The Perfect Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach Road Trip Guide

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Road Trip Guide to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach – With MAP

If you plan on going to Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach are a must-do on anyone’s Iceland itinerary. In this Iceland road trip guide, we cover how to self-drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach along with the best stops along the way!

Scroll down to see our mapped drive!

Driving to Iceland’s Glacier Lagoon and Diamond beach is incredibly scenic, and you of course get to see a real Icelandic Glacier in real life along with one of the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland!

These stops on our way to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach will include waterfalls, another black sand beach, and more!

First time in Iceland? Check out these Iceland travel tips!

Road to Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon
Road to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

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Preparing For The Drive to Jokulsarlon 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 on this road trip.
  3. Bring your camera, extra batteries, and SD Cards! During this trip I shot with the Canon Rebel 7ti. See my updated gear here.
  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. We visited Iceland in April. 
  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 for your Iceland road trip!

Road Trip Guide to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – Best Stops

Most people traveling to Iceland tend to stay in Reykjavik, which is… oh just about a 5-hour drive to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach 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. However, you don’t have to rent a car. Instead, you will have to just take tours instead.

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).

On our road trip guide to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, we will make some epic stops along the South of Iceland you will not want to miss! 

Iceland 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

Stop 1: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Road Trip

From Reykjavik, our first stop will be at one of the coolest waterfalls in Iceland! You have been driving for about 2 hours and it is finally time to stretch your legs! The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is most famously known for being able to walk behind the waterfall.

Waterproof clothes will come in handy at Seljalandsofss Waterfall! Even standing near the waterfall, you will feel yourself getting wet!

When visiting, there are also hiking trails around, however, you will be short on time if you plan on driving back to Reykjavik.

On the other hand, if you plan on driving Iceland’s Ring Road (full perimeter of the country) it will be much easier for you to spend more time here.

You have to pay (around $7 USD) for parking, but it’s worth it. 

Fun Iceland Fact: All Iceland waterfalls will end in “foss” because “foss means waterfall in Icelandic. 

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

Stop 2: Skógafoss Waterfall

Next on your road trip to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach will be at another epic waterfall, Skogafoss. You have probably seen this waterfall all over Instagram. Skogafoss is the giant waterfall standing at 197 ft. that you can walk up to and this Iceland waterfall usually has a rainbow. 

We had planned to stop at this waterfall on the way back, however, it was way too late/dark, so I’d recommend stopping here on the way to Glacier Lagoon. 

Icelandic Horses along the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Road Trip

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 Iceland road trip 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.

Iceland horses driving the golden circle

Stop 3: Dyrhólaey

The next stop on your road trip guide is at Dyrholaey. 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

Stop 4: Vik, Iceland

About 10 minutes away from Dyrhólaey is the famous town of Vik. Here, you have the opportunity to walk to the famous Iceland plane wreck. During our visit, the weather was really bad, so we opted out, but it is a very popular Iceland attraction and known as one of the best things to do near Vik. If you do visit the plane, please respect all the signs.

Even if you don’t plan to hike to the plane wreck, you should still stop in Vik to walk on the Reynisfjara black sand beach and check out the towering basalt columns, which are in my opinion, so cool!

Did you know Basalt columns are formed from cooling lava? They are what the Giant Causeway in Ireland is made of! 

In this area, it is very important to not turn your back on the ocean. The Vik beach is known to have giant waves out of nowhere and pull people in. There are no lifeguards, and the rip currents are insane. It is very dangerous. 

The town of Vik is a quaint little town in Iceland to visit in general. You have likely seen tons of photos of the famous white Vik Church. 

Iceland Road Trip Tip: You can do this stop on the way back if you like, but definitely make the stop. We actually stopped on the way there and on our way back toward Reykjavik. 

Vik black sand beach basalt columns.
Vik Basalt Columns at the Black Sand Beach
The Vik Church on top of the hill in Iceland
Vik Church by Black Sand Beach

Stop 5: Skeiðará Bridge

We didn’t originally intend to stop here, but we saw this cool metal structure and wanted to check it out and stretch our legs. Skeidara Bridge is the perfect place to take a break from driving.

Here you will find snow-capped mountains and a glacier in the distance. Additionally, there is a story behind this metal structure!

Believe it or not, this is a piece of a bridge that was destroyed by shards of icebergs from the nearby glacier. The Glacier melted and flooded the area back in 1996 leaving this piece of the bridge.

Skeidara Bridge in Iceland

Stop 6: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

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

People always ask if the drive to Jokulsarlon is worth it, and my answer will always be yes. 

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 our next stop Diamond Beach.

You will find two sides of the bridge that offer 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.

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

Stop 7: Diamond Beach

You are in luck, directly across from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is Diamond Beach. Wondering why they call this beach diamond beach? 

As pieces of ice break off the Jökulsárlón Glacier, they float into the nearby ocean and then wash right up on the beach. When the icebergs make it onto the black sand beach, the contrast makes the icebergs appear like diamonds, thus Diamond Beach! 

It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed!

In the below photo, you can see the bridge in the distance. That is where the Glacier Lagoon flows into. 

After you have seen Diamond Beach, you will either be on your way back to Reykjavik or continuing on the Ring Road.

If you plan to visit Iceland during the summer, you will have tons of daylight to work with, making it easy to do some of the above stops on the way back!

Diamond beach in Iceland
View of Diamond Beach in Iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach: Wrap-up

This concludes the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach Road trip guide! 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 Reykjavik. Besides the trip being long, we actually enjoyed these stops more than our road trip driving the Golden Circle, although the Golden Circle was still pretty great.

Have any stops you think should be added to the list, have you tried this guide, or have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!


Additional Iceland Resources

Here are some additional Iceland resources you may find helpful! 

Some other Iceland guides include my 4 Day Iceland Itinerary and a First-timer Guide to The Blue Lagoon!

Where to Stay in Iceland:  Midgardur by Center Hotels $$$ | Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina $$| Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre $$$$| Loft – HI Hostel $| Vrbo Home Rentals

Tours to take in Iceland:  Hike through Ice CavesChase the Northern LightsGo whale watchingSnorkeling at Silfra Fissure

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Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach Road trip guide
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

8 thoughts on “The Perfect Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach Road Trip Guide”

  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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