Your Ultimate Guide to Mýrdalsjökull

travel guide , adventure ground
Björgvin Hilmarsson

We’re going to get a little cliché here and lean on Iceland being known as the land of fire and ice (hey, we wasted our best Vanilla Ice jokes on Sólheimajökull). Except we’re going to put aside the fire part and really zero in on the ice — an ice cap, in fact.

Today, we’re zipping up our ulpa to explore the magnificent and mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier. So pull on your layers — remember, wool long johns first! — and come along for the adventure.

Three people walking on the snow on top of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the next glacier in the background
Björgvin Hilmarsson

All About Mýrdalsjökull

In a country full of incredible natural attractions, Mýrdalsjökull is something special. At nearly 600 m2, it’s Iceland’s fourth largest glacier — after Vatnajökull, Langjökull, and Hofsjökull —but it’s number one in our hearts. In all seriousness, Mýrdalsjökull is often many travellers’ first glimpse of a glacier in Iceland, or anywhere for that matter, since it’s situated along the well-travelled south coast and visible from the Ring Road.

While mulling which tour to take from Icelandic Mountain Guides’ Mýrdalsjökull Base Camp, why not learn a few more things about this mighty ice cap.

Mýrdalsjökull is in South Iceland, sitting to the north of the charming town of Vík and just east of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull.

If you want to get specific, Mýrdalsjökull can be found at N63° 37′ 41.151″ W19° 5′ 19.269″. Heading to those coordinates will drop you smack dab in the middle of the ice cap, though, so we recommend following Route 1 (yep, that’s the Ring Road) eastward from Reykjavík for 163 km and then hanging left onto Mýrdalsjökulsvegur. That’ll bring you right to our Mýrdalsjökull Base Camp, where a whole lot of adventure is to be found — that’s why we call the area around Mýrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull the Adventure Ground. Read more about our favourite things to do in the area.

Mýrdalsjökull is an ice cap glacier sitting atop the active volcano Katla. Historically, Katla has erupted every 40 to 80 years, but she hasn’t blown her top since 1918, so you can say she’s overdue.

As mentioned above, Mýrdalsjökull is part of Icelandic Mountain Guides’ Adventure Ground, a stunning swath of terrain in South Iceland marked by outlet glaciers, black sands, glacial lagoons and hiking trails. There are so many ways to experience Mýrdalsjökull, Sólheimajökull and the surrounding area, that you could easily spend a few days there hiking, ice climbing, kayaking and riding ATVs.

A single activity on or around Mýrdalsjökull will run anywhere from one to three hours, depending on what you choose to do. Check out your options here.

Iceland’s nature is incredibly accessible, in that it’s not often you’ll encounter a safety fence or sign telling you to “keep out.” But that doesn’t mean you should be going anywhere and everywhere on your own. So, no, you most definitely should not attempt to drive, climb or hike on Mýrdalsjökull without an experienced glacier guide leading the way.

Icelandic Mountain Guides’ glacier experts know Mýrdalsjökull’s terrain, what to expect on the glacier and they know how to stay safe around its crevasses and other potentially dangerous features. Plus, they’re great people and will keep you great company while regaling you with fascinating stories about the ice cap and surrounding area.

 There’s a LOT to see and do in the vicinity of Mýrdalsjökull. the foothills beneath the glacier are a stunning area to explore on the back of an ATV, while the Sólheimasandur black beach and Instagram famous DC3 plane wreck are nearby.

Then there’s Sólheimajökull, which isn’t just nearby Mýrdalsjökull, it’s attached to it. This outlet glacier is a wonderland for outdoorsy types and those just wanting to get a small taste of nature while in Iceland. Check out all the activities departing from our Sólheimajökull Base Camp.

Once you’ve turned off the Ring Road onto Mýrdalsjökulsvegur (road 222), you’ll find just enough parking at Mýrdalsjökull Base to leave your ride while you zoom across the ice on a snowmobile or speed aross the black sands on an ATV.

The glacier monster truck driving on snow on the way down to base
Björgvin Hilmarsson

IMG's Top Reasons to Visit Mýrdalsjökull

Heading higher up on the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull ice cap and Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano in the background

1. Beauty

There really are few things as incredible to experience as a glacier. Mýrdalsjökull is a living mass of ice, dazzling in its shades of white and aqua and displaying its long history in its sometimes visible alternating layers of ice and ash. Mýrdalsjökull is such a massive expanse of ice, that has been around for tens of thousands of years. Speeding across its surface on a snowmobile or just laying eyes on it from the nearby Sólheimasandur black beach is sure to be one of those magical travel experiences where your own small stature in space and time of the planet comes into focus.

2. Accessibility

Despite Mýrdalsjökull’s hulking mass, it is relatively accessible. Being located right beside the Ring Road — Iceland’s main highway — it’s practically a roadside attraction, like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in the U.S., or Canada’s famed Giant Nickel. Only, it’s all natural and a whole lot bigger. Mýrdalsjökull’s proximity to the Ring Road means you can drive up to Iceland’s Mountain Guides’ Mýrdalsjökull Base Camp and set out on an adventure — no treks into the Highlands or forging rivers required… though that’s a whole lot of fun, too.

