Jokulsarlon: Iceland’s Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon: Iceland's glacier lagoon at sunset

If you think Iceland is beautiful, wait till you experience the incredible views of Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. The Jokulsarlon is home to stunning icebergs and is considered as the most popular filming location of Iceland. Every year a large number of people visit these glaciers and return home with magical memories. So, what makes this ice lagoon so special? The answer is simple: it has nature at its very best!

About Jokulsarlon

  • The Jökulsárlón glacier was formed in 1934 when the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier started to retreat.

  • It has icebergs that are as old as over 1000 years.

  • Since the early 1970s, the lagoon has drastically increased in size. Jokulsarlon currently has a surface area of 18 km² (7 sq miles.

  • Its water is distinctively colored and is a blend of both seawater and freshwater.

  • This icy lagoon is the deepest lake of Iceland with a maximum depth of 248 meters (813 feet).

  • You can find seals here throughout the year. It is a treat to watch them, especially in the winters when they flock to the edges of the lagoon to catch fish.

Location of the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon is almost 5 to 6 hours’ drive from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. It is located in the south of Europe's largest glacier - the Vatnajokull glacier. Its surrounding area is not only the largest national park in Iceland but is also the second-largest national park in Europe.

If you are wondering how to get to this icy lagoon, you have two options: either drive your car or join a group of travelers heading towards these remarkable Iceland icebergs. You will find the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, Myrdalsjokull glaciers, Reynisfjara beach, Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and many other stunning South Coast attractions along the way. And if that isn’t enough, you can enjoy a visit to the ice caves. And then there is this world-renown attraction of the Golden Circle that includes a drive to the three equally amazing locations of Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park.

The weather of when you visit

You can travel to Jokulsarlon at any time of the year. However, you may need to check the weather carefully during the winter. You are advised not to drive when there is a snowstorm. The good part is that even if you end up getting stuck somewhere, there will be someone stopping by to help you.

If you are a little skeptical about heading towards these glaciers in the winter season, there is one thing that may change your mind: the Northern Lights. Yes, winters are never dull and boring in this amazing ice lagoon Iceland has to offer - the sky shimmering with a naturally created light show. How cool is that?

Jökulsárlón and global warming

The most interesting thing about the Jokulsarlon lagoon and its glacier tongue is that it will look different every time you visit it. The effects of global warming melt these glaciers which increases the size of the lagoon. Moreover, huge chunks of icebergs crumble down the glaciers while shrinking them in size. These icebergs travel from the lagoon to the sea where they are naturally polished by the North Atlantic waves and then scattered across the nearby Breioamerkursandur beach. This mesmerizing beach of black sands is commonly known as the Diamond Beach as it showcases the glittering ice chunks that sparkle under the sun like diamonds.

Wildlife at the glacial lake

Who doesn’t enjoy wildlife when they are out to explore nature? You can find colonies of seals enjoying their lagoon-life or unwinding at a floating iceberg. Summers are especially delightful as you can find not only arctic terns but also many other species of birds. If you are driving to Jokulsarlon, you will find some of the most scenic views so make sure you have lots of time to explore along with a fully charged camera.

Family watching wildlife at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Filming at the Glacier Lagoon Iceland

How can filmmakers and music video directors not shoot at this mesmerizing location? Many Hollywood and Bollywood movies, music videos, and advertisements have been filmed here. Some James Bond movies such as Die Another Day and A View to a Kill, along with Lara Croft Tomb Raider were shot in the Jokulsarlon lagoon. In addition to this, Batman Begins and Interstellar were filmed in the nearby Vatnajökull National Park.

Justin Bieber’s I’ll Show You and Bon Iver’s Holocene feature the magnificent landscape of this glacier that you cannot find any other place in the world. In addition to this, Bollywood film Dilwale’s music video of Gerua was also shot at the breathtaking venue of Jokulsarlon, Iceland.

Activities at the Glacier Lagoon

Whether you aim to visit Jokulsarlon only or you are traveling the Ring Road to explore Iceland, don’t forget to delve into these amazing activities that this glacier lagoon offers.

Boat Tours: The summertime is ideal for boating adventures and you can find different types of tours from April to October. With July and August being the peak season, as much as 40 boat trips are scheduled per day.

Ice Caves: Every year from the mid of October to March you can explore these naturally forming frozen caves. When the glaciers melt and river runs underneath them sculpting their way into a tunnel, ice-caves come into existence. The astonishing beauty of Jokulsarlon is that each cave is different from the other in terms of its formation, shape, and size. However, one thing is common – the remarkable blue color of the ice.

Safety is crucial when it comes to exploring these caves. A local guide should accompany you on such adventures as he/ she knows the place best and would tell you if conditions are not safe. The icebergs can melt and collapse if the weather is warm.

The Aurora Borealis: The colorful lights that illuminate the sky at night are what people from around the world come to witness. Although the lights appear on the sky throughout the year yet these can only be witnessed from September to mid of April. This is because the summer season has bright nights and this northern light show needs to have a nice dark sky. This dazzling night performance with colorful reflections on the lagoon glaciers is what makes it worth watching at least once in your lifetime.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and the Northern Lights

Your safety while visiting

It is quite natural to be impressed by the films and videos shot in Jokulsarlon but that does not mean you should replicate it. It is extremely dangerous to swim amidst floating icebergs. Climbing on top of these blue icebergs for a selfie or a dare could result in a life-threatening situation. These icebergs can easily tip over causing the person sitting on it to be trapped underneath. Also, you should not swim in the lagoon no matter how harmless the situation seems. The tides are often very strong, and they have the potential to push you into the sea. You would not want to turn this once-in-a-lifetime experience into your worst one, would you?

You can find good guesthouses, hotels, and cottages around the Jokulsarlon glacier. However, you need to book in advance, otherwise don’t be surprised if you have nowhere to stay. But that does not mean you are left to spend the night out on the Iceland iceberg. You can always check the neighbor town of Hofn for good accommodation options.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is a beautiful place that needs to be included in your bucket list. There is so much to do and so many memories to make. So, what are you waiting for?