Winter is both the ideal and only time to take a glacier tour, as many of the world’s most impressive ice flows disappear over the summer and return with the cold weather. Now that it’s getting colder, we asked travellers like you which are the best destinations for a glacier tour, and this is what they came up with.*
Visitors to the Icelandic city of Hali have a choice between the dream-like ice caves of the Vatnajökull glacier – currently Europe’s largest ice cap – and the iceberg-dotted Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. The ice cave tour is only available during the winter months, when hundreds of seals arrive at the Jökulsárlón. And speaking of being spoilt for choice, the Hali Country Hotel has views of the Vatnajökull on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
The Ilulissat Icefjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the coastal town of the same name is a popular stop-off point for iceberg-spotters. In fact, the Ilulissat Icefjord is the fastest-melting glacier in the Northern Hemishphere and opportunities to witness this beautiful natural phenomenon are increasingly limited. Visitors to the town are recommended to stay at Hotel Arctic, where the knowledgeable staff can give recommendations for how to make the most of the nearby Disco Bay.
Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Te Moeka o Tuawe is one of the world’s most accessible glaciers and it’s a less than a ten-minute walk from the nearby town of Weheka, a.k.a. Fox Glacier Village. During the glacier’s busiest season more than 1000 people visit every day however despite the crowds it’s still easy to feel awed by Te Moeka o Tuawe’s size and austere beauty. For a room with a (frosty) view check into the Te Weheka Boutique Hotel, only a few minutes’ walk from the glacier.
El Calafate, Argentina
While most of the world’s glaciers are retreating, the Perito Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz Province is actually advancing. The Los Glaciares National Park visitor centre (where the glacier is located) maintains a walking circuit which takes in the south-east side of the glacier. Travellers with a bit more stamina who want to see the north side can sign up for one of the ‘mini-treks’ – an hour walking, ending with a Panoramic view of the glacier – or the ‘big ice’ version which takes five hours. Then, when you’re finished admiring the glacier from all angles, treat yourself to some R&R at the EOLO Patagonia Spirit - Relais & Chateaux.
Resurrection Bay in Alaska acts as the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park and the bay itself is full of deep coves, just waiting to be explored. The closest town is Seward, which sits on the bay and is the base for most of the local glacier tours. Visitors to the town can take a scenic roadtrip, kayak up to Bear Glacier or sail along Resurrection River for a more sedate tour of the daunting and ice-covered Chugach Mountains. For the best views stay at the Harbour 360 Hotel in Seward and enjoy your morning cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the bay.
** The data scientists at Booking.com looked at endorsements for ‘glacier tours’ by our customers. They then found the destinations that were most highly rated for this endorsement.