enjoy the unbeatable panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers reflected upon the mirror-like water. This is tour is combined with a short glacier hike, offering the great views over this magical area.
5. Glacier dog sled
This is a fun experience for everyone who loves dog sledding. During this experience, you will be guided by a musher who will drive your sled dog team. On the half way during the tour, you can make a breathtaking picture with the glacier and with the dogs during the winter period.
6. Glacier lagoon boats
On the Glacier lagoons Jökulsárlón and the smaller one Fjallsárlón you can sail among the huge icebergs in the amazing scenery of the glacier. This is an extremely unique experience. You can sail with an amphibian boat or rubber Zodiac boats The biggest glacier in Europe outside the Arctic, Vatnajökull towers over the mountains in all its glory. The glacier crawls down a steep slope until it reaches down to the water. At the edge of the glacier, icebergs break off into the lagoon and drift serenely around before melting. During the excursion, you can taste the 1000-year-old ice and if you are lucky you might even see some seals. Jokulsarlon is the best known and the largest of the few glacial lakes in Iceland.
7. Into The Glacier Party
Into the Glacier is the world’s first and only glacier party during the Secret Solstice Music Festival. So this is one of most unique parties in the world. For the past three years, 125 lucky festival-goers visited the party with exclusive sets by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Artwork, and Skream.
Iceland is one of a few places in the world where you can experience the thrill of snowmobiling on a glacier. The most popular glaciers for snowmobiling in Iceland are Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Langjökull glacier. This tour is a fantastic way to enjoy the Icelandic wilderness at first hand.
9. Glacier Jeep Adventure
Offer adventure tours with specially equipped 4WD Jeeps in Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. First, you have to drive on road F985 and then on the snowy glacier Vatnajökull, where we have breathtaking views of deep valleys, high mountains and of course, the great Vatnajökull itself.
10. Ice tunnel and monster truck
This is amazing opportunity to see the majestic world inside the Langjokull Glacier which is 2500 years of ice sculpted by the hand of nature. A former NATO “monster truck” will transport you to the entrance of the ice tunnel and on the way to the glacier, you will visit lava fields, hot springs, and waterfalls. It is a really cool experience you can do just on an hour distance from Reykjavik.
BONUS GLACIER EXPERIENCE
11. Fireworks and Northern Lights at Jökulsárlón
The fireworks in Jökulsárlón are an annual event in the Vatnajokull Region. This event is always the second Saturday in August each year and is visited by many spectators from all Iceland. The icebergs are illuminated in colours from the magnificent firework show in the most spectacular surrounding area. It is also amazing to be on the Glacier lagoon during the winter when you can see Northern lights show over the icebergs in the lagoon – this is incredible experience.
- Iceland is losing ice due to climate change. Okjökull glacier in Borgarfjörður, situated in West Iceland, has lost its glacier title and is now simply known as “Ok”. In order to fit the criteria glaciers need to be thick enough to sink and move under their own weight, which Ok is not. Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its title.