Complete Guide to Visiting Diamond Beach, Iceland

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Experience the breathtaking beauty of Diamond Beach in Iceland, where the icy blue waters of the glacier meet the black sand shores. Diamond Beach is a black sand beach, located on the south coast of Iceland in an area known as Breiðamerkursandur. The beach is approx a 4.5-hour drive from Reykjavik and is accessible by bus, tours or you can choose to self-drive with a hire car. 

With its unique blend of natural wonders, including the Jökulsárlón glacier and the sparkling diamond-like ice chunks scattered along the beach, Diamond Beach, Iceland is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. The beach is a popular destination for landscape and travel photographers. 

This complete guide will help you plan your trip to Diamond Beach in Iceland and stay safe whilst visiting the beach.

Why is it called Diamond Beach?

Photo of broken up ice bergs on Diamoond beach in Iceland

It’s called Diamond Beach because of the shiny, diamond-like ice chunks that wash up on the shore. These chunks are actually pieces of ice that have broken off from a nearby glacier called Breiðamerkurjökull and floated through the glacier lagoon, and down into the Atlantic ocean before being washed up on the shore.

When the waves bring the chunks of ice onto the beach, they glisten and shine in the sunlight, giving the beach its name. 

Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is part of a much larger glacier called Vatnajökull which forms Vatnajökull National Park. The national park is full of ice caves, geothermal areas, and rivers plus the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon which is near the diamond beach. 

Can you see the Northern Lights from Diamond Beach?

The northern lights at diamond beach

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is an amazing natural phenomenon that can be seen in many places around the world and one of the best places in Iceland, including Diamond Beach.

Iceland is one of the best places place to see the northern light as it has low light pollution throughout most of the country. Diamond Beach is located a decent distance from any large towns, so you’ll have very little light pollution here.

This makes it a great spot but, when it comes to seeing them it’ll depend on the aurora activity so there is some luck involved. Different areas of Iceland will have different levels of aurora activity each night. If you’re driving around Iceland, then your chances of seeing the lights will increase but you might not necessarily get to see them at the beach.

To increase your chances of spotting the Northern Lights, you can download a free app called “My Aurora Forecast & Alerts”, which is available for iPhone and Android. This is one of a dozen travel apps for Iceland that I recommend installing to help with planning your vacation. You could also opt to take a tour to see the Northern Lights although these may not necessarily take you to the beach unless that’s the best location for it on the particular day.

You also need to visit Iceland at the right time of year, as you’ll need dark skies. The best time to see the Northern Lights at Diamond Beach is during winter between October to March when it’s clear and dark outside. The chances of seeing them increase in December and January, although these months also have the coldest and more extreme weather than the rest of the year.

Where is the Diamond Beach?

Diamond Beach is located along the ring road, in the south of Iceland. It’s near the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which is just across the road from the beach. The beach has plenty of free parking available so if you’re doing a self-drive Iceland vacation you won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot.

It’s also really easy to get here, as you just follow the ring road until you see a white bridge and the red and white sign for Jökulsárlón. You can choose to park at Jökulsárlón and check out the glacier first, or go into the Diamond Beach car park that’s on the other side of the road which will give you easy access to the beach.

If you or someone in your travel party has limited mobility, I recommend parking at the main car park for Jökulsárlón first which will give you a good view of the lagoon then move the car to the diamond beach car park so you’re as close to the beach as possible so you don’t have to walk as far.

Neither the lagoon nor the beach are set up for wheelchair access but there is a viewing platform at the beach so you can still look around the diamond beach from a distance.

With the right offroad equipment, you may be able to still enjoy going onto the beach. If you don’t currently have an offroad wheelchair setup, check out this guide by, which covers the types of offroad wheelchair options available. Also make sure to check with your airline, that you’ll be able to transport your chosen setup.

The Best Tours to Diamond Beach

woman sat on diamond beach watching the sunset

If you’re not driving around Iceland or don’t want to drive for 5 hours, there are plenty of tours that go to Diamond Beach.

There are some tours that leave from Reykjavik, but this can be quite a long day as it’s a 5-hour drive (in good weather). So I recommend doing a multi-day tour, so you can explore a few different places and make the most of your time here in Iceland. Plus, by doing a multi-day tour can save money over booking individual tours as they normally offer some discount for booking packages.

You could consider this 2-day tour that takes you to some amazing waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, to the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano and the Mýrdalsjökull glacier where you can opt to do a 1.5-hour glacier hike. After you’ll head off to Reynisfjara’s black sand beach. Then the next day you’ll head to Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon, and also visit Diamond Beach. Then, you’ll head to Hofskirkja which is an unusual turf-roof church, and then onto the Fjadrargljufur River Canyon which has amazing scenery and you can also spot some of Iceland’s wild birds here.

