During your adventures in Iceland, you should definitely add visiting Jökulsárlón to the ‘To-Do list’. Whether you are interested in the wildlife, Northern Lights or general information, we have created an ultimate guide to this stunning destination so that you know exactly how to make the most of your trip! After all, Jökulsárlón is also known as Iceland’s Crown Jewel so it would be rude not to visit! We have also included additional places that aren’t too far from Jökulsárlón to get the most out of Iceland.
Where is Jökulsárlón?
Jökulsárlón is a surreal glacial lake in southeast Iceland, situated on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Icebergs travel through the large lagoon towards the Atlantic Ocean. It is the deepest lake in Iceland and vast in size, continuously growing in surface area.
The glacial lake formed when the glacier outlet (Breiðarmerkurjökull) melted, the meltwater then carved out the land and filled the huge hallow that was formed. The lagoon also features milky-white and bright-blue icebergs that dazzle in the sunlight, their movement fluctuates with wind and currents. The shades of blue are dependent on the amount of air trapped in the ice particles and the light beams from the sun.
Fortunately, Jökulsárlón is very accessible from the highway. If you are driving from Reykjavík, expect a relatively long 5-6-hour drive to Jökulsárlón but you won’t be disappointed by the scenic journey. Also, if you choose to take a road trip around the famous Ring Road or south coast of Iceland, Jökulsárlón is a must-see located on the right between Höfn and Skaftafell!
Jökulsárlón is also known as Iceland’s ‘Crown Jewel’ and is the ultimate location to experience the dancing spectacular of the Northern Lights. It is the perfect destination for travellers seeking solitude and calmness surrounded by the preserved natural beauty of Iceland. Although the Northern Lights are pretty much impossible to schedule when to see, the best time to hunt for them is during very clear and dark skies.
What Is Nearby?
Maximise your experience by visiting the Crystal Ice Cave which is located in the outlet glacier and is said to be overwhelmingly beautiful and breath-taking when you enter the cave. The ice cave features stunning sculptures and icicles hanging from the dome- hence why helmet protection is highly recommended!
Just a five to ten-minute walk from the lagoon, is Breiðamerkursandur, the black Diamond Beach, where glistening icebergs ranging in size (up to 30metres) are washed up on the volcanic-black beach. The name ‘Diamond Beach’ is inspired by the sparkling icebergs looking like studded diamonds on the contrasting jet-black beach. Take a walk along the beach and admire the stunning views, the Northern Lights are visible from there too.
Also, on your way to/back from Jökulsárlón, make a stop at the breath-taking 60-metre-high Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This waterfall is recognised for its unique feature of being able to walk behind the waterfall’s cascade!
Lots of wildlife can be spotted around the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon including seals. Seals are often spotted all-year-round swimming beside the icebergs if not resting on them in front of onlookers!
Jökulsárlón is the optimum place for bird watchers. Many species of birds including the Atlantic Puffins are known to populate the lagoon due to the number of fish stocks swept in by tidal currents lurking beneath the water. Shoals, herring and capelin are common types of fish and a popular delicacy for the birds. However, there is huge competition for these fish because the circling ‘King of the Jökulsárlón skies’ who has the edge over the puffins and seagulls with their wingspan of over four feet!
The weather at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon can be relatively windy, so pack your windproof jacket! The reason for this is that it is located close to the shore and there is little protection from mountains. In terms of daylight, this doesn’t change. Daylight hours in Iceland constantly differ, varying between 4 and 24 hours, the darkest being in the wintertime.
Tours are a great way to discover the natural features that Iceland has to offer. There are many different tours available to you that are guaranteed to provide you with an unforgettable experience. It is recommended you look at the months they are running before your visit.
If you’re looking for a boat trip, there is an office beside the glacier lagoon which offers trips into the lagoon and passes the ice sculptures on its travels. They run from mid-June to mid-September.
Amphibian boat tours consist of sailing among the huge icebergs in the spectacular scenery of Jökulsárlón. During the excursions, you may come across some wildlife, most commonly the Icelandic seals and provide you with the opportunity to capture some instagrammable photos!
Zodiac boat tours take you deeper into the lagoon, giving you an even closer view of the icebergs, the surrounding glacier cliffs and wildlife. Zodiac boats run closer to the water, allowing you to touch the ice-cold water and icebergs- expect a little spray!
Tour providers offer day and night tours as well as a multi-day tour to really make the most of the stunning wilderness of Jökulsárlón. Of course, there is also the option of walking along the glaciers, if you enjoy hiking!