Hunting the Northern Lights in Iceland

A large amount of the people travelling to Iceland are hoping to see the northern lights, and for many, it is one of the main reasons for travelling to the country. But there is a lot of confusion about where and when the best time to see the northern lights is and how you can hunt them. One of the most important things to consider is the time of year that you are planning on travelling to Iceland, as the northern lights are only visible from September to April. If you are planning on hunting the northern lights in Iceland then we have some top tips that can help you make the most of your trip.

Are Northern Lights Visible In Reykjavik?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions that people ask as it is the most popular destination to stay if you are travelling to the country. However, you are not likely to see the northern lights in Reykjavik or other cities, as the light of the city can obscure your view. Although it’s not impossible to see them in the city, it is unlikely and the lights would need to be particularly strong for you to catch a glimpse. This means that the best spots to see the northern lights would be outside of the city, with parts inaccessible by public transport.

What Are the Best Conditions?

In order to see the northern lights more clearly you will need some weather conditions to be just right. This includes;

  • A clear sky without clouds, as these will block your view
  • The lights need to be active as they do not appear all the time
  • You also need to be somewhere dark to observe them clearly

If you have these conditions when you travel then you stand a very good chance of seeing the northern lights. They are also unpredictable and may only be visible for a few days at a time, so it’s best to stay in Iceland for at least 7 days if you want to see them.

Should I Rent a Car?

Driving yourself is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of the northern lights in Iceland and offers you the most freedom. As you are not guaranteed to see the northern lights every time that you venture out, driving lets you take your time and cover the most ground in your hunt. Public transport is not great for northern light hunting as it doesn’t go to some of the more secluded spots. There are tours that take you hunting for the northern lights, but you are still not guaranteed to see them, and they might end just before you get the chance to spot the lights. Renting a car gives you the best chance to see the northern lights on your trip.

How Will I Know the Best Day?

Although there is no way for you to guarantee when you will see the northern lights, you can get a better idea of whether you are likely to see the northern lights or not. There are a number of Aurora Forecast websites that help to highlight when you can expect to see the lights. A useful one from the Icelandic Met Office shows where cloud cover is low.

Although you won’t be able to guarantee seeing the northern lights on your trip, by following our tips you will have a better chance at spotting them. 

Download this guide as a PDF and take it with you on your trip.