Don’t let the name fool you; Iceland is surprisingly green during the summer. Moss covers the rubble, grass stains your hiking boots and flowers flourish alongside waterfalls. With a cold oceanic climate, Iceland might not get extremely warm during the summer (temperatures around 13 degrees are common), but it does allow for verdant vegetation.
However, no worries, if you came to Iceland to experience some actual ice, there are multiple go-to’s. So do pack that thick coat, slide into those woollen gloves, and cover those ears with fleece and yarn. We’re bringing you a variation of frosty fun thing to do during the Icelandic summer (and winter, I must note):
Seeing a glacier from afar is quite the sight already, isn’t it? Imagine being on one; hearing the ice softly crush beneath your feet, feel the snow sag a bit every step you take. A pair of good crampons and a fresh, clear mind are your basic necessities for glacier walking (an experienced guide is also essential). At first, hiking with crampons might feel a tad unnatural but you will quickly get used to the placement of your feet and the positioning of your legs, soon making it feel like any other hike, just with a beautifully unusual view along the way.
Hacking your pick into the ice with full strength is not quite the way to go about ice climbing, thankfully, as my chicken muscles would have never been able to get me to the top if that was the case. Ice climbing mostly requires technique, ‘it’s all in the swing’. Techniques well explained by your guide before elevating to new, glacial, heights. You are climbing up a vertical, ice wall, with a rope and ice picks for support. Eventually resulting in beautiful views and a feeling of invincibility.
Ice climbing tours often include some glacier walking, making it a fun mixture of both hiking and intensive physical activity.
The act of driving on ice seems quite mind boggling. Manoeuvring your way on a thick layer of snow and through the slippery glaze of the frigid ice, accelerating atop of bumps and cracks, high paced with adrenaline rushing. Your first time on a snowmobile might seem a bit daunting. Will I tip over, won’t it slide away? No need for concern, as these machines are built to keep you safe with their steady grip, their sturdy skis and wheeled slide trail. Of course, your body movement influences the smoothness of your ride, but clear instructions will guide you through your first time with ease. And trust me, after that first time you’re going to want to go more often. The speed, the rush, and the glacier’s scenery make for an unforgettable ride. Nothing quite like your daily commute.
My personal recommendation: if you don’t have to sit on the back (e.g. due to lack of a driver’s license or health issues), I would highly recommend to drive yourself. It might seem scary, it might seem rough, but honestly, driving it yourself is such a great add-on to the experience.
Man-made Glacier Caves
My first thought when walking into the glacier at Langjökull: this would make for such a cool bar (no pun intended). The tunnel underneath the glacier is man carved, a wide channel out of ice with led lights hidden in the walls; brightening up the path in shades of blue and white. The trail in the glacier is floor level and therefore accessible for a large audience, it’s safe to bring your nana as well as your five-year-old niece. You will be provided with crampons to put underneath your shoes to make for a steadier walk, but be sure to further mind your steps. After all, we’re still talking about walking on ice here. 🙂
Quite an odd experience to know you are literally surrounded by hundreds of years worth of ice and snow. You can even see the layer of ash from some major volcano eruptions caught in between the ice like a string of natural veins.
Helicopter Glacier Tours
Landing with a helicopter on a glacier? Sounds like something straight out of a Bond movie, doesn’t it? Guess what, you can totally pull a 007 and go for a helicopter tour above and around some of Iceland’s most beautiful and icy scenes. The aerial view gives a totally new magnitude to the landscape and allows you to really experience Iceland’s vastness. Some tours will fly you all the way to glaciers which are otherwise inaccessible by alternative means of transport. Quite a unique experience, to breathe in the fresh frosty air detached from the mass tourism, surrounded by the tranquil seclusion of the glacier.
Surely, these tours are stunning and seeing it from above it breathtaking, yet for those who want to experience the ice; feel the wind, touch the cold, and leave a temporary imprint, you can decide to add onto the helicopter tour with some of the previously described activities. Speeding on the icecap with a snowmobile (talking about going full James Bond), request a glacier walk or hear your voice echo during ice caving. If you’re looking for more action, Heliskiing tours are also available