Iceland Mag

9 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon declared a protected site, added to Vatnajökull National Park

By Staff

  • At Jökulsárlón The floating icebergs and the stunning view of Vatnjökull glacier make Jökulsárlón one of the most beautiful spots in South Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm.

One of the best known tourist destinations in South Iceland, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, is to be declared a protected site today at a ceremony at the lagoon. The Minister of the Environment has declared that the lagoon will be added to Vatnajökull National Park. The lagoon was privately owned until recently, when the Icelandic government purchased the land from its previous owners.

More than 700,000 people visit the lagoon every year.

The end of a long process
The government has owned the western part of the lagoon for decades, but the eastern part, where the main parking lots, café and tour companies are located, was part of a vast farmland Fell, which was split between thirty different owners. Due to disagreement on the use and future development of the land, between the many owners of Fell, the owners put the land up for sale.

At an auction in November 2016 the land was sold to a Tourism company backed by wealthy investors for 1,520 million ISK (14.4 million USD/12.3 million EUR). After the auction the state stepped in to exercise its right of eminent domain at the site, acquiring the land from the previous owners for the same amount. The buyers contested this decision, but the state prevailed in March when the Supreme Court rejected the demands of the buyers. 

The Minister of the Environment told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that Vatnajökull National Park would now begin planning the future development of the area, including the building of a new visitor center.


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