Looking for a multi-day tour that offers thrilling outdoor adventures, spectacular sightseeing, and cosy accommodation? This is it! This all-inclusive farm stay includes incredible scenery, including vast glaciers, epic waterfalls, and hauntingly beautiful black sand beaches.
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Vatnajökull glacier, the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a natural wonder of Iceland, a sight you absolutely cannot miss. This scenic day tour includes a thrilling boat ride on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the epic waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the glittering Diamond Beach and charming Vík. Explore some of south Iceland’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes!
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Vatnajökull glacier, the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a natural wonder of Iceland, a sight you absolutely cannot miss. The nearby Diamond Beach has a stunning display of chunks of ice glistening on stark black sands. This tour features some of southeast Iceland's most spectacular and iconic landscapes!
Exploring Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon facts
The ice that floats in Jökulsárlón comes from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, an outlet of Vatnajökull. If you are lucky, you might hear the great crack of ice breaking off from this vast sheet during a boat trip on the water. Some visitors are surprised by how small the lagoon is, but it is constantly growing.
In fact, Jökulsárlón didn’t exist before 1930, and it has quadrupled in size over the last fifty years – unfortunately, this is a testament to the warming world. At the moment, the edge of the lagoon is less than a kilometre from the sea, but it creeps closer to Diamond Beach every year. Jökulsárlón has been the backdrop to Hollywood blockbusters, TV series and music videos.
Hiking and Boating at Jökulsárlón
It is a short walk from the car park to the shore of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you can watch the icebergs drift silently by. Some people just visit for around half an hour to take in the scenery before hitting the road again. But you can easily fill two to three hours at Jökulsárlón. One of the most popular ways to see the lagoon up close is to take an amphibious boat trip out onto the water. With this option, you can immerse yourself completely in the scenery and even touch the smooth surface of an iceberg. Smaller boat tours by Zodiac are also available.
Those that like to explore while keeping two feet on land can follow the trail around Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. 4.4 kilometres of walking trail show off the lagoon from every angle and allow you to escape from the crowds.
For a real adventure, you can pair a visit to Jökulsárlón with an ice cave tour on Breiðamerkurjökull glacier – the source of the glacier lagoon’s floating chunks of ice. A Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon ice cave adventure awaits with natural frozen tunnels that snake through the glacier and can be explored with a professional guide.
Sights around Jökulsárlón
Just across the road from the glacier lagoon, you’ll find the famous Diamond Beach where orbs of ice scatter across the black sand like carved pieces of glass. The wild Atlantic Ocean laps at the shore, pulling the chunks of ice out to sea. When the golden hue of sunset hits the beach, it is a photographer’s dream as the ice shards seem to glow in the light.
Jökulsárlón sits on the south coast of Iceland so between here and Reykjavík there are loads of natural wonders to explore.
Marking roughly the halfway point between Reykjavík and Jökulsárlón, most south coast tours include a stop at the coastal village of Vík where miles and miles of black-sanded beach stretch along the shore and a picturesque red-roofed church sits atop a hill.
Reynisfjara, the queen of all black sand beaches of Iceland located a stone’s throw from Vík and is another ultimate stop on any south shore trip.
A short distance from Vik, you’ll find the beguiling waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss just off the main road – two most popular stops along the south coast route to Jökulsárlón.
A little closer to the glacier lake, Skaftafell National Park has waterfalls to explore and hiking trails galore. Skaftafell is the ultimate paradise of glacier and ice cave tours on the epic Vatnajökull glacier.
If you are planning to stay overnight near Jökulsárlón, you’ll find accommodation in the fishing town of Höfn, which sits out on a peninsula around an hour’s drive away.
All about Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is on the south coast of Iceland, and it sits within the Vatnajökull National Park. 374 kilometres (around 232 miles) from Reykjavík, it takes approximately five hours to drive to Jökulsárlón from the capital. It can be done as a very long day trip, but most people include it as part of a larger road trip or multi-day tour along the south coast.
The glacier lagoon sits just off the Route One ring road that loops around the entire circumference of Iceland. So, it’s easy to navigate here if you are driving yourself. All you need to do is follow Route One along the south coast until you see the sign for Jökulsárlón, between Skaftafell and Höfn.
It is a long drive from Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón, but as we’ve mentioned, the directions are not complicated. If you don’t want the stress of driving such a long distance yourself, consider joining a Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon tour from Reykjavík.
There are many different options, from single-day trips that last around fifteen hours and return to Reykjavík in the evening to two, three or six-day adventures taking in the entire south coast or whole island of Iceland. Each tour comes with a local, experienced driver and guide.
