Published July 20, 2011

Photo by
Julia Staples

If you are looking to experience an overwhelming landscape without ever having to leave the comfort of your car, Jökulsárlón is the place. This 200 metre deep, eighteen square kilometre glacial lagoon has been dubbed ‘nature’s ever-changing sculpture park.’ That is for good reason, as the glacial runoff that creates the lagoon carries with it small icebergs and bits of glacier that dot the lagoon with their fascinating natural shapes. This natural wonder is only sixty years old, and was created by a receding glacier (and that may or may not have something to do with global warming, depending on your political views).

I have visited this lagoon over a dozen times and every time I still feel like a kid in a candy store with my camera. If impressing your friends at home with your photographs tickles your fancy, this is a place not to be missed. And if spiritual rebirth and awakening is your thing, I can’t imagine a better place to make that happen.

Jökulsárlón may well provide the most stunning landscape one can observe from a car. It’s like a drive-in movie theatre. No hiking necessary (although I really would recommend stepping out). However, if you have the money for a guided boat tour, you can get extra close to the glaciers and even sample some of the thousand year-old ice. If you have the energy, stamina and skill for hiking, there are numerous tours that provide guided walks on the glacier that feeds the lagoon.

Only a six-hour drive from Reykjavík, a trip to this lagoon can be done in one day on any number of tours. I would choose going here over going to the ‘Golden Circle’ any day, and I recommend you do the same if you are willing to endure the driving (although the current road closure by the Múlakvísl bridge, due to the recent glacial flooding makes the trip a little more tricky—there are apparently ferry services on offer between 07:00 and 23:00, do some research before you get going). If you are extra lucky the trip will come with a side of seal sightings as they very much like to sun themselves on top of the icebergs.

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