Northern Lights in Iceland

If lights could dance, they would give a beautiful display like those seen with the northern lights in Iceland. At certain times of the year, the skies of Iceland light up in a spectacular display of ice and fire in striking green and blue lights, to the amazement of residents and guests.

While many use the northern lights forecast online to book flights and hotel reservations, they are unaware of what they are. The Northern lights are not only seen in Iceland; other places like Alaska, Sweden, Russia, Norway, Canada, and Greenland are popular viewing sights. However, the best place to see the northern lights is in Iceland.

Northern tours and lights

 

What are the northern lights?

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, gets its name from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas, from the Greek word meaning north wind. So the aurora borealis means the dawn north wind.

However, this magnificent show of lights is a natural phenomenon resulting from solar particles interacting with the earth’s magnetic field when entering our atmosphere. The particles get ionized and release energy as light is seen as elegant and vibrant colors of green, purple, red, pink, blue, orange, white, and pink across the skies.

Iceland has become a tourist site because it sits along the earth’s geomagnetic poles, where this phenomenon can happen.

What are the predominant colors of the aurora borealis?

The color variations of the northern lights are dependent on the altitude, pressure, and atmospheric composition. While green and white are the dominant hues that light up the dark Iceland skies, reddish hues are present at low pressure and high altitudes.

Whatever colors you see in Iceland, take in the dazzling scenery because it is truly breathtaking.

When can you see the northern lights?

Due to the unpredictability of Iceland’s weather, there are no guarantees that you will see these magnificent light displays. However, the best time to see the beautiful northern lights is on clear winter nights between September and April. They can also be seen in mid-August, but that is summertime, and the sunlight douses their beauty.

Winter is always the best time because Iceland enjoys up to 20 hours of dark winter, making the skies the perfect backdrop against the vibrant colors of the Northern Lights of Iceland. The rule is simple; the darker the skies, the more glaring the display.

If you cannot make it to September, another excellent period to see the northern lights is between November and January, when the winter days are darkest.

What is the best time of the day to see the northern lights?

As mentioned, the best months to see the aurora borealis are from mid-August through September to April. In many places, there are northern lights tours and professional northern lights hunters that take tourists the best northern lights theater show destination ever.

The best time to see them is between 10 PM and 12 AM, and that is the time with the most lights. Remember, the late hours are intensely cold, so dress appropriately and avoid sunrise and sunset.

How to spot the northern lights in Iceland?

Patience is a fundamental tool needed to spot the northern lights, but certain conditions come together to give you an unforgettable experience.

Clear Skies

You cannot see the northern lights without clear skies. This is a fundamental requirement. If you are in a tour group, you do not have to worry about following the forecast, but if you intend to drive or search for them on your own, regardless of the choice, you need a northern forecast or northern light map for directions.

Solar Activity

Strong solar winds in the north and other sciences are the reasons for the northern lights. The KP index is above 3, which is the best level to experience the aurora borealis.

Dark nights or low-light surroundings

Dark skies boost clarity, increase the vibrancy of the colors, and give you the best photographic shots too. Reykjavik is a fantastic location, but if you need photos, the remote countryside with less population and external lights that can interfere with the perfect shot.

If these three conditions are above normal with a vast tour guide, you will definitely see the green arc move and glide across the dark Iceland skies. I hope you have your camera on hand, as the sight is elegant.

There are no shortages of northern lights locations, but you must remember to dress the part as it is the darkest winter month and temperatures plummet, especially at night.

Additionally, dress in warm clothes, preferably hiking boots and thick coats, and have a camera in hand for pictures. Since you are all set to see the light, let us look at some of the best places to see the northern lights.

Best places to see the northern lights?

Iceland’s Northern Lights can be seen from almost every region in the country, but there are some places where you can catch a glimpse under the right conditions. What are the most scenic places to see the aurora borealis, with so many breathtaking locations around the country?

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If you reside in Reykjavik, Iceland’s most populous city, then we advise retreating to the hillsides of Öskjuhlíð for a decent view. While you are there, take a walk around the town to experience other beautiful scenes that make Iceland unique.

If you cannot get to Öskjuhlíð, try the Grotta lighthouse on the western edge of the city on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula to get incredible views of the aurora borealis and a scenic backdrop for great photography.

With clear night skies and calm weather, Þingvellir National Park is another fantastic place to see the aurora borealis.

The black-sand beaches

The aurora borealis shines brightest with a dark backdrop and the basalt column on a black sand beach and a shoreline that allows you to patiently wait for the light show to begin. While you wait, keep your eyes on the water. It is a mind-blowing spectacle.

 

Seljavallaluag

Located in the southern part of Iceland between Vik and Reykjavik, it is an outdoor marvel of nature and one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland, where you can enjoy the hot springs and watch the aurora borealis at its best.

Jokulsarlon

Located southeast and bordering another exotic watch location, the Vatnajokull National Park is a glacial lagoon with crystal clear ice blocks on a black sand beach that produces a kaleidoscopic effect of red and green glow.

Adorned with icebergs floating from the Vatnajökull glacier, Jokulsarlon is a stunning place that allows the aurora borealis to shimmer effortlessly. Tourists and northern lights chasers can also see the crowd of seals.

This is a perfect location for photographers and people who just want the best northern lights pictures.

North Iceland and the Westfjords are the ideal locations to see and photograph the aurora borealis. This region has longer hours of darkness and less cloud and light pollution.

Capturing the Northern Lights in Pictures

The better your camera or photography equipment, the better the images you will capture, but the choice is yours. Below are some requirements to enable you to capture the best of the dancing lights.

Plan the trip.

This is the most significant step in capturing the northern lights in a picture. Whether you are traveling alone or as part of a northern lights tour group, luck is everything, as clear dark skies do not guarantee the lights will appear. It is advisable to check with the Icelandic meteorological office for updated forecasts. Furthermore, keep an eye on the KP-Index; 3–4 gives you a higher chance of seeing the aurora borealis.

Background and surroundings

Even though the northern lights are the reason for your visit, a good picture deserves some background elements. Furthermore, it is best to travel to a remote location away from light pollution and under the right conditions. It is advisable to check out places with waterfalls, mountains, black sand beaches, and glaciers.

Photographic equipment

Whether you are with advanced equipment and gear or your phone camera, the right setting will make the images come alive. One factor to take note of is the shutter speed. Many recommend 10 to 25 seconds and a clean lens. If you are using a tripod, have a release button to prevent shaky or blurry images.

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Private Northern Lights tour (100.000kr.)
Private Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon tour
Private South Coast Glacier Touch tour ( 160.000kr.)

The northern lights in Iceland require patience and diligence, and the months might bless you with a fantastic show. However, if you aren’t so lucky, you should extend your stay in Iceland and tour the best places to see the northern lights.

Finally, take a professional tour guide or a local guide on your trip; they will increase your chances of seeing this natural wonder in Iceland.

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