- Get to know more about the aurora by readingNorthern Lights in Iceland
- Find out all you need to know about Northern Lights Photography
When Is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Iceland in 2022?
The best time to see aurora borealis in Iceland is between September and April. It’s when the nights are dark enough to see the aurora.
Iceland only gets 4-5 hours of daylight in midwinter, providing endless opportunities to hunt for aurora borealis during that time.
What Is the Best Month To See the Northern Lights in Iceland?
Northern lights tours run between September and April. While there’s no particularly optimum time between this range, the nights are the darkest from November to January. This means you can seek the aurora in Iceland from late afternoon until nearly noon the next day, which provides perfect conditions to photograph the northern lights.
This makes January the absolute best time to visit Iceland for the northern lights in 2022, although you have a good chance to spot the aurora borealis in Iceland until April. Then it’s a long wait until September.
- See also: Best Winter Activities in Iceland
Another advantage of coming in midwinter is that you can see Iceland under a blanket of snow and make the most of Iceland’s other winter phenomena, most notably exploring the crystal blue ice caves, which are only found in a few other places worldwide.
When Can You See the Aurora Borealis in Iceland?
The northern lights appear whenever there’s solar activity, but we can only spot them when it’s dark. Thereforenorthern 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. But that also depends on several other factors. For the best time to go to Iceland for the northern lights, it’s best to aim for the weeks around the winter solstice.
What Are the Best Conditions to See the Northern Lights?
1. Strong Solar Activity
The solar wind is the reason behind the appearance of northern lights. The Kp-index forecast is the measurement unit used to indicate the level of solar activity. The optimum level is above three, and you can check this on the Aurora Forecast in Iceland.
2. Clear Skies
The Icelandic Meteorological Office also has an aurora forecast on cloud covers in Iceland to help you find the best place to spot northern lights.
3. As Little Light as Possible
The darker it is, the easier it is to spot aurora borealis. You can still see the northern lights in Reykjavik and other cities, but the best results are from the remote countryside. See our tips for finding aurora borealis yourself in Iceland, including how to see the northern lights in Reykjavik.
So there is no straight answer to when you can see the northern lights in Iceland since it isn’t just dependent on the season or month, but also the meteorological and solar conditions.
Iceland’s Northern Lights Season
Can You See the Northern Lights in Iceland During Winter?
The best time of the year to see the northern lights in Iceland is undoubtedly the winter months. However, throughout these months, Iceland endures its worst weather.
Clouds can block the sky, and therefore the aurora borealis, for weeks at a time. Storms are also more common this season, occasionally leading to the cancellation of tours or the closure of main roads.
Three are still plenty of winter activities in Iceland you can enjoy. You can go ice caving, snowmobiling, and glacier hiking before setting out to explore the northern lights each night.
Can You See the Northern Lights in Iceland During Autumn and Spring?
Iceland’s weather is milder in autumn and spring (if still very unpredictable), meaning less chance of cloud cover, although note that the window of opportunity for northern lights hunting is smaller due to the increased daylight hours.
However, many summer tours extend into these months, allowing you to do more when the auroras are not visible. The Thrihnukagigur Inside the Volcano Tour continues until October and will enable you to descend into and explore a vast, unbelievably colorful magma chamber.
Whale-watching from the whale-watching capital of Europe, Husavik, begins in March and lasts until November, providing you the chance to marvel over the giants of the deep.
Keep in mind the best time for northern lights in Iceland is the winter months. However, seeing them in late autumn and early spring is still possible.
Can the Northern Lights Be Seen in the Summer?
In the summer equinox weeks at the end of June, the sun never sets in Iceland. Instead, it circles the sky, touching the southern horizon but never quite sinking below it. The brightness of this ‘Midnight Sun’ entirely obscures the northern lights. Through the end of May, the entirety of June and July, and the beginning of August, the nights are still too bright to see the auroras.
- See also: The Midnight Sun in Iceland
Despite this, you can still see the aurora borealis faintly during the short hours of darkness at the very beginning and end of summer. Usually, they will be seen dimly against a dusky sky, often making for a uniquely beautiful display considering how vivid the colors of Iceland’s sunsets can be.
Even so, you have much less chance of seeing Iceland’s aurora borealis during these times, as they will need to be particularly intense to be visible, and there’s a much smaller window of opportunity to seek them. Suppose you want to see the aurora borealis in Iceland while still enjoying relatively mild weather and the option to partake in most summer activities. In that case, it’s recommended you come in September.
- See also: Iceland in September
What Time of Night Is Best To See the Aurora Borealis in Iceland?
