Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier: Size, Ice Caves, Cap and Volcanoes

The Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier, also known as Kötlufalljökull or Kötlujökull, is a piedmont surge-type outlet glacier in Mýrdalsjökull ice cap (the fourth-largest glacier in Iceland). It stands about 661 meters tall. Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier sits atop the Katla volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the southern part of Iceland. The area of Höfðabrekkujökull is located 21 km northeast of Skaftártunga, 24 km west of Skogar, and 24 km southwest of Pétursey. 


The coordinates are 63.602 and 18.90189, using the GPS coordinates for Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier. From Reykjavik, the distance to Höfðabrekkujökull glacier is 187 km. The most breathtaking destination for the Höfðabrekkujökull glacier is the Katla ice cave under the glacier. Like the seasonal ice caves, the appearance shifts every year, adding to the ice caves’ attraction. In 1918, before the volcano burst into the river Múlakvísl, it had a bridge used for the main road. But now, the bridge can no longer be used, and the river Múlakvísl is one of the attractions originating in the Höfðabrekkujökull glacier that can only be seen from afar. It is also known that there were no cities or villages near the Höfðabrekkujökull because of the active volcano, Katla. 


The Höfðabrekkujökull glacier is one of the most popular glaciers since the destruction of the Katla volcano makes the area and other destinations more beautiful as its ashes and ice melt result in excellent tourist spots. It is known to be surrounded by active volcanoes, which residents fear. However, tourists are still attracted to it as it adds to their challenging and exciting experience.


The tours to Höfðabrekkujökull take up small ridges and are suitable for travelers who love heights. Traveler companies provide tours that guarantee the best experience and safety for the tourists. The tour includes glacier hikes, ice climbs, and ice cave tours. Höfðabrekkujökull glacier will only take an hour tour because this is one of the closest glaciers to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. From Höfðabrekkujökull to the Katla ice cave, it will only take a 5 to 7 minutes hike. The ride towards the Höfðabrekkujökull contains a superb and surprising view.   

What is the Size of Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier?

The Höfðabrekkujökull glacier takes up to 661 meters above sea level with a length of 1100 m and a width of 600 m. This glacier is somewhat smaller than the Sólheimajökull glacier but higher than the desert to the east at 10 to 15 m. It extends from the western part of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap. On the western part of Mýrdalssandur, the track of Múlakvís is where the Jökulhlaup flows from the Kötluhlaup. Additionally, the west of another Jökulhlaup, Austurjökull, is where the Höfðabrekkujökull expands. 

What are the Volcanoes in Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier?

The volcano in the Höfðabrekkujökull glacier is the Katla volcano which is only beneath the glacier. Katla volcano is an active and large volcano in the southernmost part of Iceland. It is the most potent volcano that records twenty explosions with an interval of 20 to 90 years between 920 and 1918. When other volcanoes erupt, it can create a formation that can become a tourist spot, while Katla is very dangerous as it can damage and cause chaos in the area. However, Katla volcano has an ice cave underneath named after it. The Katla volcano leaves evidence or marks of eruption inside the ice cave, which becomes fantastic scenery for the tourists. The explosion creates black strips inside the ice cave, which travelers feel like walking through history when they pass through it.

What is the prominence of Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier in Icelandic Culture?

The cultural prominence of Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier in Icelandic Culture is related to Katla’s volcanic eruption, which can be found only under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Höfðabrekkujökull affects Icelandic culture since the explosion of volcanoes within the Mýrdalsjökull glacier can cause considerable chaos or damage in the area. Moreover, the eruption causes floods due to the ice melting. 

The Höfðabrekkujökull glacier is still famous for its ice cave and other attractive views formed by the volcanic eruption. Another factor contributing to its popularity with tourists is the fact that it is the location of television series like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, where some scenes are filmed. 

In addition to this, the Katla ice cave is essential to Iceland culture because it contains marks of the explosion, which serve as evidence of the Katla explosion. With this, the tourists may feel like they are passing through the history of the volcanic eruption. However, Iceland’s residents still monitor the volcano’s state since it is still known to be active up until now and might explode at any time.  

What are the Similar Glaciers in Iceland to Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier?

Similar glaciers in Iceland to Höfðabrekkujökull Glacier are listed below:

  • Svínafellsjökull: Svínafellsjökull is also known as the “pig mountain glacier.” Tourists and hikers are interested in one of the fascinating glaciers. It is an outlet glacier located in between the Virkisjökull and Falljökull glaciers. It consists of a glacier lagoon formed due to ice melting of other glaciers near it and has become the most common destination for tourists. Also, it is famous for its breathtaking formations and landscape that are best for sightseeing.
  • Sólheimajökull: Sólheimajökull is one of the outlet glaciers of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap located in southern Iceland. It has a length of 15 km and a width of 1 to 2 km. Its popularity competes with the Svínafellsjökull glacier because it is the most convenient glacier to access from Reykjavík. Famous destinations include the Skogafoss Waterfall, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, and Reynisfjara Beach. Tourists can visit the area after an hour’s drive, and they can enjoy the scenery without even hiking. It is one of the best glaciers in Iceland because it has cafes and restaurants, which are great for guests who want to relax and chill while watching the fantastic view of Sólheimajökull.
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Staff Writer