Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – Iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with pink skies and icebergsJökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places on the planet – and I’ve seen some pretty spectacular sites! Like Antelope Canyon, Milford Sound from the sky, and of course, The Blue Ice Caves from last week’s post. Iceland is full of unique landscapes that are unlike anything I’m used to seeing on my travels, and Jökulsárlón is no exception.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with pink skies and icebergs

My Top 3 Reasons you should Visit Iceland

  1. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach
  2. Blue Ice Caves
  3. Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) – if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with aurora, and this is only #3 because the weather is very unpredictable in Iceland, and you may have more luck in destinations like Alaska, Sweden, Norway or Finland.
  4. BONUS: Icelandic Horses!

There are actually 92374859302 reasons you should visit Iceland, namely because of just how many waterfalls there are. I’ll write more about them in the coming months, especially as I’m heading back at the beginning of April 2017 and plan to swim between the tectonic plates at Silfra Fissure!

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with blue icebergs

My first trip to Iceland came about as a bit of a fluke. I was travelling to Sweden to spend Christmas with my friend Emelie, who lives in Gothenburg. Well that’s how it started. Next minute, my flights were with Swiss Airlines, so naturally, I needed a week in Switzerland on the way. Then I heard about the Norway in a Nutshell trip, and decided that would be an amazing way to see some spectacular winter landscapes. Then I realised how close I was to Iceland, a place I knew nothing about at the time, just that it was a winter wonderland. I didn’t have much time, only 5 days. If only I knew then, what I know now. You need at least a week in Iceland, 2-3 weeks would be much better!

With limited time and a desire to see everything, I started my research. Keep in mind, this was a few years ago now, so Iceland wasn’t splashed all over Facebook like it is today (which I love, by the way!). I came across Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach on the south-east coast of Iceland, about a 4.5hr drive from the capital, Reykjavík (in perfect conditions). This place is what my dreams are made of. I decided then and there that that was the number 1 place I just HAD to visit on my trip. Scouring the internet for the perfect tour, I found a 4 day trip with Extreme Iceland – a small group adventure tour company with very laid-back guides.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with blue icebergsJokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with pink skies and icebergs

I had a decision to make. Travel along the south coast and make it out to my dream destination, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Or skip it this time and do the Golden Circle Route, which is the most popular tourist trail in Iceland as it’s lined with amazing waterfalls, Geysir, Silfra Fissure and pretty, furry horses. I chose Jökulsárlón and never looked back. Researching just how much I wanted to see of this little country, I knew I’d be back sooner or later!

Being smack-bang in the middle of winter in Iceland means there’s not much daylight. The sun rises fairly late, and sets a lot earlier than you’re probably used to. The benefit of this for me was not having to wake up ridiculously early to catch the sunrise over Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. As we approached, I could just see the massive glacier in the distance, even though it was still somewhat dark. We arrived, and with a racing heart, I jumped out of the van and headed straight for the lagoon.

Giant, majestic icebergs float gracefully in the lagoon, after breaking off from the glacier. In winter, the lagoon is usually brimming with icebergs, and you may even spot a seal or two. In summer, you can even take a boat ride through the icebergs and get right up close. As I mentioned earlier, the weather in Iceland is extremely unpredictable. I experienced everything while I was there, and it could sometimes change every 5 minutes. I’m not even kidding. You have to be prepared, both physically and mentally. By this I mean, wearing the right clothes and having the right gear, as well as being prepared for your itinerary to be ruled by the weather. A friend of mine recently returned from a winter trip to Iceland and the weather resulted in a different experience for her at some of the places I have visited.

Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with tiny people standing among icebergsDiamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with icebergs on the black sand beach and pink skiesDiamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with icebergs on the black sand beach and pink skies

On this trip, I was lucky that Mother Nature sprinkled a light dusting of snow over the icebergs and Diamond Beach, just before we arrived. With clearing skies and a beautiful pink sunrise about to start, I couldn’t have asked for a more magical experience.

Ever so slowly, the icebergs float down a short stream and out to the North Atlantic Ocean. The waves on Iceland’s south coast are well-known for their viciousness, and they promptly smash up the ice into all shapes and sizes and wash them up on the black sand beach. This beach, known as Diamond Beach, lives up to its name. The washed-up icebergs glisten in the sun and the colours stand out against the rich, black sand. Some are as big as cars, fighting back against the fury of the ocean, and others are as small as diamonds, shining as you walk by. I think I took about 300+ photos here, and at Jökulsárlón. I wasn’t even looking at the camera most of the time – just click, click, click.

Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with icebergs on the black sand beachWaves crashing over icebergs on the black sand of Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunriseDiamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunrise with icebergs on the black sand beach

I stupidly put off sharing my Jökulsárlón trip on my blog, because it was such a life-changing experience and I wanted everything to be perfect before doing so. In hindsight, I know this seems ridiculous. It’s something I’m working on. Visiting Jökulsárlón propelled me into my love of winter travel and I have never ever looked back. Of course I love travelling in every season, and each landscape or city looks different depending what time of year you’re there…but winter will always have my heart.

Have you visited Jökulsárlón? Is Iceland on your travel list? What’s your favourite season to travel, and why?

If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below, or hit me up on Facebook or Instagram.

7 Comments

  1. February 7, 2017 / 6:54 am

    I plan to visit Iceland this year in September, hopefully it will work! But I will only have one week, you say it is a minimum so I hope to make the most out of it. The Diamond Beach looks beautiful and your photos are breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!

    • May 5, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s my favourite place on the planet. I just got back from my second trip there a couple weeks ago and make a 1min video you can check out here: https://www.facebook.com/DiscoveringNewSkies/videos/799893323520187/
      It’s very windy again! It was about -2 degrees celsius while I was there, not quite as cold as last time, but warmer than Svalbard where I was just before heading to Iceland this time around. Svalbard was down to -30 degrees celsius!

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