If you are only stopping for a few photos of the icebergs floating in the glacier lagoon, you only need twenty minutes or so at Jökulsárlón, and perhaps an additional twenty minutes at the neighbouring Diamond Beach where crystalline orbs of ice litter the black sand.
However, most people spend much longer at Jökulsárlón, especially if you want to embark on a boat tour of the icebergs and really experience the glowing blue ice and Arctic-looking landscape. If you’re taking a Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon boat tour, allow between two and three hours here
Jökulsárlón is not Iceland’s only glacier lagoon, but its proximity to the Route One road along the south shore makes it the most visited of the glacier lakes.
From the road, you can see the blue and white icebergs rising up out of the water like jagged crowns. The majesty of this sight has attracted location scouts from Hollywood blockbusters and popular TV shows alike.
You might recognise Jökulsárlón as the backdrop to a couple of James Bond films, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Batman Begins
As it is such a long drive from Reykjavík, if you want to see Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in a single day from the city, it is best to visit in the summer months. Between June, July and August, Iceland sees incredibly long hours of daylight and the sun barely sets beneath the horizon.
You require between fourteen and fifteen hours to reach Jökulsárlón and make the return journey to the capital and can only return to Reykjavík in daylight during summer.
The icebergs remain throughout the year and photographers tend to favour the shoulder months of April, May and September (known as the months of the long shadow) when the light across the landscape makes it feel as though someone has turned up the contrast.
As it is a public space, there is no fee to visit Jökulsárlón and if you’re just stopping to admire the icebergs from the shoreline, you won’t have to pay anything. However, if you are driving there yourself, please bear in mind that you’ll have to pay to use the car park.
A lot of people opt to take a boat tour on the glacier lagoon, which costs between $45 and $100 depending on whether you go by amphibious boat or with a smaller group by Zodiac. There is also a small visitor centre with a gift shop and café at Jökulsárlón.
This natural wonder is one of the few places in Iceland where you can feel as though you’re in the Arctic with huge, glowing blue icebergs floating in the water.
Just across the road, you’ll find the Diamond Beach – a black-sanded beach where shimmering shards of ice are lapped by the Atlantic Ocean. So, even though it is a long way from Reykjavík, there is plenty to see in and around Jökulsárlón
Like most outdoor sights in Iceland, you’ll want to prepare for cold and unpredictable weather at Jökulsárlón, no matter what time of year you visit. It is on an exposed part of the south coast and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon weather can be unpredictable.
In winter, you’ll want to bring waterproofs, a sturdy pair of hiking shoes and woolly hats, thermal gloves and scarves. Even in summer, the chill from the icebergs can keep the area cool and a fleece or woolly jumper is a good idea.
From the car park, there is a short walking trail around the lagoon where you can set up a tripod for photographs and admire the icebergs from the shoreline.
There walking trails around Jökulsárlón which show off the lagoon from all different angles. This is a great option if you want to get away from the crowds and stretch your legs after a long drive.
The lagoon is fed by the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, and it is possible to take a glacier trip and explore the ice caves of Breiðamerkurjökull.
Don’t be intimidated by the accents and umlauts, Jökulsárlón is actually quite an easy Icelandic word. It is pronounced, Yol-kuhl-sar-lon with an emphasis on the first syllable.
While it is possible to drive from Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón in October, if you are going there and back in a single day, you will probably have to drive in the dark. It is a five-hour journey to Jökulsárlón and stopping at various south shore attractions along the way means it takes around fourteen or fifteen hours to drive there and back.
At the beginning of October, the daylight periods are 11 hours long, while at the end of that month, daylight periods shorten to 8 hours. So, if you’d like to avoid driving in the dark for long hours and missing out on the beautiful sights and landscapes, from October, it’s advisable to break this trip into two days with an overnight stop.
There is no law or rule against swimming in the glacier lagoon, but the huge, floating blocks of ice should offer a clue as to how cold the water is. It is definitely not recommended that you swim at Jökulsárlón since the water is freezing cold, between -3°C and 3°C (26°F to 37°F), cold enough to be extremely dangerous and you risk hypothermia not to mention the hazard of floating icebergs which frequently break up unexpectedly, flipping over.
There are plenty of naturally heated geothermal lagoons in Iceland that offer a much nicer bathing experience.
There is no age limit for glacier lagoon amphibian boat tours as the boat ride onto the water is perfectly safe and comfortable. It is suitable for all ages. In fact, a trip to spot the icebergs at Jökulsárlón is an excellent family day out.