Your guide to Langjökull glacier in Iceland

Find out about the secret ice caves and snowmobile tracks of Langjökull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier.

26. október 2022

Your guide to Langjökull glacier in Iceland

Find out about the secret ice caves and snowmobile tracks of Langjökull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier.

26. október 2022

Snowmobiling, skiing, hiking and traversing the landscape by monster truck are all popular ways to see this other-worldly spectacle, Langjökull, up close. Join one of Reykjavik Excursions’ glacier and ice cave tours in Iceland and experience Langjökull for yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about this natural wonder.

About Langjökull glacier

Translating into English as “long glacier”, Langjökull is Iceland’s second largest glacier by area, and the second largest glacier in Europe. Langjökull was actually once called Baldjökull, which is thought to have come from Balljökull because of the round, bulbous ice cap at the peak of the glacier.

This enormous ice cap plugs at least two active volcanic systems, simmering beneath the frozen surface. To the east of the glacier, the Kjalhraun lava fields are estimated to be around 7,800 years old. These days, Langjökull is a popular destination for snowmobiling, hiking and even skiing.

Due to the climate crisis, Langjökull is shrinking at an alarming rate and scientists predict that it will have disappeared in 150 years' time, or even in as little as 50 years. So now is the time to visit this spectacle of nature.

Where is Langjökull located?

Langjökull is the closest glacier to Reykjavik and it sits atop dramatic volcanic landscape in the west highlands of the island. It’s just beyond Þingvellir National Park and can also be accessed from Gullfoss waterfall, so makes for a convenient additional stop along the famous Golden Circle route. It’s roughly 150 kilometres from Reykjavik to Langjökull, so it’s around a two or two-and-a-half-hour drive, depending on weather conditions. Most people access Langjökull from Húsafell, on the small 518 road, or visit the glacier from Gullfoss waterfall.

How to get to Langjökull?

The two main highland tracks that connect the north and south of Iceland run alongside Langjökull. In summer, you can drive here yourself as long as you don’t mind a bit of adventure – the tracks are narrow and gravel in places. Outside of the summer months, it is best to join an organised tour to Langjökull as unpredictable weather can affect the condition of the road and a 4x4 is essential to reach the glacier. Reykjavik Excursions run a number of tours leaving from Reykjavik to experience Langjökull up close.

Discover the arctic white world of Iceland’s glaciers


langjokull 2

Dating back thousands of years, Iceland’s glaciers have witnessed volcanic eruptions and a changing landscape of lava fields and rugged mountains. They creak and groan, creeping forward or receding by a few inches every year. From the biggest, longest and prettiest ice caps, check out our guide to Iceland’s glaciers.


What is there to do at Langjökull glacier?

With such a vast surface, Langjökull hides many secrets in its icy caverns and frozen chasms. Perhaps one of the most famous attractions is the man-made ice cave which, unlike most of Iceland’s other ice caves, can be accessed year-round. It’s the world’s largest man-made ice tunnel and hiking through it, you’ll be surrounded by a sleek blue arctic world, like a waking dream. There are plenty of ways to discover this enthralling natural wonder. Those that seek a little adrenaline rush can try snowmobiling across the glacier’s winter wonderland landscape. Alternatively, you can traipse across Langjökull’s icy surface in a monster truck and get out and walk around, admiring the scenery from atop this seemingly endless ice sheet.

Frequently asked questions about Langjökull glacier

- How far is Langjökull glacier from Reykjavík?

Around 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the capital, you can reach Langjökull in around two or two and a half hours by car. Buses and organised tours run from Reykjavik and a popular way to experience the glacier is to include it on a Golden Circle day trip from the city.

- Can you drive to Langjökull glacier?

Two highland tracks pass by Langjökull glacier, and you can navigate there yourself if you wish. During the summer months, the roads are easiest to pass and in early spring, late autumn and winter, having a 4x4 is essential as the tracks are gravel in places and can be badly affected by snow, rain and frost. Outside of the summer months, it may be best to join an organised tour to Langjökull.

- Can you go to Langjökull glacier by yourself?

