How to Get There with a Rental Car

The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is one of Iceland’s most impressive natural wonders. Located in Iceland’s southeastern region, along Iceland’s Ring Road, the country’s most popular travel route, this lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland.

Explore this breathtaking natural wonder by boat, hike along the shore, or marvel at the nearby Diamond Beach, a place where icebergs become glistening jewels scattered across a black sand canvas.

In this guide, we’ll provide practical tips on how to get there, the best times to visit, driving conditions, and rental car recommendations. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Iceland

why Jokulsarlon in Iceland is filled with ice berg

About Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Iceland

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon was formed in the 1930s due to the retreat of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, an offshoot of Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest ice cap. Over the years, Jökulsárlón has expanded substantially due to continuous glacial melting caused by increasing temperatures.

The lagoon’s most striking feature is its sparkling icebergs, which break off from the retreating glacier and drift across the water. They display hues ranging from bright white to glacial blue and even black, due to the volcanic ash deposits that have occurred over many years.

Jökulsárlón serves as a habitat for diverse wildlife, including seals, which are often seen lounging on icebergs or swimming in the lagoon, and birdwatchers can spot species such as arctic terns, gulls, and skuas.

Visitors can explore Jökulsárlón through boat tours, allowing for close-up views of the icebergs, or by hiking along the lagoon’s shore and walking Iceland’s Diamond Beach, a black sand beach sprinkled with icebergs that have washed ashore.

diamond beach is close to jokulsarlon

It is also an iconic Filming Location

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon has also served as a stunning backdrop in popular culture, featuring prominently in several James Bond films, including “Die Another Day.” The lagoon’s dramatic and otherworldly scenery has made it a sought-after location for filmmakers, including scenes from “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” This cinematic history adds an extra layer of allure to the already mesmerizing landscape.

Where Is the Glacier Lagoon Iceland? 

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is located in southeast Iceland, bordering Vatnajökull National Park. Situated on the southern edge of the park, right off Route 1, it’s easily accessible for travelers. The distance from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón is approximately 380 kilometers (236 miles), and the drive takes roughly 4.5 to 5 hours, making it an ideal stop for those journeying along Iceland’s South Coast or the Ring Road. 

Nearby attractions to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon include Diamond Beach, as mentioned above, and the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, renowned for its stunning hiking trails that wind through diverse landscapes of glaciers, mountains, and lush greenery.

Also, don’t miss Svartifoss Waterfall, famous for its dramatic basalt column formations. Vatnajökull National Park awaits nearby, offering a range of activities such as glacier hikes and ice cave exploration opportunities. 

The Guide to Svartifoss Iceland

When is the Best Time to Visit With a Rental Car? 

The best time to visit Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon with a rental car depends on your preferences and the experience you seek. You can visit all year round, each season offering unique advantages. In spring, there are fewer crowds compared to a summer Iceland itinerary, and you’ll witness the icebergs splitting off from the glacier at an accelerated pace when compared to other times of the year. However, the Iceland weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to be prepared for any conditions.

Summer is the peak season, boasting the longest daylight hours and the warmest weather, but it’s also the busiest time with larger crowds. In winter in Iceland, the landscape transforms into a magical winter wonderland, and you’ll have more opportunities to go out onto the glaciers and do activities like ice caving since the glaciers are frozen and, therefore, safer.

However, be aware that storms, road closures, and limited daylight hours are common during this time. With the limited daylight hours, you do have an increase chance to see the northern lights in Iceland, with the lagoon making a great viewing point. 

when visit the glacier lagoon in winter, you have a chance to see the northern light dancing above the lagoon

How are the Driving Conditions? 

Driving conditions to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon vary depending on the season. In summer months (June to August), driving is relatively easy as the roads are all paved, making for a smooth and comfortable journey. However, in winter, the roads may be covered with snow, which can make driving more challenging.

Sudden snowfall or icy conditions can further complicate travel, potentially leading to difficulties for drivers. It’s important for travelers to be cautious and prepared for changing road conditions, especially during the winter months, and to check weather forecasts and road conditions before embarking on their journey.

driving on the ring road of iceland

What is the best rental car for this trip?

The best rental car for your trip to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon depends on the season and your group size. In summer, when road conditions are generally good, a 2WD vehicle like a compact or economy car is suitable, especially if you plan to stick to main routes. However, these options are only comfortable for people traveling on their own or in a small group of 2 to 3 people.

