Best tips for visiting Glacier Lagoon

The Glacier Lagoon in Jokulsarlon is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. Jokulsarlon sits south of Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier. If you are wondering where you have seen this place before, it could be in some famous movies such as James Bond, A View to a Kill, James Bond, Die another day, or also Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon started forming only in 1934 and is fed by shrinking Breidamerkurjokull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajokull. The glacial lake is getting bigger every year and now has a size of 18 km². Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is Iceland’s deepest lake, almost 250 meters deep. Depending on what kind of icebergs are floating in the lagoon, Jokulsarlon can look like a completely different place from one month to another. Some icebergs are incredibly bright blue; others have grey streaks from the ash residue of former volcanic eruptions. That is why no one would ever get bored of the Glacier Lagoon. Seals and fish live in the water, and Nordic birds fly above.21 glacier lagoon P1064842

Diamond Beach

The Jokulsa River, the shortest river in Iceland, just about 500 metres long, runs from the lagoon to the North Atlantic Ocean. Just keep in mind that there are several more rivers in Iceland called Jokulsa. The icebergs that break away from the glacier and fall into the lagoon slowly melt and drift into the ocean, where they are polished by the North Atlantic waves, before being washed on the black beach called Breidamerkursandur. Therefore, it is always covered with translucent ice sculptures glittering in the sun, like diamonds. That is why Breidamerkursandur is nicknamed Diamond Beach. The black volcanic sand of the beach contrasts with the white or blue icebergs and makes this place one of the most photogenic in all Iceland.42 diamond beach big P1064974

How to organise your sightseeing of the Glacier Lagoon

I recommend seeing the place from four different viewpoints shown on my map: Car park view to Jokulsarlon on the left-hand side, car park on the right-hand side before the bridge if coming from Reykjavik; the Diamond Beach car park on the right-hand side after the bridge; and car park at the Glacier Lagoon itself. From the first car park, you have to walk a little bit and get up on the top of the hill to get a panoramic view of the Glacier Lagoon.60 glacier lagoon first P106500861 glacier lagoon first P1065009 The stop at the right-hand side before the bridge will give you the first impression of Diamond Beach with shining pieces of crystal clear ice on the black sand. 30 diamond beach small P106492231 diamond beach small P106493432 diamond beach small P1064939The stop after the bridge on the right-hand side will allow you to visit the photo exhibition and see the stunning ice masterpieces made by Mother Nature. 40 diamond beach big P106495541 diamond beach big P106496343 diamond beach big P106499044 diamond beach big P106499345 diamond beach big P1064997At the last stop next to the Glacier Lagoon, you will be able to watch the icebergs float in the lagoon and take a walk near the water. 20 glacier lagoon P106482522 glacier lagoon P106485924 glacier lagoon P106490125 glacier lagoon P1064903Also, you will have the opportunity to book a boat trip and use public toilets. Make sure you have enough time for a walk and many awesome photo ops. Do you need to take a boat trip on the lagoon? Good question! I did not take one, and I feel I saw enough just by walking on the shore of Glacier Lake. If you want to be very close to the icebergs, book a boat tour!
If you are in this area, do not miss the nearby Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Fjallsjokull Glacier are located in the south part of the Vatnajokull Glacier, about 10 kilometres before Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon if coming from Reykjavik. The scenery at Fjallsárlón is extremely captivating. Fjallsarlon sits in the shadow of Fjallsjokull Glacier, another outlet of the Vatnajokull Glacier. Icebergs break away from the glacier and float on the surface of the 4 square kilometres of glacial lagoon below. Unlike Jokulsarlon, Fjallsarlon is not connected to the sea.10 fjallsarlon P1064688 This means the icebergs stay there until they melt. The glacier is steep and has a lot of cracks in it. The landscape is very beautiful with the Glacier Lagoon, floating icebergs and the steep glacier wall.

Where to stay?

There are several options for accommodation around the Glacier Lagoon, but not exactly next to it. Early booking of accommodation is typical for hotels and hostels close to the Glacier Lagoon. When travelling from Reykjavik, one of the closest establishments is the Hali Country Hotel located about 15 kilometres further from the Glacier Lagoon. Immersed in the countryside, all of the rooms come with private bathrooms. Actually, this place is a kind of accommodation hub where also Skyrhusid Guesthouse and Gerdi Guesthouse are located. So you may choose one fitting your budget.10 hotels lagoon P106478811 hotels lagoon P106478980 hotel glacier P106481512 hotels lagoon P1064797If you’re travelling on a big budget, Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a four-star, stylish hotel in the area. The hotel has all the amenities you could need and even has a waterfall right outside. Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is located about 30 kilometres before the Glacier Lagoon if you are travelling from Reykjavik.
If you aren't fortunate to get a room close to the lagoon, the second most convenient option is to stay at the Hofn, located 1 hour away from Jokulsarlon. It is home to the best lobster in Iceland and close to the stunning mountain Vestrahorn making it a great place to spend an overnight and from where you can start to explore.12 vestrahorn P1064729

Practical information

Jokulsarlon is accessible all year round, although it may be more weather dependent in winter. To reach Jokulsarlon, you can either drive yourself or join a tour that takes you to the lagoon. If you are going from Reykjavík, note that it's about a 5-6 hour journey to get there. The drive itself is incredibly scenic, so it will take you longer to get there with all the great stops you'll want to make on the way, especially seeing amazing waterfalls on your way. I recommend spending at least 2 days travelling to Jokulsarlon and back to Reykjavík. It may also be part of your ring road or South Iceland itineraries. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, so always check the weather forecast before hitting the road. Here is my map of four essential stops for visiting Glacier Lagoon!

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What did you think? Have you visited Glacier Lagoon and Iceland? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.

  • Posted by Anita on August 20, 2021

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Thank you for sharing! I am planning a trip there later this year and I want to see everything I can!
    I was so sad we didn't have enough time to visit the Glacier Lagoon last time we were in Iceland. But It's on my list for sure for our next trip so I appreciate all of these tips!
    Your photos are superb! I hope to see Iceland myself one day. I want to go here.
    This looks like an amazing place to visit. I loved all your photos, they really show what the area is like.
    We saw a lot in Iceland but missed Glacier Lagoon. It would be cool to be on the water beside those large icebergs. Fascinating that they arrive back on the beach shrunk and polished. I love all the different views you got from different vantage points. For our next visit for sure.
    This place looks so gorgeous. I am going to Iceland next week but unfortunately don't think I'll make it as far as this. But I always believe in having a reason to return...perhaps this is it!
    One day, we're actually going to go to Iceland. Meanwhile, your posts are helping me dream about it!

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