There are certain landmarks around the world that perfectly represent the nation where they can be found. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a stereotypical example of this and perfectly represents Iceland, not only because it is a lagoon full of glacial ice fragments but also as it offers a breathtaking landscape that will hopefully entice visitors to explore more of the country.
Chunks of ice break off the Vatnajökull glacier and make their way into Jokulsarlon lagoon presenting a landscape unlike anywhere else that we have visited. Frequently renowned as “Iceland’s crown jewel,” Jokulsarlon is an attraction that offers a unique look at nature in action as you can learn all about the process of how the Vatnajökull glacier has helped shape the Icelandic landscape.
Jokulsarlon is a glacial lagoon in front of the Breiðarmerkurjökull glacier and part of Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatnajökull glacier. Let’s find out why Jokulsarlon will literally leave you speechless and gain a greater appreciation of Icelandic natural beauty (not that Iceland needs to offer this given that Jokulsarlon is just one of many amazing natural hotspots scattered across the island).
Where is Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon?
Like many other amazing natural attractions, Jokulsarlon Lagoon can be found along the south coast of Iceland. If you are raring to experience the best things to do in south Iceland, of course, places like Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Vik, the Golden Circle (Geysir, Gullfoss, and Thingvellir National Park) and the nearby Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon will spring to mind.
But arguably the pièce de résistance of all natural attractions in south Iceland is Jokulsarlon! If you choose to visit Iceland in the heart of summer, you will be able to enjoy Jokulsarlon at any time of the day as you will benefit from the “Midnight Sun” experience. However, if you opt to visit in the winter, you will want to carefully plan your itinerary to ensure you can visit Jokulsarlon during the 3-4 hour window of daylight.
In terms of location, Jokulsarlon can be found in the south-east corner of Iceland, approximately 4 1/2 hours from Reykjavik and 2 hours from the southern town of Vik (the closest town is actually Höfn which is only 1 hour away!)
- Vik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – 192 km (2 hrs 25 minutes)
- Hofn to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – 80 km (1 hr 5 minutes)
- Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – 371 km (4 hrs 45 minutes)
Explore Jokulsarlon Lagoon
The moment we arrived at Jokulsarlon we knew that it was going to be a pretty spectacular experience. We visited in July and during our 7-day Iceland road trip we enjoyed great weather and relatively warm conditions for Icelandic standards.
However, as we pulled into the gravel parking area at Jokulsarlon, we knew that this was going to be anything but warm! It was FREEZING but when we captured a glimpse of the glacier lagoon at Jokulsarlon, we immediately forgot about the cold weather.
We thoroughly enjoyed walking along the banks of the lagoon and admiring not only the huge glaciers that were quietly floating around but also the wildlife that was enjoying the surroundings, despite the obvious frigid conditions in the water. The icebergs slowly make their way to the Atlantic Ocean and of course, you will want to wander along the wonderfully acclaimed Diamond Beach to see some up close and personal ice fragments.
There are various viewpoints that you will want to check out, some from the edge of the lagoon and others from a higher vantage point that put the overall area into perspective as you gain a greater appreciation of the natural surroundings at Jokulsarlon.
Please be careful as you make your way around the edge of the lagoon and DO NOT attempt to climb on any icebergs that may be floating around the edge. There have been countless reports of folks making crazy attempts to take the “perfect” selfie but given the depth of this lagoon, it’s just not worth it!
Another incredible sight at Jokulsarlon is the majestic ice cap and glacier that stands at 3,000 feet above the Icelandic landscape. This provides the perfect backdrop to a glacial lagoon filled with freezing water and broken icebergs.
Are you a fan of James Bond? If so, the opening scene to “A View To A Kill” may be familiar as the glacial lagoon was used to represent Northern Siberia. Jokulsarlon has also been used in several other iconic movies such as “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and in yet another 007 feature, Pierce Brosnan’s “Die Another Day!”
Jokulsarlon Boat Tours
For those of you that want to enjoy an exhilarating experience on the glacial lagoon, if you visit between May and October you can enjoy a boat tour which is a great way to not only enjoy epic close-up encounters with the glacial ice but also learn all about the geological phenomenon that is Jokulsarlon.
Glacier Lagoon is a tour company that offers two alternative options depending on how adventurous you want to be.
- Amphibious Boat Tour – The cheaper option and more “relaxing” experience is on board one of the four amphibian boats. During the 30-40 minute tour of Jokulsarlon, visitors pass through huge icebergs throughout the breathtaking landscape. Tickets are available at the time of publication for ISK 5700 / $57 USD. Be sure to check out the website for latest prices and availability.
- Zodiac Boat Tour – Ready for a little more adventure? Consider taking the Zodiac boat tour where you can get even closer to the icebergs and cover a larger distance around Jokusarlon. Although the Zodiac tour is a little more expensive than the amphibian, the experience lasts around one hour and is well worth the extra cost. Tickets are available at the time of publication for ISK 9,800 / $97. Be sure to check out the website for latest prices and availability for the Zodiac boat tours.
Iceland is spoiled for choice when it comes to attractions that reflect the overall natural beauty of this nation. However, if you are looking for one particular landmark that perfectly highlights everything we love about Iceland, I would argue that Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is perhaps the best example.
Be prepared to visit one of Iceland’s most crowded attractions. Like many other iconic spots around Iceland, Jokulsarlon is a popular stop for tour buses but regardless of the number of visitors, there is plenty of space to ensure everyone can capture that perfect photograph to reminisce in the future of your visit to this breathtaking attraction.
If Jokulsarlon was named a “natural wonder of the world,” I don’t think anyone could actually argue with this given the beauty here. Whether you choose to visit Jokulsarlon in summer or winter, it’s inevitable that you will fall in love with this attraction and will look forward to a return visit.