Best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland?

I'm going to be in Iceland for a fishing trip but I want to try to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) too. Does anyone know when is the best time to see these? How long do they last?
Also where is the best place to view them?
Any help will be greaty appreciated!
Thanks :-)


  • edited 8:58AM
    The best time to go is over a solstice - so you've missed it for this year. And try to go when there is little or no moon so you get a really dark sky.
  • Unfortunately the Aurora Borealis isn't that predictable, having spent 5 weeks in Iceland and about 4 years in total in Norway, Sweden and Finland, the best time to see this phenomenen is obviously ONLY at night. The Scandinavian winters produce long dark nights and if you are lucky and the sky is crystal clear (usually when it is -15deg C) the light show begins about 02:00 (see MURPHYs LAW). Seriously though in Iceland I was fortunate enough in AUGUST to see the Northern Lights for 5 minutes, Green being the common colour but Pink (rare) and momentarily (blue - very rare), it's a silent mystical experience and your question has reminded me how fortunate I was to have witnessed them at their most spectaculor when I least expected it.
    It is worth seeing
    Good Luck Mark
  • edited 8:58AM
    Around the winter months you'll be lucky to see them. You don't get to see them every night just because there are so many external factors to consider. I saw them twice by chance when I was there during Easter. If the moon is bright you have no chance or if you're too close to the city. You have to be patient because they come and go and move around.
    If you're renting a car you just have to drive a bit out of Reykevik or away from lights amd you'll have a netter chance. Bring super warm clothes. It reached -20 so it was difficult to enjoy it because we were so cold and we couldn't leavethe car for longer than 15 min due to wind and chattering teeth.

    The second time I saw them we were driving along and we noticed a cloud was pink amd then it started dancing around the sky. We quickly realized what we were looking at. Amazing
  • edited 8:58AM
    The link was missing so I post this again:

    I grew up with the northern lights been part of the country side here in Iceland. I guess I got a bit too used to it, but surely this is primarily late in the evening and normally very cold. However it fits perfectly for a very romantic evening with the better half:) or for some great dating:) For some great northern lights videos it is good to visit:
    I love the video with the guy that came to Iceland because he got heartbroken and tried to fix it here.
  • edited 8:58AM
    btw you can see the northern lights with a full moon, i saw them in iceland for 2 nights with full moon shining. I guess they would be more clear without (and makes pictures more tricky). We actually had full sky northern lights, extending to almost where the moon was shining from. A stunning experience.
  • edited December 2014
    Go in sept/oct or end Feb/begin march and you have the best chances to see the lights. Check out this site if you want to learn more about the northern lights One important consideration is however if you should do guided daytours from Reykjavik or simply rent a car and drive yourself when doing the aurora hunting. It really depends on if you are comfortable driving in snow and on icy roads. If you are not then you should probably do the guided day tours from Reykjavik. Still it also depends on if you are coming in the shoulder period or not, as if you are visiting in sept/oct or Feb/march it is not as likely to have a lot of snow so a renting a car might be a good option. However my big time favorite when it comes to northern lights tour is the Secret Lagoon tour It is just magical to be there when the aurora dance. 
  • edited January 2013
    You have to go late March or late September if you really prefer only 12 hours daylight.
    For Reykjavik any time will be OK, but I guess that when long days days is a problem, then I guess that the cold, windy, rainy/snow weather is also?? Which means: not before early May (still no guarantee for nice weather - not at any time).
    BTW - weather is often better in Akureyri! You may consider to go there (bus, fly) in order to see some more "Icelandic" culture than in the capital.
    Autums is better than spring for thosevisiting interior - as snow melts late and closes down roads late, but I can understand that this is not your problem.
    May is the driest month. May-September are the driest period, with only 10-12 days with precipitation/month. (Reykjavik).
    In Akureyri the distribution of precipitation on the months is the same, but both nomber of days with precipitation and total # of mm coming down is close to half of that in Reykjavik!
  • edited November 2014
    I would not go in May if you want to see the northern lights Iceland The season is only until middle of April. However if you want to be sure to have great experience even if the aurora does not show up then the aurora floating tour is a great option. 
  • edited October 2014
    We had amazing northern lights in Iceland yesterday. Check out this facebook page for some new pictures! northern lights images on facebook
  • edited October 2014
    I also found a lot of useful advises from locals on this site e.g. this top restaurants recommendations in Reykjavik
  • edited 8:58AM
    Most travel operators are open on 1 jan. However i believe most of them have fully booked already. So you are probably too late already
  • edited 8:58AM
    Thanks for the advise VeronicaK - I was able to find this really nice super jeep operator that took me on a trip on the 1st of Jan. First I though it would be hopeless to find someone but it was only the 2nd company I tried - so perfect:)
  • edited 8:58AM
    So where did you go on the trip?
  • edited January 2013
    Hi guys,
    I hope it's alright to share this post with you guys on this thread.
    I'm an avid Aurora Borealis chaser and have travelled extensively to see them.

