Jokulsarlon in winter: How to visit icebergs in Iceland

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is one of the most unique places you’ll visit in Iceland. Here is my complete guide to visiting the epic Jokulsarlon in winter.

Jokulsarlon in winter

Iceland has glaciers, volcanos, and thundering waterfalls, it has lava beaches and Northern Lights, green canyons, and some pretty impressive geysers.

But the coolest place in Iceland has got to be the luminous-blue icebergs at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach.

I’m telling you: TOTAL highlight of my trip to Iceland. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

If you visit Jokulsarlon on a winter trip, you’ll see fewer people, which is a huge plus. The weather conditions in Iceland are always unpredictable, but in winter you can expect snow, rain, and lower temperatures.

Ready to find out how to visit this popular destination on a winter tour?

Let’s dig in!

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Jokulsarlon in winter

What is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

Jökulsárlón is a lagoon of icebergs and ice blocks that come crashing down into the water from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Vatnajökull National Park. 

Jökulsárlón means “glacial river lagoon” in Icelandic.

The glacier lagoon is not very wide, but it’s the deepest lake in Iceland with a maximum depth of 260 meters.

It’s getting larger each year, and although it looks like it’s been around for an ice age or two, it’s actually only 80 years old. This makes Jökulsárlón special because it grows and looks different every time you visit it.

Each visit is unique.

Jokulsarlon in winter
Huge blocks of floating ice in the sea – wow, amirite!?

Where is Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon?

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is located right by Diamond Beach on the south coast of Iceland.

It’s 380 km from Reykjavik, so you can expect a 5-hour drive.

When to visit Jokulsarlon

Jökulsárlón is most crowded at mid-day, but nearly everyone stays within 100 meters of the parking lot so it’s easy to escape the crowds. You can visit all year round.

Try to get there by sunrise or sunset for colorful photos – plus, the ice diamonds at Diamond Beach are glistening more in the light at those times. Also, look for reflections in the water.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

How to get to Jökulsárlón

Buses from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon take about 11 hours, so it’s not a great solution. Your best option is to visit by car (5 hours) or an organized day tour.

I’ll go through your two options below:

Guided tour

You can find day tours and multi-day tours to Jokulsarlon from Reykjavik. I’ve handpicked the best tours for you below:

  • 1-day tour from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon (⭐ 4.5/5) Book here
  • 2-day tour from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon (⭐ 5/5). Book here

Rental car

If you’re not joining a day tour, you’ll need a rental car.

A self-drive tour is how I prefer to get around in Iceland because there’s so much to see off the path. You can rent a car in Reykjavik and other major cities in Iceland.

It’s easy to get from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón – it’s a 5-hour non-stop drive on Road 1 (The Ring Road).

Iceland car rental
Best Car Rental Company:


When booking your car rental online, I recommend Discover Cars. They compare prices at car rental agencies all over the country to get you the best deal.

Things to do at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

1. Photograph the icebergs

The best thing to do at the lagoon is to walk around and see the different sizes and colors of the icebergs.

The turquoise water and floating ice is the perfect backdrop for beautiful photos, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

2. Look for seals

Icebergs are not the only noteworthy sight at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Aside from birds like big seagulls and the occasional Eider duck, you can see seals swimming in the lagoon, relaxing on the blocks of ice, or resting on the shoreline.

I spotted one just as we arrived, but I was fumbling too long with my camera.

✶ Facepalm ✶

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland
It was right there to the left, I swear!
Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

3. Visit Diamond Beach

Imagine 1000-year-old icebergs and a black volcanic beach covered in glistening, translucent blocks of ice in different shapes and sizes, much like diamonds.

That’s what you’ll find just across the road from the lagoon.

On Diamond beach, the ice chunks from Jokulsarlon float out in the Atlantic Ocean and get washed back onto the black sand.

I’ve never seen anything like it!

Read next: How to visit Diamond Beach Iceland in winter

Diamond Beach Iceland

4. Northern Lights

Oh, yes.

One of the major benefits of visiting in winter is the aurora borealis. If you visit the glacial lake from October to March and the skies are clear, the lagoon can be an incredible spot to watch the northern lights dance above the ice.

5. Hike to the top

At Jokulsarlon, there’s a hill you can climb to get a good panoramic view from the top.

I highly recommend wearing sturdy boots as it gets slippery, especially in winter.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

Boat trips are not available in winter

From May to October, you can join a boat tour and sail between the icebergs! Unfortunately, it’s not open in winter.

There are two boat tours at Jökulsárlón:

The Amphibian boat tour is done in a large boat and takes 30–40 minutes. During the excursion, you sail among the huge icebergs.

The Zodiac boat tour is a smaller boat (max 10 people) so you get closer to the icebergs than on the amphibian.

Before you get on the boat, they suit you up in flotation suits and a life jacket.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

What’s it like to visit Jokulsarlon in winter?

It’s going to be cold, I won’t lie. It might also rain. But trust me when I say, this place is so unique that you won’t care. You’d want to visit even in a snowstorm.

When we got to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon around 11 a.m., the sun had just risen but was hiding behind a rainy and cloudy sky.

