Visiting the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is like stepping into a fairytale. The dreamlike world is one of the greatest natural wonders in Iceland, by far. And it’s very easy to access, even in winter, since it’s situated right along the ring road.
Jökulsárlón is the largest of the glacial lakes in Iceland. The clear water is filled with huge odd shaped icebergs that break off Breiðamerkurjökull, a glacier tongue of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The white, green, blue and even black coloured blocks of ice drift around in the lake all while the huge mass of white that is Vatnajökull towers in the distance. Eventually, the icebergs are carried out to sea by a short river.
Jökulsárlón was formed when the glacier starting retreating sixty or so years ago, leaving behind a deep lake filled with melt water. It is constantly growing in size, as the glacier keeps melting. At 284 metres deep, it is currently the deepest lake on the island.
One perk of visiting Jökulsárlón in winter is that chances are pretty high that you’ll find yourself all alone with nature. There is complete silence, apart from the occasional cracking and sudden breaking of ice with the following splash. It is apparent that the glacier is very much alive. The fact that there are no boat rides or organised tours on the lake during winter doesn’t matter at all. Walking along the black shores is quite enough, and an amazing experience in itself.
Just on the other side of the bridge the icebergs float under is a sight not to be missed. Follow the river to the black beach by the ocean, where endless amounts of icebergs get stranded on the shore. The glittering ice sculptures on the black sand are an incredible sight.
Not to be missed.
Sights to see on the way
Seljalandsfoss: The mother of all waterfalls! Sure, it may not be the highest, it may not be the mightiest…but you can walk behind it. And that’s pretty cool. Just follow the foot path at the bottom of the cliff and get up close and personal with this pretty waterfall. Seljalandsfoss is visible from the ring road, so you can’t miss is.
Seljavallalaug: An outdoor swimming pool built in the 1920s. The pool is situated in a deep valley between high mountains with little waterfalls and a stream flowing right next to it. The location is breathtaking and the experience amazing. From the ring road turn off towards Raufarfell and follow the signs to Seljavellir. From there you’ll have to hike straight ahead on a narrow path into the valley for around one kilometre. Bring a swimsuit—you’ll never know whether someone will show up…
Fjallsárlón: A small glacier lake near Jökulsárlón. The cool thing about Fjallsárlón is that the glacier itself is really close. It rolls over the mountain and seems to be crawling down the green landscape straight ahead. Suddenly, it stops and there is a wall of ice and a lake with icebergs below it. From the ring road, turn off at the sign that reads Fjallsárlón and follow the gravel road until you reach the huge mass of ice.