Glaciers in Iceland: Names, Facts, and Features

Glaciers in Iceland

Glaciers are slowly moving ice rivers which over time reshape the landscape and geographic landforms. They move under their own weight and develop when the snow accumulation exceeds the snow ablation. 

The 269 glaciers are the hallmark of Iceland, and their contrasting nature with volcanoes is the reason Iceland is known as the land of ice and fire. Today, iceland glaciers cover 10% of the area, but due to global warming and melting, they are constantly retreating. 

Popular glaciers are Vatna (Vatnajökull), Langjokull (Langjökull), and Hofs glacier (Hofsjökull). The closest one to the country’s capital, Reykjavik, is the Langjokull glacier located in the Western Highlands. The best time to see glaciers in Iceland is in summer. This is because glaciers are present year-round, and during summer, the days are longer and warmer. 

Here you can see the list of glaciers in Iceland.

  1. Vatnajokull Glacier
  2. Langjokull Glacier
  3. Hoffellsjökull Glacier
  4. Myrdalsjokull Glacier and
  5. Sólheimajökull
  6. Drangajökull
  7. Snaefellsjokull Glacier
  8. Eyjafjallajokull Glacier
  9. Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier
  10. Svínafellsjökull Glacier
  11. Falljökull Glacier
  12. Skaftafellsjökull Glacier
  13. Eiríksjökull Glacier
  14. Skeiðarárjökull Glacier
  15. Fláajökull Glacier
  16. Brúarjökull Glacier
  17. Síðujökull Glacier
  18. Kvíárjökull Glacier
  19. Dyngjujökull Glacier
  20. Heinabergsjokull Glacier
  21. Morsarjokull Glacier
  22. Hofdhabrekkujokull Glacier
  23. Tungnaárjökull Glacier
  24. Baegisarjokull Glacier
  25. Steinsholtsjökull Glacier
  26. Skaftárjökull Glacier
  27. Barkardalsjokull Glacier
  28. Köldukvíslarjökull Glacier
  29. Myrkarjokull Glacier
  30. Austurtungnajokull Glacier
  31. Thverarjokull Glacier
  32. Unadalsjokull Glacier
  33. Nyrdhri-Skridhjokull Glacier
  34. Kverkjokull Glacier
  35. Fremri-Skridhjokull Glacier
  36. Skidhadalsjokull Glacier
  37. Ogmundarjokull Glacier
  38. Hjaltadalsjokull Glacier
  39. Braekur Glacier
  40. Lambatungujokull Glacier
  41. Nordhurtungnajokull Glacier
  42. Deildardalsjokull Glacier
  43. Sulujokull Glacier
  44. Skarphéðinsjökull Glacier
  45. Merkurjökull Glacier
  46. Eyjabakkajökull Glacier
  47. Gljufurarjokull Glacier
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1. Vatnajokull Glacier

The Vatnajökul Glacier (Vatna) in Iceland is located in the island’s southeast. Its coordinates are 64.24° N 16.48° W.  Vatnajökul Glacier is the biggest, highest, oldest, and thickest glacier in Iceland. Tours and Tour Guides for Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland can be booked year-round. The status of the Vatnajokull Glacier is retreating, and now its area is 3050.2 square miles, thus covering 8% of Iceland. The Vatnajökul glacier is getting smaller, yet it has a prominent effect on Iceland Culture. It offers unusual sights and combinations of glacial ice, volcanic, and geothermal activity. The Vatnajökul glacier is mentioned in the book “Glacier, Adventure on Vatnajokull, Europe’s Largest Ice Cap” by Sigurdur Thorarinsson from 1975. There are 30 outlet glaciers of Vatnajökul Glacier in Iceland. 

2. Langjokull Glacier

The Langjokull Glacier (Long Glacier) in Iceland is located in the west of the island, and its coordinates are 64.6562° N, 20.1531° W. The Langjokull Glacier is 30 miles long and the second largest ice cap in Iceland. Tours and Tour Guides for the Langjokull Glacier are popular because of the glacier’s proximity to the capital. The Langjokull Glacier covers an area of 367.9 square miles but is receding due to global warming (Scientists predict it will melt away in 150 years). 

