If you’ve got an appetite for ice adventures amidst nature’s awe-inspiring backdrops, we’ve got a little something for you. Take your pick from these top 15 glacier hikes around the world and experience the ultimate adventure of walking on ice. What are you waiting for?
Embark on a glacier hiking expedition to experience the unique crystalline beauty of the world’s best glaciers.
1. Vatnajökull Glacier, Iceland
Vatnajökull in Iceland is Europe's largest and the world’s most beautiful glacier. With an average thickness of 400 m, the glacier covers an impressive 8,300 sq km area. Underneath this frozen beauty are valleys, mountains, plateaus as well as active volcanoes. A guided day trip to Vatnajökull National Park makes for an unforgettable experience of walking on ice. The glacier is punctuated by the beauty of the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon; a boat ride meddles past floating icebergs. There is an option to explore the area on a snowmobile. November to March is a good time to embark on an ice cave adventure revealing spellbinding beauty.
2. Snæfellsjökull Glacier, Iceland
Snæfellsjökull Glacier is another magnificent gem of Iceland. A day long guided hike to the summit of Snæfellsjökull, a towering 1,446 m stratovolcano, including a combination of a scenic drive and a five to eight hours long hike. You may even combine the glacier hike by exploring this Icelandic beauty on a snowmobile. Once atop, the panoramic views of the surrounding national park blanket the shades of blue below. This adventure can be further heightened with other fascinating adventures to indulge in Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
3. Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland
Aletsch Glacier in Valais, Switzerland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the longest glacier in Europe. A guided glacier hike, beginning from Bettmerhorn— the cable car mountain station, it includes a four-hours-long hiking. The rewarding hike is characterized by 32 snow-clad peaks, each 4,000 m tall, offering a splendid view of the crystal clear Märjelen lakes. The glacier hike is fairly easy and does not require prior experience. The best time to enjoy this glacier hike is from July to October.
4. Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is deemed as one of the most impressive sights world over. The valley was taken over by the glacier thousands of years ago. A walk along the sliver-white Waiho River takes you across the stunning waterfall called -Trident Falls. Further up, Split Apple rock lies on the valley floor near Champness Rock. The leisurely and informative journey can be tailored to suit the groups’ preference.
5. Athabasca Glacier, Canada
Hidden within the rugged landscape of the world famous Canadian Rockies is the magnificent Athabasca Glacier. The glacier spreads across Jasper National Park stretching into the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic highways in the world. The glacier is best enjoyed on an Ice Cubed Glacier adventure, a three hours guided walk along the lower portion of the Athabasca Glacier. The more adventurous ones can indulge in a full day tour exploring the vastness of this icy landscape. Icewalks are operational between May up to October.
6. Maligne Canyon Icewalk, Canada
The Maligne Canyon is the deepest accessible canyon in the Jasper National Park, Canada. Put on the warm winter boots and ice cleats provided to take onto the fascinating world of ice on this two-hour-long guided tour. The extensive underground system of caves decked with frozen waterfalls, natural ice sculptures and fossils, fissures, and more make for an interesting exploration. The more adventurous ones can also opt to climb the Maligne Canyon, for a truly exhilarating experience.
7. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina serves as the world's third largest reserve of fresh water. It is hence titled as the eighth wonder of the world. El Calafate is the gateway to reach this Icelandic wonder. Adventure enthusiast will enjoy the Big Ice Tour, a full day guided tour starting from Bajo de las Sombras Port and leading you to the centre of the Perito Moreno! You are sure to be enthralled as you witness the blue lagoons, deep cracks, giant drains and caves. Combine the glacier hike with an hour long boat ride to get up-close-and-personal with the imposing glacial wall.
8. Chadar Trek, Ladakh
Chadar, translates to a layer, signifying a sheet of ice that covers the Zanskar River in Ladakh, the cold desert of India. The Chadar trek attracts hikers from around the world and is graded as a difficult trek. The best time to undertake this trek is in the winter months of January or February. The strenuous trek is spread across nine days and involves 75 km of trekking. Walking over the frozen Zanskar River snaking through the barren landscape of Ladakh is truly captivating.
9. Mendenhall Glacier, United States
The capital city of Alaska, Juneau is home to the famous Mendenhall Glacier that flows for nearly 19 km from the Juneau Ice Field. Embark on this adventurous glacier trek via the West Glacier Trail. Marvel at naturally formed ice caves, sharp icicles and other glacier elements. This trek involves three and half miles of challenging glacier trekking suited for experienced hikers. An easier alternative is to reach the visitor centre facing the front side of the glacier. Here there are glaciology exhibits, a relief map of the ice field, an observatory and a theatre.
10. The Matterhorn Glacier, Switzerland
The Matterhorn Glacier is situated at the base of Zermatt in Switzerland. The 6.5 km Matterhorn Glacier Trail takes close enough to watch the melted water flowing through crevices. The route is dotted with plenty of lakes and unusual icy sculptures. The trail is marked by 23 information panels in German, English, French and Japanese. The crystal clear reflection of the magnificent Matterhorn in the lake of the Theodul glacier is awe-inspiring. Explore other things to do in Zermatt here.
11. Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan
Snaking through the mighty Karakoram mountain range of Himalayas, the 63 km long Baltoro Glacier is located in Baltistan region of Pakistan. It is the longest glacier in the world outside the polar region. The confluence of the Baltoro Glacier with Godwin Austen Glacier is called Concordia. The sight of the confluence is so awe-inspiring that it draws adventure seekers from afar to undertake a strenuous trek of about 20-22 days. The majestic K2, second highest mountain in the world can be seen on this trek.
12. Grey Glacier, Chile
The Grey Glacier is the star attraction when visiting Torres Del Paine or Puerto Natales in Chile. Extending 19 km, the Grey Glacier boasts an impressive construction of natural ice. Big Foot Patagonia Adventure (tour operator) offers the Ice Hike Grey Glacier tour that starts from the base camp and lasts for about 5-6 hours including 2.5 hours of walking on ice. You can also explore the glacier on a kayak. Paddle along floating icebergs and feel the excitement of being close to a massive ice wall.
13. Root Glacier, Alaska
Visit the historic ghost town of Kennicott in Alaska to witness the fascinating Kennicott Glacier. Enjoy a one and half mile of ice hiking on Root Glacier. Along the way take in the sights of pressure ridges, ice cliffs and azure blue water pools. A half or full day guided glacier hike combined with an ice climbing escapade further heightens this expedition. One of many local guiding companies near the Kennicott Glacier Lodge can be approached for professional guide service and equipments.
14. Jostedalsbreen Glacier, Norway
Extending 80 km in length and covering an area of 487 sq km, the Jostedalsbreen Glacier in Norway is the largest glacier in mainland Europe. With more than 50 glacier branches, this region is packed with many glacier hiking trails. The best time for glacier hiking is from May to October. The glacier walk is best enjoyed along with a professional guide and a sturdy pair of crampons. This ice walking adventure can also be combined with a kayaking trip in the pristine lakes of Jostedalsbreen National Park.
15. Laguna Glacier, Larecaja Province, Bolivia
Located at a height of 5,200 m, the Laguna Glacier in Bolivia displays a dramatic landscape. A moderate trek spread over five days, the glittering glacier reveals itself amidst snow covered Andean mountain peaks. A six hour long hike cuts through small villages and serene surroundings. Marvel at the surreal shades of nature including that of Lake Titicaca, the Valley of Sorata and the Andes from the Laguna Glacier.