How to visit Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

As soon as I saw the image of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in my Lonely Planet Iceland, I knew we had to make it there. In fact, I pretty much planned our entire route through the south of Iceland to lead up to a grand finale at Jökulsárlón… its true!

Without exaggerating, the glacier lagoon is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited. Like so much of Iceland it is other-worldly and makes your existence seem tiny – just like seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland˚.  It’s also quite famous for being a film location. Apparently some James Bond movies have been shot there, but hell, I’ve never seen them so I’m just trusting what I read online 😉

glacial lagoon
whee! off to the glacier lagoon I go

Looking to plan your visit to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon? Look no further, I’ve got you covered with all your basic info (and inspirational pics) below! This Iceland lake is more than worth the visit.

Looking for more amazing things to do in Iceland? Check out these posts:

First things first… Jökulsárlón is stunning beyond words … and best of all, none of these images are  edited – this is really how it looks!

glacial lagoon
Looking at Jökulsárlón from the bridge you drive over to reach it – I couldn’t stop staring.. the colors were incredible

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Another one of this stunning view… just to make sure you’re really inspired to visit 😉
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How blue can they be?

glacial lagoon

glacial lagoon

Glacial lagoon

glacial lagoon
I call this one… the screw

Where is Jökulsárlón?

Jökulsárlón is located in the south-east of Iceland, and the closest nearby towns are Hof and Hofn. It is about a 5-6 drive from Reykjavik, so I’d definitely recommend making an overnight stop on the way there and on the way back if you don’t plan to drive the entire ring road.

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The glacier lagoon is actually a lake that is connected to Vatnajökull glacier. Icebergs break off from the glacier and drift toward the sea on their way to their final destination – melting into the ocean of course. The result is truly spectacular.

Due to its proximity to Vatnajökull  National Park, it is ideal to combine a trip to Svartifoss (at the national park) and the glacier lagoon in one day – they are only located around a 45 minute drive from each other.

How can I book a tour of the Jökulsárlón Iceland?

We booked our Jökulsárlón boat tour through and did an amphibian tour of the lagoon – prices are around $50 per person – which is COMPLETELY worth it!

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Our cruise ship
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Our great tour guide, teaching us about the lagoon. We all had a taste of the ice he’s holding – yum!

Our guide was really knowledgable and imparted all his wisdom about the lagoon on us. As an added bonus, one of his colleagues who was patrolling the water for ice in front of our boat picked up that block of ice he’s holding and we all got to have a taste. The glacial ice is some of the purest in the world! Yum.

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Our ice patrolman

If you’re lucky, you might catch some seals taking a nap on the icebergs during your tour. Seals often swim into Jökulsárlón for protection from orcas – so you might find them resting after surviving a long chase! Orcas apparently don’t enter the lagoon, so seals are safe here.

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Spoiler alert! You can also hold the ice block yourself.. but beware.. it is f’king cold!

As with everything in Iceland, make sure to book well in advance during high season. It would be terrible to drive all the way there only to find all the tours filled. I booked about one week in advance during the beginning of August and could only choose a few times in the early evening on our selected day – so be sure to plan ahead! That being said, visiting at the end of the day meant that we had gorgeous light hitting the lagoon for our entire tour, making for some pretty incredible pictures.

Where should I stay for a visit to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon?

We stayed in Kirkjubæjarklaustur (try saying that ten times fast… or better yet, try saying it just once!), which was about an hour and forty-five minute drive away. For us it was perfect since the glacier lagoon was as far east as we would drive before turning back toward Reykjavik and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula . Kirkjubæjarklaustur is pretty much the only “big” town nearby the glacier lagoon. And by big town, I mean a place where you can stop and get gas an a hot dog. That’s pretty much it. So, whether you stay there or not, you might want to stop there to get some food on your way to the glacier lagoon cause you’ll hardly see anywhere else in between – and it is the last place you can stop for gas!