For larger groups, you’ll want a full-size car to comfortably hold all your luggage. If you’re traveling in winter when road conditions may be more challenging due to snow and ice, a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for added traction and stability. If you have any plans to go to more remote areas of Iceland during your trip, we highly recommend that you always choose a 4WD vehicle. 

rent the mid-sized 4WD cars in Iceland

Do You Need to Pay for Parking at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon? 

Yes, you do need to pay for parking at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The cost is 1000 ISK (approximately 7 EUR) per car for the entire day. This fee covers parking at the official parking lot, conveniently situated right by the lagoon. You can conveniently pay for parking using the official website: https://parka.is/pay/Jökulsárlón/

Alternative things to do : Boat Trips and Other Activities

Visitors can enhance their Jökulsárlón experience by participating in various activities. Zodiac boat tours are a popular option, providing an exhilarating way to navigate through the icebergs and get closer to the action.

For a more leisurely experience, amphibian boat tours are also available, allowing for a smooth glide across the lagoon’s serene waters. Additionally, ice cave tours are a must for adventure seekers, offering a chance to explore the stunning blue ice formations within the Vatnajökull glacier.

Kayak in Jokulsarlon Iceland

Accommodation Options Near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

When visiting the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, you’ll find a variety of accommodation options nearby that cater to different preferences and budgets. Here’s a guide to the types of accommodations available in the area:

Hotels

Several hotels near Jökulsárlón offer a range of amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. These hotels typically feature modern rooms with options such as panoramic windows, private balconies, and luxurious bathrooms. On-site facilities often include restaurants, bars, and even spas, providing a relaxing retreat after a day of exploring. Hotels are ideal for travelers seeking comfort and convenience, with many offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes.

Guesthouses

For a more intimate and homely experience, guesthouses are a popular choice. These establishments often provide cozy rooms with shared or private facilities and personalized service. Guesthouses are a great option for travelers who enjoy a friendly atmosphere and a chance to interact with locals. They often serve breakfast and sometimes other meals, making it easy to start your day with a hearty meal before heading out to explore.

Hostels

Budget-conscious travelers will find several hostels in the area that offer basic but clean and comfortable accommodation. Hostels typically feature shared rooms and facilities, such as bathrooms and kitchens. This type of accommodation is perfect for those who are looking to save money and don’t mind sharing spaces with other travelers. Hostels often provide opportunities to meet fellow adventurers and share travel tips and experiences.

There are different types of accommodation in Iceland includes hotels, hostels and guesthouses

Campsites

For those who prefer to stay close to nature, there are several campsites within driving distance of Jökulsárlón. These campsites offer basic amenities such as restrooms, showers, and cooking facilities. Camping is a fantastic way to experience Iceland’s natural beauty up close, and it’s an excellent option for budget travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Please note that camping directly at Jökulsárlón is not allowed due to its protected status, but there are nearby camping sites where you can pitch a tent or park a campervan.

Farm Stays

Unique to Iceland, farm stays provide a rustic and authentic experience. These accommodations are located on working farms, offering guests a glimpse into rural Icelandic life. Rooms are typically simple yet comfortable, and guests can often participate in farm activities or enjoy local produce. Farm stays are ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy a peaceful countryside setting.

Nearby Attractions of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

While the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is undoubtedly a highlight of any trip to Iceland, the surrounding area boasts a wealth of other incredible attractions that should not be missed. These nearby sites offer additional opportunities for exploration and adventure, making your visit to the southeastern region of Iceland even more memorable.

Diamond Beach

Just a short walk from Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Diamond Beach is a striking black sand beach where chunks of ice from the lagoon wash ashore. These icebergs, polished by the waves, sparkle like diamonds against the dark volcanic sand, creating a stunning and surreal landscape. This beach is perfect for photography enthusiasts looking to capture the unique beauty of Iceland’s glacial treasures.

the diamond beach of Iceland in south

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park, encompassing the mighty Vatnajökull glacier, is a vast and diverse area offering numerous activities and sights. The park is home to the largest glacier in Europe and features dramatic landscapes including volcanic craters, geothermal areas, and lush valleys. Visitors can embark on glacier hikes, ice climbing expeditions, and guided ice cave tours to explore the magnificent blue ice formations hidden within the glacier.

Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Located within Vatnajökull National Park, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The reserve is renowned for its scenic hiking trails that lead through varied terrain, from verdant forests to glacial tongues. One of the most popular hikes is the trail to Svartifoss Waterfall, known for its distinctive basalt columns resembling a natural organ. The panoramic views from Skaftafell’s trails are breathtaking, offering glimpses of towering glaciers and distant peaks.

the glacier in skftafell area

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

A smaller but equally enchanting glacial lagoon located nearby is Fjallsárlón. This lagoon provides a more tranquil alternative to Jökulsárlón and offers stunning views of the Fjallsjökull glacier. Visitors can enjoy boat trips on the lagoon, where they can navigate among the icebergs and get up close to the glacier’s edge. The serene atmosphere and striking scenery make Fjallsárlón a must-visit destination.

Höfn town

The charming fishing town of Höfn, located a short drive from Jökulsárlón, is an excellent base for exploring the region. Höfn is famous for its delicious lobster dishes, and visitors can enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants. The town also offers cultural attractions such as the Gamlabúð Visitor Centre, which provides insights into the area’s history and natural wonders.

a view from the harbor of Hofn town

The South Coast

Driving along Iceland’s South Coast en route to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is an adventure in itself, with numerous attractions to explore along the way. Highlights include the iconic Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara near Vík, and the stunning Dyrhólaey promontory. Each of these stops offers unique landscapes and photo opportunities, making the journey as memorable as the destination.

Exploring the South Coast and Beyond

Exploring the South Coast of Iceland is an integral part of the journey to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The scenic route is dotted with incredible natural landmarks and picturesque villages, offering travelers a rich and diverse experience. From the cascading waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, where you can walk behind the curtain of water or climb to the top for panoramic views, to the eerie beauty of Reynisfjara’s black sand beach with its basalt columns and sea stacks, the South Coast is brimming with awe-inspiring sights.

Additionally, the Dyrhólaey promontory provides dramatic coastal views and is a popular spot for birdwatching, especially for puffins during the nesting season. As you continue your drive towards Jökulsárlón, the landscape constantly shifts, revealing glaciers, volcanic fields, and expansive plains, each contributing to the surreal beauty of Iceland’s southeastern region.

Dyrhólaey arch is close to vik tow

Visit the Glacier Lagoon Iceland

Exploring the fascinating Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland’s southeastern region offers a one-of-a-kind experience among its towering glaciers and floating icebergs. With this guide in hand, you’re equipped to navigate the logistics and discover the best way to experience this wonder for yourself.

Book your rental car with Hertz Iceland, which offers you a variety of rental car options suitable for each season, ensuring a safe and comfortable journey along the way. Whether you choose a summer adventure bathed in long daylight hours or a winter wonderland illuminated by the northern lights, Jökulsárlón promises an unforgettable Icelandic experience.

Best rental car option for this trip

rent a hyundai Tucson in Iceland

Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid or similar | Automatic | 4×4

IFAI | Group: N3 (IFAI)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

This vehicle is NOT allowed in the highlands F-roads. NOTE: Allowed on roads no.35 and 550. You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 3 Large Luggage
  • Hybrid
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 46 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
Rent a Kia Sorento PHEV in Iceland

Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid or similar | Automatic | 4×4

SFDI | Group: O6 (SFDI)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

This vehicle is NOT allowed in the highlands F-roads. NOTE: Allowed on-road no.35 and 550. You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Large Luggage
  • Hybrid
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 38 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
4wd land rover defender hire in iceland

Land Rover Defender or similar | Automatic | 4×4

PFAN | Group: G6 (PFAN)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

Suitable for highlands, Please read the Terms & Conditions. You must be 25 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 3 Large Luggage
  • Petrol or Diesel
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 234 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
  • Fog Lamps
rent a tesla model Y in Iceland

Tesla Model Y or similar | Automatic | 4×4

UGDC | Group: V1 (UGDC)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

This vehicle is NOT allowed in the highlands F-roads. You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Large Luggage
  • Electric
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Traction Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
Land cruiser 5 seater rental in Iceland

5 seats Toyota Land Cruiser or similar| Automatic | 4×4

FFAR | Group: I (FFAR)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

Suitable for the highlands. Please read Terms & Conditions. You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 5 Large Luggage
  • Petrol or Diesel
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 251 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags
Rent a Kia Sorento PHEV in Iceland

KIA Sorento or similar | Automatic | 4×4

SFAN | Group: O2 (SFAN)

  • 5 Seats
  • Automatic
  • Airconditioning
  • 5 Doors

Suitable for the highlands. Please read Terms & Conditions. You must be 23 years of age to drive this vehicle.

Additional Features
  • 4 Large Luggage
  • Petrol or Diesel
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • 164 C02 g/km
  • Adjustable Steering
  • Cruise Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • ABS
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Locking
  • Airbags