Ice caves Iceland tour is definitely a must-do experience during your trip to this small but magnificent country.
There are many tour companies that offer trips to a large number of ice caves located all across the country, some of the tours have also included transportation from Reykjavik to the entrance of the protected area where the cave is located.
But before moving on and discussing in more detail the best tour you can get to see the best ice caves in Iceland, let me tell you some interesting things about these glacier caves.
What is an ice cave Iceland and how did it form?
You will hear a lot about the Blue caves of Iceland and you probably don’t know what these are and where you can find them.
Most ice caves of Iceland are blue caves or Crystal caves because the light shines through the blue ice and makes the place look like crystals.
The most spectacular glacier cave tour Iceland are the ones from Vatnajokull National Park where you can find an impressive number of blue caves.
What is interesting about these caves is that the exact location of the caves is different each year and is mainly dictated by the water that flows beneath the glacier during summertime.
The ice caves formed because during the summertime the glacier melts and the water flows beneath the surface and it carves channels in the ice.
This is the main reason why ice caving is an activity to try during wintertime, as in summer, because the water rivers can be quite dangerous.
During wintertime, the glaciers stop melting so the rivers stop flowing and the tunnels formed during summertime transform into amazing blue crystal caves.
Best time of ice caves Iceland tour
An extremely frequent question asked by tourists interested to visit Iceland and explore the beautiful glacier caves is: when is the best time to visit ice caves in Iceland.
As you probably already guess, there is a certain time of the year when it is safe to go down into these ice tunnels.
Because of the high temperatures, summer is definitely not a good time to explore the caves, so avoid traveling to Iceland for ice caving experiences in summer.
There is the risk that part of the tunnel will crack and collapse during summertime, so it is totally unsafe to go ice caving.
The best time for this activity is from November to April, but the exact time is dictated by weather conditions.
The temperatures are lower, the rivers stop flowing so it is safe to explore these tunnels carved beneath the glacier.
Still, there are some caves that can be visited all year round, but most of them are man-made caves, not the ones carved by water that flows beneath the glacier.
Which is the best place for the best Iceland ice cave tour?
The southern part of Iceland, especially the Vatnajokull National Park has the highest density of ice caves from all across Iceland.
Most of the glacier cave tour Iceland include caves located inside Vatnajokull National Park which is about 5 hours drive from Reykjavik.
Some of the tours include in their fee the transportation from Reykjavik to the entrance of the national park, while others refer strictly to the ice caving tour itself.
In the winter of 2017-2018 a spectacular ice cave was discovered in Myrdalsjokull Glacier and today many tour companies offer trips to this amazing place.
There is also a beautiful man-made cave open all year round located in Langjokull glacier that was built in such a way to be safe and secure for visiting all year round.
You can arrange transportation to the entrance of the park, no matter if you rent a car or book a tour, but you definitely have to book a tour with a guide inside the cave for your own safety.
How cold is it in a glacier cave?
As you probably imagine the temperatures need to be below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) so that the ice doesn’t melt.
Generally, the temperatures inside the caves are constant all year round but they are more consistent during wintertime.
So don’t expect to be warm inside and dress up with warm clothes in multiple layers and take a raincoat with you, too.
Thermal layers, gloves, a hat, and a scarf, not to mention comfortable and warm hiking boots are the things that you have to wear on your expedition beneath the ice cap.
Are ice caves constantly changing?
These ice caves are modeled and shaped by the force of water and the inside structures and forms are constantly changing.
The process of melting might dramatically change the shape of the cave and if the water freezes inside the cave the tunnel simply disappears.
We will have to wait for the next summer so that the water defreeze and reshape the tunnel so that a new cave appears in the following year.
Another factor that affects the shape and location of the ice caves in Iceland is geothermal activity.
An impressive number of glaciers are located on top of active volcanoes and the geothermal activity releases heat that melts the glacier and forms new tunnels and new shapes.
