Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland - Your Guide

There are many great places to see the northern lights in Iceland. Discover the details—and book a northern lights tour—in our guide.

December 23, 2022

Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland - Your Guide

There are many great places to see the northern lights in Iceland. Discover the details—and book a northern lights tour—in our guide.

December 23, 2022

But what is the best place to see the northern lights in Iceland? Truly, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From the luxury of the Sky Lagoon to the wild landscapes of the Golden Circle, there are so many places and ways to see this magical display.

Read on to discover where to get the best chance of seeing the northern lights in Iceland.

Where to see the northern lights in Iceland

Iceland is known as one of the best places on the planet to see the northern lights. Throughout the winter, the incredible spectacle otherwise known as the aurora borealis can be seen on most clear nights.

How come? Iceland is blessed by the northern lights simply because of its position in the far north. The closer to the poles you travel, the better your chances of seeing the aurora borealis—and the very dark, long winter nights provide the perfect backdrop to its performance.

That means that almost anywhere in Iceland is a good place to see the northern lights. In the darker season, and with the right conditions, you can witness their shimmering colours across the country—from the heart of Reykjavik to Iceland’s many vast wildernesses.

Interestingly, many visitors imagine that you have to head to the deepest, darkest areas of the country to have the best chance to see the northern lights. That’s half-true, because the phenomenon does appear most clearly where light pollution is lowest. But you don’t need to head far out of Reykjavik to find a perfectly sheltered spot. In fact, some of the best places are across the south coast of Iceland and throughout the Golden Circle.
BP 3
What you do need to bear in mind though is the weather conditions. If you are in a place with cloud cover, for example, you won’t be able to see the aurora. It’s much better to head to any place where there are clear skies.

By the way, that’s exactly why at Reykjavik Excursions our Iceland northern lights tours don’t have a specific fixed destination. Instead, we’ll take you to wherever the conditions are best. You need a bit of flexibility when hunting for the northern lights.

When to go on a northern lights tour in Iceland

The winter is the best time for a northern lights tour in Iceland. It’s when the skies are darkest, allowing you to see the shapes and colours of the aurora borealis at their greatest clarity.

But winter is a long time in Iceland. In fact, nights are long and dark enough for you to see the northern lights from October to April. Most tours run throughout this whole period, although their start times will change depending on the season.

For example, in December, the darkest month of the year in Iceland, there are as many as 20 hours of darkness per day. That means you have the chance to see the northern lights from about 15:30 to 11:30.

Alternatively, earlier or later in the season, you’ll just have to wait until it is completely dark. Many northern lights tours start at midnight in October or April for exactly this reason.

In short, the best time to go on a northern lights tour in Iceland is when you have the right conditions. That means low light and clear skies. But it also means high levels of solar activity.

The sun goes through cycles of about 11 years, when solar storms (the phenomenon that causes the aurora) are stronger and more frequent. The good news is that “solar maximum”—the moment of most intense activity—is due between 2023 and 2025, meaning that the best time to see the northern lights are in the years ahead.


What are the northern lights?


BP 2

The northern lights are known for the unique, ethereal beauty. But what actually is this display that you’re seeing?

The changing, rippling colours of the aurora are caused by chemical reactions on the surface of the sun known as solar storms. These are huge explosions that release massive amounts of energy and charged particles into space.

Now, if the earth didn’t have its atmosphere, these particles would likely cause us a lot of harm. But we are protected—and all those solar particles crash into the molecules that make up our atmosphere. Those violent collisions some 100 miles above us are what we are seeing when we witness the northern lights.

But they don’t happen all over the planet. Rather, the earth’s magnetic field pulls these solar particles down to the north and south poles. And that’s why the far north and south are the only places to see the aurora.

Ultimately, from a complex and violent process, what we see on earth is an exquisitely beautiful display that everyone should have the chance to witness once in their life.


Northern lights combo tours

What’s the best way to see the northern lights in Iceland? On a northern lights tour. At Reykjavik Excursions, we offer a range of tours to satisfy all tastes and preferred travel styles, while offering you the best chance to see this most spectacular phenomenon.

