Jökulsárlón - Atlas Obscura

Despite the splendor of Jökulsárlón’s light blue and milky-white icebergs, the beauty of the glacial pool in southeastern Iceland is bittersweet.

As the melting of nearby glaciers has accelerated, the landscape grows both increasingly stunning and fragile. Since the 1970s, the melting glaciers have grown the Jökulsárlón lagoon to be four times larger, now measuring at 11.1 square kilometers wide.

Formed entirely from glacial melt, Jökulsárlón is situated directly next to Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, which covers eight percent of the country. As chunks of ice break off Vatnajökull, they float atop the icy blue waters of this whimsical glacial lagoon. 

Scientists estimate that the continued rate of melting of Vatnajökull will cause a massive fjord to exist where the glacier once stood, again adding to the natural beauty of Iceland’s landscape, but doing so at a great environmental expense.

A visit to Jökulsárlón has become a must for Iceland bound travelers keen on seeing the lagoon that has become popularized in such films as A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins.

For those keen on seeing the Aurora Borealis, Jökulsárlón is a fantastic place to watch the Northern Lights. Photographers will often come and set up their tripods before sunset.

Know Before You Go

Jökulsárlón is located between Skaftafell National Park and Höfn, in southern Iceland and is only accessible by car or bus. Travelers can rent a car from Keflavik Airport, outside Reykjavík, or may book one of the many available tours to in Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón and other Golden Circle highlights. 

Upon arrival at Jökulsárlón, travelers will find available zodiac boat tours that take people on a tour of the glacial lagoon and up close to the Vatnajökull iceberg. If hungry, you'll also find a small cafe at Jökulsárlón with available snacks. For a more robust meal—and perhaps one of the only food options in the immediate area—drive 15 minutes east to Hotel Hali, which serves up Icelandic comfort food.

Pro tip: For a stellar view nearby, leave the main parking lot, cross the bridge and park in one of the rocky pull-offs. Hike up and over the hills to get down to a private rocky beach that offers a fantastic vantage point for the Northern Lights.

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