A group photo of the snowmobile riders after the trip in front of the glacier monster truck
People on snow scooters riding in a single file on their way higher up the glacier

3. Varied Experiences

Hand in hand with the accessibility of Mýrdalsjökull’s location is the variety of ways there are to experience it. Hop on a snowmobile or an ATV from the Mýrdalsjökull Base Camp, or take in views of Mýrdalsjökull while embarking on the many other activities that give our Adventure Ground its name.

4. Disappearing Landscapes

We mentioned this point in our Guide to Sólheimajökull and, since misery loves company, we’ll repeat it here: Mýrdalsjökull is a “see it while you still can” attraction. Yep, it’s melting. While Sólheimajökull is receding by up to 50 metres per year as climate change warms the earth, climate change and heating below Mýrdalsjökull have dramatically changed the glacier’s landscape, as satellite imagery from NASA shows. So come and experience this stunning glacier while you can and be inspired to enact changes to ensure the longevity of these natural wonders.

Panoramic views over Sólheimajökul outlet glacier

Best tours to take on and around Mýrdalsjökull

1. Atop a snowmobile

The most up close and personal you can get with Mýrdalsjökull is venturing on top of the ice cap and exploring its surface on a snowmobile. The adrenaline rush of a snowmobile adventure is incredible in and of itself, but to get to Icelandic Mountain Guides’ snowmobile base you’ll also get to ride up the roots of the glacier on a glacier truck — like a monster truck on steroids! It’s an unforgettable experience that is also suitable for beginners.

2. Atop an ATV

If you’re looking to get your heart pumping while taking in sweeping views of Mýrdalsjökull, an ATV adventure is a great choice. The truly off-roading experience — the only way to do it in Iceland, since off-roading is very illegal! — leads you across small rivers to the famous Sólheimasandur plane wreck to snap all those pics your friends and family back home with fawn over. Luckily, you’ll be wearing a helmet, so you won’t get any dust in your mouth while smiling ear-to-ear.

3. By shuttle

OK, so you want to see Mýrdalsjökull and the DC3 plane wreck on Sólheimasandur, but you don’t have the need for speed? We got you covered. Or, rather, our Sólheimasandur Shuttle has you covered. It runs daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (daylight permitting) from the Sólheimasandur Parking Lot, so you can roll up to the wreck without breaking a sweat.

Two people getting ready for a thrilling snowmobile ride
Björgvin Hilmarsson

Planning Your Trip to Mýrdalsjökull

Once you’ve decided you want to experience Mýrdalsjökull during your trip to Iceland, it’s time to make some serious plans. Like many other aspects of travelling in Iceland, the accessibility of the glacier and the surrounding Adventure Ground is dependent on the weather. That means its important to dress the part so you can enjoy the day without feeling cold.

Here is what we would recommend wearing when visiting Mýrdalsjökull:

  • Base layer: Start with a base layer of clothing made from wool, silk or polyester. The base layer is meant to wick moisture away from your skin and provide light, quick-drying insulation. Don’t wear a cotton base layer — it will absorb your sweat and make you colder.
  • Mid layer: Add a layer to provide insulation and retain your body heat, while remaining breathable. The best materials for this layer are wool, fleece or goose down.
  • Outer shell: Top it off with an outer layer that will protect the other layers — and you — from the rain, wind and snow. This layer should be lightweight and quick-drying, like Gore-Tex or eVent.
  • Footwear: Choose appropriate footwear for your hike and the weather conditions, including wool or synthetic socks, and sturdy hiking boots or hiking shoes.

Icelandic Mountain Guides will provide you with all the required gear and equipment you need to stay safe on the glacier, so you just have to think about dressing to stay warm and dry.

If you plan on going hiking while in Iceland, there are a lot of other things to keep in mind. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Iceland to ensure you’re prepared on the trails.

Four people happy after a great snowmobile tour on the glacier
Björgvin Hilmarsson

Why Book a Guided Tour in Iceland?

We may be biased — you know, being a veteran adventure tour provider in Iceland — but we’re big fans of travellers booking guided tours while in Iceland. While one of the more obvious reasons to book a tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides is because it takes the guess work out of your adventure since we’ll take care of the itinerary and planning for you. Also, while you can see many of the same things on a guided or DIY hike or trek, only an experienced glacier guide can safety bring you or your travel group up on top of a glacier or lead you on epic adventures across the glacial surface or surrounding foothills.

Another perk of booking a guided tour to Mýrdalsjökull is that it gives you the chance to not just see the amazing outlet glacier, you’ll learn about it, too.

Should you book in advance?

We highly recommend booking your tours on and around Mýrdalsjökull in advance. If the hike or tour you're interested in is fully booked, just be in touch and Icelandic Mountain Guides and we’ll gladly suggest other options that will tick all your boxes.

Don’t want to miss out on the adventure of your dreams; secure your spot on the tour of your choice ahead of time on

About the Author

Catharine Fulton

Catharine Fulton

Catharine is a professional writer and editor living in Reykjavík. She's a cautionary tale of the dangers of travelling to Iceland, having been seduced by the country's culture, nature and tall, bearded men (or man, singular) while trying her damndest to get home to Canada. That was more than a decade ago; she's done for.

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