Top 11 Must-See Glaciers in Patagonia

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There is a lot of beauty to see in Patagonia. There are jagged mountains jutting out of the horizon, turquoise lakes that glint in the sunshine and quaint villages that the modern world has left virtually untouched. But of everything Patagonia has to offer, its most striking feature is its multitude of glaciers.

Far from being an everyday sight, glaciers take your breath away and show you the full force of mother nature. The Patagonian glaciers are big, beautiful and ripe for exploring. So, strap on your ice boots and get ready to discover Patagonia’s finest glaciers. Here we give you the not-to-miss top 11 glaciers in Patagonia (in no particular order).

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Perito Moreno Glacier tour is considered most impressive of glacier tours.
Perito Moreno Glacier tours include many ways to visit and experience the Moreno Glacier.

The Perito Moreno Glacier on the Argentinian side of Patagonia is the most popular of all of Patagonia’s glaciers and should not be miss when on a tour to Argentina. Quite the sight to behold, the glacier stretches out for miles on end before coming to an abrupt stop at a sheer icy face. One of the highlights of a visit to this glacier is getting to watch chunks of ice fall from it into the water and become mini icebergs.

  • Size: 250 km²
  • Country: Argentina
  • Accessibility: Easy — lots of boat tours and hikes across the ice available
  • Status: Advancing
Viedma Glacier in Patagonia
Viedma Glacier in Argentinian Patagonia

Far less crowded than the nearby Perito Moreno glacier, Viedma is a challenging but beautiful glacier in Argentinian Patagonia. After approaching the glacier by boat from a harbour near Lake Viedma, you will need to scramble over and rappel down some rocks before reaching the ice. Once you are on the ice, the real adventure begins as groups are led through the icy ridge and tunnels of the glacier.

  • Size: 977 km²
  • Country: Argentina
  • Accessibility: Medium — you will need to take a boat to the starting point for the glacier.
  • Status: Retreating
Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine
Glacier Grey and the Grey Lagoon as seen on the Torres del Paine trek

Considered to be one of the most spectacular glaciers in the world, the Grey Glacier takes a place of pride in the Torres del Paine National Park and on the list of things to do during a trip to ChileThere are plenty of ice hiking excursions on offer that go across the glacier. This is a great way to get up close and personal with the ice and is sure to be a completely unforgettable experience. You can also see the Grey Glacier and its lake during one of the Torres del Paine treks.

  • Size: 270 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Easy — lots of Patagonia Glacier tours stop off here
  • Status: Retreating

4. Upsala Glacier

Upsala Glacier in patagonia
Upsala Glacier is the largest and most impressive of the Patagonian glaciers

Many people overlook the Upsala Glacier in favour of the better-known Perito Moreno Glacier and this is a real shame. Utterly colossal in size, the glacier is among the largest and most impressive of the Patagonian glaciers. Unfortunately, accessing the Upsala Glacier is becoming increasingly difficult. This is because of the vast number of icebergs that sit in the water around it — creating a steering challenge for even the most experienced boat driver.

  • Size870 km²
  • Country: Argentina
  • Accessibility: Difficult — lots of icebergs in the way
  • Status: Retreating fast
San Rafael Glacier in Patagonia
Tourists can take tours to see the San Rafael Glacier on small boats

The San Rafael Glacier is one of the final remnants of Patagonia’s ice age. It is astonishing to visit but it is estimated that if the glacier continues to diminish at its current rate it could be completely gone by 2030. So, if you want to check it out, you’re better off going sooner rather than later. Our post on ways to see the San Rafael Glacier may come handy.

  • Size: 760 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Medium — only small boats can get close to the glacier and the water is full of chunks of ice
  • Status: Retreating rapidly

6. Pía Glacier

Approximately the same size as Santiago, the capital of Chile, the Pía glacier is one of the larger glaciers in Patagonia. In fact, it is considered to be the longest in the southern hemisphere (excluding any in Antarctica). Aside from being thoroughly impressive, the glacier is noteworthy because it is one of the only Patagonian glaciers that isn’t retreating.

  • Size: 480 km²
  • Country: Argentina & Chile
  • Accessibility: Difficult — the only way to see the glacier is by cruise ship
  • Status: Stable

7. Spegazzini Glacier

Spegazzini Glacier in Patagonia
Measuring around 135m in height, the sight of Spegazzini is completely overwhelming

This glacier is not the biggest of the Patagonian glaciers but it is incredibly impressive nonetheless. This is because of the size of its icy wall. Measuring around 135m in height, it is completely overwhelming. This is one of those sights that will leave your jaw on the floor and give you a renewed appreciation for natural beauty.

  • Size: 137 km²
  • Country: Argentina
  • Accessibility: Medium — only accessible by boat but there are lots of tours on offer
  • Status: Retreating

8. Jorge Montt Glacier

There has been some concern in the past decade about the alarming rate at which the Jorge Montt Glacier is disappearing. Nevertheless, the glacier is still there and ready to be discovered by adventurous Patagonia explorers. Boat tours will take you along the face of the glacier, weaving between huge icebergs that have broken off from the glacial mainland.

  • Size: 464 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Medium — possible to see by boat tour
  • Status: Retreating rapidly

9. O’Higgins Glacier

O'Higgins Glacier in Patagonia
O'Higgins Glacier in Chilean Patagonia is a spectacular sight to behold

The best thing about visiting this Patagonia glacier is that you can hike all the way to it. On the way, you can camp in the great outdoors and admire some truly spectacular natural beauty. If you’re not quite feeling up to that then there are also boat tours that will take you to see the glacier.

  • Size: 820 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Easy — lots of boat tours and hiking paths to the glacier available
  • Status: Retreating

10. Tyndall Glacier

The Tyndall glacier can be found within the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. A popular way to visit this glacier is to do a multi-day kayaking tour. You will spend your days paddling on icy water whilst taking in the beauty of your surroundings. In the evenings, you will get to camp in the wild.

  • Size: 331 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Medium — kayaking tours can be arranged
  • Status: Retreating

11. Queulat Hanging Glacier

What is impressive about the Queulat Hanging Glacier isn’t its size but its appearance. Unlike the other Patagonian glaciers, this one sits on the edge of a cliff and, as its water slowly melts and drips, it forms an incredible waterfall. Of everything you could see in Patagonia, the Queulat Hanging Glacier is by far the most stunning sight.

  • Size: 80 km²
  • Country: Chile
  • Accessibility: Easy — there is a trail that leads to a great viewpoint
  • Status: Retreating

If you are in Patagonia, regardless of whether in Argentina or Chile, there is no excuse to not visit one of these exquisite glaciers in Patagonia. If you've already been to any one on the list or know about another glacier in the region that is equally stunning, let us know in the comments below. 

Published by Marie Storm, updated on June 27, 2023

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