You can see the aurora borealis in Iceland whenever the sky is dark. Therefore, in December, they may be visible from three in the afternoon until nine in the morning. However, due to the Earth’s rotation, atmosphere, and magnetosphere relative to Iceland’s position on the globe, they are most likely to be seen between 10 PM and12 AM.
This is when most northern lights tours set off. It also means that when the tours end, you’ve searched through the optimal time and back home early enough that it won’t compromise your plans the next day.
If you’re renting a car in Iceland and taking a winter self-drive tour tailored to the aurora borealis, you can search for the northern lights throughout the night. But you should remember to avoid sunrise and sunset when light pollution significantly dims them. If you are out well into the early hours hunting for the auroras, it’ll be noticeably colder, so dress accordingly.
What Else Can I Do To Make Sure I See the Northern Lights in Iceland?
Witnessing the northern lights in Iceland always requires some luck. Some travelers dead-set on aurora hunting may encounter cloud cover or a lack of solar activity every night of their holiday. Others, traveling for one night in August, might be blessed with a fantastic show without even looking for it.
Other than waiting for a clear winter’s night, there are several ways to optimize your chances of enjoying a fantastic display of the aurora borealis in Iceland.
Just hoping you see a northern lights display without laying any groundwork is probably not the wisest option. There are several easy steps you can take to increase your chances:
1. Avoid Urban Areas When Northern Lights Hunting
All lights have the same dimming effect on the auroras as the sun. If you’re in Reykjavik and want to see the northern lights, you must move away from the light pollution. You can take a bus to the Seltjarnarnes Nature Reserve,which is fairly dark compared to the rest of the city. However, you are more likely to achieve better results by booking a tour or driving out into the dark surrounding landscapes.
If you are on a guided package or self-drive tour, your route will take you out into the reaches of Iceland’s nature, maximizing your chances of catching a show every night.
2. Extend the Length of Your Holiday
If traveling to Iceland for just a weekend, you only have two or three nights in which to go aurora hunting. Considering the unpredictable weather and fickle nature of the aurora borealis, you’re not setting yourself up for success.
You’re statistically more likely to see the northern lights by staying in Iceland for an extended time.
3. Travel Across Iceland
A two-week-long vacation spent in different parts of the country will significantly increase your chances of a lucky night in perfect conditions.
Travelers could also consider spending much or all of their holiday in North Iceland. The nights here are longer, and the sky is usually less cloudy, providing increased opportunity. During the northern lights season, the north is also less busy than the Reykjavik area, allowing you to avoid the crowds at the most scenic viewing spots, such as the marvelous Myvatn lake or frozen waterfall Godafoss.
4. Check the Weather Forecast for Northern Lights
Iceland’s weather website has regularly updated pages revealing the predicted and current cloud cover around the country, allowing you to plan to reach the areas with the clearest skies. The aurora forecast measures from zero to nine, with three and above considered promising.
5. Be Well-prepared and Patient
It'll take several minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness of Iceland's winter nights, so stay a while at each spot, even if the sky appears clear. The northern lights can also begin at any moment, so don't rush away if they aren't immediately active.
Make sure you have many layers of warm clothes - and perhaps some hot cocoa -so you can comfortably wait for the auroras as long as you need. When it comes to northern lights hunting, just a little bit of patience can lead to the most incredible rewards, which no doubt you will remember for the rest of your life.
What is the best month to visit Iceland for northern lights? ›
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 is the best month to see Iceland? ›
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.
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.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.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 month is the coldest in Iceland? ›
- Hottest Month: July (57 F / 14 C)
- Coldest Month: January and February (36 F / 2 C)
- Wettest Month: September (4.6 inches)
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!Do you need to book a tour to see Northern Lights in Iceland? ›
We recommend a self-drive tour that lasts at least a week to have the best chance of a sighting. And, of course, you won't be able to see them in the summertime. The good news is that you don't need to book onto a guided tour to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.Do you need a guide to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? ›
But the darker your surroundings, the more intense the colors will be. To maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights in Iceland, we always recommend a guided tour.Can I see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik? ›
Can you see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik? Yes, it's possible to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik! In fact, Reykjavik is the only capital city besides Nuuk, Greenland where you can see the Northern Lights.