Alternatively you could also consider this 4 to 7 day Ring Road Tour. This tour takes travelers on a journey around the country’s famous Ring Road, allowing them to experience the breathtaking natural beauty of Iceland up close.

The tour includes a variety of activities such as hiking, whale watching, and visiting hot springs and geysers. In addition, travelers will have the opportunity to visit popular Icelandic landmarks such as the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle, and the Northern Lights. With knowledgeable local guides, comfortable transportation, and convenient accommodation included in the package, this tour is a great way to see all that Iceland has to offer in a short amount of time.

If you or someone in your group uses a wheelchair or has limited mobility, I recommend looking at the accessibility tours offered by Iceland Unlimited. They offer both accessible self-drive tours and accessible guided tours so you can be sure to get something that covers where you want to visit, and meets your accessibility needs. Visit their website here.

Can you swim at Diamond Beach?

ice on diamond beach

Swimming at Diamond Beach isn’t allowed and is super dangerous. Don’t do it!

Iceland’s weather can change quickly, with very little (if any) warning, plus the water itself can be quite treacherous with strong waves that can drag you out to see. For your own safety, and the safety of those who would have to rescue you, please do not try swimming here.

While you cannot go swimming, you can still enjoy the beauty of this unique beach by taking pictures or simply admiring the scenery. If you do want to go swimming in Iceland, I recommend the pool in Vik, where can swim whilst enjoying views of the beautiful mountains that surround Vik. Vik is about half-way between Reykavik and Diamond Beach and is one of the best things to do in Iceland so you could stop off, go for a swim and check out the town + it’s black sand beach.

Why is the ice at Diamond Beach blue?

blue chunk of ice on diamond beach

The ice at Diamond Beach can sometimes have a blue color to it. This is due to how the ice is made up of compressed snow that has been frozen for many years. When the snow was squeezed together, the air bubbles inside were pushed out, leaving behind the clear ice. Then the blue color is caused by the way that light passes through the ice.

When light hits the ice, it absorbs some of the light, and some of it is reflected back. Light waves come in different lengths and when the longer ones hit the ice they get absorbed more, whereas the shorter ones get reflected back out. These shorter waves are blue light, so when they get reflected back at us, we see blue ice.

Why do Icelandic beaches have black sand?

Hand sholding black sand in a shape of a heart

The beaches in Iceland have black sand as they’re made up of volcanic rock. Iceland is a volcanic island, so it has a high amount of volcanic activity. Over time, the volcanic rocks have been ground down and made into sand. The rocks contain a high amount of iron, which causes them to have a metallic black color.

There are many black sand beaches all over Iceland, such as Reynisfjara which is one of the top-rated attractions in Iceland, located along the south coast of Iceland near Vik. Diamond Beach is also a black sand beach, which can give photos an amazing contrast between the sand and blocks of ice that wash up on the beach.

When is the best time to visit Diamond Beach?

icelands diamond beach covered in snow during the winter

The best time to visit, really depends on what you want to do at the beach and during the rest of your trip to Iceland.

If you want to see the Northern Lights, you need to visit Iceland between October and March for the highest chances to see them.

Winter is also great time to visit if you want to see Iceland covered in a blanket of snow, and take photos of the snowy landscape.

If you visit in March, as winter is ending you’ll still get the chance to see the northern lights but also benefit from smaller crowds. The weather can also be a bit calmer, so there’s less likely to be road closures or more adverse weather. So if you want to visit the diamond beach by self-driving a car I recommend coming in March. 

But if you dislike cold weather or want to see the midnight sun then visiting in the summer months is your best option. Summer has more wild weather, with warmer days and long nights due to the midnight sun. There’s also less snow so if you’re driving and don’t have much experience with driving in snow, you might feel safer coming in the summer. Just remember to bring a sleep mask, as the midnight sun can make it harder to sleep.

Is there Parking?

Yeah, there is free parking near the beach. Diamond Beach is split in two by the river that runs from the glacier lagoon. There’s a parking area on either side of the river. You can find one on Google Maps labelled as Breiðamerkursandur, click here to view it on Google Maps.

The other, is labelled Diamond Beach and you can click here to view that on Google Maps.

While you’re visiting Diamond Beach you should also visit the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon as both of these attractions are next to each other. There’s parking for Jokulsarlon along the ring road, such as this car parking place that gives you a view over the lagoon. I found these car parks have the best viewing and access to the lagoon. But they have have limited parking, so if they’re full there is a larger car park called Jökulsárlón Main Parking off the ring road and is sign posted. This car park has toilets, electric car charging ports, and a restaurant.

