Are you also interested in seeing the Northern Lights? Are Northern Lights on your bucket list as well? Then worry no more; you are at the right place. The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are very high. It is because of the long hours of darkness during the winter, a full eight-month northern lights season, and the low light pollution throughout the country.
Iceland is a magical place for seeing the best display of Northern Lights in the world. You will be able to see the best aurora borealis here in September. The incredible landscapes like mountains, waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, rock formations and cliffs make the experience even more wonderful.
By the end of this article, you will get to know what is the best time to see Northern Light in Iceland.
Table of Contents
What Are Northern Lights
Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are photon particles created by oxygen and nitrogen molecules reacting with Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) in the earth’s atmosphere.
The sun throws out SEPs in solar flares during various solar activities. Most of these SEPs are deflected by the earth’s magnetic field. But in and around the North and South pole, the intensity of the magnetic field decreases, making them less magnetic poles.
The SEPs that glide inside the earth’s atmosphere react with the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the upper atmosphere, resulting in the Northern Lights. The geomagnetic storms that take place also impact the intensity and stability of the Northern Lights.
Since the magnetic poles near Iceland are relatively weaker than most parts of the world, the aurora viewing experience in this place is mesmerizing. Aurora hunters are always eager to capture the best they can from the bright auroras in the sky.
Not only the locals but aurora borealis in Iceland also attract many tourists from all over the world. There is a special Iceland Northern Lights tour that is arranged for tourists. Things you should know regarding the aurora displays in this country are mentioned in this article.
Best Time To See Northern Light In Iceland
The Iceland Northern Lights season starts in late August and is in proper form till the mid of April. Among these months, the preferred time to see Northern Lights in Iceland is March and September. It is because solar activity is at a peak during these months, which increases the chance of seeing the aurora displays.
On the other hand, September and March also have a warmer weather forecast compared to the additional months in the northern lights season. During these months, fewer or no clouds are seen in the sky, which also adds to the better experience of seeing the Northern lights. The warm weather makes everyone feel more comfortable staying outside for a longer time, resulting in better aurora viewing.
The aurora season or the aurora forecast generally corresponds with the fall and winter seasons in the year. This time of the year has the most darkness and is ideal for seeing the northern lights forecast not only in Iceland but in all northern lights viewing locations worldwide.
During summer and early spring, it is not ideal to see the northern lights in Iceland because the daylight hours are long, and the lights of the north do not get enough nights. Therefore, most Northern Lights tours are conducted during fall and winter solstice. During this season, the night sky turns beautiful with the aura of the Northern Lights.
Best Months To Witness The Northern Lights
As mentioned above, there are some specific months when you can enjoy most of the northern lights in Iceland. Let us know about these months in detail.
If you plan to visit Iceland to see the northern lights, we suggest you visit this place in August. It is guaranteed that you will be able to experience the nice northern lights in Iceland during this time. Also, make sure to check the aurora borealis forecast beforehand. Who knows, you can get luckier.
If you could not see the northern lights in August or could not make it to Iceland during August, try to visit this place in September. It is because, in September, the Northern Lights tend to stay in the night sky for longer.
In addition, Iceland’s weather in September is much better than in the other months, making it the best time to visit Iceland. There is fewer or no cloud cover during this time which contributes to the clearer vision of the aurora borealis.
Apart from these, there is also some solar storm in this month which contributes to the maximum intensity of nature’s light. Clear skies are ideal for getting a wonderful northern lights experience.
During October, Iceland’s weather is relatively cold than the other months. The country experiences its first snowfall during this time. Since the snow persists for some time, there is more cloud cover, contributing to the light’s low intensity.
Solar activity generally peaks during the first two weeks of October, and the temperature is less cold than in the other winter months.
Generally, the weather in November is a bit unpredictable. The ice and snow present in this month indicates the beginning of cold and harsh winter months in Iceland. One advantage of visiting Iceland in November is there are long hours of darkness, which means you can see the northern lights in Iceland for longer hours.
There are few tourists during this time of the year, but the darkness prevails for long hours. It is also one of the perfect months to see the northern lights if you can withstand the cold of Iceland in December.
