How to Catch the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Updated: 13.10.2016

You  probably ended up here because you’ve been wondering if you will be able to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) on your trip to Iceland.

Well, if one of your main purposes to come to Iceland is to see the Northern Lights, hopefully you didn’t book your flight before reading this article.

Northern lights come when it is dark, cold and clear sky….but the rest of it is a mystery.

The reason I say so is because from late May to mid-August there is no darkness in Iceland.

Yup, complete day light all day round and since Northern Lights are only visible during the darkness and as little cloudy as possible, the best time to catch them is from September to late March.

If you’re unlucky to travel in the summer time, you could still visit Aurora Reykjavik.

northern lights in iceland gif

How to catch a Northern Light, for real!

According to the graph below, the best timing should be October and November when there is less rain. However, the forecast is just half the truth. Last year Northern lights were even visible in August.

reykjavik-weather-rain-forecast-iceland
The avarage rainfall in August and September – 23 days.
It usually starts to be visible around 22 o’clock in the night time, but sometimes you might need to wait for it until the midnight.

To take control in your hands, you should start planning your Northern Lights experience days before your flight. To do so, here are some tools that you can use:

  •  Vedur.is Aurora forecast not only provides information about the strength of the Northern Lights, but also includes the map that shows weekly forecast about cloud cover over the Iceland. It is very useful if you want to know what part of Iceland will have clear sky (or not).
  • Geophysical Institute offers very straight forward map of the area all over the world where Northern Lights are visible. It is possible to check Aurora forecast day by day and also go back in time.
  • Service-Aurora is actually a very cool thing. It provides information of how Northern Lights will behave within the next hour and it shows estimated Aurora activity at the moment.
  • Auroral-oval  If it happens that you won’t be able to see it in Iceland, this website shows in what cities/countries you will be able to do so.
  • …and the most secret tool is: To see a strongest Northern Lights, find a place where the street light pollution is least visible.

Check our video blog about the Northern Lights:

Boost your Northern Light experience with some cool tours

Since Northern Lights has become one of the top reasons to visit Iceland, tour operators had to brainstorm for new ideas to not loose their customers. As I said before, you might and you might not see them. As I said before, you might and you might not see them. For that reason now it is possible to experience Northern Lights in many different ways. Most of them are offered from September to March.

With a bit of research I collected the most interesting tours that you could do:

  • Aurora Photo Tour If you are a passionate photographer who wants to get professional tips  from Icelandic photographer of how to capture Aurora then it is a perfect tour for you. They offer 2 a day photography courses at Jökulsárlón (glacier lagoon).
  • Nordic Visitor offers variety of quite original Northern Lights day tours for example by going to the secret thermal bath (very cool place), on a boat and even by going to the horse theater – recommended for families.
  • If your visit to Iceland is for a short time, I recommend you to check Iceland Travel’s Spa and Northern Lights Break offer. It is 4 days tour that includes Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights and many more exciting things.
  • If you’re more of a type to explore natural wonders and want to do so in a short period of time Extreme Iceland offers extremely (just as their name says) interesting 2 day tour in Snæfellsnes peninsula…and by the way they will take you to the Northern Lights hunt!
  • If you’re fit, love nature and not afraid of cold, there is a very nice 4-day Northern Light trekking tour run by Arctic Adventures.  In four days you will get a chance to trek on the most amazing routes that Iceland has to offer. Part of the trekking is 2h walk around the glacier and a hike to the famous Eyjafjajökull where the famous volcano erupted in 2010.
  • For a more modern-viking experience you can take a jeep tour provided by SuperJeep.is. It will guide you to see the Northern Lights much farther into the wild.
  • For a cozy, private tour that includes an Icelandic treat and, hot drink and a blanket, you can do our Northern Lights the Local Way. You guide will do his/ her best to avoid the locations where big groups go.

Good luck with it!

p.s. It would be nice to hear from you about your Northern Lights experience in the comment section bellow 🙂

 

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