5 Epic Glacier Hiking Tours in Europe

Ana RosbergAugust 28, 2019

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk on large expanses of ice and discover the most unexplored places in the mountains? Then glacier hiking might just be the perfect outdoor adventure for you.

Glaciers are mysterious geological formations, large bodies of ice that move over long periods of time. They are formed in places where there is year-round snow that doesn’t melt. Depending on geological and geographical characteristics, each has its own unique features including ice caves, crevices, natural ice sculptures and more.

Glacier hiking is the perfect way to explore these stunning remote regions covered in ice. With specialized equipment such as helmets, crampons, ice-axes, ropes, carabiners and more, and of course, the proper guidance, discovering these mysterious ice giants and experiencing their unique landscapes and terrain is now possible for everyone.  

The best time of the year to go glacier hiking is during the summer. During the winter, accessibility and safety make glacier hiking a lot more difficult, and although spring and autumn are also options, they can be volatile in terms of climatic conditions too. In Europe, the best months for glacier hiking are from June to September. So, what are the best spots? Read on to find out, at Explore-Share.com we’ve picked our favorite 5 places to enjoy a glacier trek in Europe, and we want to share them with you.

1. Sólheimajökull glacier, Iceland

 

Glacier hiking
Photo courtesy of Asgard Beyond

Of course, Iceland caps off the list. This awe-inspiring country in the North Atlantic lies just a few degrees south of the Arctic circle and boasts 269 named glaciers with a wide variety of features. The Sólheimajökull glacier is one of the most popular due to its accessibility. This breathtaking ice giant is an outlet glacier of Mýrdalsjökull and is located atop the caldera of the Katla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes in the south of the country, just a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík.

Not only is Sólheimajökull stunning, but it also offers glacier hiking and ice climbing options for both beginners and more experienced adventurers. Therefore, it is an all-round top choice for glacier hiking in Europe.


Discover the Sólheimajökull glacier on a 1-day ice-climbing and glacier trekking adventure near Reykjavik!


2. Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland

 

aletschgletscher

 

The largest glacier in the Alps is another top spot in Europe for glacier hiking, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. The Aletsch Glacier is located in Switzerland, between Bern and Valais in the Bernese Alps, and features four smaller glaciers that come together in Concordia Place just south of Jungfrau. This great expanse of ice is 23 km long and has a surface area of 81.7 km2.  Additionally, it is surrounded by the highest peaks in the region, including Jungfrau and Monch to the north, Gross Fiescherhorn and Gross Wannenhorn to the east, and Aletschhorn to the west.

The Aletsch Glacier poses an intermediate-level challenge for glacier climbers. A good fitness level is important, and going with a certified guide a must to ensure safety. Furthermore, as with all glacier hikes, it is important to carry the proper equipment. On that note, one of the great things about the Alps is that equipment rental is readily available, just another reason to love Aletsch, as well as its easy access.


Would you like to try glacier trekking on the largest glacier in the Alps? Then join this 1-day glacier hike on the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland!


3. Mer de Glace, France

 

Glacier hiking
Photo courtesy of Mihnea Prundeanu

After Aletsch, Mer de Glace, which translates to “sea of ice”, is the second-largest glacier in the Alps and the largest in France. This majestic ice-field is located to the north of the Mont Blanc Massif and surrounded by iconic peaks including L’Aiguille VerteL’Aiguille du Dru, and Les Grandes Jorasses.

Furthermore, during the summer, this is a dry glacier, which means that there is no snow on it and makes it safer to explore. Of course, this does not mean that it doesn’t require adequate equipment, technique, and proper guidance. But it does mean that it is a great place to start out with glacier hiking if you haven’t tried it before. Glacier lakes, ice caves, and crevasses are all part of the program!

You can read more about a glacier-hiking experience in Mer de Glace here and learn all the details.


Would you like to try your hand at glacier hiking? Then book your place on this full-day glacier trek for beginners in Chamonix!


4. Steindalsbreen, Norway

 

With 1,600 glaciers, Norway is another glacier hotspot in Europe. Many of these glaciers are located in the Lyngen Alps in the north of Norway, and among them is the breathtaking Steindalsbreen glacier. Stunning canyons, waterfalls, blue pools, and natural ice-sculptures make up the landscapes of this ice-giant and are sure to take your breath away. Additionally, some parts of the Steindalsbreen Glacier are over 8,000 years old. This makes it a unique geological landmark with many layers of history.

Glacier hiking in Steindalsbreen is recommended for intermediate hikers. A good fitness level is necessary, and going with a certified guide is a must.


Ready for a unique outdoor adventure in Norway? Then book your place on this 1-day glacier hiking trip in the Steindalsbreen Glacier in the Lyngen Alps!


5. Zinal Glacier, Switzerland

 

Glacier hiking
Photo courtesy of Pascale Haegler

Located in the Pennine Alps, in Valais, The Zinal Glacier is a stunning spot for glacier hiking. It is 7 km long and boasts a surface area of 15.4 km2. It is formed at the junction of the Grand Cornier, Durant, and Mountet glaciers, and gives birth to the Navisence river. Glacier hiking in this breathtaking location will allow you to enjoy a thrilling adventure as well as discover ice caves and truly awe-inspiring landscapes.

Hiking in the Zinal Glacier requires some prior experience and a good fitness level. Going with a certified guide is the best way to ensure your safety.


Ready for a unique adventure in the mountains? Then book your place on a guided glacier hiking tour on the Zinal Glacier in the Swiss Alps!


 

glacier hiking
Photo courtesy of Asgard Beyond.

 

Glacier hiking is a unique experience that allows you to catch sight of awe-inspiring icescapes and explore magical places in the heart of the mountains. These geological and geographical ice-giants pose an interesting challenge that can be easily tackled with the correct equipment and proper guidance. If you’re tired of the crowded beaches and ready to try something new this summer, then glacier hiking might just be the perfect thing for you!

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