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Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland

04.12.2018

Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland

If you are heading to Iceland thinking about chasing the northern lights, the best time to do so is during the winter months of late August to mid-April. This is when the country is darkest.

Going during the winter months will give you the best chance of seeing the northern lights on your trip although they are visible all year round. However, you can’t guarantee to spot the northern lights at any time of the year as they are weather dependent. Make sure that you DO NOT stop on the road though, always find a safe place to pull over and take in the northern lights from. We have put together a guide that should help you when chasing the northern lights in Iceland.

Top Tips for Chasing the Northern Lights

When heading to Iceland, you will no doubt have booked in advance, so you should be prepared for the possibility you won’t see the northern lights. One of the first things you should be aware of is that the northern lights run in weather patterns, so you should go for at least 5 days if you want to make sure you see the lights. But there are some top tips that you should take into account when you’re trying to look for the lights.

  1. Make sure you check the Aurora forecast before heading out
  2. Head out of towns and cities to avoid light pollution
  3. Make sure you wrap up warm and prepare to wait
  4. Try some well-known hotspots for northern lights

Northern Lights Hotspots in Iceland

Although there is no guarantee of spotting the northern lights, you can maximise your chances by heading to some of the hotspots. There are many remote locations outside of the city where it is possible to see the northern lights, but you don’t have to venture that far. You can also get a good view of the northern lights within the city of Reykjavik from two locations.

  1. A great place to see the northern lights is atop Öskuhlið hill, which can be seen from most places in the capital due to the glass dome of Perlan Museum. You can gain access to the glass dome for a small fee and take in a great view of the lights from inside
  2. Grótta is another great spot within Reykjavik to take in the northern lights as it is far away from the lights of the city. Grótta lighthouse in Seltjarnes is a great remote location on a small peninsula of the capital and provides the perfect spot.

Check the Aurora Forecast

One of the best tools you can use when chasing the northern lights is to check out the Aurora forecast website. This is information provided by the Icelandic met office and provides you with information about when and where you are most likely to see the northern lights. The forecast is only available around a week in advance so you couldn’t plan a last minute trip on this, but it is useful for when you are in Iceland. It clearly shows areas of cloud cover around the country and when it is expected to be clear enough to view the northern lights. When you are in Iceland, make sure you check the forecast before heading out so you can get an idea of the right time and place.

Northern Lights Tour

A great way to see the northern lights in Iceland is to head out on a guided tour. This will save you searching for the best spots on your own as you will instead have a guide to show you where to find the best spots. Not only this but with many northern lights guided tours, you are often given another tour if you don’t see the lights during your trip. However, if you have taken car rental then you can easily head out to nearby areas by using the aurora forecast.

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