Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon: Iceland’s Hidden Gem Explored

  • by Yanshu
  • South Iceland
  • 19 Aug 2023

Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon, located in south Iceland, is a breathtakingly beautiful and often overlooked natural wonder. Just five minutes away from its more famous counterpart, Jökulsárlón, this glacier lagoon offers visitors a unique and tranquil experience.

Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon: Iceland’s Hidden Gem Explored

What Makes Breiðárlón So Special

Nestled at the south end of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland, Breiðárlón glacier lagoon boasts impressive landscapes, serene waters, and majestic icebergs.

Breiðárlón’s distinct beauty lies in its untouched and unspoiled nature. As a lesser-known destination compared to Jökulsárlón, visitors can expect a more intimate encounter with the stunning ice formations and surrounding landscapes. This hidden gem is an essential stop for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, offering unparalleled views of the Icelandic wilderness.

When exploring Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon, I can’t help but be captivated by the awe-inspiring power of nature. Iceland is known for its rugged landscapes and dramatic geological formations, but Breiðárlón brings a unique charm with its pristine glacier meltwater and towering ice. For those visiting Iceland, this lagoon provides a remarkable, relaxed, and unforgettable experience amidst the country’s spectacular scenery.

Where is Breiðárlón Located?

Breiðárlón glacier lagoon, a hidden gem among the three glacial lagoons gracing the expansive glacier outwash plain of Breiðamerkursandur, is serenely nestled between the stunning Fjallsárlón and the renowned Jökulsárlón glacier lagoons

Its GPS coordinates are Latitude: 64° 03′ 9.00″ N,  Longitude: -16° 21′ 35.39″ W.

How to Get to Breiðárlón

Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon, a breathtaking yet often overlooked gem, is located at the southern end of Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland. It is easily accessible just off the Ring Road, Iceland’s main highway, and is a mere five minutes’ drive from the more famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Due to its close proximity to the main road, it makes for an ideal stop on any self-drive tour around Iceland.

Breiðárlón glacier lagoon in a close-up shot.

Connection to Vatnajökull National Park

Breiðárlón is a part of Vatnajökull National Park, one of Iceland’s largest and most diverse protected areas. This park encompasses the Vatnajökull Glacier, which is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the most voluminous in Europe. Breiðárlón glacier lagoon and its surrounding area are a stunning showcase of Vatnajokull’s dynamic landscapes.

Presence of Icebergs and Glacier Tongue

Breiðárlón is fed by the calving of the Breiðamerkurjökull outlet glacier, a part of the Vatnajokull Glacier. Consequently, visitors can witness the breathtaking sight of icebergs floating in the lagoon, some of which are several stories tall. The presence of such icebergs and the large glacier tongue jutting into the lagoon create an unforgettable experience.

Comparison with Jökulsárlón

Although Breiðárlón is overshadowed by the more famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, it offers a more intimate and serene experience. The icebergs and glacier formations in Breiðárlón are equally stunning as those found in Jökulsárlón, but with fewer crowds, it offers a more peaceful atmosphere.

Crystal Ice Cave and Diamond Beach

Besides the magnificent glacier lagoons, the area around Breiðárlón is also famous for attractions such as the Crystal Ice Cave and Diamond Beach. While the Crystal Ice Cave offers a unique, otherworldly experience of exploring inside a glacier, Diamond Beach is a striking black sand beach where shimmering icebergs wash ashore, creating a mesmerizing contrast with the dark sand.

Close to the Town of Hofn

A short drive from Breiðárlón, the town of Höfn provides a perfect base to explore the area. Known for its excellent seafood and services, it has everything a traveler needs for a comfortable stay, making the whole experience even more enjoyable.

The Glacier’s connection to the Ocean

Though smaller than its neighboring Jökulsárlón, Breiðárlón still has a unique connection to the ocean as its meltwaters eventually flow into the Fjallsárlón River, forming an intricate relationship between the glacier, lagoon, and the ocean beyond.

Visiting Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon is an experience you won’t forget. Its peaceful setting and stunning glacier views offer a charming alternative to the well-known Jökulsárlón. It’s easy to get to and close to other attractions, making it a unique spot for your trip to Iceland.

Breiðárlón glacier lagoon’s panoramic view. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

Visiting Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon

Tours Available at Breidarlon

At Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon, you can enjoy various tour options that cater to different interests and preferences. The glacier lagoon, located at the south end of Vatnajökull glacier, offers a unique mix of serenity and picturesque views, making it an ideal destination for curious travelers. 

Glacier Lagoon Kayaking

For those who crave a more adventurous experience, you will have the option to go glacier  kayaking in Breiðárlón. This thrilling experience allows us to immerse yourselves in the majestic beauty of the lagoon and its surrounding areas. As you paddle our way across the peaceful, icy waters, you can admire the breathtaking views of the glacier and its melting icebergs.