Here, we share some of the most popular combination tours, bringing together the northern lights with some of the biggest thrills you can enjoy across Iceland.

Note: If you don’t manage to see the northern lights in Iceland on one of our tours, we’ll sign you up for another tour on a different day—so you have another chance to glimpse them.

The Sky Lagoon & Northern Lights tour

Seeing the serene forms of the northern lights is an incredibly powerful experience. And there’s nowhere better to soak in its beauty than in the tranquil waters of the Sky Lagoon.

You may have heard about Iceland’s spa culture already, and the Sky Lagoon is one of the newest destinations in the country. Facing north overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it provides an expansive view of the winter sky and the perfect backdrop to this experience.

Combining the Sky Lagoon with the northern lights offers a transformative night to remember.

The Blue Lagoon & Northern Lights tour

While the Sky Lagoon is the newest, the Blue Lagoon is probably the most famous spa destination in Iceland. Its milky blue waters are said to have a therapeutic effect thanks to their high sediment content, making the Lagoon the perfect place to unwind.

Start your tour at the Blue Lagoon before moving on to see the northern lights, wherever the conditions are best that day. You’ll experience the best of Iceland in all its magical glory.

Northern Lights by Boat tour

Just like the stars, the northern lights are best seen when there are low levels of light. That’s why you need it to be nighttime to experience them—and why it can be good to get away from the lights of the city.

There’s no better way to do that than on a northern lights tour by boat. Let us take you out into the heart of the north Atlantic Ocean, where you’ll have one of the best views of the aurora.

The Golden Circle & Northern Lights tour

The Golden Circle offers some of the most incredible natural sights on the whole of the south coast of Iceland. It is the country’s most famous travel itinerary for a reason.

Here you’ll find the majestic flows of Gullfoss waterfall, with its high cliffs and thundering torrents. You’ll discover the awe-inspiring power of the Geysir geothermal area. And you’ll explore the vast expanses and dramatic rifts of Þingvellir National Park.

Why not add the northern lights to this series of wonders? It can be the perfect end to a day exploring the best of Iceland.

Northern Lights by Super Jeep tour

Want a more intimate northern lights adventure? Book our northern lights by Super Jeep tour. We’ll journey through some of Iceland’s most spectacular landscapes in this custom-built off-road vehicle, before finding you the best spot for a northern lights experience.

One of the perks of this type of tour is that you’ll be in a much smaller group. If you want to enjoy the northern lights in a smaller group, this could be the adventure for you.

Northern Lights & Fontana Geothermal Baths

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active countries on earth. This provides some of its most dramatic sights—from geysirs to lava fields—but it also offers the chance for a uniquely relaxing experience. That’s the natural hot water pools.

One of the best is Laugarvatn Fontana, in the heart of the Golden Circle. On this tour, you can enjoy the warm waters of the Laugarvatn lake before heading off to find the best place to see the northern lights with us.

What to bring on a northern lights tour in Iceland

So, you’re coming to see the northern lights—but what should you bring with you? Apart from yourself and your loved ones, there’s not much that you’ll need. Remember to pack the following:

  • Warm clothes. Iceland is cold in the winter—particularly at night. You’ll really want to ensure that you have enough clothes to keep you warm while standing out and admiring the aurora. We recommend lots of warm layers, a thermal jacket, a hat, and gloves. Icelandic wool socks are how locals keep our feet warm in the winter.

  • Camera. There’s no doubt that you’ll want to take a photo of the northern lights. There’s nothing quite as special, and a physical memory of the occasion is a must. Pack your camera to remember the occasion forever.

  • Snacks. While on some northern lights tours you will have the opportunity to buy snacks—or even dinner—we recommend you pack something too. Many tours will take you back to your hotel quite late, meaning that you might get a little peckish as the night goes on.


Winter in Iceland


BP 5

The northern lights are one of the main draws for visitors to Iceland in winter. But it’s far from all that the snowy season offers in the Land of Fire and Ice.