I didn’t care.

I jumped out of the car, into my rainwear, and skated towards the icebergs on the slippery, wet snow. And guys – they did not disappoint.

There are icebergs everywhere! In the water, on the shore, and along the shoreline.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

How much time to spend at Jokulsarlon

In the winter, you’ll probably spend around 2 hours at Jokulsarlon. Add 1-2 more hours if you’re visiting Diamond Beach across the road – which you obviously should!

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

What to wear in Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Since the weather in Iceland is oh-so unpredictable, you should always bring rainwear (a rain poncho would do, too). And dress in layers.

In the winter months, definitely wear a warm, waterproof parka and snow boots.

Read next: What to wear in Iceland (packing list for all seasons)

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

FAQ – Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon worth it?

Absolutely! Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a stunning natural wonder where you will see icebergs – it’s a unique experience and a must-visit when in Iceland.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

How much time to spend at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

Plan on spending 2-3 hours at Jökulsárlón lagoon to truly soak in its beauty and enjoy the activities.

Remember that days are shorter in the winter season, so plan accordingly.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland
Icebergs from the Vatnajökull glacier

What is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon famous for?

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is famous for its stunning floating icebergs, turquoise waters, and being a prime location to spot seals. It’s a true Icelandic gem!

Jokulsarlon is also a popular film location and has already featured in a slew of blockbuster films including Die Another Day, Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins.

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

Can you swim in the glacier lagoon?

Nope, you can’t swim in the glacier lagoon. It’s icy cold and not safe for swimming. It’s better to enjoy its beauty from the shore or a boat!

Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach, Iceland

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  1. Based upon your recommendations we visit Jökulsárlón last month and we were so glad we did. What a beautiful place! However, our weather was 40 mph winds and driving rain so we didn’t stay as long as you did. Love your blog!

  2. Hi! We will be traveling to Iceland in April and were disappointed to learn that boat tours do not operate here until May. Clearly you think it’s still worth going, even if we can’t get out on the water in a zodiac/amphibian tour? Thanks!

    1. Yes, absolutely! Jokulsarlon is incredible and you can spend hours there easily. You can walk along the lagoon itself and climb a little hill to get a great view. On the other side of the main road you’ll find the Diamond Beach which is just as fascinating with lots of floating icebergs. Close by, there’s a similar iceberg lagoon that not many people know about. It’s called Fjallsárlón, and I found this tour company for you that provide boat tours from April 1st: You should be able to book a tour through them.

      Have an amazing trip!

  3. Hi Miriam – I’ve enjoyed reading all your a Iceland posts in preparation for my trip there, thank you!

    Can I ask what camera/lens you used in your posts? The photos are so beautiful and vivid.

  4. Your posts are so helpful! I’ll be in Iceland in April (the first week) and could not find any April boat tours until I read your posts :). Thanks so much! I also wanted to do a tour in Skaftafell (ice cave preferably) but it doesn’t seem like any tours operate in April anymore. Do you have any advice for visiting Skaftafell ?

    1. I’m glad to hear that, Roxana! Though the boat tour I mentioned in the comments are for Fjallsárlón, a nearby lagoon – just FIY. I’m not sure there are still boat tours at Jokulsarlon in April.

      If you’re heading to Skaftafell, I recommend visitng Svartifoss. It’s a really cool waterfall, not too huge, but it’s very unique!

  5. First of all I want to say great blog! Thank you for sharing this, I have always wanted to see this place, and I am planning to visit Iceland this July, I have already bought my ticket and pre arranged my stays. I am so excited, I would appreciate if you have any advise for a person like me who is visiting this place alone.

    1. Hi Tom,
      I’m glad you found this helpful!

      How do you plan to visit Jokulsarlon – on a day trip or are you staying nearby? Basically, there are two ways to visit: either on an organised day trip with a tour operator or by yourself by car. Both ways are great for solo travelers, but I would always (if it’s possible) recommend driving yourself, because it gives you much more freedom and time. And trust me, this is place you want to spend at least 2-3 hours.

  6. Whaou, the blue color is very amazing. I haven’t go in the north destination but when i see your pictures it’s so beautiful. My next destination maybe for to see boreal aurora 😉

    1. That sounds like a GREAT idea 🙂 As a Scandinavian I highly recommend visiting the North, it’s incredibly beautiful and unique.

  7. Wow that is some seriously beautiful photography you’ve captured there. Truly impressed!!! I’m a children’s photographer and that is my day job and I’m not entirely sure I could capture such beauty. Congratulations!!!

    I’m hoping to visit Iceland in November and your blog post has completely inspired me!!!

    1. Aaw, thank you so much for the kind words, Lisa! It’s pretty much impossible to take a bad photo in Iceland, it’s that beautiful 😉 I hope you get to visit in November, it’s one of the most stunning places on earth.

  8. You visit some pretty unique places. I see many travel blogs and they always go to the same places in Thailand, Bali, Australia. But you’re going to Iceland, Bosnia and so many cool places.

  9. Great blog, simple uncluttered information…….very helpful for persons like me who are trying to plan their own itinerary.

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