The ice caves of Iceland: the complete guide

ice caves in iceland

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Being a country with the largest and most imposing glaciers in Europe, ice caves of Iceland are one of the most spectacular and incredible attractions you will see there.

The ice caves in Iceland are a natural phenomenon that will leave you speechless. For this reason, you can not miss the wonderful experience of visiting these natural attractions. If you want to visit the caves you must make the trip to Iceland in winter, since it is in this season when these formations make their appearance.

But don’t worry if you don’t know which caves to visit, because in this post we bring you a complete guide with the best caves you will find in Iceland.

What is an ice cave?

Ice caves are formations that originate in the glacial ice during the winter seasons. The meltwater flows through the glaciers and forms these majestic caverns.

Difference between an ice cave and a glacier cave

But first of all : an ice cave is not the same as a glacier cave. Many people get confused about this part. This is essential when it comes to hiring tours to go on excursions to the caves.

While ice caves, in general, are natural caves that have some (or a lot) of ice inside them, they do not necessarily have to be completely made of ice. In In fact, their bottom is usually made of rock, and it is the upper part that contains the ice, which may be ice from a glacier. On the other hand, glacial caves are those that are formed entirely in the glaciers themselves, so they are completely made of ice.

In addition, another thing to keep in mind with ice caves and glacier caves, is that in Iceland, they change from one season to another as glaciers move throughout the year, and with them can move or modify the caves that are generated inside or around them. That is to say, caves that were visited years ago may not exist or may not be visitable today because of these glacial dynamics.

Now, let’s go to the most famous caves in Iceland:

Blue Ice Cave

One of the best places in Iceland to visit the blue ice caves is the Vatnajökull glacier. This is considered the largest glacier in Europe and is located in the southeast of the country.

Why are they blue? Well, because the density and thickness of the ice makes that only this color of light is filtered, so it is the color that predominates inside the caves.

vatnajokull ice cave

However, not all ice caves in Iceland are blue. For example, in the caves below the Katla volcano, the ice is black.

The most valued blue ice caves are usually located on the Brei√įamerkurj√∂kull glacier tongue. In this tongue of the Vatnaj√∂kull glacier icebergs have broken off giving rise to the well-known glacial lagoon of J√∂kuls√°rl√≥n, another of the most impressive places in Iceland.

If you want to visit these caves, here we leave you the best option to visit the blue ice cave of Iceland.

Katla Ice Cave

The Katla ice cave is located in the lower part of the volcano that bears the same name and is one of the most powerful in southern Iceland. One of the most remarkable features of the cave is the black color of the ice that is due to the volcanic ash that emanated from the volcano.

katla ice cave

Another characteristic that makes this cave stand out is that it does not disappear in summer. Usually, entering a cave in summer is not safe, since there is melting of the glaciers. But Katla cave due to its location is safe all year round. So if you are planning a summer trip to Iceland, this cave can be an ideal place to go on an excursion.

Excursions to this cave are more accessible from Reykjavik, as the route is shorter than the one to reach Vatnajökull.

Sapphire Ice Cave

Sapphire Ice Cave is a large cave with blue ice, formed by a subglacial channel (a river under the glacier), which makes the cave change somewhat less than the rest of ice caves in Iceland.

sappire blue ice cave

It is located on the Brei√įamerkurj√∂kull glacier near the J√∂kuls√°rl√≥n Lagoon. Just like the other ice caves in Iceland, it will surely not leave you indifferent thanks to its stunning blue colors and its surrounding small caves that can also be visited. Therefore, this is another ideal place to go hiking in this winter season in Iceland.

Ice cave at Skaftafell

Skaftafell is a nature reserve located in the southeast of Iceland. This natural park is located within the Vatnajökull National Park. Within the Skaftafell park is an incredible ice cave with the same name.

Skaftafell cave is located on the Svinafelljökull glacier tongue and has a feature that, although shared with some other caves in Iceland (such as the blue caves), sets it apart from most. The glacial ice has been so compressed that it has virtually no air bubbles, so, unlike other caves, it absorbs sunlight except in the blue spectrum, producing a striking blue glow inside the cave.

Langjökull Ice Cave

The Langjökull glacier is considered the second largest glacier in Iceland. On this glacier you can also find ice caves every season, which are usually black in color. In addition, artificial ice tunnels are famous on this glacier.

One of the advantages of visiting an ice cave on this glacier is that it is located close to Reykjavik. This allows you to visit the glacier and at the same time add a tour of the Golden Circle and the south coast of Iceland in a super jeep.

With this guide you now know which are the most important and beautiful ice caves to visit in Iceland. We hope that, if during this winter you have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, do not miss the opportunity to make an excursion to the ice caves in Iceland to surprise you with their shapes and colors, we are sure that they will not leave you indifferent.


Journalist and traveler. Laura has traveled around Iceland several times and is in love with its nature, especially the northern lights. She loves the cold, the icebergs and says that at some point she will move to the land of ice. For now she tells us about her adventures traveling around the island.

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