6 of the best Langjökull Glacier tours

The second largest glacier in Iceland (and Europe), Langjökull Glacier is a vast expanse of ice, up to 520 metres thick in places, that covers two underground volcanic systems. 

The Langjökull Glacier is Iceland's 2nd largest glacier.

The glacier’s meltwaters feed numerous streams and waterfalls, including the gushing Gullfoss waterfall, the fissure at Silfra (which you can scuba dive into) and the hot springs of Geysir.

Its name means “the long glacier” and, at 50km long by 20km wide, its snowy cap dominates the skyline and can be seen from miles away. The highest peak on the glacier is Péturshorn, at 1355 meters high, a magnificent mountain clad in snow all year-round.

But how can you explore this huge glacier, and which tours are the best?

Where is Langjökull Glacier?
Why visit the glacier? 
Which parts can you visit?
What to see and do
Visiting from Reykjavik
6 of the best glacier tours

Our 3 favourite glacier experiences

It’s hard to choose, but we think the top trip is this snowmobile ride to a natural ice cave inside the glacier.

We also love this snowmobile ride on the glacier, followed by a dip in natural hot pool.

And for a completely unique experience, we recommend this trip into a man-made ice tunnel that delves around 500 metres into the depths of the glacier.

Where is the Langjökull Glacier?

Langjökull is in Iceland’s western highlands, and is the closest glacier to Reykjavik.

It’s just beyond the Þingvellir National Park, about 150km or a two-drive northeast of Reykjavik. 

Why visit the glacier?

Apart from the stunning scenery and the unique experience of walking on the snow and ice of a glacier, Langjökull is something of a honeypot for outdoor activities.

You can drive a snowmobile over the Langjökull Glacier in Iceland

You can ski, snowmobile and sled on top of the glacier, or ride in a monster truck on its ice tracks. 

And you can explore the underground natural ice caves beneath the surface of the glacier.

Plus, Langjökull is home to world’s longest man-made ice tunnel which leads some 500 metres deep into the centre of the glacier.

What parts of the glacier can you get to?

You can get to the man-made Langjökull Glacier Tunnel via the Húsafell Activity Center and hotel, a two-hour drive northeast of Reykjavik. 

From here, shuttles run to Klaki base camp, where you’ll transfer to a special vehicle that takes you to the entrance of the tunnel.

You can also access the southern side of the glacier from Gullfoss along the F35.

What can you do when you get there?

Walking, skiing and sledding on a glacier are magical experiences, especially when it’s as majestic as Langjökull.

But Langjökull is one of the few glaciers that you can also walk inside year-round in a vast blue-white ice cave.

Alternatively, you can whizz over the ice and snow in a snowmobile, or take a monster truck trip. And you can even play golf on top of the glacier!

Visiting from Reykjavik

Most people visit from Reykjavik, and access the glacier via Húsafell. 

If you’re driving yourself, take Route 1 north from the capital to Borgarnes. Then take Route 50 to Kleppjárnsreykir, where you’ll turn onto Route 518 which leads to Húsafell. 

This route is generally accessible year-round, and in summer you can continue onto Route 550 beyond Húsafell, which leads to the Klaki base camp. 

If you’re driving the popular Golden Circle route, you can continue beyond Gulfoss waterfall on the F35, which skirts the southern edge of the glacier.

6 of the best Langjökull Glacier tours 

Here are some more tours that take you out onto (or even through!) Langjökull Glacier.  

Walk inside a glacier

This tour let you explore the interior of the stunning Langjökull Glacier in a man-made ice tunnel, lit with LED lights that makes the blue ice shimmer in different shades.

Walk inside a glacier tunnel at Langjökull Glacier

You’ll be kitted out with all the gear you need, including snow shoes and crampons, before climbing into a specially adapted ex-NATO vehicle for a fun trip to the cave.

We like that all the guides are very knowledgeable and can tell you all about the formation, geology and history of the glacier, as well as point out the ice formations as you explore.

Snowmobile on a glacier

We love this all-day trip which combines two of Iceland’s best activities – a tour of the Golden Circle and a snowmobile ride on the Langjökull Glacier.

Snowmobile over the Langjökull Glacier in Iceland

You’ll pick up the coach at Reykjavik bus station, then travel to the fascinating Þingvellir National Park, and walk along the gorge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

Then you’ll stop and watch the dramatic boiling water spouts at Geysir as they explode into the air.

Highlight of the trip is an adventurous snowmobile ride over Langjökull’s vast ice cap, followed by a trip to the gushing Gullfoss waterfall, fed by the glacier.

