5 things you want to know before booking an Ice cave tour in Iceland in 2023
Table of Contents
- 5 things you want to know before booking an Ice cave tour in Iceland in 2023
- 1. Where can I see a naturally made blue Ice cave?
- 2. What would be the optimal time to see the Ice cave?
- 3. Where should I book my accommodation before the Ice cave tour?
- 4. If I am a photographer and want to get the best Ice cave photos possible?
- 5. Weather and traveling in the wintertime in Iceland.
If you are traveling to Iceland in the wintertime then blue ice caves are something you don’t wanna miss. But there are many things you should think about before booking your Ice cave tour. In this article, we will list five things you should at least look at before making your decision and find out where, with whom, and if you want to visit the ice caves in Breiðarmerkurjökull.
1. Where can I see a naturally made blue Ice cave?
There are probably thousands of glacier ice caves in Iceland, most of which you can not visit due to their location or the condition inside and around the ice caves. Every year we have to find new caves due to the fast melting of the glacier which means that every ice cave is unique. The conditions in some areas are very good for ice caves there for they are often at similar locations.
We only know of three glaciers where there are active ice cave tours, Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Vatnajökull the largest glacier in Europe. In Langjökull you can see a man-made ice tunnel, Mýrdalsjökull has naturally made ice caves but due to a lot of volcanic ash in the ice, there is not much blue in it though you might find some blue ice.
In past years the best blue natural ice caves have been in Vatnajökull and most of them that have been accessible have been found in Breiðarmerkjurjökull which is a glacier outlet from Vatnajökull. Breiðarmerkurjökull is also known for Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (Jökulsárlón) where the ice carves into that lagoon and icebergs flotes on the lake and the diamond beach where you can see some glacier ice on the black sand.
We offer two options of ice cave tours from the Jökulsárlón parking lot.
Ice Cave – Adventures Dream – Includes Glacier Walk
Ice Cave – Inside Vatnajökull The largest Glacier of Europe
Summary: Best blue Ice cave tours are in Breiðarmerkurjökull / Vatnahjökull
2. What would be the optimal time to see the Ice cave?
The best time to visit the ice caves is during winter when it is getting colder. During summer, the water level rises usually too much and the glacier is melting faster and more possibility of collapsing in the caves. We always recommend going on a guided tour for visitors’ safety.
Most companies start their ice cave tours in November and usually end them at the end of March or the beginning of April. Some years it is possible to start sooner like this year (2022) our first departure is the 1st of October but that is more unusual.
If you want to stay away from the crowd
It can be hard to know when the best time is due to the popularity of these tours. It is not always about what month is best it’s also about the time of the tour. In our experience, the best dates are sometime from the 1st of November to December 10th and from the 10th of January to 25th.
If you are trying to stay away from the crowd you should try to stay away from Christmas time. from 15th of December to 10th of January. It can be very crowded and the bigger companies have many departure times so it is also harder for smaller companies like us to find good departure times.
The best departure time can be hard to find due to the popularity of the ice caves. The bigger companies have the most departure time and they also want to try to go as often as they can in the short daylights we have in Iceland in the winter.
So usually most companies depart their first tour from 9:00 to 10:00 and their second round from 13:00 – 14:00. What we would recommend is to depart from 11:00 to 12:00. The companies that depart at this time usually are smaller. We do our shorter Ice cave tours at 11:00.
If you choose to go on the longer tour you are doing a glacier hike also, then the timing to the ice cave is easier for the guide to control and they can try their best to be at the ice cave when there are fewer people in the ice cave
Summary: The best dates are November to December 10th and January 10th to 25th. The best departure time is between 11:00 and 12:00
3. Where should I book my accommodation before the Ice cave tour?
First, it is important to know where the Ice cave tour is departing from. Jökulsárlón (Glacier lagoon) is very popular, there you have many companies doing their tours, and we do as well. Even if Iceland is a small island the roads and conditions are not always the best and it can take a longer time to drive short distances. The weather can also be harsh in the winter, especially around Öræfi which is close to Jökulsárlón. This area is known for heavy winds and storms.
So our recommendation is always to stay close to the Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon). But it is not always easy to find a place to stay close by so booking a good time ahead can be crucial. We would also recommend visiting the Lobster/glacier town Hofn you can find very nice places to stay there and also very nice restaurants. Höfn is about 80 km east of Jökulsárlón.
4. If I am a photographer and want to get the best Ice cave photos possible?
This can sometimes be a tricky one. Begin by choosing the best dates and times that we recommended (we listed above) that might help you a lot. But our experience with photographers is that time is more important than anything else so a normal tour might not be the right choice for you.
Private tours are very likely to be the best option, you can take the time that you need and you can depart at the time that you want. We find that it is best to start around 7:00, then most normal departure times have not started yet and you have some time with no one or few other people (Other photographers). And if you are patient enough then you will always get the pictures you are looking for.
We would also recommend hiring a professional guide to go on the glacier because there are usually very nice spots that are even more beautiful than in the ice cave and if it is the blue colors you are looking for that glacier have some hidden gems that are even bluer than the Ice cave.
5. Weather and traveling in the wintertime in Iceland.
This is probably the most important thing you have to be sure of. The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable. Traveling to Jökulsárlón in the winter can be difficult especially if you want to let it fit your ice cave tour schedule. A bus is very likely not the best option as it will likely not fit the timing of your ice cave tour. So renting a car is often your best solution.
If you rent a car in the winter you have to be sure it is 4×4 because the road conditions are often snowy or slippery. If you add wind to that you need to have a very well-equipped car and good insurance. We can never recommend traveling if the weather and road conditions are bad. This is why we want you to stay close to the area of Jökulsárlón.
Always check these websites every day/morning for weather predictions and road conditions before you start your journey. We also recommend looking at the Safe Travel website and installing the app.
Road conditions: https://www.road.is/
Safe Travel: https://safetravel.is/ (Install the app on your phone)
- Choose where and what Ice cave tour you want to go on
- Pick the best dates possible and timing
- Check the location and book accommodations close to that area
- Photographers need to follow the guidelines very well if they want their perfect photo.
- If you travel by rental car always have a 4×4 and good insurance
- Most important always check the weather and road conditions before starting your travel.
Contact us if you have any questions we will always do our best to inform you in the best way we can
About the author
Sindri Ragnarsson: I am born and raised in Höfn the town of lobster and glaciers. I have been doing Ice cave tours in Breiðarmerkurjökull for the past 7 years and going into my 8th Ice cave season in 2023.
I am one of the owners of Glacier Trips (A small local and family-owned company)