It is possible to drive to Langjökull and explore the glaciers by yourself, but it is not really advisable. The terrain can be harsh and the weather unpredictable. There are many hidden sinkholes atop the glacier so walking with a guide who knows which paths to follow, or joining a monster truck ride or snowmobile adventure is the best way to stay safe on the glacier.

- Can you walk on Langjökull glacier?

Langjökull is a popular spot for hiking and skiing, as well as snowmobiling. You can walk through the man-made ice cave and embark on a glacier hike if you want to set foot on the icy surface. Crampons, pickaxes and helmets are essential equipment for any glacier hike, along with sturdy, waterproof walking boots. As we’ve already mentioned, there can be hidden sinkholes and chasms beneath the snowy surface of the glacier, so embarking on a hike with a professional guide is advised, rather than setting off onto the glacier yourself.

- How old is Langjökull glacier?

Langjökull is thousands of years old and has changed form and shape over the millenia. The eastern part of Langjökull lies in the Kjalhraun lava field, which was formed about 7,800 years ago.

- How large is Langjökull glacier?

At its thickest point, the ice is 580 metres (around 1,902 feet) wide and the surface area stretches to a vast 935 square kilometres (361 square miles). The largest recorded surface area of Langjökull was in 1840, and it is constantly reducing in size every year.

How to include Langjökull on your Golden Circle adventure


langjokull 3

Iceland’s Golden Circle is a route that covers three of the biggest natural wonders the island has to offer – Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. From Gullfoss, you can head onwards to Langjökull for a hike or snowmobile expedition. For more information on the Golden Circle, check out our ultimate guide to the Golden Circle.


Attractions near Langjökull glacier

As the surface area of the glacier is so vast – stretching for kilometres of land – there are plenty of places and attractions close to the edge of the ice cap.

West of Langjökull

Húsafell

A little hamlet amidst the volcanic hills in the wilderness of west Iceland, Húsafell is one of the most popular spots to access Langjökull. Those that want to stay near the glacier can take advantage of the camping sites, cabins and even five-star hotel here. Snowmobiling adventures and monster truck trips leave from Húsafell and onto the ice sheet.

Hraunfossar Waterfalls

Iceland’s widest series of waterfalls, Hraunfossar is a spectacular sight. Trickles of water sprout over the black volcanic rocks and into a rushing, milky-blue river. Hraunfossar can be translated as “lava falls” and the scene looks like the meeting spot of fae folk amidst the ethereal landscape. The Hvíta River is fed by meltwater from Langjökull, giving it that shimmering blue colour that glows in the sunlight.

Barnafossar Waterfalls

The Barnafossar waterfalls occur at a point where the Hvíta River flows through a narrow, rocky chute. The effect is a dramatic tumbling waterfall that looks and sounds like extreme river rapids. A natural stone bridge frames the falls, making it a prime spot for photographs. Barnafossar is along the same walking trail as the Hraunfossar falls, so you can easily see both on the same visit.

Krauma natural geothermal baths & spa

Outdoor bathing in geothermal hot springs is deeply ingrained in Icelandic tradition, and the closest place to Langjökull to experience this is at Krauma natural geothermal baths and spa. Here, you can indulge in a soak in an outdoor bath heated by Europe’s most powerful hot spring – Deildartunguhver. As well as five relaxing geothermally heated pools, there’s a cold pool for plunging into to get the circulation flowing, two saunas and a relaxation room set around a suspended wood-burning stove. It’s the perfect way to warm up and unwind after a day on the ice.

South of Langjökull

Geysir geothermal area

One of the major stops on the Golden Circle Route, Geysir geothermal area is where the earth bubbles and spits as boiling hot pools and geysers simmer with life. The major attraction – Strokkur – is a geyser that erupts every ten minutes or so with a huge jet of boiling water leaping into the air.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Perhaps Iceland’s mightiest waterfall, Gullfoss is another of the main attractions along the Golden Circle. We’ve covered everything you need to know about Gullfoss. It’s a popular access point to Langjökull glacier too. After you’ve seen the thundering falls cascading into a deep ravine from the look-out spot, you could join a snowmobiling or monster truck adventure out onto the ice.

