Should you consider an Iceland glacier hike while vacationing there? If you’re going to go to the trouble of flying in from another continent to visit this magical place, then it’s worth at least spending a few minutes considering all the potential adventures available to you while you’re here. After all, when will you come back? You might fall in love with the place enough to make a return trip, but there’s always something to be said for seizing the moment, since you future vacations might be to other places you have yet to discover and enjoy for what they’re worth.

At first thought, you might consider glacier hikes in Iceland to be dangerous affairs. After glaciers are made up of ice and snow, so hiking on them would be covering slippery and treacherous terrain, right? It’s certainly possible. However, actually going out freestyle or into the actual wilderness is the most extreme form of glacier hiking possible. The outdoor enthusiast crowd might just be into that, and if you’re a member of this particular demographic, then passing up the chance to savor the landscape of Iceland might not be something you should do, particularly if you have the vigor, equipment, and skill to handle such an undertaking.

On the other hand, if you’re more looking for getting some exercise while on vacation, as a shift or break from the constant sitting that happens in airplanes, restaurants, and vehicles driving you around, there are many places in Iceland where you can do a glacier hike on a trail that is actually somewhat permanent. These are much safer to traverse, and at difficult points might even have steps and guardrails.

Also, in some locations, there might be something called a glacier trail that is actually just a trail on solid ground that gives great views of glaciers. If you’re looking for great photos and vistas to burn into your memory, this might be just the way to go to get some exercise.

Of course in all three cases, you can often find guided tours where experienced leaders organize the hikes. That can be great for many reasons. For starters, you head out with a group of people, so there is an immediate social aspect to it, on top of the safety in numbers. You’ll also be supervised by those that know how to handle such terrain and can either provide assistance or summon it immediately in the event of an accident or injury.

Iceland is far from the only place on the planet with glaciers, but it has a very high concentration of them. The placement of the nation in the North Atlantic means that its days are incredibly long in the summer season, so you can spend quite a few hours of the day witnessing the geographic glory of this fascinating place. While often listed as a European nation, it’s technically an above-water intersection of two tectonic plates, one for Europe and one for North America. You can even visit the gorge where this happens.

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Matthias Johannesson
Matthias is an Iceland resident and owner of Iceland Advice, a travel company based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Iceland Advice works with top tour operators in Iceland to provide unforgettable experiences.