Sólheimajökull Glacier: beautiful hikes of Iceland

Sólheimajökull Glacial Hike in the Golden Circle, Iceland

It’s no secret I love a hike, few things can beat fresh air and stunning panoramic views. So when I was offered the chance to hike up a glacier hike on my Golden Circle Tour I jumped at the opportunity. 

Although our tour was run by G Adventures, the Glacier Hike experience was hosted by Arctic Adventures. The original plan was to hike Sólheimajökull in the morning and explore the waterfalls in the afternoon. But what became a common theme in Iceland was the weather had different plans and decided to block the road. We were all a bit tense as we took in the sights that day. One of our other activities, a tour of the lava caves, had already been cancelled due to blocked roads. Luckily in our coach after Skogafoss, we were given the go ahead to make our way to the glacier. 

The landscape of Sólheimajökull

The name Sólheimajökull means “home of the Sun Glacier”. Sólheimajökull glacier is located on the south coast of Iceland. It’s one of the most accessible glaciers from Reykjavik just 98 miles away. The glaciers size is about 5 miles long and just over a mile wide.

Lying below its thick surface is one of the country’s most infamous volcanoes, Katla. Katla is Iceland’s biggest volcano and one of the largest in the world. Despite that, there’s no need to worry. It’s been over 100 years since it last had a big eruption, with only small ones registered since. Many believe that it is now extinct, whilst others believe it may be reaching boiling point and due to erupt, very appropriate considering that the name Katla actually means Kettle.

Although you are free to visit by yourself if you have rented a car, you cannot hike the glacier unless you are part of a guided tour such as the ones provided by Arctic Adventures. 

Gearing up for the hike up Sólheimajökull

The wind that had been battering us all day had completely stopped by the time we had parked the coach. We were joined by our guide, Gaia, for the hike who helped us get into our safety gear. I got myself outfitted with better crampons with deeper spikes and an ice axe for support. I was also put in a harness that’s purpose still eludes me as we were never attached to a rope. I’m sure there was a practical reason but I’m convinced it was to add to the adventure feel. Not that the day needed it, even the view from the car park was stunning.

Solheimjokull Kamoot Hike

Arriving at the base of Sólheimajökull

The route you take depends on the weather and day. Most likely you will be taken through the viewpoint which is the furthest you can go without a guide. It was here we started our descent to the very bottom of the glacier. When I visited Iceland it was February time, as far as I could see the landscape was covered in a blanket of snow. Regularly the snow gave way beneath my feet, sinking me down to my knees or sometimes just below the waist. As we started our ascent up the glacier I was thankful for my crampons, stopping me from sliding down the snow and giving that extra grip whenever we climbed down. We were given different walking styles depending on if we were walking on an incline or decline, my favourite was the “angry cowboy” a wide stomping walk to give more grip going down. 

As glaciers move, the views are changing as frequently as the weather. I was blessed with snow-capped peaks and clear skies during my visit to Sólheimajökull. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the glacier is currently retreating. It is predicted that as quickly as 100 – 200 years time the glacier will have virtually disappeared. 

Sólheimajökull Glacial Hike in the Golden Circle, Iceland
Solheimjokull Glacial Hike

Embracing the views

We spent the next few hours climbing up the glacier. I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing group for my tour of the Golden Circle, in high spirits we were singing (badly) as we hiked with the encouragement of our guide. We would stop frequently as we climbed so that Gaia could talk to us about where we were standing and its history. Every stop offered a unique and incredible view, I was gutted my camera decided to die but sometimes it’s nice to put technology down and just enjoy the moment. One of my favourite moments was stopping to wonder at the glacial ice that wasn’t covered by the snow, it was a deep, clear blue, unlike anything you would see in your cocktail glasses. 

After admiring the ice and hearing about how it’s formed, immediately the question that our tour group posed to Gaia was “would our tongues stick to it if we licked it” For the record, the answer is not if you’re quick and it tastes salty. 

The peak of our hike

The final stop on our tour and the highlight had to be when we reached our highest point. The view from here was breathtaking. I’m so thankful we hiked in the afternoon, as watching the sun lowering towards the horizon was a unforgetable view. We all posed for photos and the mandatory group pic. One of the girls had bought some wine in her spare water bottle so we shared a swig. I love a little drink as a reward after a good hike. No need to go crazy but a rewarding sip goes perfectly with an incredible view.  

Reluctantly we made our way back down the glacier and to the car park, we were still singing and laughing, occasionally playing noughts and crosses in the snow when we had to pause and let those at the back catch up from stopping to take selfies. It was clear we didn’t want to leave but all good things must come to an end. As beautiful as the snow was, it did mean a few of our planned excursions got cancelled, but I didn’t mind missing those for the fact that I got to spend time in perfect weather on Sólheimajökull. 

Sólheimajökull Glacier FAQs

How can I book a guided hike?

If you would like to book your own guided hike up Sólheimajökull, you can do so from the link below through Get Your Guide. It costs you no extra to book through the link, but I do receive a small commsion which helps support me in creating future content.

Where is Sólheimajökull?

Sólheimajökull is located 98 miles from Reykjavik, providing the weather is good it will take a 2-hour drive to get there.

Can Arctic Adventures provide transport from Reykjavik?

They do but you need to specify you need this at checkout, otherwise they will assume you will be making your own way.

Is parking free?

Yes, parking is free here if you choose to drive yourself.

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