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Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

In the South Coast of Iceland

Jökulsárlón (Jokulsarlon) is known to many simply as the ice lagoon since action scenes in James Bond Die Another Day and other movies made this dramatic and surreal landscape famous. The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is at Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier or tongue of the magnificent and vast Vatnajökull Glacier which lies beyond it.

View our selection of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Tours

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Jokulsarlon lagoon started to form around 1935 because the Breiðamerkurjökull had retreated back from the edge of the Atlantic. The size of the lagoon has increased four-fold since 1970 and this is now the deepest lake in Iceland. Icebergs constantly calve off the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, floating majestically in the lagoon before they find their way to the Atlantic Ocean.

A boat trip on the glacier lagoon is an absolute must-do!

This is an otherworldly and never to be forgotten experience. You will be a state of awe as you travel between icebergs, which tower high above you, many are far bigger than houses. You will feel humbled by the forces of nature which created this place. The vastness and power of this glacial world of ice are something you really have to feel for yourself to truly appreciate. People are amazed when they see the jewel bright blue and green shades within the ancient ice of this brilliant white wonderland. Taste the ice and take photographs to treasure forever!

Visit the dramatic Diamond Beach just a short walk away from the lagoon. Walk on the black sand and see the icebergs which have floated from the lagoon to their ultimate destination, the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Here you will have the opportunity to stand in awe and marvel at icebergs which glitter like diamonds against the black volcanic sand of the beach. Some are huge, some are small, all are creations of the glacier of which they were a part for so long. Hold a small iceberg in your hand and marvel at the fact you are holding ancient raindrops or snow-flakes in your hand. How magical is that? Those raindrops fell to earth thousands of years ago during a time when the earth was far colder!

Where is Jokulsarlon located?

Jökulsárlón is located in South East Iceland 372 km from Reykjavík on the edge of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Austur Skaftafellssýsla county. The distances are 79.9 km from Höfn and 187 km from Egilsstaðir for those traveling from East Iceland. The famous Diamond Beach is around 1 km away from the lagoon. A couple of other attractions in the area: glacier hiking tours from Skaftafell (56.5 km) and the Skaftafell Visitor Center and hiking trails (56.5 km).

How did Jokulsarlon form?

Around the year 1930 Breiðarmerkurjökull the outlet glacier from Vatnajökull that feeds the lagoon started to retreat, got thinner and melt from the areas it once sat on. With this movement the glacier carved into the land and created a hollow. This hollow then filled up with melt water but the glacier hadn’t completely gone and still today sits right next the lagoon feeding it with icebergs that break of the glacier. This kind of setting is quite uncommon for Icelandic glaciers and reminds many of photos from Greenland or Antarctica but that’s also what makes the place more special.

Most of the icebergs are enormous blocks when they seperate from the glacier and fall into the lagoon and even though the lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland many of them reach all the way to the bottom. They then float further out, melting and making their way around towards South where the lagoon is not as deep. The final stop for them before joining with the Atlantic ocean is often at the Breiðamerkurssand beach and for that reason the beach has been nicknamed the Diamond Beach ad the icebergs tend to glisten in the sun.

Wildlife at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon has tides so water doesn’t just run out of the lagoon but also into it and when that happens fish and seals have joined in the lagoon. There have even been times when the fish Capelin has spawned in the lagoon.

The fish in the lagoon makes for an excellent buffet for many bird species than because of it build their nests in the area. The birds are mainly Seagulls, Arctic Terns and Great Skua even though others have been spotted, even rare ones like the Roseate Tern.

Facts about Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

  • It’s the deepest lake in Iceland
  • From it runs Jökulsá river the shortest river in Iceland only about 1 km
  • Many fossils of marine creatures have been found in the lagoon including Aporrhais pespelecani.
  • Breiðamerkurjökull glacier that feeds the glacier is an outlet glacier from Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe.

What does the name Jökulsárlón mean?

Jökull means glacier
Ár means river
Lón means lagoon
So basically the meaning is glacier-river-lagoon.

Filming at Jokulsarlon, Hollywood Films, and TV Shows

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is an extremely photogenic place and one can not be too surprised that Hollywood directors have chosen it again and again to shot their films. Here are some of the movies that have been shot at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon:

  • James Bond 007 – James Bond, A view to a kill (1985)
  • James Bond 007 – James Bond, Die another day (2002)
  • Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2001)

Some of the most recent Hollywood filming at the lagoon was done for Justin Bieber’s music video I’ll Show you where Bieber himself walked into the lagoon, a soaked his whole body in the glacial water. Only for the bravest of souls!

What not to do at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon?

  • Even if Justin Bieber did it we do not recommend going into the lagoon. The glacial water is extremely cold and staying in it for too long can cause hypothermia.
  • Do not try to stand on the icebergs in the water, they flip very easily and quickly without any warning and it can be very hazardous.
  • Park in unmarked area. There are several well marked parking areas so there should be plenty of space for everyone.
  • Litter! This is an important one. With the Seagulls and birds alike in the area littering can spread wide quickly. The area is beautiful, remote and untouched so it’s important not to litter to keep it that way. Please join us in keeping it clean.

Interesting places near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Day tours visiting Jokulsarlon