There are rare cases when the volcanic activity is so increased that it can make a whole cave disappear overnight.
What I also find interesting about these glacier caves is that if you see a cave in November and you go and visit it again by the end of January, you will find that the cave is completely changed and new shapes and forms appear.
This process of continuous change is dictated and controlled by Mother Nature, but what I can tell you for sure is that these ice caves tours from Iceland are a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed when visiting Iceland.
Why are Iceland caves so blue?
The best ice caves Iceland tour includes at least a spectacular blue ice cave located in Vatnajokull National Park and should be on your bucket list.
The color of the caves is so beautiful that many consider that the photos shown on the internet are modified with Photoshop.
You won’t believe it is true until you get inside of a cave and see with your own eyes this magnificent color.
Scientists say that the color of the snow is also blue but we see it white because the snowflakes contain a lot of air.
When the air disappears the white becomes blue but this thing is visible only over an impressive number of years.
Under its own weight, the snow compresses and transforms into dense ice and so all the air bubbles are pushed out.
Glacier ice is generally thousands of meters thick that was formed in an impressive number of years.
The deeper we travel inside the ice, the bluer we see the ice tunnel as we have the impression that the crystal blue ice has been there since forever.
The best ice caves Iceland tour to book
There are plenty of glacier caves tours and glacier hike experiences offered by a huge number of tour companies, so choosing the right one is quite complicated.
We picked for you the 5 best ice caving tours that offer a unique experience that you will remember as long as you live.
- South Iceland: Vatnajokull Glacier Blue Ice cave tour
- Katla ice cave and Super Jeep tour from Reykjavik/ Vik
- Skaftafell: Ice Cave Tour and Glacier Hike
- From Jokulsarlon: Crystal Blue Ice Cave Super Jeep Tour
- From Reykjavik: Langjokull Glacier Ice Cave Tour
1. Vatnajokull Glacier Blue Ice cave tour
Vatnajokull Glacier Blue Ice cave tour is a beautiful 3 hours tour of natural ice caves that starts at Cafe by Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, another beautiful attraction located on the south coast of Iceland.
The cave you are about to visit is different from one season to another, and even from one day to another.
There are people who hunt for new caves and if something spectacular appears they will definitely include it in your tour.
Depending on the weather conditions and for your own safety, the guide will decide at the beginning of each tour which cave you will visit.
From the meeting point to the glacier you will be transferred with a special vehicle so you don’t have to be fit to see these magnificent caves.
From the place where the 4×4 vehicle drops you to the entrance of the cave, you will have to walk for about 10 to 15 minutes.
On the Vatnajokull Blue Ice cave tour, you will spend inside the cave about 1 or 1 and a half hours and the guide will explain to you many interesting things about ice caves, glaciers, and volcanoes.
Prepare your camera and your phone as you will need them to take the best shots of your life!
It will be cold inside so dress warm and take with you some waterproof clothes as you need them inside the cave.
If you are lucky enough you might see two or more caves in a single tour, depending on their location and the weather conditions.
As I said earlier, only Mother Nature controls this phenomenon so the time spend inside the cave and the chosen cave might be different from one tour to another.
This is a great tour to combine with the Golden Circle tour as both are located in the southern part of Iceland.
What others say about this ice caving adventure
Viola from the United Kingdom
Really good guide, really informative and fun. We found crazy weather with snowstorms which makes things a bit difficult usually but actually we had a great and really adventurous time. We were only 4 people, which was better, and we managed to see 2 caves – blue diamond and black diamond. Due to the weather, we couldn’t see a third one but the guide made the tour in the black cave really amazing, making us go through a small tunnel inside ( we had to crawl there ) and this was really exciting! I really recommend it
Sarah from the United States
This tour was excellent! Our driver and guide were able to share great info, but also great photography tips, and even took amazing photos for us. When part of the glacier was too slick to drive on due to rain, he prioritize safety and took us to a different ice cave, and even made an extra stop after so we could see and photograph a breathtaking rainbow over the glacier.
