Explore VatnajöKull Glacier, Iceland's Most Popular Ice Cave

Ice Cave under Vatnajokull National Park
Ice Cave under Vatnajokull National Park | © David Phan / Flickr
Photo of Camille Buckley
10 August 2018

Iceland is perhaps best known for its epic landscape features that have shaped the island nation: its volcanoes and glaciers. Vatnajökull glacier is actually the largest in Europe and covers more than half of the surface area of the island.

You can visit many smaller glaciers, such as Svínafellsjökull, that are part of the larger glacier on the south coast of the Ring Road. Vatnajökull, or Water Glacier in English, is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland and is also one of the largest in area in Europe at 8,100 km². In 2008, the glacier, the thickness of which varies from 400 to 1,000 meters, became a part of the Vatnajökull National Park.

Ice Caving under Vatnajokull National Park | © David Phan/Flickr

The glacier, with its stunning visual appeal, has been used as the setting for the opening sequence of the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill – it was a stand-in for Siberia. In 2011, the glacier was used as a setting for the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones for the arctic landscape ‘beyond the wall.’

Available in the winter months between November and March, the tours last an average of three hours. Tours meet in Jökulsárlón Café at the famous glacier lagoon in Southeast Iceland. It is recommended to book your place in advance as the tours are very popular. The tour begins with a drive through the landscape towards the cave in a modified monster truck. Once you arrive, the tour guide will inform guests about the surrounding area’s geology. It is recommended to wear many layers to adjust to the fluctuating temperatures.

Jennifer Cauli / | © Culture Trip

The ice caves are a phenomena that are naturally occurring. At the end of the summer each year, the ice caves form from the spring meltwater which begins to freeze. Around this time, the local guides search the area for newly formed caves. The exciting thing about these caves is that they are truly unique each year, meaning it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The guides make a careful selection, of course, when choosing which cave to visit as the structure and condition can vary greatly due to the weather. Tours are offered through Arctic Adventures, Extreme Iceland, and Glacier Adventure.

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