- Best time to visit
- All year-round
- 63.55732, -19.30247
- Distance from Reykjavík
Enjoy a versatile, scenic hike by the volcano Katla that rewards you with a stunning panoramic glacier view of Eyjafjallajökull, Sólheimajökull and other unique landscapes of the scenic south coast. This guided day tour, which is moderately difficult, gives you a glimpse into the world of Iceland’s geological wonders and how glaciers have shaped the land for thousands of years. A specially modified glacier truck transports you approximately 750 metres to start the hike, which will generally continue downhill. Participants should be in good physical shape with some mountain climbing experience.
Looking for a multi-day tour that offers thrilling outdoor adventures, spectacular sightseeing, and cosy accommodation? This is it! This all-inclusive farm stay includes incredible scenery, including vast glaciers, epic waterfalls, and hauntingly beautiful black sand beaches.
This South Shore Adventure is the ideal tour for nature lovers looking to explore some of the most unique and scenic sights in the South. Get ready for an action-packed day seeing epic waterfalls, charming towns, vast glaciers, and the most famous black sand beach in Iceland!
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Sólheimajökull Glacier, join this leisurely kayak tour where you will sail along the Sólheimajökull Glacier Lagoon. This is an experience you absolutely cannot miss out on. Bask in the beautiful nature surrounding you as your expert guide leads you around this gorgeous outlet glacier.
Join this easy, short glacier walk and explore the beautiful, icy wonderland of Iceland’s Sólheimajökull Glacier. Enjoy the fresh air, interesting shapes and hues of the ice and marvel at the vast and remote slice of south Iceland. Led by an expert guide, get up close and personal with one of the country's most famous glaciers!
Enjoy a guided glacier walk, exploring the beautiful, icy wonderland of Iceland's Sólheimajökull Glacier. Enjoy the fresh air, interesting shapes and hues of the ice and marvel at the vast and remote slice of south Iceland. Get up close and personal with one of the country's most famous glaciers! Expect a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík, a 1.5-hour glacier hike, and some sightseeing along the south coast and back to Reykjavík.
Experience an easy glacier walk with an introduction to ice climbing on this small group day tour. You will explore the majestic landscapes of Sólheimajökull glacier, including water cauldrons, ridges, and deep crevasses, followed by a quick search for a suitable spot to rig up our gear for a short, moderately difficult introduction to ice climbing. You can expect about 3 hours on the ice with a professionally trained glacier guide.
Exploring the Frozen Landscape of Sólheimajökull Glacier
The History of Sólheimajökull Glacier
Perhaps due to the way the light plays off the frozen surface, Sólheimajökull means “home of the sun glacier”. It is the most southerly glacier in Iceland and is a glacier “tongue” or outlet of the mighty Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, which covers Iceland’s largest volcanic system – Katla.
Geologists estimate the Sólheimajökull glacier to be between 400 and 600 years old, and it has changed vastly over the centuries. While most glaciers creep ever closer down their valley, Sólheimajökull is actually receding at a rapid pace – around 50 metres a year – and is approximately 8 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide at the moment. The meltwater has left a glacial lagoon at the base of Sólheimajökull, which is a beautiful sight from the top of the glacier. Unfortunately, due to the warming world, Sólheimajökull is melting and scientists predict the glacier will disappear entirely in the next few decades. So, now is the time to visit.
How to experience Sólheimajökull glacier
Sólheimajökull is one of Iceland's most easily accessible glaciers, so it is a popular spot for glacier hikes and ice cave exploration. In the colder months, you can take a guided walk into the Blue Ice Cave – a natural ice cave within Sólheimajökull where the walls glow blue as sapphire. It is only accessible between mid-October and the end of March as the warm temperatures of summer cause the entrance to be unstable. Guided tours with a professional are the only way to explore Sólheimajökull glacier ice cave as the shifting environment and darkness inside makes them too dangerous to explore without the proper equipment and an experienced guide leading the way.
Glacier hikes onto the surface of Sólheimajökull run throughout the year. Again, the only way to explore the surface of the glacier is under the guidance of a professional glacier guide on an organised tour. Day tours run from Reykjavík, taking in the sights of Iceland’s south coast along the way, so you can experience black-sanded beaches, Sólheimajökull glacier and waterfalls all on the same trip. It is possible to drive yourself to Sólheimajökull, but if you want to hike on the surface of the glacier, you’ll need to join a guided tour on arrival. Even with a Sólheimajökull Glacier map, you won’t be able to spot the hidden sinkholes, crevasses and icy ravines that make this hike too dangerous without a guide who knows the landscape. Guided glacier walks on Sólheimajökull include all the safety equipment you need like crampons (make sure you wear walking boots with a high ankle, not walking shoes), helmets and pickaxes.
For those seeking even more adventure, Sólheimajökull is one of the few places in Iceland where you can try your hand at ice climbing. Using ice picks and ropes provided, Sólheimajökull Glacier ice climbing lets you scale a sheer wall of ice, feeling like a mountaineering explorer. All the equipment is provided and you don’t need previous ice climbing experience to join a tour.
Of course, if you don’t have time to take a one-and-a-half-hour glacier walk, you can just use the car park at Sólheimajökull and walk to the base of the glacier to admire this vast, white tongue flopping through the valley. For a different view of Sólheimajökull glacier, you can admire it from the water. Kayaking tours on the glacial lake in front of Sólheimajökull let you glide between the scattered snow and ice and see the mighty glacier from below.