2. Katla ice cave
Another amazing ice caves Iceland tour is the one on Katla, the beautiful volcano located on the southern coast of Iceland.
Katla ice cave tour starts at the entrance of the Ice Cave Bistro in Vik where you will meet a guide holding a sign with “Arctic Adventures”.
What is great about Katla ice cave is that it also has the option with Reykjavik transport included so you can consider booking a seat even if you are located in Reykjavik.
Depending on your preferences, you will be picked up from Reykjavik or directly from Vik and the length of the tour is 3 hours with Vik pick up or 11 hours with Reykjavik pick up (full day tour).
From Vik, a Super Jeep awaits you to get you off the beaten path, deep in the wilderness to one of the most beautiful caves from the area.
You will stop at Kötlujökull Glacier where the ice cave you are about to visit this time is located.
A certified and experienced guide will tell you everything you need to know about the cave, its history, and the glacier located on top of the tunnel.
In the nearby location is the famous Mýrdalsjökull glacier so prepare your camera to take some beautiful shots of this huge ice cap.
After about one hour inside the cave, you will go back to the Super Jeep and drive to Reykjavik or Vik, depending on your option.
On your way back you will also stop at the beautiful and famous Skogafoss Waterfall located close to the Ring Road route.
What others say about this tour
Female solo traveler from Canada
I did not know what to expect from this experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself: I liked the fact that we not only did this activity but bookended the day with a visit to both Skogafoss waterfall (MY FAVOURITE PLACE ON EARTH) and Seljandsfoss waterfall. Those were some nice surprises (I didn’t know those stops were a part of the package!). I always rent a car when I’m in Iceland but I did enjoy being driven around for a day (was a nice break). The van was super comfortable and I met some lovely people – one of whom I will probably be traveling back to Iceland with next year (I’m from Canada, she’s from Germany)! I suggest bringing hiking boots for this adventure – crampons are good for most any shoe but you are on a glacier for part of this experience and so it’s better to have the stability of a good boot than not.
Franz from Germany
The tour (about 3 hours) was not too strenuous and you got a very good introduction to the material, behavior, and dangers. The guide was available for all questions and he was still helping with questions outside of the tour beyond his working hours.
3. Ice Cave Tour and Glacier hike in Skaftafell
This 4 hours tour combines two of the most interesting experiences you can try when in Iceland: a glacier hike and an ice cave tour, both located in Skaftafell National Park.
The starting point of the Skaftafell Ice cave tour is at Skaftafell Terminal Tour Center located right by the main road and make sure you arrive 30 minutes before the departure time.
If most of the ice cave tours have included a short drive with a Super Jeep from the entrance of the park to the entrance of the cave, this tour comes with a new vision: hiking the glacier up to the ice cave.
You will pass near deep crevasses and walk on millennia-old ice caps before going deep into the tunnel, shaped by the waters that flow during summertime.
You will be accompanied by a professional guide and before the expedition starts you will receive protective equipment.
Dress in warm clothes as the first layer and waterproof clothes as the second layer as well as gloves and a hat and also good hiking shoes.
Helmet, ice pick, harness, and crampons will be received before starting the hike, one of the most unforgettable experiences you’ll ever have in Iceland.
You will be hiking at the base of Falljokull, an outlet glacier part of the Vatnajokull ice cap and from there you will get deep into the ice cave.
What others say about this tour
Michelle from the United States
They really know what they’re doing here and make sure you’re safe and that things run on time. You arrive at the visitor center, get your gear (helmet, crampons, ice pick, harness) and then we drive as a group to the glacier, less than 10 mins. We had about 30 people in our group and they had 3 guides. Benet (sp?) was our guide and he was knowledgeable and just the right amount of activity vs explanation. The visit to the ice cave was amazing and the hike on the glacier was unforgettable. Was a great experience!
