Northern Lights Iceland | Best time & places to see the Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights Iceland | Best time & places to see the Aurora Borealis

What are the Northern Lights? What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? Can you see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik? When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Hi! My name is Dan Petursson.

The founder of Wake Up Reykjavik and I'm absolutely  thrilled that you're on your way to Iceland.

I wrote this blog post to give you my absolute best local info to maximize your chances of seeing the awesome Northern lights!

All of your questions will be answered in this awesome blog post!

Don't Miss: My #1 Most Recommend Northern Lights Tour in Iceland!

Text updated: 20. August 2018


But first, a little Northern Lights motivation...

What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

The Northern Lights can be seen in Iceland from early August to late April in Iceland.

​If you're asking yourself...

'What is the absolute best month with the highest changes of seeing the Aurora lights?'

The answer to that question would be that there isn't one special month but instead a full variety of 8 months​ that all have a great chance of seeing the lights!

What are the perfect conditions to see the Northern Lights?

To see the Northern Lights, you'll need three things!

  • Clear Skies! (Heavy Clouds tend to block your visibility of the lights)
  • Darkness! (The Northern Lights can't be seen when it's bright)
  • High Northern Lights Activity (It has something to do with science. I'll explain  below)

​What is the best way to see the Northern Lights?

Alright. So now we know that you'll need clear skies, darkness & high northern lights activity to see the lights. 

The darkness part is easy, you'll simply need to be in Iceland anytime between August and April.​

But, how can you know ​which day of the week and what spots in Iceland has the perfect conditions?

​Here you'll have two options:

1) You can either, not worry about monitoring the northern lights activity and weather cloud coverage yourself by simply booking an awesome Northern Lights Tour. This is an option that I really recommend since the tour is hosted by local experts that spend all day monitoring both the weather and northern lights activity and will take you to the best spots each particular night that is predicted to have the highest chances of seeing the lights. (They'll also tell you some fun jokes, bring some hot Icelandic coco and biscuits and give you a quick photography lesson on 'How to capture the northern lights on your camera'.

You can read about and secure your spot on the Northern Lights tour​ here.

2) You can also rent a car and go on a Northern Lights hunt yourself.
This is also a fun option and will allow you to take things at your own pace and make some additional stops along the way if you'd like! I would recommend driving carefully since you'll be driving on icy roads and in darkness during the winter time. 

You'll also need to monitor the weather and northern lights activity forecast carefully. In that case, the section below was written for you!

Here you can find the best deals on rental cars in Iceland.​

Northern Lights Iceland Forecast

Alrighty! If you're considering doing a self-drive northern lights adventure or deciding on which day of the week to book your northern lights tour then the Northern Lights Forecast can come in handy.

You can find the Northern Lights Forecast here!​

It can be a bit confusing to read. But I'll simplify for you!​

The northern lights forecast will basically tell you two things:

1) Which days of the week ahead has the highest or lowest northern lights activity

2) Which days lowest or most cloud coverage

​The Aurora Forecast looks like this...

There are a few different things that you want to consider when looking at the forecast. 


To begin with, you'll see a 'week' meter with a blue pin which you can adjust to see the forecast for each day / time of the week.

​You'll also see a big map of Iceland...

You'll mainly want to be looking at the area around Reykjavik city (bottom left corner) or the area that you'll be exploring.

It can either be covered  green or white. 

If the area is covered dark green like the photo above. That means it's predicted to be cloudy (not great for seeing the northern lights.)

However!

If there area is covered white like the photo below. That means it's predicted to be clear skies (great for seeing the lights.)

The final thing to consider is the Northern Lights Activity meter in the top right corner...

This meter ranges from 1 to 9 and will tell you the activity level of the lights.

 You can adjust the Blue Meter that we talked about above to see which day has the highest activity. 

From ​personal experience, if the meter reads the number 1 or 2 then you'll want to stay in for the night and consider doing some else instead (like our awesome Reykjavik Bar Crawl or Beer tour for example.)

If the meter reads the number 3 or higher (and the cloud coverage looks clear) then you'll definitely want to explore the northern lights since you're chances are high.​

Northern Lights Small Group Tour​

One of the best ways to supercharge your chances of seeing the northern lights is by simply doing a northern lights tour.

There is a wide selection of tours to choose from. 

But the quality of each tour can differ which is why I have one bullet proof northern lights tour that I recommend to all travelers and friends visiting Iceland.

There are a few reasons why I really enjoy this one. 

To begin with, it's a small group tour which I really enjoy since the majority of northern lights tour hosted in Iceland are on large buses filled with 60+ travelers. 
Small group tours are always a lot more fun and ensure a personal experience.

Also, most other northern lights simply drive out of the city, look for the lights and drive back.

Whereas this one has a lot more value included. You'll not only embark on a Northern Lights adventure, but you'll also have a quick visit to the Aurora Museum (really fun + entrance included in the pricing.) On top of that, the guide will host a quick photography lesson before the tour starts to ensure that you will know the best way to catch the northern lights on your camera or phone.

The guides are also really great, super friendly and with years of experience on finding the northern lights. They also provide Icelandic hot coco and biscuits on the tour!

You can read about and secure your spot on the Northern Lights tour here. ​

Final words!

I really really really hope this blog post was useful to you. If you enjoyed the blog or have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment below!

Also, if you're a foodie then I highly recommend checking out my food tour, Reykjavik Food Walk. It's currently rated as the #1 thing to do in Reykjavik and is absolutely PACKED with awesome Icelandic food and the best local restaurants in the city.

 

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