If you plan to visit Iceland in December, carry enough warm clothes with you as the temperature gets very harsh.
It is the perfect time to see Iceland’s northern lights and snow. In January, you can take pictures of the Northern Lights and the snow.
During this time, the country is in the depths of winter, so it is likely for you to be able to enjoy the long nights. These kinds of weather are suitable for seeing the aurora borealis.
The snow persists in February as well. You will be able to experience cold and snowy temperatures. Most of the small waterfalls are frozen during this time. Tourism starts to flourish this month as tourists from around the world arrive.
Most tourists come to see the northern lights in Iceland in February to capture the amazing snow-filled landscapes along with the Northern Lights.
The winter months start to fade, and the pleasant weather of March dominates over the other weather conditions. Snow persists in very few places in March. The number of solar activity increases, thus increasing the chance of seeing the aurora displays.
Tourists from all over the world have started to visit Iceland in bulk. It is one of the perfect times to witness the northern lights. It is the ideal month for you if you want to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the Northern Lights in peace.
In April, the number of daylight hours increases rapidly. With the increase in the number of daily hours, the temperature also changes greatly. Come during the first half if you want to visit this place during April.
It is because there are more chances of seeing the northern lights in the first half than in the second half of April. The temperature increases, which results in the rise of long days. Since the day hours are more than the night, there are fewer chances of getting a good experience of the northern lights.
Amazing Places To See The Northern Lights In Iceland
Some amazing places in Iceland will provide you with a better experience of the northern lights than the other places.
We will discuss these places in detail.
One of the best places for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is Jökulsárlón. It is a glacial lagoon that is filled with icebergs. We can guarantee you will have an experience like no other in this place.
One of the best gifts you can gift yourself is taking a boat ride around the lake to get a better experience.
Along with the wonderful landscapes, Jökulsárlón is also the best place for northern lights hunting in Iceland. It is located in Vatnajökull National Park and, as a result, experiences no light pollution, which indicates that you will be able to see the northern lights very clearly and prominently.
In addition, you can also experience the amazing sight of the northern lights reflected on the icebergs and lagoon. Not only will you be able to enjoy this in person, but you also will be able to get some amazing shots of the Northern lights.
It is the most popular waterfall in Iceland and is one of the best places to see the northern lights. The north-facing waterfall makes the experience of viewing the Northern Lights even more fruitful. The place also has a remote countryside location near a volcano named Eyjafjallajökull.
Eyjafjallajökull is one of the most popular places to see the northern lights since it has no light pollution at all.
One disadvantage of Skogafoss is it has a lot of crowds. All the groups and camera flashes can be distracting at times. Since this place is famous among tourists, many photographers visit this waterfall to get the perfect picture of the northern lights.
We would not recommend this place if you want to experience the northern lights in a calm environment. Opt for the paces, which have fewer crowds than the crowd at this waterfall.
Regarding the advantages, Skogafoos also has some of the best northern lights hotels in Iceland. Most of the hotels in this region offer stargazing observatory sections where you can sit or lay down and watch the stars for hours.
Not only that, but most of the hotels in this area also offer aurora wake-up calls. To provide the guests with the best aurora borealis display, the hotels also switch off all their lights when the northern lights are prominent.
Stokksnes is popularly known as the landscape present around the Vestrahorn Mountains. It is a place that combines the beauty of towering mountains along with that of the black sand beaches. Like most of the areas in Iceland, this place also has very low light pollution, which makes it the ideal condition for viewing the northern lights.
The place is considered a paradise for amazing pictures of the northern lights. Here you can see the contrast between the dark landscapes and the bright lights above.
Do you want an easier aurora hunting experience? We suggest you stay nearby the Aurora Cabins in Höfn. Here you will be able to find several private cabins. You can book these private cabins for yourself and get the experience of watching the Northern Lights from the deck of your house itself.
This is your destination if you want to spend quality time with your loved ones while watching the northern lights. Forget the hassle of booking a private cabin for yourself as soon as possible.