In fact, some of Iceland’s most famous destinations look even more magnificent under a dusting of snow. From the Golden Circle to the waterfalls and glaciers of the Vatnajökull National Park, a white blanket adds an extra beauty to Iceland’s nature.

And then there are the experiences that you can only enjoy in winter. Take ice-caving in Iceland, for example. Journey beneath the ice caps that cover over a tenth of Iceland’s landscapes. It will give you a new, breathtaking perspective on the country.

Many visitors to Iceland wonder whether the winter would be too cold and dark to have a good time. It isn’t. In fact, thanks to its natural beauty, combined with the warm and cosy culture of cities such as Reykjavik, seeing Iceland in winter is a must.


FAQs about seeing the northern lights in Iceland

Got more questions about the northern lights in Iceland? Here, we answer some of the most common queries.

What month is best to see the northern lights in Iceland?

Typically, it’s said that December is the best month to see the northern lights in Iceland. It’s the month when nights are longest and darkest, meaning that the colours of the aurora are most vivid against the sky.

However, in truth, you can see the northern lights perfectly well throughout the winter season, from October to April. As long as it’s dark enough—and the skies are clear—you’ll have the chance to experience their beauty.

Can you see the aurora borealis from Reykjavik?

Visitors to Iceland can and regularly do see the aurora borealis from Reykjavik. While light pollution in the city can make it a little harder to see, on clear nights you have a really good chance of enjoying the northern lights from town.

Alternatively, it’s not hard to find a dark spot close to town. The Seltjarnarnes peninsula to the northwest of Reykjavik is a popular destination for local northern lights hunters.

Can you see the northern lights anywhere in Iceland?

It’s possible to see the northern lights from anywhere in the country. The whole of Iceland is far enough north to make an aurora experience possible wherever you are.

Interestingly, in moments of really intense solar activity, the northern lights have been seen as far south as Hawaii. While it doesn’t happen very often, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can see the northern lights from nearly anywhere. It’s just a lot more likely in Iceland!

Is the Blue Lagoon near the northern lights?

You have a great chance of seeing the northern lights from near—and sometimes even in—the Blue Lagoon. On a Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights tour, we’ll take you to the best places near the spa to see the aurora.

What’s the best place to see the northern lights in Iceland?

There is no single best place to see the northern lights in Iceland. The weather, light pollution, and solar activity can all affect what you see in different places.

You can see the northern lights from anywhere in Iceland, from Reykjavik to the Icelandic highlands. And the truth is that wherever you see the aurora, it will no doubt be a magical experience.

Are the northern lights worth it?

The northern lights are one of the most incredible things that you can see on the planet. While we recognise that might sound like an exaggeration, believe us when we say it isn’t. In fact, many of the visitors who join us on our northern lights tours agree that it’s one of the most magical experiences of their life.

How do I plan a trip to see the northern lights?

It’s really easy to plan a trip to see the northern lights. All you have to do is decide when you want to come to Iceland and then book your tour.

Reykjavik Excursions runs northern lights tours every day throughout the winter season (weather permitting). That means you’ve got all the flexibility you need to ensure you have the perfect northern lights trip.

Start exploring our Iceland northern lights tours now.

See the northern lights for yourself with Reykjavik Excursions

They say the northern lights are one of the most incredible sights on earth. Join a northern lights tour in Iceland and you’ll understand why for yourself.

At Reykjavik Excursions, we make this amazing experience easy. We run a range of northern lights tours in Iceland throughout the winter. Led by expert guides, we’ll take you to the best places to see the northern lights in Iceland. And if you don’t see them the first time, we’ll give you a ticket to another tour for free.

Come and see the northern lights with us. Get started by exploring our northern lights tours in Iceland.

NORTHERN LIGHTS BLOG

A Few of our Favourite FAQs

Iceland is often described as magical, extreme and otherworldly. It makes sense then that our guests feel unsure about what to bring, how to prepare and what to expect. So, here are a few of our favourite frequently asked questions about Iceland.

Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland - Your Guide

There are many great places to see the northern lights in Iceland. Discover the details—and book a northern lights tour—in our guide.

December 23, 2022

Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland - Your Guide

There are many great places to see the northern lights in Iceland. Discover the details—and book a northern lights tour—in our guide.

December 23, 2022

But what is the best place to see the northern lights in Iceland? Truly, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From the luxury of the Sky Lagoon to the wild landscapes of the Golden Circle, there are so many places and ways to see this magical display.

Read on to discover where to get the best chance of seeing the northern lights in Iceland.

Where to see the northern lights in Iceland

Iceland is known as one of the best places on the planet to see the northern lights. Throughout the winter, the incredible spectacle otherwise known as the aurora borealis can be seen on most clear nights.

How come? Iceland is blessed by the northern lights simply because of its position in the far north. The closer to the poles you travel, the better your chances of seeing the aurora borealis—and the very dark, long winter nights provide the perfect backdrop to its performance.

That means that almost anywhere in Iceland is a good place to see the northern lights. In the darker season, and with the right conditions, you can witness their shimmering colours across the country—from the heart of Reykjavik to Iceland’s many vast wildernesses.

Interestingly, many visitors imagine that you have to head to the deepest, darkest areas of the country to have the best chance to see the northern lights. That’s half-true, because the phenomenon does appear most clearly where light pollution is lowest. But you don’t need to head far out of Reykjavik to find a perfectly sheltered spot. In fact, some of the best places are across the south coast of Iceland and throughout the Golden Circle.
BP 3
What you do need to bear in mind though is the weather conditions. If you are in a place with cloud cover, for example, you won’t be able to see the aurora. It’s much better to head to any place where there are clear skies.

By the way, that’s exactly why at Reykjavik Excursions our Iceland northern lights tours don’t have a specific fixed destination. Instead, we’ll take you to wherever the conditions are best. You need a bit of flexibility when hunting for the northern lights.

When to go on a northern lights tour in Iceland

The winter is the best time for a northern lights tour in Iceland. It’s when the skies are darkest, allowing you to see the shapes and colours of the aurora borealis at their greatest clarity.

But winter is a long time in Iceland. In fact, nights are long and dark enough for you to see the northern lights from October to April. Most tours run throughout this whole period, although their start times will change depending on the season.

For example, in December, the darkest month of the year in Iceland, there are as many as 20 hours of darkness per day. That means you have the chance to see the northern lights from about 15:30 to 11:30.

Alternatively, earlier or later in the season, you’ll just have to wait until it is completely dark. Many northern lights tours start at midnight in October or April for exactly this reason.

In short, the best time to go on a northern lights tour in Iceland is when you have the right conditions. That means low light and clear skies. But it also means high levels of solar activity.

The sun goes through cycles of about 11 years, when solar storms (the phenomenon that causes the aurora) are stronger and more frequent. The good news is that “solar maximum”—the moment of most intense activity—is due between 2023 and 2025, meaning that the best time to see the northern lights are in the years ahead.


What are the northern lights?


BP 2

The northern lights are known for the unique, ethereal beauty. But what actually is this display that you’re seeing?

The changing, rippling colours of the aurora are caused by chemical reactions on the surface of the sun known as solar storms. These are huge explosions that release massive amounts of energy and charged particles into space.

Now, if the earth didn’t have its atmosphere, these particles would likely cause us a lot of harm. But we are protected—and all those solar particles crash into the molecules that make up our atmosphere. Those violent collisions some 100 miles above us are what we are seeing when we witness the northern lights.

But they don’t happen all over the planet. Rather, the earth’s magnetic field pulls these solar particles down to the north and south poles. And that’s why the far north and south are the only places to see the aurora.

Ultimately, from a complex and violent process, what we see on earth is an exquisitely beautiful display that everyone should have the chance to witness once in their life.


Northern lights combo tours

What’s the best way to see the northern lights in Iceland? On a northern lights tour. At Reykjavik Excursions, we offer a range of tours to satisfy all tastes and preferred travel styles, while offering you the best chance to see this most spectacular phenomenon.