Tours to Langjökull glacier

As we’ve mentioned, exploring Langjökull glacier yourself can be a hassle to get to, and a hike onto the ice is best done accompanied by a guide who knows the best and safest routes. Reykjavik Excursions run a series of tours that include an experience on Langjökull.

Perhaps you’ve seen the photographs – people standing in a sleek, blue tunnel of pure ice that seems to glow on all sides. You can experience walking through an ice cave yourself at Langjökull’s man-made tunnel, which remains open throughout the entire year.

Those seeking a little more adventure can embark on a snowmobile session on Langjökull as part of a Golden Circle tour. Shooting across the snowy plateau is like crossing a vast white desert, and is not an experience you’ll soon forget. Or, opt for a monster truck ride out on the glacier. Watch the scenery change around you, from the lunar grey valley to a world of arctic whiteness, as the huge truck creeps onto the ice sheet. If the weather allows, this tour includes a walk in the ice cave.

langjokull 10

If you prefer to do things under your own stream, the glorious glaciers and Northern Lights self drive might be the option for you. This 8-day itinerary guides you past Iceland’s biggest and most dramatic glaciers – Vatnajökull, Eyjafjallajökull and, of course, Langjökull. It takes in the Golden Circle, the wonders of the South Coast and the lesser-explored western peninsula of Iceland, stopping at plummeting waterfalls, glacier lagoons and black-sanded beaches.

Overall, being so vast and (as the name suggests) long, there are many ways to discover Langjökull glacier. Its close proximity to Reykjavik and Gullfoss waterfall makes it a popular spot for glacier hikes, snowmobiling and skiing and there are plenty of tours to visit Langjökull glacier in Iceland to choose from. All that’s left to do is pick the experience that suits you, and you can explore the wonder of Iceland’s second largest glacier yourself.

Blogg

Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira. Bloggið okkar er á ensku en það er stórskemmtilegt engu að síður!

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Lesa blogg

Your guide to Langjökull glacier in Iceland

Find out about the secret ice caves and snowmobile tracks of Langjökull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier.

26. október 2022

Your guide to Langjökull glacier in Iceland

Find out about the secret ice caves and snowmobile tracks of Langjökull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier.

26. október 2022

Snowmobiling, skiing, hiking and traversing the landscape by monster truck are all popular ways to see this other-worldly spectacle, Langjökull, up close. Join one of Reykjavik Excursions’ glacier and ice cave tours in Iceland and experience Langjökull for yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about this natural wonder.

About Langjökull glacier

Translating into English as “long glacier”, Langjökull is Iceland’s second largest glacier by area, and the second largest glacier in Europe. Langjökull was actually once called Baldjökull, which is thought to have come from Balljökull because of the round, bulbous ice cap at the peak of the glacier.

This enormous ice cap plugs at least two active volcanic systems, simmering beneath the frozen surface. To the east of the glacier, the Kjalhraun lava fields are estimated to be around 7,800 years old. These days, Langjökull is a popular destination for snowmobiling, hiking and even skiing.

Due to the climate crisis, Langjökull is shrinking at an alarming rate and scientists predict that it will have disappeared in 150 years' time, or even in as little as 50 years. So now is the time to visit this spectacle of nature.

Where is Langjökull located?

Langjökull is the closest glacier to Reykjavik and it sits atop dramatic volcanic landscape in the west highlands of the island. It’s just beyond Þingvellir National Park and can also be accessed from Gullfoss waterfall, so makes for a convenient additional stop along the famous Golden Circle route. It’s roughly 150 kilometres from Reykjavik to Langjökull, so it’s around a two or two-and-a-half-hour drive, depending on weather conditions. Most people access Langjökull from Húsafell, on the small 518 road, or visit the glacier from Gullfoss waterfall.

How to get to Langjökull?

