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Glaciers in Iceland

Iceland Vatnajokull Glacier View

Glaciers in Iceland

Iceland is often referred to as the land of fire and ice! You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s home to a number of glaciers, the largest being Vatnajökull. Let’s find out a little more about them and how you can combine a glacier excursion with a visit to Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon.

What are glaciers?

Glaciers are, in effect, “rivers” of ice. They originate at high altitudes up in the mountains, where snow accumulates and is compressed under its own weight to form a slab of ice. As gravity acts, the ice moves downhill, flexing and scraping as it passes over the rocks beneath. 

The ice doesn’t need anything else to slide downhill. Friction between the base of the glacier and the valley underneath it leads to melting, which helps the glacier move freely. Glaciers travel at a slow speed, however, and unlike water you won’t see the movement with the naked eye.

How important are glaciers to Iceland?

In all, glaciers and ice caps cover about 11% of Iceland’s land area. Grab a window seat on your plane over and you might even be treated to a sneak preview. They are spread across the country, from the northwest to the far east of Iceland. Not all of Iceland’s glaciers are large enough to warrant being given a name, but more than 250 of them are distinguishable this way. 

The greatest glacier in Iceland is Vatnajökull. If you’re on a road trip, particularly if you are driving through the southern region, it is hard to miss. On the south coast of Iceland, you will also find the famous Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón glacier lagoons. When you reach Fjallsárlón, the glacier that you see behind the glacier lagoon is Fjallsjökull. One of the most famous outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull is Breiðamerkurjökull where you will find Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. In all there are about thirty outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull, which gives you some idea of how vast the main glacier is.

Langjökull Glacier Iceland diego-van-sommeren

Other notable glaciers

Vatnajökull is almost nine times greater than Langjökull, the second biggest glacier in Iceland. Langjökull means “long glacier” and it’s often visited as it is situated within easy reach of the capital Reykjavik. At Langjökull you will find a numerous tour operators offering glacier tours, glacier hikes, super jeep glacier tours and snow mobile glacier tours. At Langjökull you will also find the only manmade ice cave in Iceland offering into the glacier ice cave tours. This is a good option if you do not have the time to visit a natural ice cave The third largest glacier in Iceland is less well known; its name is Hofsjökull. Although it covers an active volcano, it’s tucked away up in the Highlands region so receives comparatively few visitors as it’s harder to get to.

But it’s by no means the only one you’ll have heard of. Remember the ash cloud that caused mayhem for flights back in 2010? That was because of a volcanic eruption under Eyjafjallajökull glacier, a relatively small glacier that just so happens to cover a volcanic caldera. Mýrdalsjökull sees many visitors as a result of its proximity to the town of Vik. Snaefellsjökull is another important glacier, a landmark feature of one of Iceland’s national parks. At Snaefellsjökull it is popular with Icelanders and travellers alike to book a glacier hike to the top of the glacier. The Tröllaskagi peninsula in the north of Iceland also has a high density of glaciers.

How to enjoy spending time on a glacier in Iceland

Vatnajökull is in many respects a vast outdoor adventure playground and many visitors come to have some fun up on the ice. Among the tours that Fjallsárlón Iceberg Boat Tours offer are a chance to see the glacier calve into Fjallsárlón ice lagoon on a boat trip. A Glacier lagoon boat tour in Vatnajökull National Park should be on the bucket list for all nature lovers travelling to Iceland. Also at Fjallsárlón you can book a combination activity tour an ice glacier hike, boat tour and super jeep ride up onto Fjallsjökull glacier’s surface. Another tour option from Fjallsárlón basecamp is a winter tour to a glittering blue ice cave inside Breiðamerkurjökull glacier.

Iceland Glacier Fjallsarlon zodiac Glacier Lagoon
Iceland Glacier Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon view

Are glaciers melting in Iceland?

Global warming is bad news for the world’s glaciers and, sadly, it’s no different in Iceland. According to a report published in 2020, two decades earlier there were around 300 glaciers of significant size. But in recent years, the number of significant glaciers amounts to around eleven large and about 250 smaller ones. As the glaciers melt glacier lagoons such as Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón lagoons start to form and are slowly increasing in size and volume each year. The largest and deepest Glacier Lagoon in Iceland is Jökulsárlón ice lagoon. At Fjallsárlón, unlike Jökulsárlón, you can get up close and personal with the glacier from the shore as it is smaller in size.

Interestingly, a high number might not always be a good thing: sometimes one big glacier can become two smaller ones, and thus more vulnerable to climate change as a result. Though Vatnajökull isn’t under threat, some of Iceland’s smaller glaciers are. 

One of Iceland’s lost glaciers, Okjökull, made the papers as it melted away. It was declared no longer a glacier in 2014. It’s an important reminder of why we need to take global warming seriously if we are to protect glaciers in the future. After all, it would be a tragedy if Okjökull was the first of many to be lost forever. 




3-4 hours

29.900 ISK

May - Nov

Your multi adventure starts with a calm boat ride on Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. Following the boat ride, you’ll land at the foot of Fjallsjokull glacier, a place we have secluded access to. After the glacier hike, you will walk to a super jeep for a fun 15-20 min. return drive.


75-90 min

10.100 ISK

Apr - Nov

Sail with us in a Zodiac boat, amongst floating icebergs on the majestic Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This adventure tour will allow you to connect with the Icelandic nature in a way you have never experienced before. Come, have fun and cruise with us!



155.000 ISK

May - Oct

Immerse yourself in the spectacular Icelandic wilderness and spend a memorable night on the lagoon. The magnificent view over the glacier lagoon towards Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe is sure to impress even the most experienced traveler!


75-90 min

101.000 ISK

Apr - Nov

On this private tour you can decide along with your captain how your cruise evolves. Cruise among icebergs and sail beside the glacier wall in your own style! This tour is popular with couples, friends & families who want to share an adventure in a private and personal way.


2 hours

255.000 ISK

Apr - Oct

Cruise to a secret island located close to the edge of the glacier in the lagoon. Set foot on land that only few have entered! Sip champagne and take in the magnificent view towards Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. Create memories that will last a lifetime.


3,5-4,5 hours

24.500 ISK

Nov – Mar

Explore the Icelandic wilderness on our way to a blue ice cave located in Breidarmerkurjokull glacier outlet.
Ice caves are a natural wonder that every adventurer should behold.



3-4 hours

21.900 ISK

Encounter the extraordinary by joining our exclusive glacier hike! This trip is tailored for those who seek adventure, are physically fit, and have a deep desire to explore the untouched, rugged attraction of Fjallsjökull glacier.

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