Kirkjufell is the most iconic mountain in Iceland. It is also known as “Church Mountain” in this region. Since it has a cylindrical shape which is said to resemble the form of a church, irrespective of the condition of the mountain, you will be able to witness the amazing northern lights since the hill is north-faced. You can view the Nothern Lights from Kirkjufell, even if the display is not intense.
If you want good quality pictures, visit this place during the less popular times. It will ensure you get good Northern Lights photos without facing any challenges.
There are plenty of good accommodations available near Kirkjufell. You won’t even have to leave the comfort of your hotel when there is an aurora display. Book a comfortable place with a great view of the Northern Lights.
Hvítserkur is another name on the list of best places to see the northern lights. It is a rock formation in the middle of a sea, popularly known as “The Rhino”. Like the other places mentioned above, this formation is also north-facing, giving you the best view of the northern lights.
Apart from the northern lights, you will be mesmerized by this place’s amazing formations and natural landscapes. The Northern Lights that reflect on the water and hit the rock formation together form a wonderful sight for the eyes.
Suppose you want to escape the crowd at Skogafoss, head over to Goðafoss, an equally beautiful waterfall in Iceland. Since it is the biggest waterfall in the country, it has sheer height and width.
If you are planning to watch the northern lights from here, get ready to be confused about which is more beautiful: the waterfall or the Northern Lights. Either way, you will sign yourself in for a visual treat.
Make sure to book yourself a nice and comfortable hotel. It is a bonus if the hotel provides an on-site aurora borealis viewing experience.
Valahnúkamöl is a wonderful sea site located on the Reykjanes peninsula. Since it is a bit away from the locality, it has very low light pollution and therefore offers an obstruction-less view of the northern lights.
Some of the hotels in this area also have a rooftop pool. You can witness the beauty of the Northern Lights from the comfort of your private pool.
It is possible to see the northern lights from Reykjavik, but there is no guarantee. There is more light pollution in Iceland’s capital city, which is not the ideal condition for watching the northern lights. You will only be able to see a good aurora borealis display from this region only if the intensity of the lights is high.
If you are planning to see the northern lights from this region, look at the north coast for a better experience.
There is one solution for seeing the perfect northern lights in Reykjavik. Book a room in the rotating glass hotel. Since it is located in the city centre, there are high chances for you to see the northern lights.
If you are still unsatisfied, you can also opt for northern lights tours that will ensure you have an amazing experience of the aurora borealis.
Tips To Capture A Good Picture Of The Northern Lights
If you have travelled to Iceland to see the northern lights, it is obvious that you will want to take some good pictures of the same. Being able to click good Northern Lights views depends on many factors. The factors influencing the picture quality of the Northern Lights are light pollution, the time of the year, the light’s intensity and the duration of darkness.
Follow these tips below to capture some good pictures of the northern lights.
Make sure to carry a good camera.
Double-check all your gears when you are planning to click the Northern Lights.
Check the battery, and change and charge them according to the need.
Carry a tripod and mount it on the location.
Make sure to set the focus to achieve sharp images.
It is best to shoot the pictures raw without adding any filters. It will ensure that you can edit the images as per your preference.
Always raise the ISO according to the sensor of your camera.
Ensure opening the aperture of your lens. It will help you capture more light which results in better picture quality.
Select different shutter times to get the perfect click.
You can also click the pictures in contrast.
Do not just focus on clicking the pictures of the northern lights; rather, make sure to click the images of the amazing landscapes of Iceland along with the Northern Lights.
Clicking pictures of landscapes along with the northern lights in Iceland will add more depth and life to your photographs.
If you follow these tips, you will surely get some unique clicks from the Northern Lights. You will be able to flex to your friends and family about your amazing photography skills.
While clicking the pictures of the northern lights, do not forget to take some of your photographs for Facebook and Instagram. You are going to be the topic of discussion for quite some time.
Northern lights are present on the bucket list of a lot of people. Many people dream of seeing the Northern Lights at least once in their lifetime. There are many places in the world where you can witness the beauty of the northern lights. But Iceland is one of the best places to experience this beauty.
If you have come to this article’s end, we hope you have a clearer picture of the best time and place to witness the northern lights. So what is the delay all about? Plan your trip, pack your bags and get ready to see the mesmerizing beauty of nature.
