Have an Ice Day!

In a country with so many photogenic landscapes, you’d think it would be hard to choose a favourite, but without doubt, mine is the beautiful iceberg strewn lagoon that is Jökulsárlón. Located in south east Iceland and squeezed between the mighty Vatnajökull glacier and the even mightier Atlantic Ocean, it’s rightly one of the country’s top visitor attractions despite its distance from Reykjavik. To reach Jökulsárlón from the capital, you can take a short flight to nearby Höfn or drive a motorhome rental along Iceland’s ring road, the 1.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland: Jökulsárlón lagoon with the glacier in the background
Jökulsárlón lagoon with the glacier in the background

Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland Day Tour

Take a trip out on the lake

Visit Jokulsarlon Lagoon between April and October, and it’s possible to take an amphibious craft out onto the lake to get a closer look at the many icebergs that float on the lagoon as the temperatures rise. In a colour spectrum that extends from milky white to clear turquoise, these huge lumps of ice are gradually swept out to sea by the current. If you want to maximise your chances of scrutinising every crack in the ice, then the smaller Zodiacs can get you even closer. In season, turn up and board the next boat if you’re happy with an amphibious excursion, or pre-book to secure a place on one of the less frequent Zodiac sailings.

Hike the shore in winter

In the harsh Icelandic winter, the lake freezes and the boat operators pack up until late spring. A visit to the Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland is still worth doing even though the icebergs may be smaller. The lake shore path affords fantastic views of the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, an offshoot of the Vatnajökull Glacier that flows right into the lake. In winter, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the seals that congregate in the area. There’ll also be fewer visitors to get in the way of getting a great shot for your photo album. If the wind’s bitter, don’t worry – the lakeshore cafe is open year-round.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland: Walk under the bridge to reach the beach
Walk under the bridge to reach the beach

Head for the beach

A path leads from the shore of the lagoon under the road bridge to a black sand beach. The waves play with the icebergs for a while, washing them up onto the shore or battering them in the surf. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many photographers list this as their favourite location in the country. Try to time your visit for the beginning or end of the day if you can when the light is softer and the atmosphere is magical. If you have a car rental there are accommodation options just a few kilometres further east at Hali Country Hotel to save you a long drive in the dark.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland: Icebergs on the beach at Jökulsárlón
Icebergs on the beach at Jökulsárlón

Haven’t I seen this place somewhere before?

If Jokulsarlon Lagoon Iceland looks familiar, you’d be right in thinking you’ve seen it before. It’s been the location for four Hollywood blockbusters, including two Bond films, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Batman Begins. If you’re wondering how they made sure the ice was thick enough for the car chase in Die Another Day, the answer’s simple. The warmer sea current was blocked off by a temporary barrier and the lagoon left to freeze over to a safe depth. The dam was removed right after filming wrapped up.

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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  1. Must-Visit Spots on the Iceland Ring Road | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon where chunks of ice large and small float about. To get a birds eye view of the lagoon, you can climb a little hill that runs along the beach. Alternatively, you can walk on the beach to get a little closer to the ice. There is also boat tour you can get on that takes you right up to the ice. […]

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