Svinafellsjokull Glacier: The Natural Wonder, Hiking Hot Spot & TV Star of Iceland

Svinafellsjokull Glacier

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

The Land of Fire and Ice is known for its breathtaking glaciers, offering all sorts of exciting activities. One of the favorites among them is Svinafellsjokull Glacier. This icy landscape has thousands crossing its frozen surfaces each year in various ways.

This article will tell you precisely what makes this glacier so impressive, everything there is to do and see at Svinafellsjokull, and how to plan the perfect glacier adventure. So, without further ado, let’s slide into everything there is to know about this incredible glacier in Iceland.

Unveiling the Beauty of Svinafellsjökull: A Glacial Oasis in Iceland

Although we refer to Svinafellsjokull as a glacier, it’s actually an outlet glacier of the biggest glacier in Iceland and all of Europe, Vatnajökull. Svinafellsjokull Glacier is 8 kilometers long and 800 meters wide, known for its breathtaking beauty and unique features.

It has all these strange formations and sharp ridges, and its height gives visitors magnificent panoramic views across Vatnajökull National Park with its forests, mountains, glaciers, and the ocean. Walking through this bright blue, icy landscape is also like being transported through time. Black streaks mark the ice, ash frozen in time, the remnants of volcanic eruptions through the ages.

svínafellsjökull glacier

Making a TV Screen Debut: Going North of the Wall at Svinafellsjokull Glacier in Iceland

Another reason Svinafellsjokull Glacier has become so popular is because it was featured on a famous TV series called Game of Thrones. If you rewatch Season 7, you will find many scenes “north of the wall” with Svinafellsjokull as the location.

This also includes the dramatic battle of the penultimate episode. Needless to say, you won’t find an actual wall here on Svinafellsjokull – that was 100% computer-generated. After the world discovered Svinafellsjokull’s star quality in Game of Thrones, it also appeared in the movie Interstellar.

Location and Accessibility: Finding Your Way to Svinafellsjökull's Glacial Wonderland

Svinafellsjokull can be found in Skaftafell National Park, which forms part of the greater Vatnajökull National Park today. The glacier is located in the Svinafell area in Iceland. It’s about a 4.5-hour drive from Reykjavik to the glacier, so we won’t recommend it as a day outing from the capital city.

The fact that it’s located conveniently close to one of our main roads and a popular route around the island, the Ring Road, makes it the perfect stop along an Iceland road trip. Driving to Svinafellsjokull Glacier is very easy. Simply get on the Ring Road from Reykjavik and start driving east. After about 4 hours, you will turn left onto Road 998. This road will take you straight to the parking lot of the glacier.

From there, it’s just a 1-kilometer walk to get up close and personal with this icy giant. Just keep in mind that you cannot actually traverse the glacier without the right gear and equipment, and we won’t recommend attempting to explore this frozen landscape without an experienced guide by your side.

So, most who want to take their Svinafellsjokull Glacier experience to the next level will book a spot on a tour. These tours can come in many forms. It can be part of a multi-day holiday package, a day tour from one of the cities or towns, or meets at the glacier itself. One can also arrange custom private tours with some of our tour operators and local guides.

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Unforgettable Excursions: Exploring the Enchanting Surroundings of Svinafellsjökull

You can explore Svinafellsjokull Glacier in a variety of exciting ways. You can go hiking across the glacier, ice climbing, or even exploring the nearby ice caves. However, these excursions cannot be done by yourself due to safety concerns, so you will have to book a spot on a guided tour. The following tours are some of the most popular and come highly recommended:

Picking the Right Moment: the Best Time to Visit Svinafellsjokull Glacier

When the best time to visit Svinafellsjokull Glacier will heavily depend on your personal preferences, and expectations. You will need to consider the following:

  • From May to October, the weather on the island is the mildest, and most prefer to do outdoor activities during this period.
  • If you want to visit the ice caves during your trip to the glacier, you must plan your trip between October and March. This is because most ice caves in Iceland are kept closed throughout the warmer months of the year because of safety concerns.
  • Wintertime is logically the best way to have icy adventures, but you also need to remember that our winters can be extremely cold with very harsh weather conditions. This can include blizzards and winds of 35+ kilometers an hour. You’ll need to be prepared for that.

svínafellsjökull glacier hike

Beyond Svinafellsjokull: Exploring the Surrounding Area

There are many more exciting things to do and see beyond the boundaries of the glacier. The following are a few things you can consider adding to your trip itinerary:

Svinafellsjokull Glacier: A Must-See for Any Iceland Adventurer

If you are an adventurer and explorer at heart, Svinafellsjokull should be a top priority for your Iceland trip itinerary. And with it so close to the Ring Road, we recommend renting a car in Reykjavík, going on a Ring Road road trip, and making the glacier one of your adventures along the way. And while in the area, don’t miss out on a few other gems you’ll find in the surrounding area, such as the ones we’ve mentioned in this article. 

You can also rest assured that our icy adventures don’t mean a frosty reception from locals. Icelanders are known for their friendly nature and will always be more than happy to lend a helping hand or give some local insight into how to make the most of your trip and your Svinafellsjokull Glacier experience.

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