Find hotels in Kirkjubæjarklaustur

We stayed at Klausterhof Guest House, which was just OK. We visited during very high season so we had to share what amounted to a four person dorm with a bathroom that was shared with other guests. Not my preferred lodging situation, but hey, it was clean and it gave us a place to stay in the area, so it worked out alright.

If you plan to visit, please make sure you book your hotel well in advance. I booked 2 months prior to our visit and Klausterhof was the only hotel left in the area (there are very few), and I got the last room.

And lastly… don’t forget to visit Diamond Beach!

Just before you cross the bridge (if you approach the glacier lagoon from the west), turn right to visit Diamond Beach, a glacier beach in Iceland. As the name suggests, you’ll find ice littering the black sand beach. Not the ice you wear though, the ice that melts 😉

diamond beach
One of the diamonds that washed ashore
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hi from Diamond Beach!

Some of the icebergs that didn’t melt yet find their way out to the sea where they get washed up on Diamond Beach, and melt over a few days.

We saw a little seal washed up on the shore here. My immediate thought seeing it laying there on the beach was “Oh no, its dying… how can people be taking a picture?” Well, stupid me. It was apparently just resting, likely after an orca chase. So I lied, we did see a seal, but just not on an iceberg.

Pro tip: sometimes Diamond Beach is referred to as Iceberg Beach

Have you visited Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon? What was your experience like?


glacial lagoon

Looking for more posts on Iceland? Don’t miss these:

The Ulimate Iceland Packing list

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  1. Oh gosh. I just booked my first trip to Iceland for May of next year and this post is making me want to start planning already! I have to see the black sand beaches, so I may just put that Diamond Beach on my wish list!

    • Reply

      you should definitely start planning already! if I learned anything it was to book ahead of time haha!

  2. Iceland looks like my kind of place! It is such a nature wonderland, and your pictures of the glacier just drive that home. I don’t know if I would want to hold that ice though! It looks way too cold. XDD

    • Reply

      you should definitely visit, it is incredible!

  3. Iceland looks amazing! My vacations are usually tropical and warm but I would consider changing things up for Iceland. Thanks for the post

    • Reply

      glad I have inspired you for a change, it was incredible!

  4. Iceland is pretty high on my list for the photographic opportunities and this lagoon is high on that list as well! It looks so stunning!!! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Reply

      thanks! hope you can visit some time 🙂

  5. Sooo absolutely mesmerizing. That blue ice is stunning. What an amazing trip you planned – great tips on how to plan and book ahead. I think seeing the glaciers from the water has to be cool and I agree also worth the price! Pinning for later! Cheers from Copenhagen.

  6. Wow! Your photos are beautiful! Right now I’m deciding between Denmark, Iceland, and the Netherlands, but this post may have just made that decision for me!

    • Reply

      well I sure do love Iceland too (have a few posts on my blog in case you’re interested)… but NL is definitely cheaper than Iceland!

  7. I’m looking to book an Iceland trip in December and hope to see the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon too although the boat season will be off. Love your pictures there!

    • Reply

      ah too bad.. you can still see the lagoon if you park on the roadside though, which might be a good alternative!

  8. Jökulsárlón was my favourite destination in Iceland! We didn’t do a boat tour (not the right season) but admired it from the shore. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I actually liked the Diamond Beach even better. We had the perfect light and perfect colours, I was over the moon for having such weather when I travelled there. I really loved everything about it.

  9. Wow Iceland looks amazing! Your pictures are lovely. I can’t wait to go there one day! Thank you for all the information 🙂

  10. I’ve been to Jokulsarlon twice but have never taken the boat tour. It looks like I’m really missing out. You had beautiful weather for your visit. Both times I went it was a bit cloudy 🙁 I’d love to go back to Iceland and now I know I need to do the boat tour for sure 🙂

    • Reply

      hope you will get to go back and experience it! the tour was great 🙂

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  12. Woah! We had our Iceland experience last month and it was incredible but we didn’t have time to make it here.
    This inspires me to go back! Breathtaking!
    I know what you mean about how tiny it makes you feel.
    love the blog!

    • Reply

      hope you get to go back and see it, is is really incredible!

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