3. Hoffellsjökull Glacier

The Hoffellsjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southeast of the island. The coordinates of the Hoffellsjökull Glacier are 64.4703° N, 15.5347° W. Tour and Tour Guides for the Hoffellsjökull Glacier are available. The Hoffellsjökull Glacier is retreating and today covers an area of 357.1 square miles. In the early 20th century, the Hoffellsjökull Glacier was extensively researched by glaciologists. 

4. Myrdalsjokull Glacier 

The Myrdalsjokull Glacier (the Mire Dale Glacier) in Iceland is located in the south of the island with coordinates 63.6467° N, 19.1303° W. The Myrdalsjokull Glacier is the 4th largest ice cap in Iceland and covers Katla as one of the country’s most active volcanoes. Tours and Tour Guides for the Myrdalsjokull Glacier are available year-round as this is one of the most spectacular glaciers and offers adventurous activities. The Myrdalsjokull Glacier has an area of 232 square miles. The Myrdalsjokull Glacier has many outlets and two important tongues named Sólheimajökull and Kötlujökull. 

5. Sólheimajökull

The Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southern parts of the island with coordinates 63.5569° N, 19.3028° W. Tour and Tour Guides for the Sólheimajökull Glacier are wildly popular because of its size and ease of access. The Sólheimajökull Glacier is an outlet from the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. 

6. Drangajökull

The Drangajökull glacier in Iceland is located in the northwest parts of the country with coordinates 66.1500° N, 22.2500° W. The Drangajökull Glacier is the most northern and lowest-lying glacier in Iceland. Tour and Tour Guides for the Drangajökull Glacier are pretty popular. The Drangajökull glacier covers an area of 61.7 square miles and is the only glacier in Iceland that has not retreated in the recent past. 

7. Snaefellsjokull Glacier

The Snaefellsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the most western part of the island with coordinates 64.8057° N, 23.7731° W. The Snaefellsjokull Glacier is a glacier-capped stratovolcano and is over 700.000 years old. Tour and Tour Guides for the Snaefellsjokull Glacier are popular and available. In terms of status, the Snaefellsjokull Glacier is retreating and covers an area of 4.2 square miles. The Snaefellsjokull Glacier is one of the most famous places in Iceland and has been featured in the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne from 1864. 

8. Eyjafjallajokull Glacier

The Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland is located in the southern region of the island. The coordinates of the Eyjafjallajokull Glacier are 63.6314° N, 19.6083° W. The Eyjafjallajokull Glacier is the 6th largest glacier in Iceland. Tours and Tour Guides for Eyjafjallajokull Glacier can be booked year-round. The Eyjafjallajokull glacier covers an area of 30.1 square miles, and as all glaciers, it is retreating. 

9. Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier

The Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier in Iceland is located south of the island. Its coordinates are 64.1531° N, 16.4000° W. The Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier stands 752 meters high and is a piedmont outlet of the Vatna glacier. Tours and Tour Guides for Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier in Iceland can be booked year-round. The status of the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier is retreating, and now its area is 6.5 square miles. The Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is getting smaller and ends with a small and attractive lagoon (Jökulsárlón). 

10. Svínafellsjökull Glacier

The Svínafellsjökull Glacier (Skaftafell) in Iceland is located in the southeast of the island. Its coordinates are 64.0186° N, 16.8215° W. Vatnajökul Glacier is an outlet of the Vatna glacier and one of the most popular glaciers in Iceland. Tours and Tour Guides for Svínafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland are widespread because of the unique hiking experience. The Svínafellsjökull Glacier is retreating or getting smaller and covers an area of 4.2 square miles. The contrasting scenery at the Svínafellsjökull glacier is the reason it was one of the popular locations for filming Game of Thrones. 

