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Northern Lights Thórsmörk, Iceland
23 Feb

Northern Lights in Iceland: The Ultimate Guide

The Northern Lights – or aurora borealis, for want of its fancier title – is one of nature’s most spectacular events. If you’re booking a holiday to Iceland, it’s likely that ‘witness the Northern Lights’ is at the top of your itinerary. You really might kick yourself if you don’t tick it off.

Reykjavik4you have a selection of private day trips available, that include stopping off to see the sky-spectacle with a hot drink in hand, so here’s everything you need to know before booking a place to stay as part of your trip. 

Northern Lights Thórsmörk, Iceland

Northern Lights over Thórsmörk, Iceland.

What exactly is the aurora borealis?

As solar particles enter the Earth’s magnetic field and ionise, they create the Northern Lights. This means that the particles light up the night’s sky in hues of green, purple, pink, blue and red, like neon strobes. Each ‘show’ is unique, dependant on a number of factors.

Why can’t the Northern Lights be seen around the world?

The auroras only appear at the two poles because of the world’s magnetic field. This is usually above the 60° latitude mark in the north and below 60° in the south. Iceland sits in the perfect position for the Northern Lights. 

Northern Lights in Budhir, Iceland.

Northern Lights above a church building in Budhir.

So, is there such a thing as the Southern Lights?

Yes there is, and the name proper is aurora australis.

Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?

Snæfellsjökull National Park is a popular site to spot the Northern Lights from. You can spend the day exploring the 90- km long peninsula, taking in the mountains, birds and pebble beaches on hiker trails. Other recommended options are Öskjuhlíð hill, Laugardalur Park and Klambratún (although these are within the city, which decreases your chances of good visibility).

What are the ideal weather conditions to make the aurora borealis easily visible?

The best views of the Northern Lights usually happen when the sky is dark and clear in a rural area that isn’t affected by pollution or nearby unnatural lights. That’s why it is best to drive out somewhere on a tour out of the city.

Northern Lights at Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, Iceland

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, Iceland.

When is the best time to plan for it?

Icelanders can see the Northern Lights for eight months a year, between early September and April. Of course, good visibility isn’t a certainty – that all depends on the weather, solar activity and a bit of good luck on your side.

You should now have a good idea of what the aurora borealis is and why it is such a special sight to hunt down. Hopefully, you also have a better idea of when to book your Reykjavik holiday and where to go in Iceland in order to see the Northern Lights.

Make sure you have a comfortable, warm, luxurious apartment to head back to after a night of chasing Northern Lights, by renting accommodation with Reykjavik4you. We have a variety of studios and apartments to choose from that will suit your individual needs – the perfect place to sleep and dream of those dazzling lights.