Also check out, Best Places in Spain
Annanya is a freelance content writer from West Bengal, India. Her blogs are not restricted to a certain domain but range from food, lifestyle, travel and a lot more.
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The best month to see the northern lights in Iceland is December, as it's the month when the nights are longest and darkest. As a result, you have the opportunity to see the aurora borealis from the hours of 15:30 in the afternoon to 11:30 in the morning.What are the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland in September? ›
One of the most popular questions we are asked in relation to September is whether you will be able to see the Northern Lights. The answer is, YES! The Northern lights season officially starts in mid-September and lasts until mid-April when the midnight sun arises from its winter hibernation.Is 2023 a good year to see northern lights in Iceland? ›
February 2023 is the final month of the winter and offers great chance at capturing the northern lights. March 2023 is likely to be the BEST month of the season as with history has shown, it has the easiest weather. Anybody wanting to maximize their chances at seeing the lights, March is their go-to month.When and where is the best time to see the northern lights 2023? ›
In the areas below the Arctic Circle, the peak is in September and March. The best time of the day and hours for seeing Northern Lights in Finland is at midnight and the hours around midnight.How likely will I see northern lights in Iceland? ›
Your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are very high, thanks to an 8-month aurora season, long hours of darkness during the winter, and low light pollution throughout most of the island.Is September or October better for Iceland? ›
Is it better to visit Iceland in September or October? If you are thinking of visiting Iceland in October then it is recommended that you do so in the previous month i.e. September. The temperatures drop really low in October, making it difficult to adjust to the serious weather.Is Iceland too cold in September? ›
The Temperature in Iceland in September
The average temperature in Iceland in September is 47.3 F (8.5 C), with an average high of 50 F (11 C), and the average low is 42 F (6 C), making snowfall unlikely. If you're wondering how cold Iceland is in September, the temperature rarely goes above 59 F (15 C).
The average rainfall in September is a little under 3 inches or 71 mm, this represents an increase of rainfall, statistically-speaking, from the peak summer months. But any Icelander can tell you that this varies quite a bit, or at least it feels that way.How far in advance can Northern Lights be predicted? ›
It is difficult to predict the Northern Lights over the long term. Coronal mass ejections, which cause most of the solar storms and, therefore, stronger Auroras, are forecast 15 days in advance, but their strength and shape can vary once they get closer to Earth.Do the northern lights happen every night? ›
There is no official season since the northern lights are almost always present, day and night. Caused by charged particles from the sun hitting atoms in Earth's atmosphere and releasing photons, it's a process that happens constantly.
Iceland is perfectly positioned in the Auroral Zone and offers the chance to see the Northern Lights 7 to 8 months per year!How long should you wait for Northern Lights? ›
The Northern Lights most commonly appear between 17:00 and 02:00. They don't usually exhibit for long – they may only show for a few minutes, then glide away before returning.What is the best hour to see the Northern Lights? ›
November through to February offer the darkest skies and longer evenings for maximum sky-gazing. The strongest lights tend to appear between 9pm and 2am, though the best sightings often occur between 11pm and midnight.Is Iceland or Norway better for Northern Lights? ›
September-October and February-March are generally accepted as the best times to visit either destination on an aurora hunt. However, while all of Iceland is in prime northern lights territory, things aren't the same in Norway. You'll need to travel to the north of the country for a similar likelihood of a display.Is it easy to see Northern Lights in Reykjavik? ›
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS SEASON
Iceland is close enough to the North Pole to have a few months of the midnight sun during which the sky is too bright for the Northern Lights to appear. They are still there but the sky is lit up by the sun so we cannot detect the Aurora Borealis in Iceland.