    I recently completed an article about the Aurora Borealis. Everything about them from what causes them, where to see them, when to travel, etc etc.

    Hope you find it helpful

  • edited 8:58AM
    Thanks Natalia!
  • edited 8:58AM
    @natalia-robba - have you been to Iceland to see the northern lights?
  • edited 8:58AM
    I have @icelander - I ended up in Akranes and waited for 4-5 hours. It was well worth the wait as in the end it was a amazing show. It just happened all in 5 min or so and then it was done. So fast. Quite unusual the locals told me. But believe me I will ever never forget these short 5 min in my whole life.
  • edited 8:58AM
    I'm going to Iceland on the beginning of May and will stay there until at least the end of September. Is there a possibility that I experience the magical northern lights? I will be living on the countryside (Vik).
  • edited 8:58AM
    yes it is, but it would be most likely end of Sept. Normally May is too late as there is simply too much daylight. Dont forget things are different when you get so north e.g. in june we have 24 hours daylight. Just follow the forecast here as early as beginning of Sept. Next autumn will be a good time to see the lights dance
  • edited February 2013
    The aurora borealis most often occurs from September to October throughout March to April.
    It is most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field. In these far northern latitudes you can see the Auroral activity on a average 100 nights a year and the best time to see Iceland's Aurora Borealis is around midnight when Iceland's Aurora Oval is said to pass over the observer.
  • edited 8:58AM
    I have never heard this statistics on 100 nights a year - do you have some source for this ooliver186?
  • edited 8:58AM
    Great News - if you are planning to see the northern lights Iceland next winter then you need to read this article from NASA. They are saying the 11 year solar cycle has two peaks - meaning the winter 2013-2014 that was expected to be great, was just average. However next winter will be the real peak. Something to look forward to for next year / winter. Scientists are not agreeing on when exactly this might start, but the board is saying as early as May this year. However as the author of the article is saying it is highly unlikely as Feb month hasnt really been that great in Iceland or other northern lights countries.
  • Icelander - when would it be best to come for the next northern lights season in Iceland? Im thinking about to mix together christmas / new year trip to Reykjavik and seeing the northern lights viewing - how does that sound? Are there any special places to go to for best viewing e.g. waterfalls or geysers. Are there any way to forecast when to see it?
  • I would recommend you to go in Oct / nov this year. It is high season for northern lights viewing due to the 11 years solar cycle as Icelander says and NASA is writing about. This is very important as you dont wan to wait for some 11 years to have the highest possibility again. It is expensive to go to Iceland so you dont want to go there if it is very low probability. Also dont go for anything less than a whole week. It makes it much more likely to see it as they do not come into the skies every day. It is a great idea to go in the christmas / new year period but I would not as it is maybe a bit too crowded. But still I dont know too much about it.
  • Thanks for the reply Hurtler:) Im thinking about to do the Golden Circle in Iceland also - heard it is great to see the Geyser and the Gullfoss waterfall. Does anyone know if these areas are great for northern lights watching too or if there is too much man made lights there to view the auroras dance. I will probably just rent a car to drive - any need to rent a 4x4 jeep over the christmas / new year time? Not sure as I have never been in this country before:) Also I have heard it is great to stay at some guesthouse close to Geyser but I dont remember the name of it - anyone heard about this guesthouse. Some type of turf house I have heard.
  • I talked to a friend of mine that has been to the Golden Circel in Iceland and he said you most probably dont need any 4x4 jeep in Christmas time but you cant be sure as the weather changes quite fast over there I have heard:) He said you can see the northern lights more and less everywhere outside of Reykjavik, but difficult to see them in Reykjavik as there is some light pollution there. Otherwise it is more question about the northern lights forecast and cloud coverage etc.
  • he he that is a great photo Hurtler:) Did not know it was even possible to have such a fast changing weather:)
  • Thanks Evelina:) btw have you ever tried to shoot photographs of the northern lights? Do you know if it moonlight matters when shooting it and if so when in the year might it be best to come to Iceland for some great scenery. Does it matter what type of lens I would use? Im just thinking about this as I might now be doing some work for a magazine I work for occasionally.
  • I have booked a trip to iceland this winter, they gave me 2 choices , Oct 23 or Nov 13,  which one is a better choie? 
  • Lucky you:) - I think both of the dates are perfect, it is more question about how long time you will stay there. Going only for some short weekend break is really quite too short, or at least you need to be really lucky to hit the exact moment the aurora will decide to show up. But of course you could be lucky as they will be experiencing the peak of the 11 years long solar cycle in Iceland next winter. Are you planing any tours?
  • I would go for the Oct 23 as it is in the middle of the season. There are normally two main seasons - early oct to middle of nov - and then early feb to middle of March. So 23 of Oct is a slightly better date. However this isnt that important as Hurtler is saying. Good luck with your trip and send us some photos if you will be able to see it:)
  • Hello, I'm going to be in Blue Lagoon end of this year. but I also want to try to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) too. Does anyone know where is the best place to view them in Iceland? I would also stay at best SPA hotel.

