1. Iceland
  2. South Iceland
  3. The icebergs of Fjallsárlön
Written by Sandrine Published on 10/11/16

Imagine a huge glacier plunging into a lake, where large blocks of ice break off and end up on the opposite shore. No, it's not Jökulsárlón, it's Fjallsárlón. Less famous than its neighbour Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lake of Fjallsárlón is nevertheless an ideal place to observe the many pieces of ice floating on the water.

Icebergs floating in front of the Fjallsjökull at the back.
Icebergs floating in front of the Fjallsjökull at the back.

1The iceberg lake of Fjallsárlón

This small lake, about 2.5 km wide and 2 km long, was formed by the gradual melting of the Fjallsjökull, one of the glacial tongues of the immense Vatnajökull. It is also fed by the Breiðá, a small river that comes from the nearby Breiðárlón, a nearby lake on its right. Unlike Jökulsárlón, here the glacier is still close to the observation bank, which gives it a completely different atmosphere.

The front of the glacier is very visible from the shoreline, and one can easily guess the deep and marked streaks in the ice which take on more or less bluish hues according to the density of the water. This great ice tongue is 2 km wide, after a 7 km descent from the Vatnajökull ice cap!

Fjallsárlón icebergs
It is easy to guess which ice pieces have come loose.
The glacier is really impressive by its size.

In contact with the water, large chunks of ice break off regularly and crash into the lake. Be attentive and you can even watch this impressive show live!

Under the violence of the impact, the water of the lake, usually so calm, is suddenly stirred and the hundreds of small icebergs then begin an incredible dance, moving at the rhythm of the wavelets. After a few seconds the calm returns. The icebergs finish their dance and freeze again, drifting very slowly towards the opposite side of the lake.

Fjallsárlón icebergs

After this slow drift, the ice pieces pile up near the opposite banks, where you can even touch them. Indeed, a small channel allows the water to flow towards the sea. That's why the icebergs are gradually being sucked into the outlet.

2The arrival of mass tourism at Fjallsárlón

Until recently, Fjallsárlón was still a little-known gem, where one could contemplate the icebergs in peace and quiet. But since 2016, things have unfortunately changed. The access road to the lake was widened, a huge car park was built and buildings were under construction in July (shops, toilets and restaurant). It must be said that a business similar to the Jökulsárlón could make a big profit for Icelanders.

But what a disappointment when you arrive on the spot, to find yourself in a car park full of cars and tourist buses, which costs the site its fifth star in our appreciation.

Fjallsárlón icebergs
A zodiac in the distance among the icebergs.

In addition, as for Jökulsárlón, the zodiac tours are also organized on the lake (and yes, always the business). Just like for its neighbour, we do not recommend these boat trips where you will be squeezed like sardines so that you will not see much more than from the banks. And above all, you will contribute to the pollution of this place which was preserved until recently. Prefer to walk on the banks, the show will be just as interesting.

But if you want to avoid the crowds that are now clustered around the lake, you still have 2 solutions!

3Our tips for enjoying the Fjallsárlón lake away from the crowd

Walk East

From the car park, a path has been marked out to reach the shoreline at the mouth of the channel. As you can imagine, most tourists will stop at the end of the way, just as they arrive at the lake. But fortunately, the lake is big enough for you to enjoy the icebergs without too many people. Once on the bank, walk several hundred metres to the right for hundreds of meters to get away from the crowd. Little by little, tourists will become rarer and calm will return.

The advantage is that the ice blocks are generally spread over all the opposite shores, so you will always see icebergs even as you move away.

Fjallsárlón icebergs
Small pieces of icebergs in different colors.

Access from the west

There is still a secret access (but for how long...) that allows us to get closer to the lake and enjoy the scenery with complete peace of mind. If you are coming from Jökulsárlón, that is to say from the East, cross the main access which is signposted and continue on road 1. Approximately 700 metres after crossing the channel, an unrecorded runway leaves on the right. Take it, take it. This track is gravel and accessible to all types of vehicles. After 2 km, the track ends in a dead-end street with a small parking lot which allows several vehicles to park.

From the car park, walk a few more meters towards the lake and soon the panorama will be revealed.

Fjallsárlón icebergs

Unlike the main access, here you will be closer to the glacier which will give you a more impressive view of the ice monster and perhaps even see more icebergs. You will be able to descend to the water's edge by descending towards the banks. The advantage of this place lies in its tranquillity and the more global view of the glacier and icebergs. If you only have to make one stop, come here! The point on the map below the article indicates this parking space.

Sit down for a few minutes and observe the movement of the water, listen to the cracking of the ice and let the charm work!

Fjallsárlón icebergs
Piece of ice collected in a cove near the viewpoint

Our opinion
Flo's review

The interest of the site is contemplation. Take advantage of this time to position your camera or camera on the shore in video mode to make a timelapse, and you'll notice the iceberg movement, it's not so easy to see the scene in real time!

You can also of course make a timelapse with your smartphone, more and more models offering this function automatically, but do not always allow you to control the timelapse acceleration.

The southern part of Iceland isn't necessarily the sunniest part of Iceland, but if you have the chance to pass through the area at sunrise, you can enjoy the incredible color that will contrast between the blue ice and the red/orange sky!

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