You know those moments when you finally experience something you have only seen in the movies or in magazines. The moment feels so real because your anticipation was so great and once the dream is a reality, it is powerful. You can finally see it, touch it, feel it, hear it – even taste it. That is how Jökulsárlón was for us. We parked in a dirt parking lot, climbed a dirt hill and then …
Bam! Jökulsárlón hit us. The sight of towering icebergs, the erie quiet and the bitter cold winds blowing off the glacier were more than we imagined when looking at pictures of Jökulsárlón online. It is bigger and better in person – but isn’t that how it usually works?
Jökulsárlón, better known in letters you can understand, is Glacier Bay and holy cow is the name fitting. A huge bay with icebergs that have broken off of the Vatnajökull glacier and float lazily to sea.
Finding Jökulsárlón – If you are not looking for it, you might miss it. If you do not know it exists, you might miss it. Do not miss it. Jökulsárlón is 120 miles (193 kilometers) from Vik. It is an easy drive (given good weather/road conditions) and it is a pretty one! Moss-covered lava fields and views of Skaftafell National Park dominate the trip. If you are driving the Ring Route from Vik, you will have more than enough time to hike Skaftafell and see Jökulsárlón. That’s what we did. We knew we were looking for icebergs floating to sea, but makeshift parking lots along Route 1 caught our attention first. We did not even know what we were stopping to see when we parked. We were just following the lead of other travelers.
Experiencing Jökulsárlón – Being a curious follower paid off in this instance. Michael and I walked the water’s edge for about 3 hours. We also climbed the embankments to see the bay from a different perspective. Both are surreal. The milky turquoise water with blue, white, gray and clear ice floating slowly in one direction is pretty from every angle. Every once in a while you will see ripples in the water from an iceberg flipping, but for the most part, the water is as smooth as glass and offers almost perfect reflections of the sky. (Do not forget sunscreen or your sunglasses if the sun is out; there is no shade!)
When you have your fill of the icebergs up close, drive north on Route 1 for just about a kilometer or two until you reach a bridge. Park here and walk to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, you will see more icebergs – icebergs floating out to sea, icebergs on the black sand and icebergs leaving Glacier Bay.
Whether you driving to Jökulsárlón from Vik or passing through on your Ring Route road trip, Glacier Bay, Iceland is an obvious stop. It is free to experience, but an invaluable one. Jökulsárlón showcase the serene beauty that Iceland is so famous for; do not miss it!