11. Falljökull Glacier

The Falljökull Glacier (Falling Glacier) in Iceland is located in the eastern part of the island. Its coordinates are 63.9764° N, 16.7700° W. The Falljökull Glacier is a Vatna outlet and a popular hiking destination, meaning Tours and Tour Guides for this glacier are popular. The Vatnajokull Glacier is getting smaller and retreating, but a challenge for hikers as it is very steep and offers an adrenaline-boosting activity and beautiful landscapes. 

12. Skaftafellsjökull Glacier

The Skaftafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southeast of the island with coordinates of 64.0654° N, 16.8635° W. Tour and Tour Guides are available for the Skaftafellsjökull Glacier. The Skaftafellsjökull Glacier is an outlet of the Vatna glacier and is retreating. 

13. Eiríksjökull Glacier

The Eiríksjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the north-western area of the island with coordinates 64.7697° N, 20.4020° W. The Eiríksjökull Glacier forms the largest table mountain in Iceland. Tour and Tour Guides are available as the glacier is an attraction. The Eiríksjökull Glacier has an area of 8.5 square miles, but due to climate changes, it is constantly receding. 

14. Skeiðarárjökull Glacier

The Skeiðarárjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the eastern parts of the country with coordinates of 64.0558° N, 17.2081° W. The Skeiðarárjökull Glacier is a Vatna glacier outlet. 

15. Fláajökull Glacier

The Fláajökull Glacier (Sloping Glacier) in Iceland is located in the southeast of the island. The geographic coordinates of the Fláajökull Glacier are 64.3613° N, 15.6727° W. The Fláajökull Glacier is a small and slow-flowing outlet of the Vatna glacier. Tours and Tour Guides for hiking the Fláajökull Glacier are still popular, although the glacier is receding. 

16. Brúarjökull Glacier

The Brúarjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east part of the country with coordinates 64.6817° N, 16.1567° W. Tours and Tour Guides to the Brúarjökull Glacier are quite popular. The Brúarjökull Glacier is the largest Vatna glacier outlet of its kind and has a surface of 617 square miles. Depending on the circumstances, the Brúarjökull Glacier is both expanding and retreating. 

17. Síðujökull Glacier

The Síðujökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south of the island and has the coordinates of 64.1178° N, 17.8525° W. 

18. Kvíárjökull Glacier

The Kvíárjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southeast of the country with coordinates 63.9558° N, 16.5286° W. The Kvíárjökull Glacier is an outlet of the Vatna glacier. Tours and Tour Guides are available as the Kvíárjökull Glacier is quite scenic and ends with a small lagoon. 

19. Dyngjujökull Glacier

The Dyngjujökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeast of the country with coordinates 64.7167° N, 17.0075° W. The Dyngjujökull Glacier is a Vatna glacier outlet. Since September 2014, there have been speculations about eruptions occurring beneath its surface. 

20. Heinabergsjokull Glacier

The Heinabergsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south-eastern parts of the island with coordinates 64.3125° N, 15.7919° W. The Heinabergsjokull Glacier is an outlet of the Vatna glacier and a glacier lagoon. Tours and Tour Guides to the Heinabergsjokull Glacier are popular because of the beauty of nature and breathtaking sights.  

21. Morsarjokull Glacier

The Morsarjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east with coordinates 64.1080° N, 16.8903° W. The Morsarjokull Glacier is an outlet of the Vatna glacier. Tours and Tour Guides to the Morsarjokull Glacier are popular because the Morsarjokull Glacier glacier has a lagoon called Morsárlón and houses the highest waterfall in Iceland called Morsárfoss (240 meters). The Morsarjokull Glacier is rapidly retreating and prone to avalanches. 

22. Hofdhabrekkujokull Glacier

The Hofdhabrekkujokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south of the island with coordinates 63.6019° N, 18.9019° W. 

23. Tungnaárjökull Glacier

The Tungnaárjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southern parts of the island with coordinates of 64.3186° N, 18.0222° W. The Tungnaárjökull Glacier is 17 kilometers wide. 

