Surrounded by the ethereal Icelandic landscape, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a breathtaking example of the untamed beauty of Iceland.
This guide will tell you how to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon by tour or car, what to do when there, and answer some frequently asked questions.
I have been to Jökulsárlón multiple times (and in different seasons), so please let me know if you have any questions about adding it to your itinerary!
In this post...
- About Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
- Where is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?
- How to Get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: FAQ
- Other Places to Visit in the Area
- Where to Stay Near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- More Iceland Travel Guides
- Pin this Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Travel Guide
About Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Amidst the captivating wonders of ice and water, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a breathtaking natural wonder that should be on any traveler’s itinerary to Iceland.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is situated near Vatnajökull National Park and is one of the top places to visit in Iceland.
The lagoon was formed as a result of the receding Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier. As the glacier melts and retreats, it leaves behind a large lagoon filled with floating icebergs.
The icebergs in the lagoon feature various shades of blue created by the compression of ice over many years. They can be transparent or milky, depending on the trapped air bubbles.
It is known for its striking beauty, given the floating icebergs and the incredible glacier views. The nearby Diamond Beach, where icebergs wash ashore, contrasts with the black volcanic sand.
Jökulsárlón is home to various bird species, including Arctic terns, skuas, and seagulls. Seals are often spotted near the mouth of the lagoon, too.
Visitors can enjoy several activities at Jökulsárlón, including cave exploration, boat tours among the icebergs, guided glacier walks, and photography opportunities.
Where is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?
Located in southeastern Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon stands near the southern edge of Vatnajökull National Park. It is situated between the Vatnajökull glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Europe, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Helpful Info: In case you’re driving around Iceland and want to visit the area, it might be helpful to know that the exact coordinates for Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon are 64.0485° N latitude and 16.1794° W longitude.
How to Get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is located in southeastern Iceland. You’ll certainly need to travel from Reykjavik to get there (unless you’re venturing around Ring Road).
If you’re not keen to drive (or fly closer to the lagoon), you can also take a tour.
Taking a Tour to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
I think the easiest way to reach Jökulsárlón is to take a tour there from Reykjavik. That way, you can avoid hefty gas prices and driving the long distance to the site!
This is the most popular Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon trip that leaves from Reykjavik, and it will take you along Iceland’s South Coast on a guided full-day trip.
You will also visit Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and Diamond Beach, as well as have lunch in Kirkjubæjarklaustur and dinner in Vik. This tour makes for a long day – around 14 hours!
Driving to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon from Reykjavik
Driving from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a popular route for visitors exploring Iceland’s beautiful landscapes. The drive offers stunning scenery, including waterfalls, glaciers, and volcanic landscapes.
The total driving distance from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón is approximately 236 miles (380 kilometers), and the drive typically takes around 5–6 hours without stops.
After departing from Reykjavik, head east on Route 1 (the Ring Road); this is the primary route to Jökulsárlón. The road is also known as the Ring Road since it encircles the entire country and is the main highway for travel throughout Iceland.
This route will take you out of Reykjavik and into the scenic countryside. You’ll pass through several towns and villages along the way, including Selfoss, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Vík, and Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Vik is a great place to stop for lunch if you end up hungry.
When you arrive at Jökulsárlón, you’ll find a parking area near the shore. From there, you can walk to the lagoon to view the floating icebergs and the nearby Diamond Beach, where icebergs often wash ashore, creating a striking contrast against the black sand.
Scenic Stops Between Reykjavik and Jökulsárlón
During the journey, you’ll pass by two famous waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Seljalandsfoss is a unique waterfall where you can walk behind the cascading water.
Skogafoss, instead, features a staircase leading to a viewing platform at the top. Also, consider stopping at Skaftafell, part of Vatnajökull National Park.
Tips for Driving to Jökulsárlón
Be sure to check the road and weather conditions before embarking on your journey, as Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, especially in the winter.
Therefore, visiting during the spring or summer is better because of more accessible roads and longer daylight hours.
Respect the environment and safety guidelines when exploring the area. Since Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a remote area, planning and being informed about the weather conditions are essential for a safe and enjoyable visit.
Remember that some parts of the route may be impassable in the winter due to snow and ice. Be prepared for changeable weather conditions and sudden shifts in visibility, especially if you’re driving near glaciers.
Tours to Take of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
If you have already made your way down to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, there are a few tour options that you can join! Here are a few of my top choices:
Jökulsárlón & Vatnajökull Glacier Blue Ice Cave Tour (Winter Option)
This tour takes you on an adventure to experience the dramatic landscape of Vatnajökull National Park and go inside the ice caves formed when water runs beneath the glacier during the summer.
Trek across the rugged terrain of the south of Iceland and look at the magical blue ice of the caves. Please note that this tour requires you to drive there yourself (you will meet at a cafe nearby).
Crystal Blue Ice Cave via Super Jeep from Jökulsárlón
Meet your guides and jump on a Super Jeep to get to the caves, take a short walk through the glacial landscape, and learn about the world-famous glacier and the surrounding areas, including Game of Thrones locations.
