Five Popular Glacier Tours in Iceland that Will Blow Your Mind

discover iceland , glaciers
A small group of glacier hikers standing in front of a thrilling icefall on Falljökull

You’ve come to the land of ice (and fire), and you want to get up close and personal with one of the big boys - the iconic glaciers Iceland is famous for. Here’s the good news: there’s a plethora of exciting glacier tours Iceland to join, whether you are staying for a few days or weeks. Let us show you five of the best.

Why visit the glaciers of Iceland?

With 11% of Iceland covered in ice, its ice caps and many outlet glaciers are a spectacular sight. They definitely merit a close-up look, and when we say ‘close-up,’ we mean getting right onto the ice. Wander through dazzling white glaciers with frosty blue and grey hues, the ice sculpted into extraordinary formations.

Glaciers are formed when compacted snow builds up centuries or even more millennia. These great sheets and rivers of ice - constantly changing shape, occasionally growing but mostly receding - are a must-see phenomenon when visiting Iceland. Leave the edge behind, stride out onto the ice, slip-free on crampons, and follow your experienced guide onto a frozen world that will blow your mind!

Zoomóin photo of a car heading toward one of the picturesque glacier tongue of Vatnajükull
Mind-blowing views by the Ring Road in South-East Iceland

Interesting facts about glaciers in Iceland

  • Glaciers are on the move - ‘flowing’ like extremely slow-moving rivers as gravity pulls them downwards.
  • Glaciers transform landscapes, carving out valleys, shaping hillsides, and moving rocks and sediments over long distances.
  • Glaciers are constantly shapeshifting: crevasses open up, widening and deepening; caves and moulins form where water runs through the ice.
  • Vatnajökull is the largest icecap in Iceland, covering a staggering 8% of the island or thereabouts.
  • Snæfellsjökull is the subterranean setting for Jules Verne’s epic ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.
  • Glaciers have their own special microclimate that often differs from the surrounding areas' weather pattern. Here is an article about what to wear on a glacier hike in Iceland. 

The best glaciers to hike in Iceland

Iceland has around 269 glaciers, but only a few are suitable for hiking. But which glaciers are the best and why? 

Vatnajökull icecap: Falljökull and Virkisjökull

Two glacier tongues sit side by side on the southern tip of Vatnajökull, a superb hiking area. These are conveniently accessible from Skaftafell, one of the largest hiker's centers in Iceland, offering easy access to a variety of landscapes and hiking paths. Read more about the nature reserve in our Ultimate Guide to Skaftafell.

What makes Falljökull and Virkisjökull a favorite to nature enthusiasts is that they both feature thrilling ice falls. An icefall on a glacier is a section where the ice "flows" over steeper terrain, creating a section of broken, jumbled ice that appears to be frozen in motion.

These areas can be incredibly beautiful due to the intricate patterns and textures of the ice, as well as the way the light reflects and refracts off the surface. The blue coloration of the ice is caused by the way that light is absorbed and reflected by the ice crystals.

These icefalls are located at a higher elevation but tours take place lower where the terrain is less challenging and is perfectly safe. The icefalls provide an exhilarating backdrop to the glacier hike.


Three hikers are standing on a blue glacier in front of a thrilling icefall on Falljükull and waving happily
Guided glacier hiking on the stunning Falljökull glacier

Mýrdalsjökull: Sólheimajökull outlet glacier

Mýrdalsjökull ice cap has an outlet glacier called Sólheimajökull (meaning, the sun's home). This glacier is unique due to its easy accessibility and stunning surroundings. It is located in South Iceland, halfway between the epic Skógafoss waterfall and the Reynisfjara black sand beach, some of the most famous natural sights of the country. Its convenient location, easily walkable terrain and stunning ice features make it a popular destination for glacier hiking and ice-climbing tours. Read more about Mýrdalsjökull in this article.

A group of happy hikers walking on the glacier with beautiful scenery
Glacier hikers on Sólheimajökull

The Best Glacier Tours in Iceland and Why People Love Them

The Blue Ice Glacier Walk

The Blue Ice Glacier Hike is definitely among the best glacier hikes in Iceland. It takes place on Falljökull glacier, the above-mentioned thrillingly beautiful location. It is a moderate hike which means it will not challenge a person in average physical shape. Still, it might be difficult for those who are very inexperienced in uneven terrains or are weaker than an average healthy adult. You’ll be on the ice for between 1.5 and 2 hours, but as you explore the glacier's beauty, time will feel suspended. This hike is available year-round.

Why it’s the best: Falljökull is the most impressive glacier tongue on Vatnajökull, thanks to the dramatic ice fall that towers over the landscape. This very glacier hike was probably the first in Icelandic tourism that was offered as an adventure tour to the public. Icelandic Mountain Guides created it in 1994, and, thanks to its popularity, it is going as strong as ever.

An aerial view of a glacier. Rugged terrain and deep crevasses
An aerial view of a glacier

Ice Cave and Glacier Walk - Only the Brave

Combining challenging glacier walking with ice-cave exploration, the Only the Brave Tour, is a thrilling four-and-a-half-hour glacier exploration available year-round. You will get to experience in of the most iconic and picturesque features of the glacial landscape, an blue ice cave.