24. Baegisarjokull Glacier

The Baegisarjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeast of the country with coordinates 65.5878° N, 18.3686° W. 

25. Steinsholtsjökull Glacier

The Steinsholtsjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south of the island with coordinates 64.5530° N, 19.3506° W. The Steinsholtsjökull Glacier is one of the two tongue outlets from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. 

26. Skaftárjökull Glacier

The Skaftárjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south with coordinates of 64.1667° N, 17.8333° W. The Skaftárjökull Glacier is a surge-type outlet of the Vatna glacier. 

27. Barkardalsjokull Glacier

The Barkardalsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeast of the country and has coordinates of 65.6467° N, 18.8186° W. 

28. Köldukvíslarjökull Glacier

The Köldukvíslarjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south of the country and has coordinates 64.5633° N, 17.7689° W. 

29. Myrkarjokull Glacier

The Myrkarjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeast of the island with coordinates of 65.6242° N, 18.8300° W. 

30. Austurtungnajokull Glacier

The Austurtungnajokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the eastern parts of the island and has coordinates of 64.5542° N, 15.3275° W. 

31. Thverarjokull Glacier

The Thverarjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the north of the island with coordinates of 65.7706° N, 18.7817° W.

32. Unadalsjokull Glacier

The Unadalsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeastern parts of the island and has coordinates of 65.8531° N, 18.9792° W. 

33. Nyrdhri-Skridhjokull Glacier

The Nyrdhri-Skridhjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the country’s south and has coordinates of 64.6569° N, 19.9058° W. 

34. Kverkjokull Glacier

The Kverkjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east and has coordinates of 64.7000° N, 16.6286° W. 

35. Fremri-Skridhjokull Glacier

The Fremri-Skridhjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southern part of the island and has coordinates of 64.5922° N, 19.9539° W

35. Skidhadalsjokull Glacier

The Skidhadalsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the north-western region of the island and has coordinates of 65.6989° N, 18.7811° W. 

36. Ogmundarjokull Glacier

The Ogmundarjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the west part of the country with coordinates 64.7797° N, 20.3469° W. 

37. Hjaltadalsjokull Glacier

The Hjaltadalsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the northwest parts and has coordinates of 65.5769° N, 18.9022° W. 

38. Braekur Glacier

The Braekur Glacier in Iceland is located in the southern parts of the island with coordinates 64.7928° N, 20.4389° W. 

39. Lambatungujokull Glacier

The Lambatungujokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east of the island and has coordinates of 64.5339° N, 15.4081° W. 

40. Nordhurtungnajokull Glacier

The Nordhurtungnajokull Glacier in Iceland is located southeast of the island with coordinates 64.5772° N, 15.3272° W. 

41. Deildardalsjokull Glacier

The Deildardalsjokull Glacier in Iceland is located northwest of the island. Its coordinates are 65.8353° N, 18.9722° W. The Deildardalsjokull Glacier is a small and retreating glacier that still attracts significant visitors, and there are some Tours and Tour Guides available. 

42. Sulujokull Glacier

The Sulujokull Glacier in Iceland is located in the south parts of the island and has coordinates of 64.0242° N, 17.3853° W.

43. Skarphéðinsjökull Glacier

The Skarphéðinsjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east of the island with coordinates 64.6506° N, 16.5947° W. 

44. Merkurjökull Glacier

The Merkurjökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the southern parts of the island with coordinates 63.7017° N, 19.3019° W. 

45. Eyjabakkajökull Glacier

The Eyjabakkajökull Glacier in Iceland is located in the east with coordinates of 64.6667° N, 15.6000° W. The Eyjabakkajökull Glacier is a surge-type outlet glacier from the Vatnajökul glacier. 

46. Gljufurarjokull Glacier

The  Gljufurarjokull  Glacier in Iceland is located in the northeast with coordinates 65.7167° N, 18.6667° W. Gljufurarjokull is a small valley-head glacier and the largest remaining neoglacial glacier in Iceland. 

What are the facts about Glaciers in Iceland?