Here, we share some of the most popular combination tours, bringing together the northern lights with some of the biggest thrills you can enjoy across Iceland.

Note: If you don’t manage to see the northern lights in Iceland on one of our tours, we’ll sign you up for another tour on a different day—so you have another chance to glimpse them.

The Sky Lagoon & Northern Lights tour

Seeing the serene forms of the northern lights is an incredibly powerful experience. And there’s nowhere better to soak in its beauty than in the tranquil waters of the Sky Lagoon.

You may have heard about Iceland’s spa culture already, and the Sky Lagoon is one of the newest destinations in the country. Facing north overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it provides an expansive view of the winter sky and the perfect backdrop to this experience.

Combining the Sky Lagoon with the northern lights offers a transformative night to remember.

The Blue Lagoon & Northern Lights tour

While the Sky Lagoon is the newest, the Blue Lagoon is probably the most famous spa destination in Iceland. Its milky blue waters are said to have a therapeutic effect thanks to their high sediment content, making the Lagoon the perfect place to unwind.

Start your tour at the Blue Lagoon before moving on to see the northern lights, wherever the conditions are best that day. You’ll experience the best of Iceland in all its magical glory.

Northern Lights by Boat tour

Just like the stars, the northern lights are best seen when there are low levels of light. That’s why you need it to be nighttime to experience them—and why it can be good to get away from the lights of the city.

There’s no better way to do that than on a northern lights tour by boat. Let us take you out into the heart of the north Atlantic Ocean, where you’ll have one of the best views of the aurora.

The Golden Circle & Northern Lights tour

The Golden Circle offers some of the most incredible natural sights on the whole of the south coast of Iceland. It is the country’s most famous travel itinerary for a reason.

Here you’ll find the majestic flows of Gullfoss waterfall, with its high cliffs and thundering torrents. You’ll discover the awe-inspiring power of the Geysir geothermal area. And you’ll explore the vast expanses and dramatic rifts of Þingvellir National Park.

Why not add the northern lights to this series of wonders? It can be the perfect end to a day exploring the best of Iceland.

Northern Lights by Super Jeep tour

Want a more intimate northern lights adventure? Book our northern lights by Super Jeep tour. We’ll journey through some of Iceland’s most spectacular landscapes in this custom-built off-road vehicle, before finding you the best spot for a northern lights experience.

One of the perks of this type of tour is that you’ll be in a much smaller group. If you want to enjoy the northern lights in a smaller group, this could be the adventure for you.

Northern Lights & Fontana Geothermal Baths

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active countries on earth. This provides some of its most dramatic sights—from geysirs to lava fields—but it also offers the chance for a uniquely relaxing experience. That’s the natural hot water pools.

One of the best is Laugarvatn Fontana, in the heart of the Golden Circle. On this tour, you can enjoy the warm waters of the Laugarvatn lake before heading off to find the best place to see the northern lights with us.

What to bring on a northern lights tour in Iceland

So, you’re coming to see the northern lights—but what should you bring with you? Apart from yourself and your loved ones, there’s not much that you’ll need. Remember to pack the following:

  • Warm clothes. Iceland is cold in the winter—particularly at night. You’ll really want to ensure that you have enough clothes to keep you warm while standing out and admiring the aurora. We recommend lots of warm layers, a thermal jacket, a hat, and gloves. Icelandic wool socks are how locals keep our feet warm in the winter.

  • Camera. There’s no doubt that you’ll want to take a photo of the northern lights. There’s nothing quite as special, and a physical memory of the occasion is a must. Pack your camera to remember the occasion forever.

  • Snacks. While on some northern lights tours you will have the opportunity to buy snacks—or even dinner—we recommend you pack something too. Many tours will take you back to your hotel quite late, meaning that you might get a little peckish as the night goes on.


Winter in Iceland


BP 5

The northern lights are one of the main draws for visitors to Iceland in winter. But it’s far from all that the snowy season offers in the Land of Fire and Ice.

