Finally! Here is the 3rd part of my Iceland trip posts from last year (read the first and second here). We only had 3 full days in Iceland and I was keen that we see as much as we could, so I wondered if it’s worth driving from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón diamond beach in just one day. Considering it’s a 9 hour round trip we were a little apprehensive, but came across Auður’s blog post where she makes it all seem possible! Since we had a day to fill, and a rental car at the ready we thought we may as well go for it. Plus we LOVED driving the golden circle on our first day, so we were excited to get back out into the stunning scenery.
We set off in the dark at 8am armed with a packed lunch, a ton of snacks and a full tank of petrol. We had planned to drive straight there and do our stops on the way back when we’re tired, but 2 hours in we fancied a break, the sun had come up and we thought it might be wise to do this first stop in case it was dark by the time we had driven back to it (it was!).
This is the waterfall you can walk behind and get soaking wet! It was far too icy to walk behind it when we were there (the icicles were amazing), but it’s a spectacular one and you can park really close to it in case the weather is bad. (There were also toilets here which was very useful).
£5 to park
The scenery is absolutely stunning, I was literally taking photos from the car window every 5 minutes! We found an especially beautiful view with a lay-by next to it, so we swiftly pulled over to take some photos. I’ve actually had one of these photos printed poster size to hang on our bedroom wall!
Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon
After driving around the most amazing glaciers, we finally made it to the glacial lagoon. It’s like a small black sand beach with these huge icebergs that break away from the glacier. I don’t have any more adjectives for amazing and stunning – just look at the photos!
There’s also a (very busy) cafe and toilets etc. Although sandwiches looked plain and were EXPENSIVE so I’d definitely recommend bringing your own lunch. There were also lots of boat tours and glacier walks, so if you’re staying the night then it would be great to explore properly.
Diamond beach doesn’t always have its icy diamonds as it totally depends on the weather etc. So I was prepared to be disappointed. And I was. After being next to the glacial lagoon with its black sand and very small (palm sized) icy rocks I did a silly and thought that was it! We started driving away and noticed another car park 2 minutes down the road. We parked up and walked down the slope and finally saw what we’d driven all that way to see! There was a huge beach with hundreds of icy boulders – I can’t believe we almost missed it! Our experience of Iceland so far was incredibly windy, but in this spot, sheltered by the glacier, it was very calm and peaceful. The sun was out so it didn’t feel so bitterly cold and we could wander around between the ice without getting frostbite. We spent about an hour or two on both these beaches taking it all in.
Since they all have their own identities, this is the one with the interesting lava columns, about an hour’s drive away on the way back to Reykjavik. We didn’t actually stop at this one as we were worried about losing light so we wanted to make some progress on the journey. It’s a shame we didn’t manage it though as it’s a particularly interesting one!
Almost 2 hours from Svartifoss is Vik, a small village next to a dramatic black beach. The sunlight was fading by this point, which cast a beautiful light over everything. It was completely deserted which made it feel quite eery with the interesting rock formations standing in the sea. We drove up to the church which gave us a view of the village, if we’d had more time it would have been nice to have gone down to the beach. There’s also a wreck of a plane crash near to Vik, but we’d heard that it’s a deserted 2 mile walk each way and with our limited time and harsh weather conditions we thought we’d skip it.
Half an hour on the way back we came across Skógafoss, one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. Again, it was very icy so we couldn’t climb the stairs to see the waterfall from the top, but it looked amazing from the ground anyway.
There are also toilets here and a cafe but it was closed when we were there (not sure if this was the time of day or time of year)
And that was it! We drove the remaining 2 hours of the trip, made some pasta in the flat and collapsed into bed. We got back to Reykjavik at 9pm, so although it was a long day it was totally worth it. The driving didn’t seem too bad as the scenery is so amazing and there are waterfall stops to break the journey up with. It’s worth noting that there are very few petrol stations on this route so we ended up re-filling at a stop on the way back, mainly just to be safe as I was a little apprehensive! It was March and although it was very snowy and icy, all of the roads were in excellent condition and we didn’t have any issues driving around in our hatchback.
If you’re wondering whether to do it in a day, I’d say if you absolutely cannot stay over and make it a 2 day trip then definitely do it if you enjoyed driving the Golden Circle and are keen to see the diamond beach. We did have to rush quite a lot but since we’re not big walkers we didn’t mind not properly exploring the sites, but I can imagine for others they’d want to spend longer in each place.