On the Road in Iceland, Part 3

Vík to Jökulsárlón

The day after we arrived in Vík, we drove 193 km (120 miles) from Vík to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon in Austurland, the Eastern Region of Iceland.

The trip was entirely on the Ring Road, and it took us through the most varied and stunning scenery we saw in Iceland.

Cliffs that seem to have sprouted abruptly from flat grassy plains:


Curiously, we shared this stretch of road with a cyclist.

Lava fields:


The glacier Skaftafellsjökull seen from the Ring Road

Barren flatlands:

And the remains of a bridge destroyed during a glacial flood:

The Gigjukvisl Bridge was destroyed by ice floes during a 1996 glacial flood.

The occasional farming community and gas station – which, if you’re lucky, might also house a convenience store or a café – are the only signs of civilization in this part of the country.

Hof, one of the larger communities we saw between Vík and Jökulsárlón

Single-lane bridges are common on this stretch of the Ring Road.

Most of them are short enough that you can make sure the bridge is clear before proceeding. The longer ones, like the one seen in the video below, have small places to pull over in case you meet another car head-on (which did happen to us once, on a different bridge). To give you an idea of exactly now narrow this bridge was, we were driving a Toyota Yaris, and it felt like a tight squeeze crossing the bridge.

This house was a popular spot for people to stop and take photographs (click the image to see it full-size), which is probably why the sign was at the entrance to the driveway.

We saw a few people walking around the gate (the driveway was gated, but there was no fence) to get a closer look. We just stayed next to the road and took some pictures of the land and the surrounding cliffs.

Jökulsárlón and the Atlantic Ocean

Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon and the deepest lake in Iceland. It’s full of icebergs that break off from Breiðamerkurjökull, one of the glacial tongues of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland. (The lake can be seen in the beginning of A View to a Kill, where it stood in for Siberia.)

Panorama of Jökulsárlón


A seal in the lake

There’s a channel from the lake to the Atlantic Ocean (I think it was created by the glacier’s retreat), and the icebergs eventually end up on the nearby beach or floating in the ocean.

Icebergs floating out to sea

The beach is black volcanic sand, which provides a striking contrast to the white and blue-green icebergs.

Icebergs on the beach