Iceland Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are nature at its finest. Steeped in mythology, the Northern Lights are naturally occurring… and you truly can’t appreciate their beauty until you see them in real life.
Before you start planning your trip, make sure you know when, where and how to see the lights… or give us a call and we can do the planning for you!
When and where to see the Northern Lights in Iceland
The Northern Lights in Iceland can be seen from September to April.
Statistically, January to March have the highest number of nights with Aurora viewing, but September to December are not far behind.
In order to see the lights you need dark, clear skies… and your chance of seeing them increases when you move away from the city and into rural areas where the light pollution is lower. So, while you can see the Northern Lights in Reykjavík – Grótta lighthouse is one of the best places close to Reykjavík – your chances – and the lights – will be much stronger elsewhere.
In Northern Iceland you will find the longest and darkest nights – in mid-winter there are 22 hours of darkness each day.
For the clearest skies in the country, head to Northeast Iceland to improve your chances even more.
The moon is the biggest natural light polluter, so the Aurora, if visible, will be much fainter when and where the moon is in the sky.
Generally, the Aurora peak time is between 10pm-1am… but this can vary, so don’t limit yourself to looking at this time only.
How to see the Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is an absolutely phenomenal experience.
While you can hire a car and drive yourself to chase the lights, we highly recommend you take a guided tour instead, at least for part of your experience.
The Northern Lights tour guide experts know all the best viewing spots, can help you take the perfect photo and can answer any questions you have about the auroras, the sites you visit and Icelandic culture in general.
Local guides are also familiar with the roads and conditions, so are better equipped to help you find the lights. It’s your holiday – you don’t need the stress of doing it yourself!
We suggest, and can recommend a small group tour so your guide has more time with each person to help with camera settings. The small groups are also able to go further than the big buses can.
Northern Lights off the tourist trail
If you want to avoid the crowds and see the Northern Lights off the tourist trail, a small group tour is your best option. These are relatively easy and cheap to join from Reykjavík.
After doing a tour, you can then take to the open road and stay in a rural area or small town where the lights will be more visible, and you won’t have to drive too far to see them.
Husavik in northern Iceland is a good base. Guesthouse Hof near Snæfellsjökull in western Iceland is a great budget option, while Hotel Ranga has outdoor hot tubs and an Aurora Alert service to wake you when they appear.
There are a couple of hotels that have special viewing rooms for Northern Lights, so you don’t even need to leave the hotel. Some hotels in prime Aroura areas also have alerts, where they will wake you up when the lights appear.
We can help with suggestions for Iceland Northern Lights hotels and accommodation and ideas for off the beaten track adventures that will really make the most of your experience.
Cruises to see the Northern Lights in Iceland
Reykjavík isn’t the ideal place to see the Northern Lights but there are nightly cruises that take you out to sea where you will have a better chance of spotting them away from the lights of the city.
Some of the cruises to see the Northern Lights even have a hot tub on deck.