Vatnajökull is Iceland´s biggest glacier with an area of 8100 km2 which means he covers more than 8 percent of Iceland. By area it is the second larger glacier in Europe after Ausfonna in Svalbard which belongs to Norway. By volume Vatnajökull is larger though. It has a maximum thickness of a kilometre.
The glacier is located in the south east of Iceland which usually is about a day´s drive from Reykjavik if you travel at a touristic speed with plenty of stops and taking your time there. Under the glacier you find plenty of volcanoes of which Grimsvötn is currently the most famous having recently erupted in 2011. In the winter time the glacier is a popular destination to visit ice caves. A truly unique sight which is best enjoyed with a professional guide since they have the experience and knowledge to assert if a cave is safe to enter or may be dangerously unstable. For most glacier connected activities it is recommended to join a tour or hire a professional guide. As much fun as it may seem to walk on the ice there may be gaps which are hundreds of meters deep.
Around the glacier you will find operators offering their services. Most of them are located south of the glacier by road Number 1.
The glacier has also often been seen in popular culture. Especially Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon has been featured in movies over the last decades. The lagoon in the south of the glacier is filled with icebergs which are floating towards the ocean. Some of them get flushed back ashore, the reason why the beach by the lagoon is often called the diamond beach.
But also the glacier itself and its glacial outlets have been featured in famous movies such as interstellar and Batman begins. The TV show Game of Thrones also came to the glacier to film scenes taking place “north of the wall”.
To protect the glacier it was turned into a national park in 2008 which is the second largest national park in Europe with an area of 12000 km2 after the Yugyd Va Park in Russia. The park includes Skaftafell which prior had been a national park on its own. Also since July 2017 Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon has become part of Vatnajökull national park after the government purchased the land on which it is situated turning it into public property.