The Ultimate Road-trip Guide to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

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The Ultimate Road-Trip Guide to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

If you plan on going to Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach are a must-do on anyone’s itinerary. Not only is the drive incredibly scenic, but you also get to see black sand beaches and a real glacier among other stops along the road.

In this guide, we cover how to self-drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach along with other great stops along the way! Scroll down to see our mapped drive!

Road to Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon
Road to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

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Preparing The Drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We suggest planning this drive at the beginning of your trip after a solid night of sleep. The drive with no stops can be up to 5 hours, so here’s a checklist before you go.

  1. Start the drive early! This is a full-day road trip that can take up to 5 hours with no stops to reach Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
  2. Fill up your gas before leaving. Gas stations are not easy to come by.
  3. Bring your camera, extra batteries, and SD Cards! I shoot with the Canon Rebel 7ti.
  4.  Layer up in warm clothes and water-resistant outer layers. Iceland’s weather is very unpredictable.
  5. Wear good snow or hiking boots. If there’s snow it could be very slippery and you might even want ice grippers for your boots if you visit Iceland during the winter. I wore my Ugg snow boots, but my Soloman hiking boots would have worked fine as well.
  6. Take lots of snacks for the car ride.
  7. Get a  cigarette-lighter USB charging port and/or a portable charging power bank for your phone to use the maps.
  8. Lastly, set up a nice music playlist!

Road Trip Guide to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Most people traveling to Iceland tend to stay in Reykjavik, which is… oh just about a 5-hour drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon with no stops! Yup, you read that right, 5 HOURS! Of course, the best way to see Iceland is by renting a car, and better yet, one with WiFi and possibly 4-wheel drive, depending on the season.

We went in April, so there was rain but no snow. Also keep in mind that during the winter, not all attractions are open (depending on ice and snow).

Insider tip: Make sure you are not speeding on your way there. Speeding cameras and very expensive tickets will be your outcome!

Google Map to get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

You have been driving for about 2 hours and it is finally time to stretch your legs at one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is most famously known for being able to walk behind the waterfall.

You have to pay (around $7 USD) for parking but it’s worth it. There are hiking trails and other smaller falls from what I could see.

View of Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the road to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Skogafoss Waterfall view

Skógafoss Waterfall

The next waterfall you won’t want to miss Skógafoss. You have likely seen this waterfall on Instagram with people up close to the falls with rainbows.

We had planned to stop at this waterfall on the way back, however, it was way too late, so stop here before getting to Glacier Lagoon,

Icelandic Horses

Along the way, you will be in Icelandic horse heaven as they are on all sides of the road. I couldn’t help but get excited each time I saw them and there was a lot, to say the least!  What I especially loved about this drive was how varied the terrain is.

There were huge mountains with waterfalls and then right next to it, snow-capped mountains, and after that lava rock flat lands followed by more mountains.

Icelandic horses gathered in a field in Iceland.

Dyrhólaey

The next stop, Dyrhólaey. When we arrived, the path said only 4×4 vehicles so, instead, we went straight where there were still nice views of a black sand beach and some hiking paths. This is the southernmost part of Iceland and where you can see the arch rock.

This is also a good place to stop if you need to use the restroom, however, be aware that you need to pay around $2 USD to use them. During the summer you might even see puffins here.

Dyrhólaey beach in Iceland
Dyrhólaey beach in Iceland

Vik, Iceland

About 10 minutes away from Dyrhólaey is the town of Vik. You have the opportunity to walk to the famous Iceland plane wreck from here, however, the weather was so bad we didn’t take the hike. If you do visit the plane, please respect all the signs.

Even if you don’t hike to the plane wreck, you should still stop in Vik to walk on the black sand beach and check out the towering basalt columns!

Skeiðará Bridge

Ready to stretch your legs? Skeiðará Bridge is the perfect place to take a break from driving. Here you will find snow-capped mountains and a glacier in the background along with a cool metal structure.

This is a piece of a bridge that was destroyed by shards of icebergs that melted and flooded the area back in 1996.

Finally to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

It took us over 4 hours with our stops, but hey we finally made it to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon! This was our first time witnessing glaciers and it was a pretty amazing moment.

The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon has not always been here, however. A large glacier started receding and created a lake/lagoon. The glacier has continued to recede every year and now flows into the ocean creating the Diamond Beach.

View of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
View of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

You will find two sides of the bridge that were both offering panoramic views of the lagoon. I would recommend just sitting for a moment and taking in the surroundings while listening to the sound the ice and water make as they move back and forth. It really is quite beautiful.

There was a little store that offered food, coffee, and free bathrooms. We noticed they also had ice cave tours, however, you need to visit in the winter to try this.

Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon

Diamond Beach

Directly across is Diamond beach where you can see ice that washed ashore from the lagoon. Diamond Beach gets its name from the icebergs looking like diamonds spread across the black sand shore. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed!

Diamond beach with pieces of glacier ice on the beach Diamond beach in Iceland next to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Overview

The entire adventure took about 12 hours with stops, but it was worth every second. We stayed in Selfoss, so we were about an hour closer than in Reykavik. Besides the trip being long, we actually enjoyed these stops more than the Golden Circle.

Lastly, I wish you the best road trip around Iceland!

Find more Iceland tips and guides here, including the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon!

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11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Road-trip Guide to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach”

  1. I really want to visit Iceland but it seems so expensive! The views seem absolutely breathtaking though. I love your photos. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Iceland is so flipping picturesque! I love the look of the black sand contrasting with the ‘diamonds’ on the beach! The whole road trip looks spectacular! <3

    You just need to find a natural hot pot to warm up after being outside in the cold. 😉

    Reply

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