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.What time of night do northern lights happen? ›
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.Can you predict northern lights? ›
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.Is Norway or Iceland better for northern lights? ›
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.How often are there northern lights 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 Blue Lagoon? ›
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 much money do you need for 1 week in Iceland? ›
An average trip to Iceland cost for travellers that want to vacation in Iceland is approximately $90-290 USD per person per day. This means that the cost of 7 days in Iceland is around $630 to $2030 USD excluding airfare.Do I need cash in Iceland? ›
Iceland is an almost cashless society, with nearly every purchase made by credit and debit cards. You won't need much cash at all for your trip.Do they speak English in Iceland? ›
English is taught as a second language in Iceland and almost every Icelander speaks the language fluently. And more so, most Icelanders speak several other languages including Danish, German, Spanish and French and welcome the opportunity to practice their language skills.What month does it snow in Iceland? ›
As you might imagine, the winter is when the capital experiences the most snowfall, between the months of late October through to late April. December and January typically experience the most snowfall, with an average 1-inch accumulation, though sometimes up to two inches or more during these periods.
Is Iceland an expensive place to visit? ›
It is relatively expensive, but maybe the thing to look at here is that it is not the *most* expensive country in the world. An average trip to Iceland will cost you between $100 and $200 a day. So, for a week-long holiday, you can expect to spend between $700 and $1400.What is the best way to see Iceland? ›
The best way to see Iceland is to rent a car and get out on the open road. Coming from North America it was an easy transition for us as Icelanders drive on the right and the maps provided by our car rental agency were very easy to use. (Check out this guide to driving in Iceland for more tips).What is the best money to take to Iceland? ›
Money. Currency: The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). Many places (restaurants, bars, tourist attractions) will take US dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish currencies. Payment: Icelanders usually pay for everything by credit or debit card.What US cities have direct flights to Iceland? ›
|Minneapolis St Paul||Icelandair, Delta|
|New York||Icelandair, Delta, United Airlines|
Eating and drinking out in Iceland certainly isn't cheap, and in fact, is an activity that locals often enjoy as a treat. However, sit-down meals in Icelandic restaurants certainly aren't incomparable to prices you may pay in other European cities such as London or Copenhagen.Is aurora tour worth it? ›
They're definitely worth the time, expense, and cold to see them at least once in a lifetime. And if you want to see the aurora Norway is the place to go! That said, I know there can be a bit of confusion surrounding the northern lights and how to set off in search of them.Can you drive yourself to see northern lights in Iceland? ›
In North Iceland you can self-drive your Northern Lights Journey in autumn from September to mid-October time when the colours are lovely and the roads clear.Do you need a tour guide to see northern lights? ›
If you don't back yourself to make knowledgeable friends in the bar, consider booking a guide. Guides are not only an awesome way to make the most of your trip, but they'll transport you to the best viewing locations and make sure you're looking the right way!How far is the Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik? ›
How far is the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik? The Blue Lagoon is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Reykjavik, or about a 45-minute drive. Visitors can also take a bus or a guided tour from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon.How many days do you need in Iceland? ›
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 is the temperature of Iceland by month? ›
|Month||Avg. High||Avg. Low|
|August||55 F (13 C)||47 F (8 C)|
|September||50 F (10 C)||42 F (6 C)|
|October||44 F (4 C)||36 F (2 C)|
|November||39 F (4 C)||30 F (minus 1 C)|
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.What months does it snow in Iceland? ›
As you might imagine, the winter is when the capital experiences the most snowfall, between the months of late October through to late April. December and January typically experience the most snowfall, with an average 1-inch accumulation, though sometimes up to two inches or more during these periods.Which is better the Blue Lagoon or the Sky Lagoon? ›
The Blue Lagoon is the more famous of the two, so you can brag to your friends back home. It's also bigger, so better equipped to deal with the crowds that can descend on Iceland's more popular attractions. But the Sky Lagoon is newer and more modern, plus those ocean views take some beating.Do you need to book a tour to see northern lights in Iceland? ›
We recommend a self-drive tour that lasts at least a week to have the best chance of a sighting. And, of course, you won't be able to see them in the summertime. The good news is that you don't need to book onto a guided tour to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.Can the northern lights be seen from Reykjavík? ›
Can you see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik? Yes, it's possible to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik! In fact, Reykjavik is the only capital city besides Nuuk, Greenland where you can see the Northern Lights.Can I use US dollars in Iceland? ›
Money. Currency: The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). Many places (restaurants, bars, tourist attractions) will take US dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish currencies. Payment: Icelanders usually pay for everything by credit or debit card.What should I wear to the Blue Lagoon? ›
Are swim suits required at the Blue Lagoon? Bathing suits are worn in and around all areas of the bathing lagoon, including the sauna. You can bring your own, or rent them from reception. You can also rent towels and bathrobes.How much does a meal cost in Iceland? ›
|Item||ISK (average)||Price in GBP (approx)|
|Meal, inexpensive restaurant||2,500||£14.32|
|Three course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant (excluding wine)||15,000||£85|
|Domestic beer (half litre)||1,200||£6.87|
|Imported Beer (0.33l)||1,000||£5.73|