Visit a natural ice cave by snowmobile

Natural ice caves move and disappear, while others open up as the glacier itself melts and moves. On this tour, you’ll travel by snowmobile to a newly-discovered ice cave then explore the cave with a guide.

Visit a natural ice cave at the Langjökull Glacier.

We love that this is a completely natural cave, and you can see see inside the glacier, the lava cave and its crevasses – and that you get to drive a snowmobile there!

Have a monster truck adventure on the glacier

This giant big-wheeled truck picks you up from Gullfoss waterfall and takes you onto the top of the glacier, where you can go sledding and even pay golf!

Visit the Langjökull Glacier in a monster truck.

This is a fun, sociable way of getting to see parts of the glacier that are inaccessible to cars. 

We like that the truck has huge panoramic windows, so you get great views of the scenery – and you get to enjoy a hot chocolate and Icelandic pastry on top of the glacier too.

Snowmobile on the glacier and dip in hot springs

This full-day trip takes you to Langjökull glacier, where you’ll drive a snowmobile over icy terrain, then onto the Secret Lagoon for a relaxing dip in a thermal pool. 

Drive a snowmobile on the Langjökull Glacier, then take a dip in a natural hot pool

What we like most about it is the uniquely Icelandic combination of an exciting adrenaline-fuelled snowmobile ride and a relaxing wallow in steaming hot water surrounded by beautiful snowy landscapes.

Visit the ice tunnel from Reykjavik

If you’re staying in Reykjavik and don’t have your own car, we think this full-day tour is a good option. 

Explore the ice tunnel at the Langjökull Glacier on a day-trip from Reykjavik

It includes pick-up from your hotel, travel to Husafell, a ride out to the glacier and entrance to the ice tunnel. You also get to stop off at a waterfall on the way.

The only downside is that there’s a lot of travel involved. The journey from Reykjavik to Husafell takes at least two hours each way, and it’s another hour on the shuttle from Husafell to the ice tunnel. 

So, be prepared for a long day of travel, albeit with beautiful scenery to look at en-route.

Can you visit the glacier without a tour?

In summer it’s possible to drive to the glacier independently, though the roads are gravelly and bumpy and a four-by-four is advised. Outside of summer, you’re better off taking a tour.

If you want to actually walk on the glacier, you’ll need all the gear including crampons, helmets, ice picks and safety helmets, so unless you have your own you’ll need to take a tour.

It’s definitely not recommend to go out hiking on a glacier on your own as there are hidden sink holes, the weather can change fast, white-outs can appear suddenly and it’s easy to get lost. 

Go with a guide who knows the glacier well, and help avoid any issues.

Do you need to be fit to visit the glacier? 

You don’t need to be especially fit to do any of the glacier tours or to access the ice caves.

Driving a snowmobile can be quite hard physically, though, so you’ll need to be reasonably fit and mobile to do this.

However, you don’t need any prior experience and you’ll be provided with all the protective gear you need.

Are glacier tours bad for the environment at Langjökull? 

Due to global warming, the Langjökull glacier is receding, with some reports suggesting that within 80–100 years it will have melted completely.

Are truck tours bad for the environment at the Langjökull Glacier?

So, how can we justify driving snowmobiles, monster trucks and four-by-fours to visit this vast ice cap?

Well, there are things that can be done to mitigate the effects of glacier tours on the environment.

Most companies that run glacier tours in Iceland carbon offset their emissions, and offer customers the chance to pay extra to offset the emissions resulting from their own trip.

Into the Glacier, which runs the man-made ice tunnel, plants around 5000 trees a year in the nearby Kolviður forest, as part of their environmental policy.

Sleipnir, who runs the monster trucks at Gullfoss, argues that their trucks which take up to 49 passengers emit less carbon per passenger than conventional minibuses or four-by-fours.

They have also adapted their driving techniques to reduce the physical impact of the trucks on the glacier itself.

And although the use of electric snowmobiles is not widespread yet, most of the tour companies who run trips to Langjökull are keen to use them as soon as they are available.

Ultimately, all tours and trips that use fossil-fuelled transport have an environmental impact and offsetting the emissions alone is not enough to prevent the melting of the ice caps.

So, it’s a matter of personal choice as to whether we choose to see these magnificent glaciers before they disappear completely.

See also:
The best time to visit Iceland
Whale watching in Iceland: when, where and how
Fjords in Iceland (and how to visit them)

 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES IN REYKJAVIKMORE TOURS

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