Skaftafell Glacier Hike | Medium Difficulty
Add some excitement to your holiday and come along on an exhilarating glacier hike on top of Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, located in the beautiful Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This exciting tour is perfect for those travelling the south coast of Iceland and want to combine incredible landscapes with a thrilling adventure.
A stop at Skaftafell Nature Reserve is a must for travellers on Iceland’s south shore. It is a stunning area of amazing contrasting scenery; where enormous white glaciers are surrounded by jet black sands. Scaling one of those glaciers is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed, and this tour will allow you to hike up Svínafellsjökull, a glacier tongue of the largest glacier in Europe.
You will meet your expert tour guide in the Skaftafell information centre parking lot. They will then take you on a short 15-minute drive to the glacier tongue, where you will receive all the equipment and knowledge necessary to scale the massive icecap. You’ll learn the basics of glacier hiking and rope work before heading out on the ice.
On this tour, you will be given the unique opportunity to hike up a glacier and see firsthand it's constantly changing environment. Your expert guide will lead you through this frosty wilderness, past incredible ice formations, deep cracks and blue crevasses. Standing on top of the glacier might give you a feeling of being alone in the world, surrounded by nothing other than the blinding whiteness of the glacier.
Once you reach the icecap, you’ll get plenty of time to marvel at the surrounding landscape and take in the views. Svínafellsjökull is part of the highest mountain range in Iceland, and on a clear day, you might see the magnificent Hvannadalshnjúkur, the country’s highest peak.
Discover the ancient and untouched wilderness of Svínafellsjökull glacier. Book now to secure your place on this unforgettable glacier hiking tour. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Oct. - May.
- Duration: 3 hours
- Activities: Glacier Hiking
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 8 years old
- Languages: English
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Skaftafell is a nature preserve in Oraefasveit. It used to be a national park of its own but joined the larger Vatnajokull National Park in 2008.
Skaftafell is notable for its rich flora, growing between sands and glaciers, and overall for its amazing and contrasting scenery. You can take short and easy trails to the waterfalls Svartifoss and Hundafoss, as well as Skaftafell glacier, with the mountain Kristinartindar and Morsardalur valley further off.
Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those seeking to climb Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur.
Departure time : 10:00 14:00,
150 meters in front of Skaftafell Information Center
What to bring:
Good to know:
Our glacier guides are all wearing green jackets market Troll Expeditions, please be at the meeting point 15 minutes before departure.
I absolutely loved the glacier tour with our guide Oddur from Tröll Expeditions! He was a super fun guy with a lot of knowledge about the glacier as well. It was a breathtaking experience and, in my opinion, going on a glacier is a must do when in Iceland!
Incredible! You could feel that our guide Oddur, truly and always loves to go out on that glacier. It didn't feel like we were just following someone, we were actually hiking together! He had a very keen eye on our safety and was able to keep it without spoiling the experience, which was especially amazing when we got to climb! 5/5, would rappel with you anytime again!
Our experience with Tröll expeditions, which is the tour operator that Guide to Iceland set us up with, was excellent! They were able to accommodate us at the last minute at no extra charge when we realized we booked the wrong glacier to hike and needed to go to a closer one. The hike itself was amazing and one of the highlights of our trip!
Our tour was amazing. Our guide Siga was excellent. It was a fun and informative hike: Siga knew so much about the country, the glaciers, and the particular glacier we were on. She made the experience above and beyond what we've expected. The only reason I'm giving 4 stars is due to communication issues between Troll expeditions and the group. There was a storm on the day we were supposed to go for the hike; all tours were canceled due to storm, which is understandable, but we did not receive any information about the cancellation until after we've arrived at the meeting point. I got an email about the cancellation about 30 minutes before the tour was scheduled to begin. The information van at the meeting point had no information posted. We had to pay for parking and pay for calling Troll expeditions to reschedule the tour. We rescheduled for the next day, and when we arrived, there was nobody at the location. Turned out, the tours were running late, due to that same storm, which again is understandable, but wasn't communicated to us early enough and we had to call again. Overall, with improved communication, the tour would be an absolute must: really, all it takes is posting a note in the van window. It was the best sightseeing we've done in Iceland and we have hiked Skógafoss falls!
