Sólheimajökull Glacier : Top Things to Do & See

Guide to the Solheimajokull area in Iceland

Meaning ‘sun home glacier’ in its literal Icelandic form, the Sólheimajökull glacier is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions. Stretching down from the famous Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Sólheimajökull is a 40-45 km2 outlet glacier that is famed for its short ice tunnels, glacial plains and icy crevasses.

Björgvin Hilmarsson

What can I do on Sólheimajökull?

Glacier walks, ice climbing and kayaking are all activities that can be enjoyed on Sólheimajökull. At neighbouring Mýrdalsjökull, snowmobile tours are available along with ATV tours to the black sand beaches. With the right tips and information, it’s easy to make the most of this unique area.

Which hiking trails can you follow around Sólheimajökull?

The Glacier Panoramic Trail is a guided trail by Katla and Eyjafjallajökull that takes you on a tour around some of the south coast’s best sights. With rosy cheeks and a racing heart, absorb the black sand beaches and glacial views of Sólheimajökull.

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Where is the Sólheimajökull glacier in Iceland?

Located on Iceland’s enchanting south coast, the Sólheimajökull glacier lies a few hours to the south-east of Reykjavik. It is an easily accessible glacier, which is a small part of the larger, sprawling Mýrdalsjökull glacier. It is also nestled between the Katla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. Nearby scenic Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls offer contrasting views and are worth a stop on your way to and from Sólheimajökull. You’ll also be pleased to know that the surreal black sand beaches of Vík are only a short 30km drive away.

How do you get to the Sólheimajökull glacier from Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is an ideal base for exploring Iceland’s natural wonders, especially Sólheimajökull. Lying only 164 km from the capital, driving to Sólheimajökull takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. From Vík, it takes only 45 minutes. 

Lots of people choose to drive here on their own, as the road to the glacier is smooth and accessible. As you leave Reykjavik, drive along Route 1 to the south-east, following the south coast until you see signs for Sólheimajökull. Alternatively, you can be transported to and from Sólheimajökull with your tour, so you can save your energy for glacier walking.

When is the best time of year to visit the Sólheimajökull glacier?

One of the best things about the Sólheimajökull glacier is that it is an incredible destination to visit all year round. Each season offers distinct experiences that others don’t. For example, Sólheimajökull comes alive in winter with a startling blue sheen, twisting ice tunnels, and the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. In summer, the warmer climate opens opportunities for kayaking, and the glacier becomes more accessible. The increased daylight hours also mean you aren’t limited by dark mornings and early evenings.

Björgvin Hilmarsson

What do you wear on a Sólheimajökull glacier hike?

To prepare for wind, rain and snow, there are certain items we recommend wearing on your glacier hike at Sólheimajökull:

A waterproof jacket. Iceland is known for its infamous weather changes, meaning you must always prepare for rain and snow. Wearing a light, waterproof jacket will protect you from the elements and will help keep you warm in the winter months.

Hiking boots. It is no secret that sandals should not be your shoe of choice for a glacier walk. Instead, bring your sturdiest, waterproof boots that are comfortable to walk in. GORE-TEX or similar is recommended.

Lots of layers. The first rule you should follow in Iceland is to always wear layers. Plenty of thermal layers will keep you warm in winter and are also easy to peel off if you get too warm on a summer glacier hike.

Non-denim pants. Denim pants may look great, but they are certainly not practical on a glacier walk. Avoid slow-drying, heavy material and wear something flexible and breathable.

What is the temperature like on the Sólheimajökull glacier?

As with every destination, temperatures change throughout the year. Sólheimajökull is no exception, but temperatures will be warmer than you think. If you visit in winter, you can expect temperatures to range between 1.3 degrees Celsius (34ºF), and 3.8 degrees Celsius (39ºF), and up to 12 degrees Celsius (53.ºF) in the height of summer.

Waterfalls near Sólheimajökull and Vík

Skógafoss. Coming in at  60 m tall, this idyllic waterfall is located only 1 km from Skógar, 12 km from Sólheimajökull, and 34 km from Vík. Skógafoss––one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls––overlooks the black sand beaches of the south, and features a misty pool that is particularly striking in the lush green of summertime.

Seljalandsfoss. There are a few poster children of Iceland, and the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of them. This waterfall has origins at the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and is part of the Seljalands River complex. You can get there by turning off at Route 1, about 39 km from Sólheimajökull, and 60 km from Vík.

Where can I stay near the Sólheimajökull glacier?

You may be surprised to know that various accommodation options surround this icy wilderness. Many people choose to use Reykjavik as their base, but for those who prefer to stay on location, there are camping grounds in the nearby forested village of Skógar. If you’d like to add more experiences to your time at Sólheimajökull or visit the quaint town of Vík, a range of hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts offer comfortable lodging only a short drive from Sólheimajökull. Why not stick around for a few days to enjoy all the fun activities this area has to offer?

There is so much more to do.

See our full selection of tours in and around Sólheimajökull