There are a couple of glacial lagoons in our county. They are of different sizes and shapes. The most well-known ones are Jökulsárlón often called Glacier Lagoon, with Breiðarlón, Fjallsárlón, Heinabergslón, and Hoffell lagoon following after.
First you might think, how are the glacier lagoons formed?
I read a short but fascinating study written by the Vatnajökull National Park and the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. It is called A natural laboratory to study climate change. The study can be found here, or a copy can be bought at the information desk in Skaftafell.
The study maintains that the glacial lagoons formed when outlet glaciers dug their way forward and deep into the earth. And as the glaciers melt and retreat the water accumulates in the holes left by the glaciers and glacial lakes are formed. These lakes also speed up the melting of the outlet glacier and as a result, ice chunks break off. This is called calving and this is how all lagoons are formed.
Next, we are going to tell you how to get to these amazing natural wonders.
The lagoons are easily accessible. When coming from Reykjavik or the west, the first lagoon you encounter is Fjallsárlón.
Fjallsárlón Lagoon is located just off the highway, where a dirt road guides you towards the lagoon. When you approach the Lagoon, you will see a wooden house that is a bistro and booking office for Fjallsárlón. In the bistro, you can find a good selection of fresh food that is suitable for travelers on the go. There are boat tours at the lagoon that are operated during the summer months. With the steep glacier tongue, Fjallsjökull coming down from Vatnajökull and into the lagoon makes it a perfectly peaceful place for photos as well as enjoying the untouched nature.
Connected by a short river is another glacier lagoon called breiðarlón, this one is more of a forgotten gem but beautiful nonetheless. The lagoon has an incredible view of the glacier tongue, Breiðarmerkurjökull.
There is also a nice hiking trail that runs past Breiðárlón to Jökulsárlón. You can find a map of the hike here on our website.
Next, as you drive towards Höfn you will find the Glacier Lagoon. Located on highway number one you can not miss it. The Lagoon was recently designated as a part of Vatnajökull National Park. The lagoon flows through a narrow gateway into the Atlantic Ocean, where large chunks of ice on the black sandy beach make a beautiful scene. In wintertime, the fish-filled lagoon hosts a number of seals, which visit the lagoon for an easy meal. Year-round, curious seals can be seen basking on the blue-tinted icebergs. The lagoon is accessible from the beach all year round, and so is the café on the banks of Jökulsárlón. For hikers, a marked hiking trail between Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón is recommended as a scenic trip through beautiful surroundings.
Heinabergslón is 40km away from Höfn. The lagoon itself is about 10km off route 1. It is much more secluded than the other ones. The Heinaberg area is beautiful and photogenic. It is part of the Vatnajökull National Park. The lagoon is often studded with large chunks of the glacier that break off the Heinabergsjökull glacier. The area offers excellent conditions for hikers, as it has several interesting hiking trails, where one can see waterfalls, ravines, volcanic intrusions, and even the occasional reindeer.
Hoffell is an area that is mostly farmland and is characterized by an outlet glacier named Hoffellsjökull. The area is preserved for outdoor recreation, as it is rich in vegetation, wildlife, and geological variety. The area’s many hiking trails offer a stunning view of the nature it has to offer. The lagoon itself is not big but beautiful nonetheless. This place is off the beaten path and great to visit to avoid the crowds.
Each lagoon offers a variety of tours. On the Glacier Lagoon you have the Amphibian boat tour and the Zodiac boat tour, even kayaking. Kayaking is also done on the Heinabergslón. On Fjallsárlón you have Iceberg Safari with Zodiac boats. You can find all the tours here.