Troll expeditions was GREAT. We had the coolest tour guide. Not only was it fun, but very informative. We had much more protective gear than the other groups we saw and this made me feel safe! Through Troll, it is a much smaller group - that way much more intimate of an experience. We have NO regrets choosing Troll. AND it's the cheaper alternative. I truly think you get more out of your experience through Troll. Thank you!
Excellent tour. Trim our guide from Troll expiditions was very knowledgeable and fun to talk to. Would definately recommend! Also, troll expiditions looked to be one of the few companies offering adequate protection gear, we saw guides taking people on the ice without helmets, one wrong footing and you could fall and smash your head. great company.
Our tour was amazing. Mike was very knowledgeable in the terrain and science of glaciers. It was a very great experience.
Nice Tour, nice Guide
Svínafellsjökull glacier is truly amazing, and the Troll expedition guide Bright is very friendly and knowledgable , great experience in Iceland, highly recommend.
Great. I highly recommend Troll expedition as they seem to be a smaller outfit and is more personable. Sigga was our guide and she is really nice and easy-going. The only criticism I have with this Skatefell Glacier hike tour is that the glacier is melting really fast and it doesn't look at pristine and grandiose - maybe my expectation is too high as we have to drive 4 hours from Reykjavik to get there (1-way), worked out to be 8+ hours of driving. Knowing what I know, I might have gone to the closer glacier hike at Solheimajokull.
Great tour! Our guide mike was super friendly and knowledgable and the scenery is unbelievable! Troll is a smaller group, so its a more intimate experience. The guide gives you options and lets you decide what you want to see/do. This was totally worth it! We had a great, memorable time!
Fantastic tour! The guides were very funny and took us to parts of the glacier that other tour groups do not go. We also got to do some repelling along the glacier because the weather was so nice! I highly recommend going with Troll Expeditions as they are a smaller company and you are more likely to get a private tour as we did! It was just our family on the tour!
The glacier hike in Skaftafell is very very good. Our guide was so professional and knowledgeable. We enjoyed the hike and the landscape around the glacier - I can't describe it, it was so beautiful! We would recommend this hike to everybody - it is worth it!
We had a wonderful time during our glacier hike with our guide Mike from the Troll Expedictions. It is a unforgettable experience and you are totally in contact with the nature. Mike was very kind and explained everything what we saw or asked. What a wonderful job he has!... We would like to do this experience again and again...
AMRIT P MISHRA
I booked my glacier walk with troll expeditions just randomly and i am proud to have made the perfect decision. We were accompanied by Helgi and it was one of our best days in Iceland. The tour starts from the parking space in Skaftafell. 10 minutes ride to the glacier tongue followed by a 3 hr walk on the glacier. Though we booked the basic tour but Helgi was kind enough to show us some ice climbing and training on the glacier. He even proposed and extended walk further down the ice. But since we were tired and had enough walk for the day, we called it a day So i would definitely recommend them to everyone
Phenomenal tour. Bjartur, our guide, was amazing.
Phenomenal tour. Bjartur, our guide, was amazing.
Domingos Ogando dos Santos
I would highly recommend booking this tour for family and friends, we went at 9am with perfect weather and the best tour guide of the glacier, Bjartur! He explained the different facts and tidbits of the glacier which was very entertaining. We visited lots of different places but always in a secure environment. Glad we booked it!!!
Meeting our guides in Skaftafell was an simple task, we were swiftly put in our gear and got on the glacier via Troll Shuttle that they have to make our lives easier. This level of hiking suits everyone but the landscapes and formations on glacier is something out of this world and is no surprise that this has been the set of many movies both Hollywood and Bollywood. Guides continued teaching us about safety and how not to take selfies when walking :) This tour is an absolute for anyone that has adventure in the heard and the courage to stand on the icy ridges over crevasses.
A special hike in a special environment. bjartur our guide really knows his craft. He took us to the glacier for a 3 hours walk which was perfect.
Preferred a free and easy holiday but decided to book a hiking tour due to the limited time I have here in Iceland. And I must say it has met way beyond my expectation! Our guide, Sigga was amazing and really friendly! She was very chatty and funny and made sure all of us enjoyed ourselves.