How far is Diamond Beach from Reykjavík?

view over Reykjavik
Aerial view of downtown Reykjavik

Diamond Beach is about 378 kilometers (235 miles) from Reykjavík. It takes about 5 hours to get to Diamond Beach from Reykjavík by car, depending on traffic and road conditions.

I highly recommend breaking this up, with visits to other areas of Iceland such as The Golden Circle, Vik and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, and the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon.

You should also check the road conditions before you head off using an app such as

You can also get a public bus to the glacier lagoon and then walk a few minutes to the beach, but this takes about 7 hours and requires multiple changes. If you’re on a low budget this is the cheapest way (other than hitchhiking) to reach the Diamond Beach.

How far is Diamond Beach from Vik?

View of vik church, and the Reynisdrangar rock formations in Vik

Diamond Beach is 193km (120 miles) from Vik. It takes about 3 hours to drive here by following the ring road. During your drive to the Diamond Beach, you could stop off at other places such as the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Skaftafell to see the waterfalls. Both of these are amazing places and I really recommend visiting them.

You can also get a bus from Vik to Jökulsárlón, and then walk a few minutes from there to the beach. From Vik, you’d catch bus number 51 and ride this for about 3 hours. The bus also stops at the town of Skaftafell, so you could hop off here and spend the day hiking to the Svartifoss and Hundafoss waterfalls.

If you would like to stay in Skaftafell for the night, you could choose to camp at the campground in Skaftafell if you’re camping, and want to stay in the area for the night I recommend checking the availability and information for the campsite on their website here.

If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, your nearest option would be Hotel Skaftafell which is next to the Freysnes bus stop. This bus stop is the next one en route to Jokulsarlon so you can stop here for the night and easily get to the diamond beach using the bus the next day. 

How far is Jökulsárlón from Diamond Beach?

Landscape photo of Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

Jökulsárlón is very close to Diamond Beach! It’s just on the opposite side of the road. The Jökulsárlón main car parking and main viewing area with toilets, and a restaurant are about 900 meters from the beach. You’ll be able to see the icebergs floating in the water around the lagoon before they make their way down the river, and into the sea – where they get washed up onto the beach. 

When visiting Jökulsárlón I also recommend going on a boat tour, that’ll take you out into the lagoon so you can see the glacier and icebergs up close. You could opt for this guided tour that departs from Reykjavik and also visits Seljalandsfoss and Vik to see Reyniskirkja church. If you’re driving to the beach + lagoon, you could book a spot on a zodiac boat with Ice Lagoon, or an amphibian boat.

Staying Safe at Diamond Beach

Chunk of Ice on Diamond Beach

In general Diamond Beach isn’t a dangerous place to visit. Unlike Reynisfjara Beach, Diamond Beach doesn’t have sneaker waves so it tends to be safer. But there are still things you should be aware of when you’re here.

As previously mentioned, you can’t swim here. The weather can change quickly so even though there are no sneaker waves, it’s still dangerous to go swimming in the sea in Iceland.

You can visit the beach all year round, as it doesn’t ever officially close but I would recommend checking the weather forecast. The beach may be inaccessible or unsafe if there are high winds or tons of snow.

You should also avoid climbing on the ice. Some of the chunks of icebergs can be quite large and you or your children may be tempted to climb on them. But this isn’t allowed, and you can be fined for climbing on them. The icebergs are slippery, with sharp jointy edges that will cut you.

You’ll easily slide off them and end up hurting yourself. If the icebergs are in the water, they can topple over and push you under the water. So to stay safe at Diamond Beach, and to avoid ruining your vacation make sure you stay back and admire them from afar.

If you’re lucky, you may also see some of the seals that call this area home. But you should never approach them, as they can get defensive. Especially if you are visiting during the summer or autumn months as this is the pupping season, and the seal mums are more likely to be on the defensive and attack tourists that approach them. If you do spot any seals or other wild animals please keep your kids back and admire them from afar. Do your best to not disturb them and never feed the wild animals, birds, or horses in Iceland.

Things to do near Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach is very close to some of Iceland’s best-hidden gems, which I recommend visiting if you have time. There’s not as many tours available as they’re off-the-beaten-track so I do recommend driving if you’ll want to visit these hidden gems. But these are some of my favorite locations in Iceland where you can escape the crowds, and see some of the most beautiful landscapes and amazing waterfalls. 

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lake

Fjallsárlón is one of Iceland’s easier-to-access hidden gems. The glacier lake is similar to Jökulsárlón but it isn’t as famous. It is smaller, but this isn’t a bad thing. There are fewer crowds, giving it a more peaceful atmosphere. Although smaller you’ll still get to see icebergs floating in the waters in front of the glacier. You can take a boat tour of Fjallsárlón, where you’ll get to go out into the water and get up close to the glacier. 