Kelsey from the United States
had a great experience. We felt super lucky to have Lutzia as our guide – she was super knowledgeable, super kind, and super fun. We had a great time and felt super confident with her even though we’d never done anything like this before! The 4-hour option was moderately strenuous (we slept great that night!) but definitely worth the views and experience.
4. Crystal Blue Ice Cave Super Jeep Tour
The meeting point for this magnificent tour is the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon parking place where you will meet your guide.
At the established hour of departure for Crystal Blue ice cave tour, you will onboard into a Super Jeep and head to the most beautiful blue ice cave from the area.
You will get to the glacier with the help of a special car and from there you will walk inside a blue cave chosen by the guide.
Each tour might be different as the guide might change the ice cave you are about to visit because of weather conditions and the situation inside the cave.
Their first priority is your safety, so the plan might change and each time you climb the glacier go to a different glacier cave.
You will spend about an hour inside this magnificent blue ice cave and admire thousands of years old glaciers.
Blue caves are quite unique in the world so being able to go down into such a magnificent place is something you definitely don’t have to miss.
You will receive helmets and crampons for your ice caving experience but make sure you have warm clothes and good hiking boots as inside the cave the temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius ( 32 degrees Fahrenheit).
What others say about this ice caves Iceland tour
Elisabeth from Spain
A sight to see. They picked us up from the parking lot of the lagoon and took us to a point from which we walked about 20-30 ‘to the ice cave. The hike is pretty straightforward. There was plenty of time to take a thousand photos in the cave. Spectacular
Petr from the Czech Republic
The whole tour is an adventure. To get there you are transported by super-jeep closure to the glacier. The road is not really the road but it is extremely funny. The guide was local, so it was more interesting to get more information about the life of local people. We highly recommend you to visit. It is worth the money – the whole tour took us close to 4 hours and most of the time you are spending in the glacier.
5. Langjokull Glacier cave tour
On my ice caves, Iceland tour is also the tour of a man-made ice cave carving carefully beneath Langjokull glacier from Iceland.
Langjokull glacier cave tour starts with pick up from your hotel located in Reykjavik at around 7 o’clock in the morning.
The buses used for the transfer between Reykjavik to the base of the glacier are extremely modern with computer tablets in each seat, GPS sensitive in-bus audio guides so you have a lot of information available.
The first stop will be near the second-largest glacier in Iceland, the beautiful Langjokull Glacier so have your camera prepared for some outstanding shots.
With a special 8WD vehicle you will cross the ice cap and get closer to the man-made ice cave hidden beneath the second-largest glacier in Iceland.
Pay attention to what the guide will tell you as he will explain to you how global warming affected the glaciers from all over the world and feel lucky as you are among the last generations who will experience such adventure.
You will enter deep inside the glacier to feel and see the beautiful blue ice that is constantly moving and new shapes and figures appear from time to time.
This man-made ice cave is actually a tunnel that goes deep into the glacier and represents the success of Iceland’s top geophysicists and engineers.
You will then continue your journey into the Borgarfjordur Valley and see the beautiful Hraunfossar waterfall flowing through a wall of lava.
Dress in warm clothes on the first layer and then with rainproof clothes and expect the unexpected as Iceland weather changes very fast.
Take with you comfortable and warm hiking boots, as well as gloves and a hat to keep you warm inside the cave where the average temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius ( 32 degrees Fahrenheit).
What others say about this ice caves Iceland tour
Anonymous from the United States
Wow, Wow, Wow! I highly recommend this tour. It was so fun! I highly recommend going. The trucks you ride in to get to the cave is unique and fun to ride in. The guides do a nice job of telling information about the cave, and of answering questions. They provide you with clamp-ons, and a hiking pole if needed. So, you feel comfortable walking on the ice. It is a unique and memorable way to spend the day.