    Any help will be greaty appreciated! 
  • Here is a post on exactly this subject In general you can see the lights anywhere in Iceland, however there are couple of factors that are important to look at. First one is light pollution - in general if you are in a city with a lot of other lights then it is difficult to see the northern lights. Secondly you dont want much of clouds, otherwise it will be difficult to see them and thirdly you want a solar storm to be active when you are waiting for them to be seen - the official MET office northern lights forecast combine this into one forecast here: So follow this very carefully when you visit. Before you go should primarily consider three things - a) dont plan your trip only around the northern lights - plan it as a adventure trip to Iceland and only look at it as a nice bonus if you are lucky enough to see the lights dance for you - b) it is very important to think about the length of your stay in Iceland. If you only stay over the weekend you need to be very lucky to see the lights, so try to stay at least for a whole week. It dramatically increases your chances to see the lights - and c) the best periods varies but on average the period sept-oct-nov - and feb-march are the best periods, however as we are experiencing a peak period in the 11 years long solar cycle you can expect any month from middle of August to middle of April in 2013 to be a good one.  
  • i`m going to see the northern lights around december - will the dark season affect tourism or tourist attractions - we`re particularly interested in going to see raufarholshellir and gullfoss

  • Hi there I would like to share with you a new attraction in Iceland that has all to do with the Northern Lights.
    Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center that showcases and explains all there is to know about the Northern Lights.
  • Hi there, I found a good deal going to Iceland on Feb 13 to 17. As seeing the northern lights is the main purpose of the trip, but I check the weather and looks like it's mostly cloudy in Feb. So how much chance I would see the lights in these 3 night? Thanks a bunch for replying!
  • edited January 2
    How can you see it is cloudy in Feb!!! That is impossible to see as of now:) However only staying for 3 nights might be a problem - I would stay at least for one week if you are planning to see the northern lights. Also dont plan the whole trip around seeing the aurora, you should plan it around seeing Iceland and only see it as a nice bonus if you see the lights dancing:) Also this Iceland northern lights tour the Huffington Post was writing about is great. 
  • As far as I know since my husband has worked for an airline for 18 years..... Airliners will first put fish and other types of cargo on way before a person...Don't have to feed anyone, and only the staff needed are usually on so I guess any flight you get on is a chance... that is your real obstacle:( I also know that it's Norway in the winter that has the best chances...but it is all chances. Another place to look? Watch out for this exotic place to visit....ALASKA! LOL Hey, it's God's land, the closer and longer you are in the right spot, the better your chances. We're attempting to go to Iceland in August before the planes stop flying there.(I say attempt since we are obviously standby) I want to go for the hot springs and to just say..."I went to Iceland for vacation this year" I love people's faces when I say where I went each year since we only do one big international trip a is good and the world can be very beautiful despite what the news tells you:)

  • Atticus17 - Im not sure I understand you and what you are suggesting. Are you saying it is better to go to Norway or Iceland! How do the airlines having much to do with the decision where to go - there are a lot of flights to Iceland or Norway - or Canada, all winter. Good luck with being on a standby to Iceland for seeing the northern lights I would guess:) Be sure to be ready when the call comes because you will have a lot of fun here. 
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