Inside the Spectacular Crystal Caves Beneath Europe’s Largest Glacier

The brilliant crystal caves that lie under Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier — which, at 8,100 square kilometres, are Europe’s largest — would make Superman feel right at home (you may recall his Fortress of Solitude).

Ice Caves Vatnajökull Iceland

Formed by streams of frozen meltwater, this kaleidoscopic underworld of suspended waves and fang-like shards can only be explored during the winter, when subzero temperatures make the ice strong enough.

Ice Caves Vatnajökull Iceland

The infinite, glacial maze boasts shades of luminous blue, white and — when the sun rises or sets — fiery orange. They’re terribly beautiful, but incredibly temporary, thanks to the shifting ice sheet.

Ice Caves Vatnajökull Iceland

“New ice caves form every year,” says Helen María Björnsdóttir, whose family business, Local Guide, has led tours of the tunnels for over 20 years. “People see something that will melt and disappear the following summer.” Serenity, like everything else, is fleeting.