Daniel from Germany
An excellent tour with information from an audioguide but also a real live guide. Wally was very informative and made lots of jokes during the trip. Changing from bus to 4×4 vehicle on the glacier also changed the guide. Apart from learning a few words in Icelandic, we got more information about the glacier itself and how long it took to excavate the tunnels in a constantly moving ice system. Inside the Longkökull Glacier you are able to see recent and older eruptions of volcanos where the Eyjafjallajökull is probably the most famous. The deeper you get into the glacier the older the ice is. A few signs along the tunnels explain facts about crevasses, water pipes and more in the ice. After around 45-55 minutes in the glacier, being back on the bus you get to see two big waterfalls. Because the weather was really good the visibility of the glacier and even at the waterfalls was fantastic. Our glacier guide told us that sometimes it is hard to say where the glacier ends.
Definitely, Iceland is home to many nature wanders and you definitely have to include into your travel plan an ice cave tour and a glacier hiking experience.
But how about visiting an indoor ice cave?
Well, this is possible only in Iceland as Reykjavik, the capital city, is home to the only indoor ice cave in the whole world.
Perlan – Wonders of Iceland Tour ticket gives you access to this unreal world located within a few minutes’ drive from Reykjavik city center.
Using ice taken from the Icelandic glaciers they built a 100-meter long ice cave carved and modeled as if it was naturally formed.
Inside the ice cave, you will find blue ice, crevasses, black ash layers, and even a glacier mill, so in other words, you can find here a small piece from each cave you can visit across Iceland.
Besides these magnificent figures, inside the cave, you will find a beautiful photo exhibition as well as many interactive educational displays about how ice, volcanoes, and snow modeled the Icelandic landscape.
What to pack for an ice caves Iceland tour
As you probably expect, the temperatures inside the cave are around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) so you need to dress warm and with rainproof clothes.
The best thing you can do is dress in layers as you will stay in a heated car for a few hours and then exit to the winter conditions and to the ice cave conditions.
You should wear at least three layers: the first layer is thermal clothes that give you the freedom to move, but keep you warm at the same time.
Then wear a warm jacket and comfortable pants and the last layer should consist of waterproof clothes and comfy and warm boots.
Don’t forget to take your scarf, gloves, and a cap as you will need all these items when you will walk on the glacier and also inside the cave.
Take a backpack with you and put inside some water, a snack, and also your camera as you will get many beautiful shots throughout the day.
Which is the best hotel to book to be close to the best Iceland ice cave tour
As most of the ice caves are located in the southern part of Iceland, in the area in and around Vatnajokull National Park, I strongly advise you to book your hotel close to this national park.
There are plenty of options to choose from, but our favorite picks are:
- Luxury: Fosshotel Lagoon which is perfectly located between Jokursarlon and the most popular meeting points for ice caving experiences. Fosshotel offers clean and very modern rooms, a tasty breakfast, and all the comfort you need for a wonderful stay.
- mid-level: nestled in the middle of the wilderness Seljavellir Guesthouse Hofn is a great place to spend your night and observe the Northern Lights as the place is far from any light pollution.
- budget: the simple but clean Laekjarhus Farm Holidays Iceland located just 15 miles from the Glacier Lagoon is run by an Icelandic family of farmers, a great place to set up your camp and explore the area.
Ice caves Iceland tour is the best way to experience the icy face of Iceland, to get close, and to feel under your feet the millennia-old ice that is about to melt because of the global warming phenomena.
No matter if you choose to drive a rented car or you take a tour with transport included from your hotel to the base of the glacier, the ice caving experience itself cannot be done on your own.
It is too dangerous and risky and there is no sense to expose yourself to such risks on your trip to Iceland.
I definitely recommend you to pick one of the tours mentioned in this article as all of them offer unique experiences, with knowledgeable guides and amazing views to catch on your camera.
Pack thermal layers and waterproof clothes and prepare for the adventure of your life as this is definitely a thing not to miss on your Icelandic adventure!
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.