Best time to see the northern lights in Iceland

Nothern lights in Iceland

One of the most common questions from anticipating travelers planning their trip to Iceland is when the best time to see the northern lights is. In this article, we’ll provide you with a guide to go hunting the northern lights during your trip to Iceland.

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights are a phenomenon of natural display of lights visible in the sky. It can only be seen from certain places in the world, Iceland being one of them. Northern lights are a result of solar winds causing a disturbance in the magnetosphere. The intensity depends on solar activity. The phenomenon also goes under the name aurora borealis.

The colors are mostly green and blue shades, but you can also find purple, red, pink and orange. These colorful lights appear to be dancing in the sky, making it a very magical and unique sighting.

Where in Iceland can I see the northern lights?

As mentioned above, Iceland is one of the best places on the earth to see the northern lights. But being in Iceland is not a guarantee for you to see northern lights, as the phenomenon is not regular. It all depends on everything falling into place, from the earth’s magnetic field to the right amount of darkness in the sky, weather conditions and the sun’s activity. That being said, Iceland is still one of your best chances to see it.

We recommend that you book a northern lights tour, where your private tour guide will hunt the northern lights together with you. The local guide knows where to find the best sightings and therefore increases your chances of having an experience of a lifetime. The locations of this kind of tour vary all the time, to increase the possibility of experiencing the northern lights.

You can of course also rent a car and drive around yourself, but a private tour guide will know where to take you. Even boat tours are available, and depending on your luck you might also see the northern lights during your flight to Iceland.

What is the most ideal conditions?

To experience northern lights you should aim to plan your tour for the following conditions:

  • Be in Iceland between September and April
  • The nights should be as dark and cloud-free as possible
  • Avoid full moon period of the month, as it reflects too much light into the sky
  • A place with as little artificial light as possible
  • Enough solar activity to create the disturbance of the magnetic fields of the Earth
  • North and West Iceland has more dark hours, especially during the winter