Guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland

Guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland

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Mummy says….Seeing the Northern Lights is pretty much top of my travel bucket list. Watching the ever-changing lights flickering in the sky above mountains, glaciers and lava fields must be absolutely incredible. I have been researching where to see the Northern Lights in Iceland….

  Guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland
In Iceland, the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) attract everyone from professional photographers to travellers of all types from all over the world.
When can I see them?
You will have the best chance of seeing the amazing lights when it’s cold, dark and the aurora activity is high. The best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from October to March.
What causes the Northern Lights?
The phenomenon is caused by solar winds pushing electronic particles to collide with molecules of atmospheric gases. This causes an emission of bright light.
There are forecast websites predicting visibility such as vedur.is, the national weather website. You should also take a look at the aurora prediction page.
Guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland
Here are some of the best spots on the island to see the northern lights:

The South

If you have no car, you can stay in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital and the only city, and take a walk down to the Grotta lighthouse, where light pollution is at a minimum.
Other places that might be dark enough are near the Perlan (The Pearl), close to Oskjuhlid, or at Hljomskalagardur Park. If you do have a car, you could drive the short distance to Thingvellir National Park, site of Iceland’s first parliament, which is isolated and pitch black at night.
There are tours available if you prefer. For visitors uncomfortable with traveling alone there are bus tours available leaving regularly from Reykjavik. There are Northern Lights bus tours regularly from Reykjavik.

Recently some whale watching companies in Reykjavik have start offering a Northern Lights hunt on a boat. You can just walk down to the harbour and literally get on a boat. They will then sail to an area free of light pollution.

The West

When hunting for northern lights in the West, the Snaefellsnes peninsula and fishing villages of Akranes and Borgarnes are well worth visiting.
There are some stunning areas here for the Northern Lights photos, including the Snaefellsjokull glacier, black beaches and miles of interesting rock formations.
Lighthouses are also great places to see the Aurora Borealis, and Akranes lighthouse, 40 minutes from Reykjavik, is one of the best.
The lights streak and dance over the sea with minimal light pollution. You could take a tour by super jeep to see the Northern Lights.

The North

Northern Iceland has thundering waterfalls and geothermal hot spots. Akureyri is the unofficial capital of the North.  The openness of Akureyri,  it’s small population and low light pollution makes it a perfect destination to catch a glimpse of the aurora.
Many companies offer a two- to three-hour Northern Lights tour during the winter. Other good locations for independent travellers include Dettifoss Waterfall and Lake Myvatn.
Guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland

The East

If you want somewhere more remote, the East is the least populated area of Iceland. Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon, is by far the best place to see the lights in the East.
The lagoon features huge blocks of ice that continually break off the glacier, as well as large icebergs floating in the water. The lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland.
There are companies who offer tours to include a Northern Lights hunt at Jokulsarlon.
Remember the weather is very unpredictable in Iceland. you should check the roads (road.is) before heading out on a northern lights hunt.
Is is suitable for families?
If you dress appropriately, yes. Wear layers and bring a couple of extra thick blankets to sit on and wrap up in. Some families take a small tent and sleeping bags to cuddle up in.
What to Wear
*Lots of layers of natural fibre clothing.
*”Long Johns” or similar.
*Cotton and wool long socks.
*Fitted tops and trousers.
*Waterproof, snow proof, insulated windproof jacket and outer trousers.
*An insulated / thermal lined hat.
*A scarf.
*Waterproof, insulated gloves.
*Thermal snow boots.
How to get there
Fly from London to Keflavík International Airport, Reykjavik. Several airlines fly from the UK including easyJet, Flybe, WOW Air, and Icelandair.
There are UK regional direct flights available too.
Where to Stay
There is plenty of accommodation in Iceland including hotels, guesthouses, cottages, apartments and even hostels from budget prices to 4*. There is no 5* accommodation in Iceland though. As Iceland is becoming more and more popular, you may need to book your hotel as much as a year in advance. Camping is also popular but obviously not at the time of year the Northern Lights make an appearance!
I am actually hoping to get to see the Northern Lights in Iceland in February, have you ever been? I would love to hear if you have.

9 Comments

  1. I’d love to see the Northern Lights. I went to Lapland this year and tried seeing them but had no luck. I’d love to try and see them in Iceland

  2. I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights. Thanks for the guide!
    susanna recently posted…Crete with Olympic Holidays: Filion Suites and SpaMy Profile

  3. Definitely on my ‘to-do’ list! I’d love to visit Iceland in the next few years. xx

  4. We didn’t get to see the Northern Lights when we visited Iceland and I was really disappointed. One of the problems we had was a lot of cloud cover
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…Essential Items For Making Travel With Kids EasierMy Profile

  5. No better experience than watching the sky lights dance when you’re under it! Too beautiful for words…

  6. What a wonderful post, we were so lucky to visit friends in Iceland a few years back and randomly driving one night we stopped and caught a glimpse. I only had my phone on me and my pictures didn’t really come out, I would love to return with the little ones in tow…such an amazing place!

  7. Wow! The next stop on my bucket list. I need to check out the requirements to get there.

  8. Ooo one day I’LL go
    Love to see first the natural beauty

  9. I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights they were fantastic, I did not even notice the cold staring at the sky for hours before they came. Well worth it.

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