In the Land of Fire and Ice, glaciers can be found all over the country. And these guys are incredible places to visit. Not just because of the magnitude of their size, interesting natural phenomena they have such as ice caves and ice formations, and the impact they have on their environment and surroundings, but also because of the myriad of exciting activities one can do on these glaciers. One of these glaciers is Langjökull Glacier.
If it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of this glacier, or you’re planning an upcoming trip to Iceland, then this article is for you. We give you the lowdown on this icy giant, what to expect from your visit, and how to make the most of your trip.
What Makes Langjökull Glacier So Special?
Langjökull Glacier translates to ‘Long Glacier’ and they definitely weren’t kidding. It is the second-largest glacier in Iceland and covers an astounding 935 square kilometers of land. At its highest point, it clocks in at about 1450 meters above sea level and the ice can get up to 580 meters thick.
This icy landscape with its crevasses, ice caves, and ice formations is something that needs to be experienced to truly understand what breathtaking and otherworldly terrain it is. It’s also interesting to note that without Langjökull Glacier, there probably wouldn’t have been a popular Golden Circle route.
That’s because none of the most famous sights and attractions that make the Golden Circle such a must-drive route would’ve existed. It is the melting ice of the glacier that makes them possible!
Where is Langjökull Glacier in Iceland?
Langjökull Glacier can be found in the western region of the island, in the Icelandic Highlands. The nearest town is the capital city of Reykjavík,150 kilometers or a 2 to 2.5-hour drive away.
How Do I Get to Langjökull Glacier?
Most visitors get to Langjökull Glacier in one of two ways:
By Taking a Guided Tour
You will find plenty of experienced guides just itching to show you around Langjökull Glacier, and there are many tour operators that offer tours with Langjökull as a destination. Some of these tours can be dedicated day trips, whilst others are combo tours or even multi-day tours that include a number of local attractions, including Langjökull.
It's important to note that most exploration of and activities at Langjökull Glacier can only be done on a Guided tour due to safety concerns. Whether you choose a tour that departs from one of the cities or towns, or drive to the glacier yourself and join a tour on location remains your prerogative.
By Taking a Self-drive
We will always advocate for a self-drive since it's the best way to explore the island according to your time schedule and your own itinerary. Getting to Langjökull Glacier with your own transport is pretty easy. If you're coming from the direction of Reykjavik, just head north on Route 1 towards Borgarnes. Then take Route 50 till you reach Route 518 which will take you to Husafell.
The west access is near Husafell. This route is open all year round. In the summer months, you also have the option of taking the scenic route via the mountains on Route 550. You can drive this route by turning right onto Route 550 when driving on Route 518.
This road will take you to Kaki base camp. Whilst it’s easy to turn Langjökull Glacier into a day trip during the summer months with its long daylight hours, we would suggest that you take on the popular road trip route, the Golden Circle, and simply make Langjökull one of the stops along the way.
Also, keep in mind that even though you can drive yourself to Langjökull at your own time and pace, you'll still need to book a spot on a tour to actually get onto the glacier and partake in the myriad of activities it offers.
When is the Best Time to Visit Langjökull Glacier?
It may sound counterintuitive, but Langjökull Glacier is open to the public all year round – yes, even throughout the warmer months on the island, when the majority of the ice caves are closed. During the summer months in Iceland you also have the added benefit of taking the scenic route as described above.
We do, however, recommend that you book your spot on the tours well in advance, as the summer season can get very busy here on the island. A glacier is probably the one place where the winter weather is a benefit, but this obviously does not include weather conditions such as blizzards, so keep an eye on the Icelandic weather forecast before heading out.
Can you Visit Langjökull Glacier on Your Own?
You can drive to Langjökull and admire the view by yourself, but if you want to do any form of exploring on the glacier or partake in any of the activities, you will need to have an experienced and knowledgeable guide at the helm. This is for your own safety.
Things to Do at Langjökull Glacier & Surroundings
There's a good reason why most prefer doing a Golden Circle road trip - there's a legion of things to do and see at Langjökull and its surroundings. These include:
Snowmobiling across Langjökull
Exploring the ice caves
Vidgelmir Lava Cave
Where to Stay Near Langjökull Glacier
Whether you’ve decided to stay over for a night or two or this is a stop along your road trip, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options to choose from. The following come highly recommended:
Is Langjökull Glacier Worth Visiting?
Most definitely! Ticking off the second-largest glacier in Iceland is a definite must, and to experience even just a few of the natural wonders and amazing activities it has to offer will leave you with incredible lifetime memories.
Once again, we recommend that you rent a car in Iceland and take on the Golden Circle as a road trip, which will include Langjökull as a stop along the way. This way, you’ll be cruising the magnificent landscape of the Land of Fire and Ice and seeing and doing some of the best things the island has to offer.