How To See The Northern Lights in Iceland?

How to see the northern lights in Iceland

If you’re like me and million of other people, have the chance to see the northern lights in Iceland is part of your bucket list. As it is a natural phenomenon, it can be really hard to predict when and where this will happen.

I’ve visited Iceland in January 2015 and had the chance to see these beauties with my own eyes – just breathtaking to see these lights dancing in the sky. For me, it was a dream come true and wish it to anyone to experience it one day.

While there is no guarantee, there is certainly things you can do to maximise your chance of seeing the northern lights in Iceland:

#1 – Best Time To See The Northern Lights in Iceland

Northern lights season in Iceland is from September until mid-April; however if conditions are right you can get dark nights from as early as August.

The most popular months are November & December so if you would like to avoid crowds, I would advise coming between January and March. It’s worth nothing December is by far the month with the most darkness so you’ll get a greater chance during that month.

In terms of timing, it’s best to head out after 9pm to view them the best.

How to see the northern lights in Iceland - My Travel Experiences

#2 – The Right Conditions To See The Northern Lights in Iceland

To see the northern lights in Iceland (or aurora borealis) you will need to meet the three below conditions:

  • Clear sky – cloudy sky will block the view and lights
  • Dark nights – to be visible to the naked eye
  • Lights need to be active – i.e it must have a strong solar activity

Northern Light in Iceland

#3 – The Best Place To See The Northern Lights In Iceland

WEST: If you decide to head west, you’ll be able to enjoy the aurora borealis above glaciers, mountains and lava fields. The Snaefellsnes peninsula and fishing villages of Akranes and Borgarnes are the best spots out there without forgetting the Snaefellsjokull glacier.

EAST: If you’re looking to uncrowded places, then head east as this is the least populated part of Iceland. The glacier lagoon of Jokulsarlon offers the most amazing backdrop to enjoy the lights in these side of the country.

NORTH: For the most dramatic landscapes, head north towards the town of Akureyri which has low light pollution. It’s a perfect base to drive towards amazing landscapes such as geothermal hotspots, waterfalls (e.g Dettifoss) and lakes (e.g Myvatn).

SOUTH: If you stay in the city of Reykjavik, you’ll reduce your chance of seeing them because of light pollution (however I had the chance to see them after a dinner one night!) so it’s best to head out a little further. Grotta lighthouse,The Pearl or thr Hljomskalagardur Park are good option with enough darkness and low light pollution to maximise your chance. If you’re willing to drive for a bit, Thingvellir National Park is isolated and bitch black making it an ideal spot not far from Reykjavik.

Thingvellir National Park Iceland

#4 – Check The Right Websites To See The Northern Lights

If you decide you’d like to hunt the northern lights yourself, then you need to be prepared to maximise your chances. I’ve pulled together my recommended list of websites you need to check before heading out.

Aurora Forecast
Iceland Met Office – http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ 
Aurora Forecast – http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/

Road conditions
http://www.road.is/

Map for clear sky, darkness spot, rain
Windyty – http://bit.ly/2oE7ien 

Reykjavik Excursion Bus Tour with Aurora Borealis

#5 – Northern Lights Tour In Iceland

I’ve personally chosen to book a northern lights tour to see them. First reason being it had snowed a lot over the past couple of days so it was safer for us. Also it means you get the chance to really look up at the sky and not have to concentrate on the road plus you get professional explanations of the phenomenon and what tools they use to hunt them. They’ll have all the meteorological equipment and information to make sound decisions and select the best spot to maximise your chance of seeing them.

However, sometimes it happens that you’re not lucky and do not see them. Make sure you stay for several days so if your Iceland northern lights tour is cancelled because of bad weather conditions, you will be rebooked the following day for free.

Now all I have to say is … GOOD LUCK!! I really hope you’ll get the chance the experience the northern lights in Iceland. Don’t hesitate to share your top tips and experience with me.