Blue Lagoon, check. Icelandic waterfalls, check! Next on our list are the breathtaking glaciers of Iceland. Our Iceland adventure would not be complete without a self-drive tour of the glaciers in Iceland. The next 5 items on the list are locations where we saw beautiful glaciers, icebergs, and ice crystals. This will give you a whole new understanding of ICEland.
Renting a 4×4 or a regular car
First of all, let’s clarify if you need to rent a 4×4 or if a regular car is enough. If you’re going to Iceland on summer (or at least not during winter) and you only plan to drive around the Ring Road, 4×4 is not needed. We drove a car on October and we were able to drive the Ring Road. However, your destinations will be limited to this area only. There are many gorgeous spots outside the Ring Road and most of them have to be driven using a 4×4.
If you are the adventurous type and would like to explore random areas, I highly recommend using a 4×4! During winter, a 4×4 is also highly recommended. It will put you at ease because it is safer and the roads in Iceland could get really challenging during winter season. Remember, it’s for your safety, convenience and freedom to drive at F-roads. You don’t have to worry about getting stuck or damaging your car because of the potholes and gravels!
Tip: For convenience, rent a car from Reykjavik airport. Find a car to rent here.
1 – Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is easily accessible from the Ring Road. It is one of the most popular tourist spots for glaciers in Iceland. They offer 30-40 min boat tours that will bring you close to the icebergs.
Driving to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
This is the farthest location in our list. We drove for 4.5 hours from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon to see the glaciers and ride the Amphibian Boat Tour.
Tip: You can stay at hotels near Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon like Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon to avoid the long drive.
Amphibian Boat Tour
We paid 5,000 ISK (Icelandic Krona) each for the Amphibian Boat Tour. We originally wanted to join the Zodiac Boat Tour which will get you closer to the icebergs and glacier but it was already closed for the season.
It was utterly amazing to see the huge icebergs up close! They looked so pure with their lovely bright blue hue. Some were bigger than others and some had dark stains from sediments.
During the tour, our guide explained some interesting facts about the lagoon and the icebergs. He also showed us a 1,000-year old ice – prettiest I have ever seen!
The ice was passed around the boat. Unlike ordinary ice, it was very smooth, clear and had minimal air inside.
Before returning to the land, the tour guide served us pieces of the 1,000 year-old ice to try. I’m not sure what I should have tasted in a 1,000-year old ice but it tasted clean, pure, and fresh.
2 – Diamond Beach
Right across the Ring Road from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is an easily accessible black sand beach called the Diamond Beach. Here, we saw large beautiful ice crystals washed up at the shore. The ice crystals were similar to the ice that was passed around the Amphibian Boat Tour.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as cold as it looks in the photos. It was still cold enough, though, for the ice not to melt. The ice crystals were too pretty and unique that everyone took their opportunity to take photos with their favorite ice crystal. The one below was a common favorite because it was the largest ice crystal on the shore.
Here is a comparison to see its enormous size.
It was incredible seeing ice crystals as large as this had ended up at the shore. Before this experience, I couldn’t have imagined seeing huge chunks of ice scattered on a beach. Iceland is just full of surprises, don’t you agree? ♥
3 – Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon
If I have to choose the most beautiful glacier lagoon we have seen during our trip, it would have to be a tie between Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Svinafellsjokull Glacier. They are not as popular as Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon but, in my opinion, their views are more phenomenal. We didn’t know anything about Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon until we passed it. The striking view of the glacier from the road made us return. It is a 10-min drive from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and also near the Ring Road.
A short hike from parking and you get to see this wonder. We chanced upon seeing it with the lake so still that a flawless reflection of the glacier and mountains appeared.
The beauty of this landscape is unbelievable! The enormous glacier is surrounded by picturesque lake and mountains. A story to tell: Everything was calm and peaceful until we heard a loud, thunderous roar. At first we thought it was thunder but it was sunny. Then, we realized that a part of a glacier broke off. In a matter of minutes, we noticed that the lake started to have ripples and the water was slowly rising. We began climbing back to the higher ground before the water could reach us. Listen for those thunderous sounds and you might chance upon hearing a breaking glacier too!
4 – Kviamyrarkambur
Several minutes from Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a small road entrance to Kviamyrarkambur. This one is not in the Google Maps. We discovered this as we were heading back from Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
GPS Coordinates to the Parking
Latitude: N +63.937455 (63°56’14.8″N)
Longitude: W -16.435809 (16°26’08.9″W)
This is not a popular tourist spot but it has a great view of the glacier and mountains. More hiking is needed compared to Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon. From the parking, the glacier can hardly be seen. This might be the reason why most people skip this location.
Unless you hike towards the glacier, you wouldn’t know that there is one inside the area. At some point, we had the glacier all to ourselves.
5 – Svinafellsjokull Glacier
Svinafellsjokull Glacier is also one of my favorite glaciers in Iceland. It was the closest we got to a glacier and its view is exceptional! You have to be extra careful if you are not driving a 4×4. Driving to the parking is difficult for small vehicles because of the gravel road.
You could immediately see the glacier with just a short hike from the parking. We haven’t gone far at this point, but we already have this incredible view of the glaciers and the mountains. You could also continue hiking through the trail but at your own risk. We met some hikers who just returned from their hike and they said that the trail goes on and on.
A little further on the trail and we were able to get a closer look of the glacier on top of the mountain. This was as far as we could get because the trail became difficult. The view in Svinafellsjokull Glacier is certainly one-of-a-kind. If you want a closer look at a glacier, this is a must!
Video: Glaciers in Iceland (Self-Drive Tour)
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