This was breathtaking! Amazing glacier! Amazing guide! Amazing nature! Amazing view! Amazing company! I highly recommend this glacier hike, it gives you a beautiful view and our guide was very friendly. This is one of the best trips I have ever been in. Thank you.
This is the highlight of my trip in Iceland. This glacier is so beautiful and the nature around it. Thanks to our glacier guide, this hike is something that I will never forget. Thank you Trolls.
The glacier hike was crazy! I have never done anything like this before. The glacier guide was so good at his job and so knowledgeable. This place is the most stunning place I have ever seen. Thank you for making my trip to Iceland unforgettable!
Juan Carlos Martinez
Great hike, Mike was a great guide. Really fun experience to hike up the glacier.
When I booked this trip, I had no idea what I was going into. I had never been on a glacier before so I was a little bit scared but thanks to the professional guides at Trolls, I felt really safe on the ice. They did an amazing job and the view at the glacier is something that you will never forget. Highly HIGHLY recommend this trip to everyone!
Skaftafell is one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Going on the glacier was amazing experience. A really big thank you to Troll Expeditions!
Me and my girlfriend went with Troll Expeditions and got a great tour. Our guide was the lovely girl named Sigga who is also a world record holder. She was great
I had such a great time hiking at the glacier with Mike and our group. We were lucky that the weather was really nice when we were on the glacier. We met him at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell and he took us to the glacier in his bus. This very well organized tour and so much fun
Great hiking tour with Mike. He is so much fun.
Great tour with great people, we got a tour with Bjartur. Skaftafell is a great place to do a glacier hike the nature there is unique and it was so much fun to go on this tour.
Sigga was our guide in this great Skaftafell tour. She is a great guide and really knows her skills around the glacier. A fun tour that gave us a chance to walk on the glacier and get some knowledge about the glacier on the way up. Thank you
Skaftafell is a great place to go on a hike. The nature there is really special and the glacier is amazing. I choose Troll Expeditions after looking through their tours. The guide Sigga, was a really fun. The tour was great and she made it better with her knowledge.
Palli our guide took us from the Skaftafell national park to the glacier. The hike took about 3 hours which was good for an average fit person like me. This is the biggest glacier in Europe so we only covered a small portion of it. This was in all very well planned and the duration and difficulty was perfect. Thank you for an awesome tour.
One of the many highlights on our Iceland trip. Skaftafell has an amazing nature that is truly one of a kind. Mike was out guide and even though he is not Icelandic he seems to know the Icelandic nature and Skaftafell really well. The glacier hike was fantastic and totally different than the glacier hike we went on the day before at Sólheimajökull, it was fun to see the difference between those glaciers. Would not skip the opportunity to hike on Europe's biggest glacier
Our guide Mike was the best. His enthusiasm and knowledge made the hike spectacular. The only recommendation I would make is to stay in the area either the night before or after the hike. We drove from Reykjavik and back after the hike and it was over 9 hours of driving in one day.
This glacier hike is breathtaking! The ice and the nature, I can't even describe it, it's so beautiful! Our guide was so nice and knowledgeable. I had amazing time at the glacier. Thank you Troll Expeditions for the best trip ever!
Fantastic tour with an amazing group of people. We were so lucky with everything, weather, guide, the small group we joined. It was simply amazing. The nature in Skaftafell a breathtaking.
A highlight of my trip to Iceland. Not only was the staff and equipment top notch but the level of professionalism and comfort you had with the team was fantastic. Although I've done tons of hiking/outdoor excursions, I've had very little glacier experience, so our guide was very patient and ensured that the group felt comfortable. With that said, we still felt like it was an adventure! 120% recommend!
This glacier is just beautiful and the guides make the trip so much more memorable. I can't speak highly enough about this company and the service they provide.
Oh my God! This tour is the best :) Our guide, Johann was so funny and had a lot of inside information about the landscape and old folk tales. Highly recommended.
Liu Hi Dur
Mike our glacier guide was simply amazing. He showed us all the tricks of how to be on the glacier.
Just a short drive off the main road brings you to the most impressive sight/site. Now we have a full understanding of what ice blue really is. This is the perfect spot to join a Glacier Hike.