Guide to the Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Glacier Lagoon, or Jökulsárlón, is a glacial lagoon located in southeastern Iceland. It is situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, which is an outlet glacier of the larger Vatnajökull glacier, the largest ice cap in Europe. Jökulsárlón is known for its stunning beauty, featuring crystal-clear blue waters dotted with icebergs, and is one of the most visited lakes in Iceland.
The lagoon was formed as a result of the retreat of the glacier, which left behind a deep depression that was filled with meltwater. As the glacier continues to melt, icebergs break off from the glacier's edge and float in the lagoon, creating a picturesque scene. These icebergs vary in size and shape, and their brilliant blue colour is due to the compression of the ice over time. You can experience Jökulsárlón's beautiful colours and views at Perlan, The Icelandic Museum of Natural History.
Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in Iceland, with depths racing up to 248 meters. It covers an area of approximately 18 square kilometres, making it the largest glacial lagoon in Iceland. The Glacier Lagoon is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the short river Jökulsá, which drains the lagoon. The river carries icebergs from the lagoon to the nearby Diamond Beach, where they wash ashore, creating a striking contrast against the black sand.
Jökulsárlón On Screen
Jökulsárlón has become a popular tourist attraction and has been featured in numerous movies, including James Bond's "Die Another Day" and "A View to a Kill," as well as Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" and "Batman Begins."
Multiple music videos and commercials have also been shot at Jökulsárlón. Justin Bieber's "I'll Show You" and Bon Iver's "Holocene" have both featured Jökulsárlón.
The nearby Diamond Beach, located just across the road from Jökulsárlón, is another notable attraction, where icebergs from the lagoon wash ashore, resembling glistening diamonds on the black sand beach.
What To Do at Jökulsárlón
Besides being a spectacular attraction in itself, there are several activities and attractions to enjoy at and around the Glacier Lagoon.
Take a boat tour on the glacier lagoon to get a closer look at the icebergs. Various tour operators offer guided boat tours that take you through the lagoon, providing a unique perspective of the ice formations and the surrounding landscape.
Visit the nearby Diamond Beach, located just across the road from Jökulsárlón. This black sand beach is adorned with icebergs that have floated from the lagoon and washed ashore. It's a beautiful sight, and you can stroll along the beach to admire the glistening ice.
Jökulsárlón offers incredible opportunities for photography. Capture the stunning blue icebergs against the backdrop of the lagoon and the nearby mountains. The changing light and reflections on the water make it a photographer's paradise, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Keep an eye out for seals in the lagoon. The Jökulsárlón area is known for its seal population, and you might spot them lounging on the icebergs or swimming in the water. The lagoon provides an ideal environment for seals to swim and feed on fish. The most common seal species found in the area are the harbour seals.
Birdwatching is also popular, with various bird species found in the region, especially during the summer months. Some of the birds you may encounter include Arctic terns, which are known for their long migrations, and skuas, predatory birds that nest in the area. Other bird species seen around the lagoon include gulls, eiders, and various migratory birds.
Explore the surrounding area with hikes and walks. There are hiking trails nearby that offer scenic views of the lagoon and the glacier. You can enjoy the natural beauty and tranquillity of the landscape while immersing yourself in the peacefulness of the surroundings.
When walking or hiking around Jökulsárlón, it's essential to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to signs, weather conditions, and any safety instructions provided by authorities or tour operators. Additionally, always prioritize your safety and avoid venturing onto unstable ice formations or unsafe areas.
Ice Cave Exploration
During the winter months, you might have the opportunity to explore ice caves in the vicinity of Jökulsárlón. These caves offer a unique experience, allowing you to venture into the magical world of blue ice formations. It's important to join a guided tour for safety reasons, as ice caves can be unstable.
At Perlan, you can visit the Ice Cave Exhibition to learn more about ice caves and also experience one in real life. Perlan has the world's first indoor ice cave, giving you the opportunity to experience a glacial environment in a safe and informative way.
How To Get To Jökulsárlón From Reykavík
To get to Jökulsárlón from Reykjavík, you have a few transportation options. The Glacial Lagoon is about 370 kilometres east of Reykjavík, near the Ring Road (Route 1). The lagoon is easily accessible by road, making it a popular destination for visitors exploring the south and east regions of Iceland.
Another option is to join a guided tour that combines transportation and sightseeing. These tours typically provide transportation from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón and include stops at other popular sights, such as waterfalls and black sand beaches. They often offer more extensive itineraries and may be suitable if you wish to explore the region in-depth.
Whichever option you choose, it's essential to consider the weather and road conditions, as they can change rapidly in Iceland. It's also a good idea to plan your visit well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability and make the most of your trip to Jökulsárlón.
Remember that you can get a scenic experience of Glaciers and Ice Caves in the centre of Reykjavík, in Perlan.
Glacier Lagoon FAQ
How Far Is the Glacier Lagoon From Reykjavík?
The journey takes approximately 4-5 hours by car, depending on the road and weather conditions. Jökulsárlón is situated about 370 kilometres east of Reykjavík.
Why Is the Glacier Lagoon Famous?
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is famous for its stunning natural beauty and unique characteristics. Read more about the Glacier Lagoon above.
Can You Walk Around the Glacier Lagoon?
Yes, it is possible to walk around the glacier lagoon and explore its surroundings. The area offers several opportunities for walking and experiencing the natural beauty up close.
What To Do At the Glacier Lagoon?
There are several things to do at the Glacier Lagoon, such as boat tours.
Reykjanes Volcanoes Overview
Enjoy a complete overview of the Reykjanes Volcanoes from 2021-2024. Learn about its geology, recent activity, and visitor tips for a safe, memorable experience.
The Latest Eruption in Iceland: Reykjanes Peninsula
The anticipated volcano has erupted in the Reykjanes Peninsula, the site is being called Sundhnúkagígar. See the historic insights on the seismic activity and volcanic eruptions.
Earthquakes in Iceland
Earthquakes in Iceland are a fact of life. Each year, hundreds of small tremors shake the earth, a reminder of the country’s position on a tectonic plate boundary.
Volcano Museums and Exhibitions in Iceland
If you don't manage to visit an actively erupting volcano in Iceland - Experience its force at one of these excellent volcano museums and exhibitions in Iceland.
Top 10 Places To See the Northern Lights in Iceland
You can see the northern lights across the country, but some spots are more suitable than others. Find the best place to see the northern lights in Iceland.
Ice Caves From Reykjavik
Travel beyond the capital for a closer look at an ice cave under one of Iceland’s glaciers. If you can’t spare the time, experience Perlan’s ice cave in Reykjavik.