In Iceland, there are 269 named glaciers, and interestingly some are very close or on top of volcanoes. They cover a surface of 4015.46 square kilometers with an average height of 380 meters. Based on mass balance, virtually all glaciers in Iceland are in a negative state or retreating, and in the past few years, the country has lost a significant glacier surface. Despite their retreating nature, glaciers in Iceland attract around two million tourists per year who pay hundreds of dollars for exploring the glaciers by hiking. 

What is the highest glacier in Iceland?

The Vatna (Vatnajökull) is 2110 meters high and the highest ice cap glacier in Iceland and the largest glacier mass in Europe. Because of its natural beauty and nearby attraction, the Vatna glacier is a popular tourist attraction. 

What is the largest glacier in Iceland?

With impressive statistics and an area of 3050.2 square miles, the largest glacier in Iceland is Vatna (Vatnajökull). This glacier alone covers 8% of the total 10% of the glacier area in Iceland. The record for the world’s largest glacier is held by the Lambert-Fisher Glacier in Antarctica, which is also the fastest moving glacier in the world.   

What is the thickest glacier in Iceland?

With an average thickness of 380 to 400 meters, Vatna (Vatnajökull) is the thickest glacier in Iceland. Its maximum thickness reaches a whopping 1000m. The world’s thickest glacier is the Taku glacier, with 1.477 meters of thick ice, and is located in Alaska. 

What are the statuses of Iceland Glaciers?

The negative body mass status classifies the Iceland Glaciers as retreating. In fact, Iceland has lost over 289.5 square miles of glacier surface in the past 20 years. On a larger scale, since 1890, Iceland has lost over 18% of its glaciers or an area of 849.4 square miles. 

What is the oldest glacier in Iceland?

The oldest glacier in Iceland is the Vatna Glacier (Vatnajökull) which started forming well over 2.500 years ago. In comparison, the glaciers in Greenland are 100.000 years old, and in Antarctica, nearly 1.000.000 years. The Vatna Glacier is a popular tourist attraction. 

What is the prominence of Glaciers for Iceland Geography?

The Iceland glaciers affect the environment (climate and landscape) and are an important geography landform. Over the thousand years of existence, glaciers have significantly reshaped Iceland’s Geography. Additionally, glaciers represent an important resource – from fertile soil from glacial till to water reservoirs to concrete from sand and gravel deposits. 

What happens to the glaciers in Iceland during Summer?

During summer, the top layer of the Iceland glaciers melts away, leaving the deeper glacial ice layers exposed. This is an amazing sight since the colors of the deeper glacial ice are flamboyant and staggering. Iceland has glaciers all year round, and they are equally popular in both summer and winter. 

What are the Glaciers Tours in Iceland?

Glacier tours offer unique adventures based on exploring glaciers by hiking and sightseeing. They are a tourist attraction year-round, but summer tours ensure longer adventures because of the longer daylight. In both winter and summer, noon is the best time of day to go glacier touring. Depending on the brand (Arctic Adventures is a popular one), the tours last for a couple of hours and usually cost $100 and above. Going on an Iceland glacier tour requires wearing hiking boots, layered clothes, waterproof pants, raincoat, gloves, hat, and a backpack. 

What are the glacier caves in Iceland?

Glacier caves are basically caves within glaciers. They are cold and have icy water dripping from their roofs. There are many glacier caves in Iceland, and the most popular ones are the Crystal Ice Cave, Mendenhall, and Katla Ice Cave. 

What are the tours for glacier caves?

Many companies and private guides offer ice cave tours in Iceland. They can be one day or multiple days long, depending on the exact ice cave. The reason glacier caves are so popular is that they are mesmerizing natural beauties, and seeing them is a unique experience.  

What is the effect of Glaciers on the Icelandic economy?

Glaciers have a positive impact on the Icelandic economy. In addition to attracting tourists, their melting supplies water to rivers and contributes to the country’s hydroelectric industry. However, they do pose a challenge when it comes to transportation, mining, and industrializing certain areas.