The two main highland tracks that connect the north and south of Iceland run alongside Langjökull. In summer, you can drive here yourself as long as you don’t mind a bit of adventure – the tracks are narrow and gravel in places. Outside of the summer months, it is best to join an organised tour to Langjökull as unpredictable weather can affect the condition of the road and a 4x4 is essential to reach the glacier. Reykjavik Excursions run a number of tours leaving from Reykjavik to experience Langjökull up close.

Discover the arctic white world of Iceland’s glaciers


langjokull 2

Dating back thousands of years, Iceland’s glaciers have witnessed volcanic eruptions and a changing landscape of lava fields and rugged mountains. They creak and groan, creeping forward or receding by a few inches every year. From the biggest, longest and prettiest ice caps, check out our guide to Iceland’s glaciers.


What is there to do at Langjökull glacier?

With such a vast surface, Langjökull hides many secrets in its icy caverns and frozen chasms. Perhaps one of the most famous attractions is the man-made ice cave which, unlike most of Iceland’s other ice caves, can be accessed year-round. It’s the world’s largest man-made ice tunnel and hiking through it, you’ll be surrounded by a sleek blue arctic world, like a waking dream. There are plenty of ways to discover this enthralling natural wonder. Those that seek a little adrenaline rush can try snowmobiling across the glacier’s winter wonderland landscape. Alternatively, you can traipse across Langjökull’s icy surface in a monster truck and get out and walk around, admiring the scenery from atop this seemingly endless ice sheet.

Frequently asked questions about Langjökull glacier

- How far is Langjökull glacier from Reykjavík?

Around 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the capital, you can reach Langjökull in around two or two and a half hours by car. Buses and organised tours run from Reykjavik and a popular way to experience the glacier is to include it on a Golden Circle day trip from the city.

- Can you drive to Langjökull glacier?

Two highland tracks pass by Langjökull glacier, and you can navigate there yourself if you wish. During the summer months, the roads are easiest to pass and in early spring, late autumn and winter, having a 4x4 is essential as the tracks are gravel in places and can be badly affected by snow, rain and frost. Outside of the summer months, it may be best to join an organised tour to Langjökull.

- Can you go to Langjökull glacier by yourself?

It is possible to drive to Langjökull and explore the glaciers by yourself, but it is not really advisable. The terrain can be harsh and the weather unpredictable. There are many hidden sinkholes atop the glacier so walking with a guide who knows which paths to follow, or joining a monster truck ride or snowmobile adventure is the best way to stay safe on the glacier.

- Can you walk on Langjökull glacier?

Langjökull is a popular spot for hiking and skiing, as well as snowmobiling. You can walk through the man-made ice cave and embark on a glacier hike if you want to set foot on the icy surface. Crampons, pickaxes and helmets are essential equipment for any glacier hike, along with sturdy, waterproof walking boots. As we’ve already mentioned, there can be hidden sinkholes and chasms beneath the snowy surface of the glacier, so embarking on a hike with a professional guide is advised, rather than setting off onto the glacier yourself.

- How old is Langjökull glacier?

Langjökull is thousands of years old and has changed form and shape over the millenia. The eastern part of Langjökull lies in the Kjalhraun lava field, which was formed about 7,800 years ago.

- How large is Langjökull glacier?

At its thickest point, the ice is 580 metres (around 1,902 feet) wide and the surface area stretches to a vast 935 square kilometres (361 square miles). The largest recorded surface area of Langjökull was in 1840, and it is constantly reducing in size every year.

How to include Langjökull on your Golden Circle adventure


langjokull 3

Iceland’s Golden Circle is a route that covers three of the biggest natural wonders the island has to offer – Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. From Gullfoss, you can head onwards to Langjökull for a hike or snowmobile expedition. For more information on the Golden Circle, check out our ultimate guide to the Golden Circle.


Attractions near Langjökull glacier

As the surface area of the glacier is so vast – stretching for kilometres of land – there are plenty of places and attractions close to the edge of the ice cap.

West of Langjökull

Húsafell

A little hamlet amidst the volcanic hills in the wilderness of west Iceland, Húsafell is one of the most popular spots to access Langjökull. Those that want to stay near the glacier can take advantage of the camping sites, cabins and even five-star hotel here. Snowmobiling adventures and monster truck trips leave from Húsafell and onto the ice sheet.

