Complete guide to visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

Apr 15, 2023

Jökulsárlón Glacier in Iceland is a spectacular natural wonder.

Massive icebergs float gracefully in the lagoon, occasionally breaking off of the glacier with a thunderous crash. I was speechless observing the chromatic blues, whites, and silvery grays dancing with a menagerie of arctic wildlife.

A dramatic, otherworldly landscape, the glacier’s shimmering blue ice formations contrast with black volcanic sand to create a breathtaking sense of limitlessness that makes you feel closer to the sheer power and beauty of the natural world that you can imagine.

Located on the southeastern coast of Icelandmnear the town of Höfn, Jökulsárlón Glacier is my #1 must-visit destination for anyone on holiday in Iceland. Use Jökulsárlón Glacier guide to plan the perfect vacation!

What are the best things to do at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

Glacier Lagoon Boat Tour

The best thing to do in Iceland at Jökulsárlón Glacier is to take a boat tour on the glacier lagoon. I went with Ice Lagoon Adventure Tours on a zodiac boat tour and can’t recommend it enough! Zooming around the icebergs in the lagoon to see seals lounging, then floating silently up close to the glacier (so close that you can touch it) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The guides are native Icelanders and are deeply knowledgeable about the glaciers, the wildlife, and the challenges this glacial environment is facing in the era of global climate change. They were also full of interesting stories and Icelandic legends and folklore centered on the glaciers.

Because of the temperature at the glacier lagoon, you’re required to wear the stylish red onesie outfit you see me wearing in the photo for the duration of the boat experience. The tours run from May to October and last about an hour.

Visiting Iceland? Check out these 6 tips that first-time visitors to Iceland need to know.

Diamond Beach

Located across the street from Jökulsárlón Glacier, Diamond Beach is a black sand beach sparkling with icebergs that have broken off of the glacier and washed up on shore.

The contrast between the black sand and the crystal-clear icebergs creates a stunning visual effect that you won’t want to miss— they really do look like massive diamonds washed up on the beach.

Ice Caving

Another popular activity at Jökulsárlón Glacier is ice caving.

Ice caves are formed by meltwater that flows through the glacier and creates ice formations. You can take guided tours trekking inside the ice caves to explore their beauty.

Iceland is a special place— in fact, it’s NUMBER 1 on my list of the top 9 destinations for first time solo travelers. You’ll never guess why!

Hiking

Jökulsárlón Glacier offers several hiking trails that allow you to explore the surrounding area and take in the stunning views of the glacier. The most popular hiking trail is the Glacier Lagoon Trail, which takes you around the glacier lagoon and offers amazing views of the icebergs from a different vantage point.

Northern Lights

If you’re visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier during the winter months, then you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. These dazzling lights can be seen from the glacier, creating a surreal experience.

How do you get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

Jökulsárlón Glacier is a 5-hour drive from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. If you want to score a cheap flight to Reykjavik, be sure to use my simple travel hack for finding the cheapest flights— I’ve found flights to Iceland from Washington DC for less than $300!

Once you’re in Reykjavik, there are several ways to get to Jökulsárlón Glacier, but the best way is to rent a car and drive along the Ring Road (Route 1) towards the southeast of the country. The drive is scenic and offers breathtaking views of Iceland’s stunning landscapes, including waterfalls, mountains, and glaciers. There are so many great road trip stops you can make on your way.

If you don’t want to drive, there are also guided tours that will take you to Jökulsárlón Glacier from Reykjavik. These tours usually include transportation, a guide, and stops at other popular sights along the way.

The nearest town to Jökulsárlón Glacier is Höfn, which is about 78 km away. The easiest way to get to Höfn is by flying into Keflavik International Airport and then taking a connecting flight to Höfn. Alternatively, you can drive from Reykjavik to Höfn, which takes around 5 hours.

Once you reach Höfn, you can rent a car or join a guided tour to Jökulsárlón Glacier. The drive from Höfn to Jökulsárlón Glacier takes around 1 hour.

What’s the best time of year to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

The best time to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is milder and the days are longer. However, if you want to see the Northern Lights, the best time to visit and see them is during the winter months from November to February. Just keep in mind that the weather can be harsh and the roads can be difficult to navigate during the winter.

Where to stay near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

There are plenty of accommodation options near Jökulsárlón Glacier, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Here are some of the best options:

  1. Hali Country Hotel: This hotel is located in the heart of Iceland’s south coast and offers comfortable rooms with stunning views of the glacier.

  2. Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: This modern hotel is located just a few minutes away from Jökulsárlón Glacier and offers comfortable rooms with breathtaking views.

  3. Hali Guesthouse: If you’re on a budget, then this guesthouse is a great option. It’s located in a quiet and peaceful area and offers basic but comfortable rooms.

Final tips for the BEST things to do in Iceland

Here are some final tips to keep in mind when visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier:

  1. Dress warm: I went in August and at the glacier lagoon, I still needed a winter coat, hat, and gloves. The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, so no matter what time of year you go, make sure to bring warm clothing and waterproof gear.

  2. Stay safe: Always follow the instructions of your guide when participating in activities on the glacier. While Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world, you may still want to check out these A+ travel safety products for women (most under #20 on Amazon).

  3. Respect the environment: Jökulsárlón Glacier is a fragile ecosystem. While you’re visiting the glacier, you have a unique opportunity learn about how to preserve ecosystems like this and why it’s so critical that we find ways to combat global climate change.

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Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!

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