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Icebergs in Iceland – Formation and Forms

Iceberg Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon - Hallgrimskirkja Church

What are icebergs?

Icebergs are large chunks of ice that break off glaciers. They come in all shapes and sizes and more than one color. At Fjallsarlon iceberg lagoon and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Southeast Iceland you will see them floating around during spring, summer, and autumn.

At Fjallsarlon iceberg lagoon you will see many icebergs that will make you wonder how on earth these icebergs could have taken on this form or another. During our ICEBERG BOAT TOUR we are always on the lookout for interesting ice sculptures.

For example, we found this large perfect replica of the most famous church in Iceland, Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik floating around the lagoon. See photo above.

Iceberg Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

How do icebergs form?

Ice forms at the summit of mountains in Iceland as layers upon layers of snow accumulate. The snow starts to undergo compression and air gets squeezed out making the ice solid. Glacier ice is therefore exceptionally clear and glass-like, resembling crystals or diamonds on the inside.

When clear ice is exposed to sunlight it cracks allowing air to back inside turning it white. This natural process explains the white appearance of glaciers. Icebergs are also mostly white like snow on the top as they have been exposed to sunlight for some time.

In Iceland you will find a famous black beach that is called the Diamond beach. The beach got its nickname due to icebergs that get washed upon the beach and are strewn all over, looking like glistening diamonds.

Tip of the Iceberg

Ever heard the saying “this is just the tip of the iceberg”. This expression comes from the fact that when icebergs float in glacier lagoons or the sea you only see 10% of that iceberg above the waterline. Staggering 90% will be out of sight, hidden under the water surface.

The melting of icebergs occurs at a different pace for the ice above and under the waterline. If the water is warm like in the ocean the icebergs melt faster below the water surface. In Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon the water is extremely cold, therefore the tops of the icebergs melt faster above the lagoon’s surface. Icebergs move and sometimes flip over when their proportions change. When ice melts unequally it will start to turn and move around trying to find a new balance. Once balance has been achieved again the laws of physics are that approximately 10% of the iceberg will remain visible above the water’s surface once again. It is quite a spectacle to witness the twist and turns of icebergs and even more so on a boat tour on a glacier lagoon.

Iceberg - tip of the Iceberg alexander-hafemann
Fjallsarlon Iceberg Volcano stripes

Why are some icebergs blue or black?

When icebergs flip over a part of the iceberg that has not been exposed to the sunlight appears and the clear diamond like ice will be visible. At times the ice will not necessarily look clear but bright blue due to a reflection of light.

As the ice is clear most of the colors will filter through the ice. However, blue light, with its distinct wavelength, behaves differently. Instead of passing through, the ice absorbs and reflects it. The blue color then slowly fades away, causing the icebergs to turn white once more. Over time the iceberg may flip again, showing blue ice again for a few hours or days. This process can go on for many cycles and at the same time the iceberg takes on new shapes and forms before melting completely.

Some icebergs are black or gray in color. This is a result of sand, gravel or even volcanic ash being compressed into the ice over the course of centuries. As the glaciers slowly move forward, they carve and sculpture the landscape, crushing hills and mountains, picking up sand and gravel on the way. When ice breaks off the glaciers edge you will see black pieces or mix of black and white icebergs.

Why visit Fjallsarlon, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

The contrast of ever-changing multicolored icebergs, white, blue, black, gray make each visit to Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon or the Diamond Beach a unique one. Somedays the glacier lagoons or the Diamond beach are packed with ice, somedays there are few. The contrast of dark icebergs among the white ones occasionally unravels shapes resembling animals, faces, or even buildings. You will find these natural phenomenal in the southeast of Iceland with only ten minutes’ drive between them.

Nature is the greatest artist, a dear friend of Fjallsárlón said, being an artist himself.

The ULTIMATE GLACIER ADVENTURE tour with Fjallsárlón Iceberg boat tours gives you the chance to explore the glacier up close on a glacier hike and icebergs on a boat tour. Why not photograph these natural art pieces yourself. At Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon new icebergs appear every day, the ice constantly moves around so each day the view is like different magical paintings. 

Fjallsarlon Iceberg Boat Tour - Fish
Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon boat tour



3-4 hours

29.900 ISK

May - Nov

Your multi adventure starts with a calm boat ride on Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. Following the boat ride, you’ll land at the foot of Fjallsjokull glacier, a place we have secluded access to. After the glacier hike, you will walk to a super jeep for a fun 15-20 min. return drive.


75-90 min

10.100 ISK

Apr - Nov

Sail with us in a Zodiac boat, amongst floating icebergs on the majestic Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This adventure tour will allow you to connect with the Icelandic nature in a way you have never experienced before. Come, have fun and cruise with us!



155.000 ISK

May - Oct

Immerse yourself in the spectacular Icelandic wilderness and spend a memorable night on the lagoon. The magnificent view over the glacier lagoon towards Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe is sure to impress even the most experienced traveler!


75-90 min

101.000 ISK

Apr - Nov

On this private tour you can decide along with your captain how your cruise evolves. Cruise among icebergs and sail beside the glacier wall in your own style! This tour is popular with couples, friends & families who want to share an adventure in a private and personal way.


2 hours

255.000 ISK

Apr - Oct

Cruise to a secret island located close to the edge of the glacier in the lagoon. Set foot on land that only few have entered! Sip champagne and take in the magnificent view towards Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. Create memories that will last a lifetime.


3,5-4,5 hours

24.500 ISK

Nov – Mar

Explore the Icelandic wilderness on our way to a blue ice cave located in Breidarmerkurjokull glacier outlet.
Ice caves are a natural wonder that every adventurer should behold.



3-4 hours

21.900 ISK

Encounter the extraordinary by joining our exclusive glacier hike! This trip is tailored for those who seek adventure, are physically fit, and have a deep desire to explore the untouched, rugged attraction of Fjallsjökull glacier.

Fjallsarlon Iceberg Boat Tour Iceland

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