In fact, some of Iceland’s most famous destinations look even more magnificent under a dusting of snow. From the Golden Circle to the waterfalls and glaciers of the Vatnajökull National Park, a white blanket adds an extra beauty to Iceland’s nature.

And then there are the experiences that you can only enjoy in winter. Take ice-caving in Iceland, for example. Journey beneath the ice caps that cover over a tenth of Iceland’s landscapes. It will give you a new, breathtaking perspective on the country.

Many visitors to Iceland wonder whether the winter would be too cold and dark to have a good time. It isn’t. In fact, thanks to its natural beauty, combined with the warm and cosy culture of cities such as Reykjavik, seeing Iceland in winter is a must.


FAQs about seeing the northern lights in Iceland

Got more questions about the northern lights in Iceland? Here, we answer some of the most common queries.

What month is best to see the northern lights in Iceland?

Typically, it’s said that December is the best month to see the northern lights in Iceland. It’s the month when nights are longest and darkest, meaning that the colours of the aurora are most vivid against the sky.

However, in truth, you can see the northern lights perfectly well throughout the winter season, from October to April. As long as it’s dark enough—and the skies are clear—you’ll have the chance to experience their beauty.

Can you see the aurora borealis from Reykjavik?

Visitors to Iceland can and regularly do see the aurora borealis from Reykjavik. While light pollution in the city can make it a little harder to see, on clear nights you have a really good chance of enjoying the northern lights from town.

Alternatively, it’s not hard to find a dark spot close to town. The Seltjarnarnes peninsula to the northwest of Reykjavik is a popular destination for local northern lights hunters.

Can you see the northern lights anywhere in Iceland?

It’s possible to see the northern lights from anywhere in the country. The whole of Iceland is far enough north to make an aurora experience possible wherever you are.

Interestingly, in moments of really intense solar activity, the northern lights have been seen as far south as Hawaii. While it doesn’t happen very often, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can see the northern lights from nearly anywhere. It’s just a lot more likely in Iceland!

Is the Blue Lagoon near the northern lights?

You have a great chance of seeing the northern lights from near—and sometimes even in—the Blue Lagoon. On a Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights tour, we’ll take you to the best places near the spa to see the aurora.

What’s the best place to see the northern lights in Iceland?

There is no single best place to see the northern lights in Iceland. The weather, light pollution, and solar activity can all affect what you see in different places.

You can see the northern lights from anywhere in Iceland, from Reykjavik to the Icelandic highlands. And the truth is that wherever you see the aurora, it will no doubt be a magical experience.

Are the northern lights worth it?

The northern lights are one of the most incredible things that you can see on the planet. While we recognise that might sound like an exaggeration, believe us when we say it isn’t. In fact, many of the visitors who join us on our northern lights tours agree that it’s one of the most magical experiences of their life.

How do I plan a trip to see the northern lights?

It’s really easy to plan a trip to see the northern lights. All you have to do is decide when you want to come to Iceland and then book your tour.

Reykjavik Excursions runs northern lights tours every day throughout the winter season (weather permitting). That means you’ve got all the flexibility you need to ensure you have the perfect northern lights trip.

Start exploring our Iceland northern lights tours now.

See the northern lights for yourself with Reykjavik Excursions

They say the northern lights are one of the most incredible sights on earth. Join a northern lights tour in Iceland and you’ll understand why for yourself.

At Reykjavik Excursions, we make this amazing experience easy. We run a range of northern lights tours in Iceland throughout the winter. Led by expert guides, we’ll take you to the best places to see the northern lights in Iceland. And if you don’t see them the first time, we’ll give you a ticket to another tour for free.

Come and see the northern lights with us. Get started by exploring our northern lights tours in Iceland.

NORTHERN LIGHTS BLOG

A Few of our Favourite FAQs

Iceland is often described as magical, extreme and otherworldly. It makes sense then that our guests feel unsure about what to bring, how to prepare and what to expect. So, here are a few of our favourite frequently asked questions about Iceland.