Sólheimajökull: An Amazing Glacier Hike In Iceland

Explore Sólheimajökull, an amazing glacier in Iceland, go hiking or even ice climbing!

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Ingþór Birkir Árnason

9. August 2017

This glacier is the southwestern outlet of Mýrdalsjökull and is about 8km long and 1-2 km wide. From the glacier the river Jökulsá runs and it has sometimes been called Fúlakvísl (Stinking river) because of the smell of sulfur.

The view from the parking lotSolheimajokull Glacier as seen when walking from the parking lot. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 

Sólheimajökull offers one of the best ways to experience a glacier up close in Iceland as there is a walking path up to the glacier and you can look at it very closely. The glacier is also changing as it is shrinking every day, retreating and creating a lagoon underneath. 

It is possible for people driving there themselves, there is a parking lot about 1-1,5 km from the glacier (at this moment, it’s getting further and further away). The drive is around 2 hours and 30 minutes from Reykjavik to the parking lot.

It’s not recommended to go on the glacier without the proper equipment or a guide as it can be very dangerous so don’t try anything foolish!

There are many tours that are available if you want to go up to the glacier or go ice climbing. The tour guides supply the crampons and all the basic equipment needed to walk up the glacier. I really recommend going up the glacier, I went on only the glacier walk with Icelandic Mountain guides, this tour. You can go ahead and book it by clicking on the link. 

It was not that hard so anyone should be able to go! The duration is around 2 hours on the glacier itself and that is plenty of time to take in the amazing view. There are also some day tours that you can spend the whole day there and it is also a possibility to go ice climbing, which is the next thing I will do!

I went there this summer and was very lucky with the weather as there was sunshine and no wind. You'll nevertheless need warmer clothes as you are walking on ice and it can get cold fast. There is a lot of sand, but don’t let it fool you as the glacier is right underneath. The sun had melted the ice a little bit and left it very soft and easy to walk on with the crampons. I would recommend taking sunglasses, also a cap as if there is sun it can be very hard to see!

On the way—if you are lucky—there are some ice tunnels that the guide will take you through.

Ice tunnel in Solheimajokull in Iceland
Walking into the ice tunnel. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 
The blue ice tunnel in Solheimajökull in Iceland
Inside you could see the unique blue colour of the ice. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 

There are also marks where you can see the effects from the glacier getting smaller as there are remains in the land from the glacier. The old parking lot is on the left hand when you are walking up to the glacier and only 20 years ago that was where the glacier started.

And as the glacier is always changing even the tour guides say they are seeing something new every week. Like this waterfall the guide said that it can stay like this for a few weeks before the glacier changes and it goes away.

Waterfall in Solheimajökull
The waterfall that forms on top of the glacier. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 

I had never been on a glacier before this tour and I wasn't let down by the experience. I will definitely go again and then try some ice climbing or a longer walk! 

On top of Solheimajökull in IcelandWalking a top of the glacier with the proper equipment. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 

Solheimajökull covered in sand in IcelandSolheimajokull Glacier covered in sand. Wonderguide/Ingthor. 

Solheimajökull in IcelandSolheimajokull Glacier. Wonderguide/Ingthor.