Hiking Trails Near Breidarlon

If you enjoy exploring on foot, Breiðárlón offers plenty of hiking opportunities. The area provides easy access to various hiking trails that feature striking views of the glacier and lagoon. I recommend hiking from Jökulsárlón to Breiðárlón, then onward to Fjallsárlón, following the well-marked trail. This route allows you to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring landscape and experience the trio of glacier lagoons on Vatnajökull’s southern end.

Getting to Breidarlon from Reykjavik

Getting to Breiðárlón from Reykjavik is pretty straightforward. The journey by car takes about 4 to 5 hours, spanning around 370 kilometers. For a self-drive adventure in Iceland, renting a car is a great option. Alternatively, you can opt for a private tour from the capital, especially since Breiðárlón isn’t typically on regular tour routes but can be included in a customized tour. Along the way, you’ll encounter Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes before reaching the stunning glacier lagoon. I also suggest planning a visit to nearby Fjallsárlón or Jökulsárlón to make the most of your trip.

If you’re up for a remarkable adventure, Breiðárlón has it all – from a picturesque glacier lagoon to thrilling outdoor activities. Visit this hidden gem and create unforgettable memories in the heart of Iceland’s enchanting nature.

Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon’s Unique Charm

Discover the tranquil beauty of Breiðárlón, a hidden gem nestled at the southern edge of Iceland’s majestic Vatnajökull glacier. Unlike the bustling Jökulsárlón, Breiðárlón offers a peaceful retreat into nature, where time seems to stand still amidst the stunning glacial scenery. This lagoon, part of the Vatnajökull National Park, is a canvas of floating icebergs breaking away from the glacier, each telling its own ancient story.

As you journey along Iceland’s picturesque south coast or meander down the ring road, let yourself be drawn to the serene allure of Breiðárlón. Here, you’re invited to pause, breathe, and soak in the tranquil surroundings. The lagoon’s pristine and untouched landscape is a sanctuary for those seeking a moment of reflection and connection with nature.

Why is Breiðárlón Muddy?

Breiðárlón’s water appears muddy due to glacial sediment, finely ground rock particles, carried by meltwater from Vatnajökull glacier, creating its distinctive murky appearance.

The area around Breiðárlón is not just a feast for the eyes but an invitation to explore. Whether you choose a leisurely self-drive or a guided tour, each path leads to a new perspective of this spectacular part of Iceland. Take your time to wander, to observe, and to marvel at the unique interplay of ice and water.

Conservation of Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon

Exploring the breathtaking Breiðárlón glacier lagoon highlights the need for conservation to preserve its natural splendor. Situated at the southern tip of Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier, within Vatnajökull National Park, this area is vital for maintaining the local ecosystem. As a fellow traveler, I show my earnesty in supporting the national park’s efforts to manage human impact, and I urge you to adhere to guidelines like staying on designated paths, avoiding littering, and respecting wildlife habitats. Sustainable tourism is key to safeguarding Breiðárlón and its surroundings.

Climate change poses a significant threat to glacial environments. Actions to reduce carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions are essential in combating the effects on glaciers and lagoons like Breiðárlón. Collective efforts in sustainable living and supporting climate change policies can help protect these irreplaceable natural wonders.

Ultimately, preserving Breiðárlón demands collaborative efforts from both authorities, you and me, ensuring its beauty remains for future generations to cherish.

Frequently Asked Questions about Breiðárlón

Are boat tours available at Breiðárlón?

As of now, no boat tours are offered at Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon. However, its more famous counterpart, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which is just a five-minute drive away, offers boat tours that allow visitors to explore the stunning icebergs up close. If you’re visiting the area, we recommend considering a boat tour at Jökulsárlón as an alternative.

Can you explore ice caves near Breiðárlón?

While Breiðárlón itself does not have any specific ice caves to explore, the surrounding glaciers and mountains often form ice caves throughout the winter months. These incredible ice formations can be explored with the help of experienced ice cave guides during the winter season, usually from November to March. Be sure to always check with reputable tour operators and never enter an ice cave without proper guidance and equipment for your safety.

What kind of wildlife can be spotted at Breiðárlón?

Breiðárlón is a stunning glacier lagoon where you can observe various types of wildlife in their natural habitat. Although less frequented by marine life compared to Jökulsárlón, seals have been known to visit Breiðárlón occasionally, with opportunities to see them swimming in the lagoon or resting on the icebergs.

Additionally, the lagoon attracts a variety of migratory birds, especially during the summer months. Keep an eye out for birds like Arctic Terns, Skuas, or Eider Ducks that may grace the lagoon with their presence. Remember to maintain a respectful distance from wildlife to allow them to thrive in their natural environment.

About the author
Yanshu
Yanshu
A journalist and photographer, Yanshu is driven by a deep passion for Iceland. She's on a mission to share her love for authentic travel experiences and exciting adventures with fellow explorers. Armed with her camera, she sets off on hikes, delving into Iceland's intricacies while mastering the art of Icelandic language whenever possible.

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