Can you see the Northern Lights from Blue Lagoon? Yes, absolutely. Blue Lagoon is the perfect location to see the Northern Lights during the season. We are set in nature, surrounded by moss-covered lava fields.How can I increase my chances of seeing the Northern Lights? ›
Head north. The best way to see the northern lights is to head north. Most of the molecular activity that causes the northern lights happens near the Earth's magnetic poles. For that reason, the Arctic region is an ideal location for hunting the aurora.Do the Northern Lights happen every night in Iceland? ›
The northern lights appear whenever there's solar activity, but we can only spot them when it's dark. Therefore northern lights tours only run in the winter months as the longer nights make the aurora borealis easier to spot. In general, northern lights are visible between late August and mid-April in Iceland.Is Iceland too cold in October? ›
October is our wettest month, and Iceland gets an average low of 37°F (about 3°C) and highs of 45°F (7°C). Expect lots of rain, usually drizzle. The average amount of rain is 4 to 5 inches, or 101-127 mm.What clothes to take to Iceland in September? ›
For a summer trip to Iceland (between May and September), it is a good idea to bring both light and warmer layers with you. Light layers include t-shirts, thin long-sleeved shirts as well as shorts. For your warmer set, make sure to bring some trousers or jeans, and layers such as a fleece or thick jumper.
Summer (June to August) is the best time to visit Iceland, thanks to the midnight sun and warmer temperatures. Hikers should consider July and August, when all the trails are open. Don't discount winter, though – February, March, September and October are the best time to travel to Iceland for the Northern Lights.Is Iceland better in May or September? ›
Iceland can stay relatively warm through the first week of October, so planning a September visit can be ideal (most of the crowds have thinned as children return to school). May, too, provides ample daylight for sightseeing and warmer temps.How many days in Iceland is enough? ›
A minimum of 1 week in Iceland is ideal, but visiting for up to 2 or even 3 weeks will allow you to see more of this beautiful country in the same trip. Staying for less than 7 days in Iceland is still doable, but there's no doubt you'll want to come back again to see and do more.What are the rainiest months in Iceland? ›
The wettest month is January with an average of 50 mm of rain. Summer (June to August or September) can be surprisingly warm, and it's also the driest season, so it's a popular time to visit. Reykjavik is one of the cloudiest and coldest capitals of any nation in the world.What is the weather like in Iceland in September 2023? ›
The average temperature in September is 7 °C (45°F). It's also the month where sunlight begins to decrease in the day and nights are dark again, which Icelanders enjoy after a full summer of 24 hour daylight. Depending on your activities, most are done rain or shine.What time does it get dark in Iceland in September? ›
Iceland daylight hours in September
Come September, the day and night are about equal by the end of the month at 12 hours apiece. Sunrise occurs around 6 AM, with sunset at 8 PM in the early part of the month and closer to 6 PM by the end of the month.
Puffins can be seen in Iceland from early April until September each year. There are more than one puffin species but the one that breeds in Iceland is the so called Atlantic Puffin.How likely are you to see the northern lights? ›
The Northern Lights are unpredictable.
They are visible from late August to early April anytime during dark hours, which in places like Abisko or Tromsø can be nearly 24 hours a day in winter.
Fortunately, they occur frequently. "The northern lights are happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," said photographer Chad Blakely, owner of the northern lights tour company Lights Over Lapland (opens in new tab).Are the northern lights better in Alaska or Iceland? ›
If you're wondering if Iceland or Alaska is better for viewing the Northern Lights. The answer is that both offer incredible opportunities. The ideal position for viewing the Aurora Borealis is north of 65 degrees latitude. It will need to be a cloudless night and preferably away from city lights.
Although the Northern Lights appear very often, exceptionally strong Northern Lights are not as frequent. (Still, you can maybe catch amazing Northern Lights on average once or twice a month - sometimes there's an amazing show a few days in a row... there's really no order to it).What's the difference between northern lights and aurora borealis? ›
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a spectacular, colourful display of light commonly seen in the night sky in the northern hemisphere. Auroras in the southern hemisphere are known as the southern lights, or aurora australis.What are you not supposed to do at the northern lights? ›
Don't whistle at the Northern Lights
The biggest faux pas you can commit while viewing the Northern Lights is to wave, sing or whistle at them. Alerted to your presence, the spirits of the lights will come down and take you away.