Why it’s the best: As is often the case, the most beautiful places can be difficult to access, but if you are up for the challenge, it is worth it. The tour leads through the expansive glacial landscapes of Falljökull, then continues to the next glacier tongue Virkisjökull, finishing at an awe-inspiring natural ice cave. You'll navigate the labyrinth of ice into the cave, where you’ll discover a ceiling of sculpted ice and a river of water flowing over the boulder-strewn floor. This is an absolute favorite for those who like to avoid crowds and get off the beaten path.


A person stanging in a blue ice cave
Inside an ice cave

Full-Day Glacier Adventure

Real adventurers who want to make the most of their experience of Icelandic glaciers favor this full-day glacier tour. It starts out from Skaftafell Base and spends six challenging but mesmerizing hours on the ice. The trip is only available in the summer months, so you don't have to be too worried about the cold. 

Why it’s the best: It’s the most exhilarating and exhaustive glacier day tour you can find in Iceland, perfect for experienced outdoor enthusiasts who are afraid that they would find the regular, shorter group tours boring or not exhaustive enough. The small group has a maximum of eight people, and the guide will lead you passed the typical Glacier Walk route that most people take and farther into the ice field until the crowds will fade away completely and you're alone on the ice.

A group of hikers traversing the glacier in fantastic scenery
A group of hikers traversing the glacier in fantastic scenery

Glacier Discovery on Sólheimajökull

Experience the full color spectrum of Sólheimajökull, from greys, blues, and whites to crystal-clear ice, on an easy and short walk that's suitable for everyone over ten years od age. Peer into deep crevasses and water cauldrons and be dazzled by the sculpted ice. You’ll spend 1 to 1.5 hours exploring the ice on this Glacier Discovery Tour, available all year.

Why it’s the best: This is an especially friendly tour that’s doable for anyone, even kids, and super convenient if you’re staying in Reykjavík and traveling along the South Coast. People love this tour because they don't have to devote too much of their limited time to this activity but still experience the best of an Icelandic glacier.

Tourists standing at the foot of a gigantic waterfall and a rainbow stretches above them
Skógafoss waterfall in South Iceland

Take a Walk on the Ice Side

This tour is a complete 11-12 hour South Coast trip with visits to two stunning waterfalls and an easy glacier hike on Sólheimajökull glacier and is available all year round. 

Why it is the best: It’s an all-in-one experience of South-Coast sightseeing with glacier hiking. People love it because it's a full-day trip but offers more excitement than any other South Coast trip in the selection. The glacier hike part is short and easy, suitable for anyone, even for kids (over ten years)

A group of people wearing helmets are listening to the guide's safety briefing
Safety training before the glacier hike starts

Are glacier hikes dangerous?

Yes, if you attempt one on your own - please don’t even try it. Glacier hiking without the guidance of an expert is extremely dangerous.

If you hire an experienced guide, you’re absolutely safe. They are fully trained in safety, ice navigation, risk assessment, first aid, crevasse rescue and ice-climbing. Read about the high standards in glacier training and safety, with Icelandic Mountain Guides playing a leading role.


A group of glacier hikers posing for a picture at the entrance of a small ice cave
At the entrance of a small ice cave

Your questions answered

Can you hike a glacier on your own in Iceland without a guide?

Definitely not. Glaciers are dangerous places, constantly shapeshifting with crevasses opening up from one day to the next. Our Icelandic guides undertake rigorous training with regular refresher courses. They are highly skilled in risk management, navigation, first-aid, life-saving, crevasse rescue, and ice climbing. Find out more on Mountain Guides Training and Safety.

Why do a glacier hike in Iceland?

I guess you’ve got the picture: thrilling frozen landscapes, weird and wonderful ice formations, ethereal worlds of ice and snow, glassy caves, and aqua-blue lagoons.

Can you hike a glacier in Iceland without mountaineering experience?

Yes, under the guidance of a local, trained glacier guide. Icelandic Mountain Guides offer easy and family-friendly hikes - the best geography lesson a kid can have!

Is glacier hiking in Iceland worth the cost of a guide?

Absolutely. The best - and only - way to experience the ice is to get right on it. With a guide, you’re guaranteed a thrilling experience (they know the glaciers inside out) and a safe one.

How do I book a glacier tour?

Plan in advance, decide which is the best glacier tour for you, then secure your booking well before you travel to secure your preferred trip.

How much time will I spend on the ice?

It all depends on how much time you have in Iceland and what you want to experience. You can spend a couple of hours on the ice or combine experiences on a day tour. If you want to experience the full raft of experiences from ice-cave exploration to ice-climbing, why not book several tours over a number of days for a trip of a lifetime.

An aerial photo of a group of glacier hikers standing on the blue Virkilsjökull glacier
The beautiful Virkirsjökull glacier

So, take your pick from these five glacier adventures. Whether a first-timer or an experienced mountaineer, join glacier tours Iceland, and Icelandic Mountain Guides will take you on that bucket-list glacier trip. Find out more from the Ultimate Guide to Glacier Hiking in Iceland.

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Viktória Komjáti

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