Eric’s 40th: Iceland Day 4 – Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoons

by | Jul 6, 2016 | International Travel, Travel

For day 4 our main destinations were the glacial lagoons Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón, several hours drive from Vik. As usual, we made quite a few stops along the way. The first stop was a quick hike in Fjaðrárgljúfur, a 2km-long canyon at the end of a bumpy, gravel road. We would have been more interested in seeing the canyon from the bottom but the water levels were too high.


Fjaðrárgljúfur  testing out his waterproof shoes

Back on the ring road we were amazed by the old lava field landscape dominated by boulders covered in spongy mosses several inches deep.

Iceland landscape

After stopping in Kirkjubæjarklaustur for some snacks (the grocery store in Vik wasn’t open when we left town at 8:30am), I insisted we see the Kirkjugólf hexagonal basalt formations, also called the ‘Church Floor.’ It was a short walk through a sheep field (had to look down a lot), and the formation was interesting but not worth a special trip.


Just down the road we checked out Stjórnarfoss, a pretty domed waterfall…


Back on the ring road we spotted a beautiful roadside cascade, and a few miles up, Foss a Sidu, a tall cliff side falls easily seen from the road.

river rapids

At this point we still had quite a bit of driving to do to reach the glacier lagoons, so we saved Skaftafell National Park for the return if we had enough time. Hwy 1 took us around the enormous Vatnajökull glacier — the landscape was completely barren for miles and then suddenly green again as we approached Skaftafell National Park.

Vatnajökull glacier

barren landscape with glaciers and mountains in the distance

Fjallsárlón is a small lagoon that was full of floating ice during our visit. It is much smaller than the famous Jökulsárlón just 6km up the road, but beautiful and worth a visit.

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon also did not disappoint. There are several small parking areas where you can hike over a moraine for views of the large lagoon. The range of blues in both the water and ice was a beautiful sight. We eventually drove down to the main parking area and witnessed a few icebergs working their way down the river toward the ocean. It was a good spot to have lunch overlooking the lagoon, however, this was easily the busiest parking lot of the trip. The lines for the bathrooms were super long and we never found a place to throw out our trash, unlike many other areas thus far.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Figuring we had enough time before our 7pm dinner reservations at the hotel, we decided to stop at Skaftafell National Park and see as much as we could. Even though the hike was almost entirely uphill, I made good time on my one-soled hiking shoes and we did the entire 2 mile round-trip in about 40 minutes. Svartifoss is worth the trip as it’s quite a pretty falls with unusual basalt formations on either side.


We even spotted this little guy hiding near the trail on the way out…

iceland-111  Hundafoss
a black-tailed godwit; Hundafoss

We made it back to the hotel with just enough time to change before heading to dinner.  Dinner at Berg was a bit of a splurge but the food quality was great.

beers w/ dinner

stuffed chicken and rice  smoked lamb and way too much butter
stuffed chicken and rice; smoked lamb w/ more butter than anyone should consume in one sitting

The glacial lagoons are definitely a memorable highlight of our trip, and we were quite grateful to have enough sun to really bring out all the amazing shades of blue.

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Long Island, NY (July)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)
Grand Rapids, MI (Nov)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)