Perched on the cusp of Europe’s largest glacier and separated from the Atlantic Ocean by just a narrow isthmus, the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is the largest, deepest, and arguably most magnificent of Iceland’s many glacial lakes. Icebergs bob in glittering water framed by jagged peaks, rugged lava fields, and black sand beaches.
Whether you hike around the shore, cruise around the lagoon on an RIB boat, or set sail on an amphibian boat tour, the Jokulsarlon lagoon is spectacular from all angles. Full-day tours from Reykjavik typically combine a visit to the lagoon with a glacier hike or ice cave tour in the Skaftafell National Park, or a visit to natural wonders such as the Seljalandsfoss or Skogafoss waterfalls.
Things to Know Before You Go
- While the lagoon is accessible year round, boat tours are weather dependent and only in operation from April to November.
- The icy landscapes can be chilly even if the sun is shining, so bring warm clothes, a hat, and gloves even on a summer trip.
- There is a small café by the lagoon, where you can purchase hot drinks and snacks, or use the restroom.
- While it’s possible for wheelchair users to view the lagoon, many of the activities on and around the glacier are not suitable for those with limited mobility.
How to Get There
The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is located on the southeastern border of the Vatnajökull National Park on Iceland’s south coast, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) east of Reykjavik. From Reykjavik, it’s roughly a 4.5-hour drive along the Ring Road.
When to Get There
It’s possible to visit the lagoon all year round, but the summer months are the most popular, so expect crowds if you visit then. Winter visitors benefit from smaller crowds and better deals on tours and accommodation, but boat tours don’t run between December and March. During that time, it’s best to visit with a guide, as road conditions can be difficult. Budding photographers should time their visit for sunrise or sunset for the most impressive views.
Wildlife at the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Iceland’s glacial landscapes harbor a surprising variety of wildlife and the Jokulsarlon lagoon is a haven for seabirds, especially Arctic terns and skuas. Look out for seals swimming between the floating icebergs, or, if you’re driving from Reykjavik, stop to admire the puffin colonies at Dyrholaey lighthouse or Reynisfjara beach along the way.