The ice caves in Iceland are a sight to behold, with stunning sapphire blue and contrasting colors of ice. Most tour companies include the ice cave visit in their Super Jeep or snowmobile tours in Northern Iceland.
Visitors with limited time can choose to see the Katla Ice Cave or one of the artificial caves on Langjokull. Some tour operators also offer photography-focused tours, which are usually longer and have smaller groups.
The Best Time to Visit
Ice caves are only formed during the winter and can be seen in several locations around Iceland. They are a once-in-a-lifetime experience; the best time to visit them is when they are most impressive. Majestic halls with high ‘ceilings’ can be explored, as well as narrow passageways. You will see stunning aqua colors, small ice poles that hold up the glacier roof, and various other unique and amazing features.
When you book a tour to visit a glacier cave with the camper van Iceland, the organizers will give you a safety briefing and explain how to enter and explore the cave safely. The most crucial part is always following your guide’s directions. Doing otherwise could cause you to fall into a crevasse, which is extremely dangerous!
Some tours are basic and only last about 30-45 minutes inside the cave, while others have longer and more time to explore and take pictures. The more extended and more adventurous tours are also usually less crowded.
One of the most famous ice caves is the artificial Ice Tunnel on Langjokull Glacier. To get there, you drive from Husafell to the ice cave camp in a Monster Truck, and once you’re at the cave entrance, your guides will give you crampons to help you walk on ice and snow. This breathtaking cave has a chapel inside that people have even married in!
How to Get There
Whether you want to see an ice cave as part of a more extensive tour of Iceland or visit one of the artificial glacier ice tunnels, booking a guided tour with a company experienced in offering this adventure is best. Most tours are relatively short, between 30 and 1 hour inside the ice caves.
You will need warm and durable clothing, including woolen sweaters, waterproof trousers, gloves, a hat, and sturdy hiking boots. The boots must be good quality and fit the crampons you need to walk on the ice. Some tour companies will provide the boots for an additional fee. You must also bring a water bottle as you will be out in the cold for several hours.
Check with your tour company for details about how to get to the tour meeting point, as most start away from Reykjavik. Planning your travel time carefully is essential as you will likely spend 5 hours driving there, 3 hours taking the tour, and another 5 hours going back. This will cut into any sightseeing and activities you may want to do on your trip to Iceland, such as visiting the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon or the black sand beach in Vik.
What to Wear
Bring warm clothing, including a waterproof outer layer, which is a good idea. You’ll also want to wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support so that the crampons your guide provides can fit comfortably on your feet. Sturdy gloves are also recommended to keep your hands warm on the ice.
If you plan to take photos inside the caves, a wide-angle lens is necessary. Be sure to experiment with different exposures and settings, as the ice can reflect light unpredictably. You should also bring a tripod to help stabilize your shots.
Iceland has two types of natural ice caves: glacier ice caves and rock ice caves. Glacier ice caves form within glaciers, generally only accessible in the winter. These caves are constantly changing and have been known to collapse, which is why it’s best only to visit them with a guide.
The most famous glacier ice caves are near Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. You’ll need to book a tour that takes you there, or you can visit them as part of a day trip from Reykjavik. Some popular tours include visiting the Crystal Cave, Katla Ice Cave, and the Langjokull Ice Tunnel. Sometimes, photography is focused and requires a longer hike to reach the caves.
Ice caves are beautiful and magical, but they are also fragile. The best way to visit them is with an experienced guide. They will help you navigate the tricky terrain and answer any questions. The principles will also provide the proper gear, such as crampons and a helmet.
It’s also important to be prepared for the weather. Iceland is known for its unpredictable climate, so the conditions inside the caves can change quickly. The guides will monitor the temperature and reschedule your tour if necessary. Bring warm, waterproof clothing, including a sturdy pair of hiking boots. The boots should have high ankle support so your crampons can fit properly.
Exploring the ice caves is an incredible experience that you’ll never forget. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Iceland in a whole new way. If you plan to travel to Iceland this winter, be sure to book a trip that includes a visit to the ice caves. A tour that starts from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a good option as it can consist of both the ice caves and a glacier hike in Vatnajokull National Park. You’ll want to book your tour today, as these tours can sell out quickly due to their popularity.