How to See the Northern Lights in Iceland
There are many ways you can experience the stunning Northern Lights in Iceland.
From the outskirts of Reykjavik to the isolated snow fields of the north, Iceland has become known as the capital of the Aurora Borealis.
Though it often ends up being down to chance, here's how to maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Top tips from our experts
Winter is the best time to see the lights
Depending on the weather conditions and solar activity, the best time to spot the Northern Lights in this region is from early September through until the end of April. December is thought to be the best month since it has the longest nighttime hours, but January through March are hugely popular times to go as well.
Maximise your time
If you can, try to stay as long as possible, so that you have a wider window in which to see the lights. You might also want to head out to the Westfjords or the north of Iceland where the nights are longer. Also bear in mind that areas where there is as little light pollution as possible could make for better viewing, so parks and forests like Thingvellir National Park definitely trump bright cities like Reykjavik. They’re also fantastic places to explore by day, so if the lights elude you, you will still be able to have an unforgettable adventure.
Head out into a remote valley in the middle of the Troll Peninsula, where you can make yourself at home at the luxurious Deplar Farm. With space for up to 28 guests, this styling lodge is set on a sprawling property which was once a working farm. Wrap up warm and keep your eyes on the skies at night, and during the day you can go heli-skiing, head out into the fresh air for some snowmobiling or learn about Icelandic culture.
Or, for a real sense of isolation, venture deep into the highlands of Iceland in a super jeep where you will find the modest yet comfortable Midgard. So far removed from anywhere else, the intensity of the northern lights and stars is astounding. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime escape where your days are full of snowy adventure and the long nights are for gazing in awe at the skies.
West is best
Keen photographers can capitalise on some of Iceland’s most dramatic scenery when capturing the lights. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west will provide glaciers, otherworldly rock formations and beaches as backdrops, while towards the north majestic waterfalls could make for interesting compositions. Wherever you find yourself, a tripod is a definite must.
Trust your guides
Pairing up with one of our expert guides is definitely a step in the right direction. Experienced guides should have good knowledge of how aurora forecasts work and some idea of the quality of solar activity, so they’ll be able to make sure your chances of seeing the lights are maximised. Thankfully, Iceland offers so much in the way of natural beauty, that the lights can be a pleasant by-product of a trip to the stunning country.
Luck is important too
While your best bet for seeing the lights is on a dark and cloudless night as far north as possible, not even that is a guarantee. So, while knowing the science behind the lights is a help, you also simply need to be lucky. What you see can also change too: because the dancing lights are the result of solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field, there is a lot that can affect the intensity of the colours. They are generally shades of green, but depending on how the elements are ionised as they enter the earth’s magnetic field, you may even see hues of purple, orange or blue.