Hraunfossar Waterfalls

Iceland’s widest series of waterfalls, Hraunfossar is a spectacular sight. Trickles of water sprout over the black volcanic rocks and into a rushing, milky-blue river. Hraunfossar can be translated as “lava falls” and the scene looks like the meeting spot of fae folk amidst the ethereal landscape. The Hvíta River is fed by meltwater from Langjökull, giving it that shimmering blue colour that glows in the sunlight.

Barnafossar Waterfalls

The Barnafossar waterfalls occur at a point where the Hvíta River flows through a narrow, rocky chute. The effect is a dramatic tumbling waterfall that looks and sounds like extreme river rapids. A natural stone bridge frames the falls, making it a prime spot for photographs. Barnafossar is along the same walking trail as the Hraunfossar falls, so you can easily see both on the same visit.

Krauma natural geothermal baths & spa

Outdoor bathing in geothermal hot springs is deeply ingrained in Icelandic tradition, and the closest place to Langjökull to experience this is at Krauma natural geothermal baths and spa. Here, you can indulge in a soak in an outdoor bath heated by Europe’s most powerful hot spring – Deildartunguhver. As well as five relaxing geothermally heated pools, there’s a cold pool for plunging into to get the circulation flowing, two saunas and a relaxation room set around a suspended wood-burning stove. It’s the perfect way to warm up and unwind after a day on the ice.

South of Langjökull

Geysir geothermal area

One of the major stops on the Golden Circle Route, Geysir geothermal area is where the earth bubbles and spits as boiling hot pools and geysers simmer with life. The major attraction – Strokkur – is a geyser that erupts every ten minutes or so with a huge jet of boiling water leaping into the air.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Perhaps Iceland’s mightiest waterfall, Gullfoss is another of the main attractions along the Golden Circle. We’ve covered everything you need to know about Gullfoss. It’s a popular access point to Langjökull glacier too. After you’ve seen the thundering falls cascading into a deep ravine from the look-out spot, you could join a snowmobiling or monster truck adventure out onto the ice.

Tours to Langjökull glacier

As we’ve mentioned, exploring Langjökull glacier yourself can be a hassle to get to, and a hike onto the ice is best done accompanied by a guide who knows the best and safest routes. Reykjavik Excursions run a series of tours that include an experience on Langjökull.

Perhaps you’ve seen the photographs – people standing in a sleek, blue tunnel of pure ice that seems to glow on all sides. You can experience walking through an ice cave yourself at Langjökull’s man-made tunnel, which remains open throughout the entire year.

Those seeking a little more adventure can embark on a snowmobile session on Langjökull as part of a Golden Circle tour. Shooting across the snowy plateau is like crossing a vast white desert, and is not an experience you’ll soon forget. Or, opt for a monster truck ride out on the glacier. Watch the scenery change around you, from the lunar grey valley to a world of arctic whiteness, as the huge truck creeps onto the ice sheet. If the weather allows, this tour includes a walk in the ice cave.

langjokull 10

If you prefer to do things under your own stream, the glorious glaciers and Northern Lights self drive might be the option for you. This 8-day itinerary guides you past Iceland’s biggest and most dramatic glaciers – Vatnajökull, Eyjafjallajökull and, of course, Langjökull. It takes in the Golden Circle, the wonders of the South Coast and the lesser-explored western peninsula of Iceland, stopping at plummeting waterfalls, glacier lagoons and black-sanded beaches.

Overall, being so vast and (as the name suggests) long, there are many ways to discover Langjökull glacier. Its close proximity to Reykjavik and Gullfoss waterfall makes it a popular spot for glacier hikes, snowmobiling and skiing and there are plenty of tours to visit Langjökull glacier in Iceland to choose from. All that’s left to do is pick the experience that suits you, and you can explore the wonder of Iceland’s second largest glacier yourself.

Blogg

Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira. Bloggið okkar er á ensku en það er stórskemmtilegt engu að síður!

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Lesa blogg