Zodiac Tour of Jökulsárlón
Visiting Jökulsárlón in the summer? Then you need to book a glacier lagoon boat tour!
The tours run from May to September (double-check their schedule for changes before you go, though) and will get you as close to the glacier as possible.
Seeing the lagoon on a Zodiac boat is such a memorable experience!
Visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: FAQ
Is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon worth it?
Absolutely! I have been there more than once and always make it a point to show Jökulsárlón to people I am visiting Iceland with if it is their first trip!
Plus, there are so many incredible sites along the south coast of Iceland that the journey there is anything but boring.
Can you see the northern lights at Jökulsárlón?
In the winter, Jökulsárlón and the surrounding area offer an excellent chance to witness the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) if the weather conditions and skies are clear.
Can you swim in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?
While it is safe to visit the glacier lagoon’s shores on foot or to take a boat ride there, it is not recommended to go swimming there.
Is it free to park at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?
No, it does cost to park there. I parked across the street at Diamond Beach, and it was 1000 ISK (about $7.25) per car.
How deep is Jökulsárlón?
Jökulsárlón is actually pretty deep. The glacier lagoon is 814 feet (248 meters) deep and has quadrupled in size since the 1970s. It’s probably not a good thing, come to think of it.
Is there anywhere to eat nearby?
When you’re visiting Jökulsárlón, be sure to stop by the Glacier Lagoon Cafe that is there! You can find coffee, soda, and hot chocolate. They also have restrooms.
They also have an array of small dishes, including a delicious seafood soup! This is also where you will go to get on one of the famous boat tours of the lagoon.
When is the best season to visit Jökulsárlón?
Jökulsárlón can be visited year-round. However, the weather is milder in the summer months, from June to August, and boat tours are in full swing.
In the winter, it’s colder, but the landscape is transformed into a snowy wonderland. Each season has its own unique charm.
The weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 50°F to 59°F (10°C to 15°C). You can enjoy longer daylight hours, with almost 24-hour daylight in June, providing ample time for exploration.
This time of the year is ideal for hiking and exploring, but it also features higher tourist numbers, so it can get crowded. Besides, accommodations and tours may be more expensive and should be booked in advance.
The weather can become more unpredictable with cooler temperatures. The northern lights season begins, offering a chance to witness this natural phenomenon.
You will also find fewer tourists than in the summer, making for a more peaceful visit. However, daylight hours are shorter as the season progresses.
This is a quieter and less crowded period. During this time, snow-covered landscapes create a magical winter wonderland, and it’s an excellent moment to view the northern lights.
You will find short daylight, with only a few hours in December. Temperatures are often below freezing while there is less availability for activities and accommodations (usually closed due to the off-season).
As the season progresses, you will encounter longer daylight hours while icebergs start to break up and drift out to sea, creating a dynamic lagoon.
Temperatures are milder compared to winter but still quite cold. Thawing ice and snow can make some trails and areas muddy or inaccessible during this period.
No matter the season, dress warmly and be prepared for Iceland’s ever-changing weather conditions. Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable.
Dress warmly, in layers if possible, and wear thermal underwear to keep warm, especially during the colder months.
Always be cautious near the water’s edge, as the lagoon can be profound and the floating icebergs can shift unexpectedly. Always follow the safety guidelines tour operators provide and adhere to road and weather advisories when traveling to and from the lagoon.
Other Places to Visit in the Area
Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier, is in the same area, and you can take advantage of the local tours that take you to explore the glacier’s ice caves, crevasses, and unique glacial formations.
It’s also interesting to know that about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) east of Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón is a smaller but equally impressive glacier lagoon, and it represents a quieter alternative to Jökulsárlón, especially during the crowded summer months.
East of Jökulsárlón, the Stokksnes Peninsula offers beautiful landscapes, including a black sand beach and the iconic Vestrahorn mountain.
And if you have more time to spare, consider driving along Iceland’s scenic East Fjords, which offer breathtaking coastal views, quaint villages, and opportunities for bird-watching.
Where to Stay Near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
While there are limited accommodations near the lagoon, you’ll find more options in the nearby towns of Höfn and Vík.
- Skyrhusid HI Hostel: A comfy farm hostel just a 10-minute drive (7.5 miles or 12 kilometers) from Jökulsárlón Glacier, offering two restaurants and rooms with mountain views next to Iceland’s Ring Road. Skaftafell National Park is a 50-minute drive from the guest house. The hotel is 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Höfn town center.
- Hotel Jökull: Located a few minutes from the center of Höfn in southeast Iceland, this hotel along Route 1 is close to Vatnajökull Glacier. There’s an on-site restaurant open during summer. The hotel offers free on-site parking. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a 50-minute drive away.
- The Barn: The Barn is located near the village of Vík between the Mýrdalsjölill Glacier and the southern coast. This hostel provides complimentary parking and features double rooms with a shared bathroom, a communal kitchen, and lockers.
Whether you venture out on a boat tour, marvel at the northern lights in the winter darkness, or simply stand in awe of the serene landscapes, Jökulsárlón will surely leave its mark on you!
If you have any questions about visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, let me know in the comments!
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Pin this Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Travel Guide
Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.