Attractions and sights around Sólheimajökull Glacier
Sólheimajökull glacier sits along Iceland’s south coast, so there are lots of natural wonders to see along the way.
Day tours to Sólheimajökull Glacier from Reykjavík tend to stop at the black-sanded beach of Reynisfjara, where miles of jet-black sand stretch along the coast and a fairytale-like cave of twisting basalt columns awaits.
Seljalandsfoss is nearby – a dramatic waterfall where you can actually walk behind the tumbling water and look out over the landscape.
The beautiful cascade of Skógafoss is another popular sight along the south coast, just a fifteen-minute drive to the access point of Sólheimajökull. Skógafoss waterfall attracts the crowds with its rainbows that float in the mist at its base.
Adrenaline Rush on Ice
If speed is your thing, it is possible to enjoy a snowmobile ride across a glacier in the area. Sólheimajökull’s “mother” glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, is where you can power across the frozen surface on a guided snowmobile tour and reach the top of the ice cap for a stunning view. Please note that you’ll need a valid driver’s licence to join a snowmobile experience.
Those that enjoy a hike can follow the Glacier Panorama Trail from Sólheimajökull. This scenic route takes in the vast ice caps that cover the Katla volcano system, like the famous Eyjafjallajökull, Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, and offers views out to black-sanded beaches and the Atlantic Ocean. Departing from Sólheimajökull, guided hikes along this undiscovered trail take between six and six and a half hours, and the only other traffic you’ll see along the way is the occasional sheep.
All About Sólheimajökull Glacier
Sólheimajökull glacier is found along the Route One ring road – the main road that runs around the entire island of Iceland. It is on the south coast of Iceland and is an outlet of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap which plugs the famous Katla volcano system.
In terms of finding the way, a Sólheimajökull glacier self-drive adventure is very easy. Simply follow the Route One main road out of Reykjavík and drive for around two hours before turning onto Route 221 gravel road for 4 kilometres. This takes you right to Sólheimajökull car park. However, as it is only possible to walk on Sólheimajökull glacier with a trained, professional guide, it is usually easier to join an organised Sólheimajökull Glacier hike tour from Reykjavík which includes transfers.
From the car park, it is only a 15 to 20-minute walk to the base of Sólheimajökull glacier. The walk to the base is actually getting longer every year as Sólheimajökull glacier is shrinking. Guided walks on the glacier’s surface take around an hour and a half with the most strenuous activity on the way up.
Sólheimajökull glacier is one of the most popular places to take a glacier walk in Iceland. You can walk on the frozen surface of the glacier as long as you join an organised, guided tour with a professional glacier hiker leading the way. The surface hides sinkholes and ravines in the ice, so walking on Sólheimajökull glacier by yourself is not allowed as it is too dangerous. It is also one of the few places in Iceland where you can try ice climbing – using ropes and pickaxes to scale a wall of crystalline ice.
The walk up to the base of Iceland’s Sólheimajökull glacier tongue is not easy. Even if you are not hiking up to the surface of the glacier, you still need to cross rocky paths with uneven footing. Although the walk is not very long, you will need to wear some sturdy walking boots just to reach the base of the glacial tongue.
Sólheimajökull glacier walking is generally considered easy to modarate. These are family friendly tours and generally less challenging than the Skaftafell glacier hikes. You need to be fit enough to walk on uneven terrain, uphill and comfortable going up crudely hacked ice stairs in crampons. Glacier hikes tend to take around an hour and a half, so you need to be comfortable walking for this length of time across some icy surface and sometimes snow. For those that really want a challenge, there is the opportunity to try ice climbing on Sólheimajökull glacier.
Around Sólheimajökull glacier, you’ll find a scattering of family-run guesthouses and B&Bs on farmsteads. Accommodation in this remote area often comes in the form of wooden cabins on farmland and has the bonus of waking to views of waterfalls, rugged hills and even glaciers. For a wider array of accommodation, the charming coastal village of Vík is a half-hour drive away where you’ll find hotels, hostels and B&Bs for all budgets and a selection of restaurants for evening meals.
Sólheimajökull Glacier walking is possible all year round, so you can visit when the sun shines in summer or in deepest, coldest winter. The benefit of visiting Sólheimajökull in summer is that the long hours of daylight allow for longer adventures on the frozen surface of the glacier. The clearer, sunnier weather in summer also means road closures are less likely. Occasionally, when there is a snowstorm or wild weather in winter, glacier hikes will be cancelled as conditions are too dangerous. However, there is a benefit to visiting Sólheimajökull glacier in winter. It is only during the colder months that you can visit the Blue Ice Cave – one of Iceland’s most beautiful natural frozen caves. During the warmer months, the entranceway melts making it too dangerous to access so you need to visit Sólheimajökull glacier between the beginning of November and the end of March if you want to check out the ice cave.
For a glacier hike on Sólheimajökull, you need to bring a pair of high-ankled walking boots, rather than walking shoes, as you’ll need to fit a set of crampons onto them. Crampons, helmets and ice axes will be supplied by your glacier guide, so there’s no need to bring this equipment with you. Your walking boots should be waterproof too, as the surface of the glacier is snowy and icy. Sólheimajökull Glacier weather can be unpredictable, especially in the winter months, so layers are essential. A sports t-shirt, fleece and waterproof jacket are a good combination as it is cold at the bottom of the glacier, but you soon warm up hiking uphill, especially when the sun shines overhead. You’ll want to de-layer as you go.