As soon as you do any research on which sites to visit in Iceland you will come across photos and information on Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon (Jökulsárlón), and its neighboring Diamond Beach. It’s just inevitable! Here is our complete guide to the magnificent Diamond Beach.
Even though it’s located about six hours away from the capital, Diamond Beach still manages to be one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, and for very good reasons. Jökulsárlón is an enormous lagoon filled with huge chunks of ice that have broken free from Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier of the famous Vatnajökull (the largest icecap in Europe). You can even take a boat tour on the lagoon and sail among the massive icebergs!
As soon as you do any research on which sites to visit in Iceland you will come across photos and information on Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon (Jökulsárlón), and it's neighboring Diamond Beach. It’s just inevitable! Even though it’s located about six hours away from the capital it still manages to be one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, and for very good reasons. Jökulsárlón is an enormous lagoon filled with huge chunks of ice, these have broken free from Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier of the famous Vatnajökull, the largest icecap in Europe. You can even take a boat tour on the lagoon and sail among the massive icebergs!
The icebergs floating in the lagoon range in color from deep blue to bright white, and brilliant turquoise shades, they slowly melt and make their way down to the ocean, before they reach the Atlantic Ocean they often come to a stop at an amazingly beautiful black beach, the name of this beach is Breiðamerkursandur, although, it is certainly better known by its nickname, the aforementioned Diamond Beach. Seeing the icebergs sit on the black sand where they glint under the Icelandic Midnight sun, creates a truly unique setting.
Why is it called the Diamond Beach?
The name comes from the glistening icebergs which sit on the beach after they have floated around Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The icebergs first start off as enormous blocks of ice which have separated themselves from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and dropped into the glacier lagoon.
The name of the glacier that these icebergs originate from is Breiðamerkurjökull, and this is why the beach is actually called Breiðamerkursandur in Icelandic. It wasn’t until tourists started coming here and really taking the time to admire this staggeringly beautiful natural phenomenon that the name, The Diamond Beach caught on. So, you can actually say that the name is Breiðamerkursandur but the nickname is The Diamond Beach!
Driving from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach
Coordinates for Diamond Beach:
The Diamond Beach is located just across from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, about 370 km from Reykjavík and about 80 km from Höfn. The drive from Reykjavík will take about 5 hours without stopping, but only about 1 hour from Höfn, again, without a stop.
If you are looking to enjoy the drive from Reykjavík, it is, though, recommended to spend 2-3 days on the south coast, especially in winter when the daylight is extremely limited.
Your options for getting to the Diamond beach are:
- Joining a tour (advised) - Browse tours that go to Diamond beach here
- Rent a car and drive yourself
- Public transport
Can you see the Northern Lights at the Diamond Beach?
In winter the Diamond Beach is quite a good place to spot the northern lights because there is very little light pollution, however, this is also what makes it a bit tricky. You will need to wear a headlight or use a torch to make your way around the area, and, also, to take care to park your car in one of the designated and well-marked parking spaces. The northern lights forecast can be checked at vedur.is, or you could ask at your accommodation.
When is the best time to visit the Diamond Beach?
Anytime of the year!
The only difference is that it’s more challenging getting there in winter, the light is more limited, and you will need warmer clothing, scenery-vise any season is stunning!
Places to stay near Diamond Beach
- Hof Adventure Hotel (best price)
- Icelandair Hotel Herad
- Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
- Fosshotel Vatnajökull
- Laxá Hotel
- Hotel Skaftafell
- Fosshotel Eastfjords
If you are searching for an AirBnB the best search locations to enter would be Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Jokulsarlon or Hofn. You can find also find some hostels and guesthouses at Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Hofn, or even out in the countryside, we can also recommend the Gerdi Guesthouse, it gets good reviews!
Other options would be camping sites, both Kirkjubæarklaustur and Höfn have excellent camping sites. This is the cheapest option and great for summer travelers!
Restaurants and cafés near the Diamond Beach | Where to eat near the Diamond Beach?
There aren’t many options for eating close to the beach or the lagoon. There is one café right at the parking lot but other options are at Höfn or in the Skaftafell National Park.
- The Jökulsárlón Café is located right next to the lagoon’s parking lot in a white and blue house. Soup, sandwiches, coffee and the basics are offered. Open: All year round from 9 in the morning to 5 pm during mid-winter and 6 pm in spring and 7pm in the height of the summer season.
- Jón Ríki is a farmhouse restaurant at Hólmur, next to the ring road, 32 km from Höfn. It has a small in-house brewery, and great high-quality meals made from local products.
- Pakkhús is a restaurant, café and bar, which is located just beside the Information Center in the town, there are harbor views.
- Humarhöfnin, this restaurant also has a beautiful view over the harbor. Probably the most popular place in the area.
- Nýhöfn “New Harbor”, is maybe, not surprisingly, located by the harbor! It is housed in a historic building, which was the first family house to be built in Höfn in the year 1897.
In Skaftafell Area
- Freysnes Gas Station / Restaurant / BBQ grill, here you can grab a burger, sandwiches and other BBQ options. A quick way to fill up!
- Hof 1 Adventure Hotel has a lovely restaurant which is open at lunch and dinner time. Known for excellent service and their beautiful historic location. They are renovating parts of the hotel and have plans to reopen it in April 2018.
- Systrakaffi, a very popular café, restaurant and bar named after the famous Sister of Klaustur e. The nuns of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Offers a wide variety of western cuisine.
- Icelandair Hotel Klaustur, for those looking to dine in a finer manner, great to try the local produce and fabulous fish.
- N1 or Skaftárskáli Gas Station / restaurant / BBQ grill with some nice burgers and fish and chip options. Great for a quick bite!