Glaciers in Iceland: Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón, Diamond Beach

All the information to visit the glaciers in Iceland: the famous Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon (the one of the blue icebergs, the one that everyone dreams of planning a trip to Iceland, the one of the films such as Batman Begins, Tomb Raider and James Bond) is the most important one, Fjallsarlon is an equally beautiful lagoon (close and much quieter), while Diamond Beach is a must.

Glaciers Iceland: Jökulsárlón

The glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon is located in the south of Iceland, south of the Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe. Vatnajokull and the surrounding area are Iceland’s largest national park and the second largest national park in Europe, after Yugid Va in Russia.

With a maximum depth of 248 meters, it is also the deepest lake in Iceland. The area of Jokulsarlon measures 18 km2.

In 1934, the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier began to retreat, leaving the lagoon behind. The lagoon has quadrupled in area since the early 1970s, a symptom of global warming, as the more the glacier melts, the larger the lagoon increases in size.

A show of colour: the icebergs of Jökulsárlón

Huge pieces of ice come off from the glacier, they are real icebergs, which literally dive into the lagoon and begin their journey to the sea. The icebergs of Jökulsárlón are composed of ice of more than 1,000 years. The icebergs have spectacular colors, they also appear streaked with black/grey because they encompass particles of volcanic origin. Larger icebergs appear blue/green because ice particles more effectively absorb longer wavelengths of light (red and yellow) than shorter wavelengths (blue and green).

The lagoon is connected to the ocean and is therefore composed of a mixture of fresh water and sea that creates its unique color. It’s also a perfect place to spot seals all year round, but the lagoon gets crowded in the mouth area in winter, when seals try to catch fish in this area.

Glaciers in Iceland: Diamond Beach (Breiðamerkursandur)

Icebergs that break away from the glacier and fall into the lagoon, melt slowly and move to the sea, where they are smoothed by the waves of the Atlantic before getting stranded on the black beach of Breiðamerkursandur.

This stretch of black beach is always covered with translucent and compact ice sculptures that shine in the sun, just like diamonds. That’s why Breiðamerkursandur is nicknamed Diamond Beach.

Glaciers in Iceland: Fjallsárlón

Fjallsárlón is another iceberg-filled lagoon near the Vatnajökull glacier, about 10 km west of the world-famous (and very crowded) glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón. If you’re looking for a moment of peace and contemplation of the glacier, the Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon is the perfect destination!

This quiet glacial lagoon, smaller than Jökulsárlón, reveals fantastic close-up views of the Fjallsjokull Glacier.

The glacial lagoons of Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón sit next to each other. Some even claim that Fjallsárlón is the younger sister of Jökulsárlón! In both lagoons, you can stop for stunning views of the lagoon or take a boat ride among the glittering icebergs.

Giant icebergs float through the turquoise waters. No wonder it’s the most popular glacial lagoon in Iceland (and perhaps in the world)!

However, Fjallsárlón offers better views of the glacier: being five times smaller than Jökulsárlón, you can get a lot closer to the Vatnajökull ice sheet in its Fjallsjokull part. It is also much less crowded and the visit can be carried out with extreme tranquility (and so is your photo session!).

It’s just off Route 1 (the Ring Road) and it is easy to access. However, the lagoon is not visible from the road. If you’re driving from Reykjavik, look for the red Fjallsárlón sign on your left. On the site you will find a parking lot with a service center, a café and public toilets. From there, a short walk will take you to the shores of the lagoon. GPS coordinates: 64th 0′ 57.74184″ N 16th 21′ 55.67976″ W

Glaciers in Iceland: where to stay

Hotels and hostels near the lagoon become fully booked very soon. A good cheaper option (both in terms of pre-booking and in terms of price) is to stay in Hoffel’s neighbor. We chose Glacier World.

Hoffell is located about 19 kilometers from Hofn to Hornafjordur and about 3 kilometers from the number 1 road. Hoffell is surrounded by spectacular and varied nature: from the huge plain to the mountains, from the glacier to the geothermal areas.

Glacier World is located just 3 kilometres from Hoffellsjökull (Hoffells Glacier), which is part of Vatnajökull.

Glacier World guesthouse has rooms in three different buildings: in one of the houses, renovated on two floors, there are eight rooms, single, double/double and triple. The second house opened at the end of July 2014 and has eight new rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. The rooms are located on the first floor of the old barn, four of which have fantastic views of the glacier and the other with great views of the mountains. On the ground floor of the barn are the reception, lounge and dining room. You will really enjoy spectacular views of the glacier and mountains. The third and final house, also renovated, has five large rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, four of them with spectacular views of the glacier. Rooms are double/double and triple.

Glacier World also offers the experience of hot tub: not far from the hotel there are five geothermal hot tubs that guests staying at the property can use for free. These hot tubs are also open to the public and the price is 1000 ISK per person.

Glacier World is open all year round and you can book by sending an email or from Booking.

354 478 1514
Hoffelli II B, 781 HORNAFJ-R’UR, Iceland

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