In such remote areas, an expert local guide is imperative in helping you hunt for the Northern Lights. Not only do they have exceptional experience in the Arctic activities such as snowmobiling and snowshoeing but they also have unparalleled knowledge of the area in which they work.Does it need to be a clear night to see northern lights? ›
To see the Northern lights, the sky needs to be dark and clear of any clouds. Some people claim the aurora comes out when temperatures are colder. This isn't the case – it's just that when the skies are cloudless, temperatures tend to drop.What month is best to see the northern lights in Iceland? ›
September through March is the peak season for northern lights viewing because the nights are longest. Just make sure you're on the lookout between dusk and dawn because they can occur at any time.What time is best for northern lights in Iceland? ›
Best time of day to see the aurora borealis
Northern lights often appear during the darkest part of the night, so most sightings happen between 11 PM and 2 AM. You can spend the night stargazing, on the lookout for this otherworldly display.
Once darkness falls, the Aurora can be visible at any time of day, and we have seen them as early as 4pm and as late as 6am (that was quite a night!).How likely will I see Northern Lights in Iceland? ›
Your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are very high, thanks to an 8-month aurora season, long hours of darkness during the winter, and low light pollution throughout most of the island.What country has the prettiest Northern Lights? ›
The best places to see the aurora borealis are the Nordic countries of Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which lie within or near the Arctic Circle. You could also look for them in Russia, Alaska, and Canada's northwest territories.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Ideal Weather
The summer months — July and August — are Iceland's warmest, and have long been the most popular time to visit. And June, with its 24 hours of daylight, sees just about as many tourists as the peak of summer.
However, while all of Iceland is in prime northern lights territory, things aren't the same in Norway. You'll need to travel to the north of the country for a similar likelihood of a display.Can you see the northern lights from Reykjavik? ›
It is possible to see the northern lights from Reykjavik. But it is uncommon due to the light pollution of the city lights. However, if you're in Reykjavik while there is high northern lights activity and clear skies. Then your best to see the northern lights in Reykjavik is by the 'Grótta lighthouse.Do northern lights happen every night? ›
There is no official season since the northern lights are almost always present, day and night. Caused by charged particles from the sun hitting atoms in Earth's atmosphere and releasing photons, it's a process that happens constantly.Is October a good month to visit Iceland? ›
October is a great time to visit Iceland because it's usually possible to enjoy both summer and winter tours. Many summer tours run until snow blocks the roads—in most parts of Iceland that happens in November or December.What is the cheapest month to visit Iceland? ›
Put simply, the cheapest time of year in Iceland is during its off-peak season; this covers September to November and January to May. Visiting Iceland in Autumn or Spring will be kind to your wallet and allow you to visit popular destinations without them being crowded, a win-win!How cold is Iceland in October? ›
Iceland Weather in October - Average Temperature & Daylight
October is our wettest month, and Iceland gets an average low of 37°F (about 3°C) and highs of 45°F (7°C). Expect lots of rain, usually drizzle. The average amount of rain is 4 to 5 inches, or 101-127 mm.
The best places to see the aurora borealis are the Nordic countries of Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which lie within or near the Arctic Circle. You could also look for them in Russia, Alaska, and Canada's northwest territories.How often are the northern lights visible in Reykjavik? ›
Iceland is perfectly positioned in the Auroral Zone and offers the chance to see the Northern Lights 7 to 8 months per year!Can you see northern lights from sky lagoon? ›
The night sky is just as amazing in the winter, as the lagoon gives you a perfect view of a bright starry sky. And, if you time it right, you might even be able to catch the Northern Lights as they dance in neon colours across the sky.
3. It doesn't have to be cold to see the Northern Lights; it just has to be dark. Another common misconception people have is that it has to be cold to see the Northern Lights.Does it have to be cold for the northern lights? ›
To see the Northern Lights, the sky needs to be dark and clear of any clouds. Some people claim the aurora comes out when temperatures are colder. This isn't the case – it's just that when the skies are cloudless, temperatures tend to drop.What's the difference between northern lights and Aurora Borealis? ›
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a spectacular, colourful display of light commonly seen in the night sky in the northern hemisphere. Auroras in the southern hemisphere are known as the southern lights, or aurora australis.