Ice cave in Reykjavík: a visit to Perlan Museum’s glacier exhibit

I’ve been meaning to visit the glacier exhibition in Perlan Museum ever since it opened last year but somehow I had never found the time until recently when the husband and had some time off one Sunday afternoon and decided to make a day out of it.

We started the day at Hlemmur Mathöll where we broke bread (or ate a surprisingly delicious Kröst burger more like it – yum) with a traveler I met through Twitter a while ago. I have mentioned it before how much I like Hlemmur Mathöll but it’s just so nice to have a place like that in short walking distance from our home. Granted, the whole of downtown Reykjavík is within a relatively short walking distance from our home but you know what I mean.

After lunch, we walked around in the beautiful but somewhat cold weather and made our way down Laugavegur. We popped into stores on the way, grabbed a Chai Latte to warm us up and then made our way to Harpa where the free shuttle bus to Perlan museum waited for us. It was kind of lovely, actually. Especially since we are usually too busy to allow ourselves the luxury of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The bus leaves Harpa on the hour and half hour every day during the opening hours of Perlan museum. The first bus leaves at 9 and the last one at 17:30. Then when you’re finished you can take the bus back downtown but the last bus leaves at 17:50 from Perlan. It’s, as I mentioned already, free and no bookings are needed.

Perlan museum is an ambitious project that is focused on the nature of Iceland. They will have multiple exhibitions when the museum is ready but at the moment they have one: Glaciers and ice cave. Yes, you read that right – Ice cave! It’s, of course, man-made (there are no glaciers inside Perlan) but it is indeed a tunnel made out of ice and you need to wear warm clothes to visit it as the temperature is -10C (14°F)

Because there are only so many who can visit the ice cave at any given time you need to book ahead and on the day we visited some time slots were already fully booked which is how we ended up doing the tour at 15:00.

I have to admit that I was quite skeptical about this whole experience beforehand. I worried it would be some kind of Disneyfied tourist trap where people spend a lot of money on basically nothing and the fact that we visited another new attraction earlier that day that kind of felt like that didn’t help.

I don’t want to give everything away so I won’t ruin the experience but can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. You go through the ice cave, learning about glaciers and different ice formations, and then you make your way into the exhibition room which I found to be very well done.

If you have visited the Lava center in Hvolsvöllur you will recognize some of the technology used but we spent a lot of time going through everything. There’s a ton of really good information available that touches on the different subjects like the type of glaciers in Iceland and how global warming is changing them, to name a couple, and you really have to concentrate hard to leave there without learning something new about glaciers.

I have heard people mention that the price is quite steep but if you put it into context with other prices in Iceland it’s really not that bad. They also have a family discount so if you are traveling with kids that will definitely help. Speaking of kids, I think it’s a great activity to do with the whole family and when we went, there were a few local families there.

I am always a big fan of exhibitions that are a) interactive and b) really teach you something and the Glacier and Ice Cave exhibition at Perlan Museum ticks both those boxes. So I would recommend it. I didn’t think I would but there you go.

I’m kind of excited now to see what the rest of the museum will look like. I’ve also heard nice things about Út í Bláinn, the restaurant at the top of the building and hope I get the chance to try it soon.

PS. When you’re married to me you have to be comfortable in front of the camera because you end up as the subject in a lot of my photos. A lot!

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