Ice Cave Tours
What is the difference between natural and manmade ice caves?
Natural ice caves are formed through the normal melt-freeze cycles of the glaciers. Each year during the warmer months, melting water drips into the glacier through cracks and creates caverns (or enlarges existing ones). When it gets colder, the walls of the caverns freeze up, making them safe to visit and explore during the winter! Find out more about these amazing natural wonders here. A manmade ice cave, on the other hand, (like the “Into the Glacier” experience in Langjökull) is designed and carved by people.
What is the Crystal Ice Cave?
Many caves are unofficially referred to as “blue ice caves” or “crystal ice caves,” but then there's THE Crystal Ice Cave. It's become pretty famous, and once you've seen it, you'll understand why! Located in the Vatnajökull glacier, this large ice cave presents you with seemingly endless variations on blue: from gentle turquoise reminiscent of the Caribbean to deep, dark navies, and many shades in between. The cave first appeared in 2011, and although it's changed a bit each year due to the natural cycles, it's always stunning. Many of the tours visit this cave, but only in the late autumn, winter, and early spring. It's not safe to enter during the warmer months.
Where can I tour the ice caves?
There are incredible ice caves in many of Iceland's glaciers, and each year local pros head out to inspect the known caves, make sure they're still safe to visit, and scout for newly formed ones! The caves that tours usually visit are located in Vatnajökull, (Europe's largest glacier) Langjökull, Myrdalsjökull, and Svinafellsjökull (an outlet of Vatnajökull). If you need help selecting the right ice cave tour for you, just reach out to us!
When can I visit the ice caves?
You can have an ice cave experience during any season in Iceland, but many of the natural ice caves can only be visited during the colder months, usually from November to March. An exception to the rule: the stunning natural blue ice cave near the Katla Volcano in the Kötlujökull Glacier, which you can visit all year long! You can also go “Into the Glacier” with a tour of the impressive manmade ice cave in Langjökull during every month of the year.
Can I visit the ice caves during christmas?
Tours to the ice caves run all winter, and most tour operators keep going through the Christmas holidays. Please see the booking sidebar on the page of the tour you're interested in to check availability for your preferred date.
Can I visit the ice caves in late October?
It really depends on the weather. Some years, it gets colder earlier and some of the ice caves are open for visits as early as late October. To play it safe, plan your natural ice cave visit for November or later. That's when the caves are sure to be frozen.
How can I be sure the ice caves are safe to enter?
Each year, glacier guides and experts inspect the caves before they're opened, to make sure they're structurally sound and able to handle the foot traffic. The only way to be 100% sure an ice cave is safe to enter is to go on a tour with a local glacier guide. They're very experienced at “reading” the ice, and will only take you where it's safe.
Please don't attempt to enter ice caves on your own, even during the winter. It only takes a moment for a disaster to strike—not worth the risk!
Will there be enough daylight to see the colors inside the caves during the winter?
Yes, your tour will enter the cave during the daylight hours, so you can “ooh” and “ahh” at all those stunning colors!
How much time will I get to spend in the cave?
Please see the main page for the tour you're interested in to find details like length of tour and time allotted for cave exploration.
Will I also get to hike on top of the glacier when I visit the ice caves?
On some ice cave tours, yes! Lots of our tour operators offer combo tours, where you'll get to explore the glacier from inside and out.
Will my tour be cancelled if it's raining?
Your tour probably won't be cancelled if it rains. Iceland's weather is unpredictable, and rain is very common, so most tours are “rain or shine.” If there's a severe storm or other circumstances that make a visit to the ice caves unsafe, your tour might be cancelled. In this case, you'll receive an email to alert you, and you'll be offered a refund or a chance to rebook your tour for a different day.
How should I dress for my ice cave tour?
You should plan to dress in warm layers, with a waterproof outer layer/shell like a rain slicker or windbreaker and waterproof pants. You want to be comfortable, and when you're inside a glacier that usually means warm clothing that lets you move. Don't skimp on the layers! You can always remove some if you're too warm. Sturdy hiking boots that cover your ankles are important, because you'll be attaching crampons so you don't slip on the ice.
Do I need any special equipment?
All the necessary safety equipment will be provided, like a helmet and crampons (metal spikes that attach to your boots and help you grip the ice while you walk).
Are there any age requirements for the ice cave tours?
It depends on which tour you choose; some tours allow children as young as 6 to visit the caves. Please see the main page for your specific tour to find the age requirements.
Can I visit the ice caves while pregnant?
If you're pregnant, the best thing to do is consult with your doctor about your trip and which activities are safe for you and baby. That being said, each of the tours has an approximate difficulty rating and a detailed description, which can be very helpful as you decide whether to take a tour while pregnant.