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You are here : Home > Iceland Travel Guide > Southern Iceland > Vatnajokull

Your Trip to Vatnajokull

Photo of the Vatnajokull Glacier

South of the imposing Oraefajokull mountain range, the enormous stratovolcano, Vatnajökull weighs in as the largest glacier in Europe. Its peak, Hvannadalshnukur, is at 2119 metres in altitude. Dominating the Vatnajokull National Park (Iceland's largest covering 11% of its territory), the views from the heights of Vatnajokull are unlike anywhere else on earth! Your eye follows the volcanic terrain all the way out to sea in one of Iceland's most spectacular settings: Vatnajokull Park Website

Fires under the Ice

The enormous glacier has several active volcanoes lying under it, which explain the presence in the region of many subglacier lakes. When the volcanoes erupt, they set off a series of phreatic explosions under the ice. The resulting pressure causes a yield in parts of the glacier that causes a cataclysmic rise in water level. Pouring into the Skeidara glacial river, this wave of tremendous force is called "jokulhlaup" and destroys everything in its way. Once the phenomenon is over, all that is left of the Skeidara plain is a vast expanse of sand and fluvio-glacier debris: the sandar. This gives the site its name, Skeidararsandur. The last jokulhlaup was in 1996 when Grimsvotn, one of Iceland's most active volcanoes erupted. Given the area's high volcanic activity and global warming, it is estimated that Vatnajökull could be gone within the next 100 years. Rush over now as it has already been receding by a few meters each year for the past ten years!

Hiking around Vatnajokull

- The Vatnajokull Natural Park is Iceland's largest (covering 11% of its territory) and it offers a variety of excursions for every level of experience and physical fitness. You can walk serenely for 2 to 3 hours across some of the glacial mountain's most spectacular landscapes. More intrepid travellers will go on a 10 to 15 hour hike to the top of Hvannadalshnukur!

- The savage beauty and natural diversity of the area allow you to benefit from a wide selection fo outdoor activities: kayaking, swimming, fishing, biking, jeep safaris or in winter on snowmobiles or being pulled by dogsleds etc.
Discover our trek around Vatnajokull: Trek Vatnajokull

- Directly south of Vatnajökull, discover the fabulous Jökulsárlón, Iceland's biggest glacial lagoon. A haven of light and purity, explore the surrounding natural park, and its caves of ice. Two other glacial lakes are worth taking a detour to see, Fjallsarlon and Breidarlon.
Discover our southern Iceland day tour: Jokulsarlon Day Trip

Practical Information

- To make the most of your visit to Vatnajokull, have one of our guides accompany you. We will also supply you with the equipment you will be needing depending on the activity you choose (Ice shoes, etc.).

- Peculiarly, the region around Vatnajokull is warmer, more humid and windier than in the rest of the country.

- From Reykjavik, the glacier is accessible on the circular route1, from Skaftafell (326 km).

To start planning your Vatnajökull tour, contact us now! Contact

Read more about Southern Iceland:  
Landmannalaugar | Hekla | Westman Islands | Vatnajokull | Jokulsarlon | Thorsmork | Skaftafell | Skogar | Vik | Ice Climb

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