Fjallsárlón is also located in the southeast of Iceland, about a 12-minute drive (11km) from Diamond Beach. There’s free parking available plus a restaurant called Fjallsárlón Frost Restaurant is located in the car park. There is a short walk from the car park to the lakeside and viewpoints, which may get covered in snow so you remember to bring some walking boots.

Múlagljúfur Canyon + The tallest waterfall in Iceland

This hidden gem is a great place to go hiking, with a beautiful yet rugged landscape and amazing waterfalls. If you do landscape photography or enjoy hikes, I highly recommend coming here. The area is also great for wildlife photography as it’s home to a range of birds. 

I recommend doing the hike to one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls –  Hangandifoss. The hike is a 5.8km out-and-back hike, offering views over canyons, rivers, waterfalls, and eventually Hangandifoss. You should expect the hike to take about 3 hours, or a bit longer with breaks. There are tons of places to stop off to take photos and just take in the scenery, so I’d allow for at least 5 hours here.

The canyon isn’t well marked so you’ll want to use a GPS or an app like Waze to find the roading leading to the start of the canyon, which is here on Google Maps. There is free parking at the start of the canyon.


If you’re continuing along the southeast coast of Iceland you could stop off to do a tour of the Heinaberg glacier. It’s a lesser-known area and a true hidden gem. There’s a lake where you can enjoy viewing the glacier, or go kayaking. The area has a few hikes such as this 12.2km circular route that will take you past two glaciers. 

Note: The road to the glacier is a 2km long gravel, uneven, and bumpy. I don’t recommend doing this in a car that isn’t a 4×4. The road is marked with a sign pointing to Heinabergslón.

If you’d like to stop nearby for the night, I recommend staying Guesthouse Skálafell. This guesthouse offers family cottages and rooms. I opted for a cottage, that had a comfy bed + good breakfast. This is a good stop-off point along the southeast coast to rest for the night especially if you’ll do the hike around the Heinaberg glacier. 

I hope you found this guide to Diamond Beach helpful. If you’ll also be visiting the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach why not read my guide on what to know before visiting here. If you’d like to visit the Blue Lagoon, I recommend reading my guide for visiting the Blue Lagoon before booking your tickets to help you avoid making any costly mistakes and to ensure you have the best time.

Travel Tips For Iceland

Download Apps To Help You Stay Safe – Check my list of apps here I recommend downloading, that’ll help you stay safe whilst in Iceland, plus other apps for finding cheap food & drink, free audio guides and more.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen No matter where you’re going, I recommend packing a good quality reef-friendly sunscreen. This will help protect you from developing skin cancer or getting sunburnt.

Airport Transfers in Iceland- If you’re not hiring a car, make sure to book an airport transfer. You can book a transfer to/from KEF airport that includes a trip to the Blue Lagoon here, or a transfer from KEF to Reykjavik via bus here.

Car hire in Iceland- Book your car hire online in advance to save money and more choice. I recommend booking car hire through Discover Cars to find the cheapest prices & get free cancellation.

Get Travel Insurance – Don’t leave home without travel insurance. Travel insurance can cover you in case you have an accident, get sick, lose your passport or other belongings, miss your flight, or if part or all of your trip is canceled or delayed. If you’re in the UK, I recommend using Allclear, for the USA you should consider AXA and for the USA, UK + Rest of the World check out SafetyWing.

Booking budget-friendly accommodation – I book my hotels and hostels in Iceland through as I can filter to my accomodation requirements and let me opt for free cancelation. For holiday rentals, I use VRBO.

Booking Tours – For booking tours in Iceland I like to use GetYourGuide or Viator. For tours run by locals, AirBnB Experiences has a great selections as well. For accessible tours, contact Iceland Unlimited.

Booking Flights – I always find the cheapest flights using Kiwi or Skyscanner. Both search for the cheapest flights, and let you filter by stops, times, etc so you can find the cheapest options. You can also sign up for Jack’s Flight Club to be alerted to cheap deals if you’re happy to travel anywhere.

Travel eSims – If your phone supports an eSim, I recommend using Airalo. They sell eSims based on country, region, and even global ones! There’s one for almost every country including Iceland and they can work out cheaper than physical sim cards.

Travel Sim cards – If you don’t want an eSim, then this Orange travel sim card will have you covered for Iceland, and this Global Sim Card works in over 200 countries. Make sure to check out my sim card guides for information on buying local sim cards.

Travel Resources

Travel resources to help you save money, stay safe and plan your travels.

1 thought on “Complete Guide to Visiting Diamond Beach, Iceland”

  1. I was originally going to do a day trip from Reykjavik but after reading this I’ll be booking a hotel close by. I didn’t know it was such a long drive to the beach! My kids would have hated it. Thanks for saving me ending up tired with two kids in tow.

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