Where to See the Northern Lights in Reykjavík

Northern Lights in Iceland

Seeing northern lights is a dream for many. In Iceland, the lights are usually green but sometimes purple, red and white. They can be seen on dark nights if their activity is high and the skies are clear. The northern lights have a schedule of their own and can be quite unpredictable. But if you’re in Iceland between September and April, remember to look up when the skies are clear. Like stars, you can best see these wonders away from the pollution and city lights; the darker the surroundings, the better. If you’re staying in Reykjavík, you don’t need to go far. Here are some of the best places to see the northern lights more clearly.

Northern lights in Iceland
Photo: Golli.

Grótta in west Reykjavík

Grótta is an area in the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, about six kilometres [3.7 mi] west of Hallgrímskirkja. As it’s the tip of a small peninsula, there are minimal city lights and pollution, giving you a higher chance of seeing the northern lights. Grótta’s lighthouse adds to its picturesque coast, creating a tranquil experience as you gaze at the lights.

You can take bus route 11 from Reykjavík city centre and get off at Hofgarðar. It is a 1.3 km [0.8 mi] walk from the bus stop to the vantage point.  You can also travel by car, bicycle, ride-share, scooter, or on foot.

Grandi harbour district

This area of Reykjavík is about two kilometres [1.24 mi] from the city centre. This neighbourhood has been growing in recent years, and you will now find various boutiques, restaurants and museums in the Grandi area. Due to its location on the waterfront, it is an excellent viewing point away from the city lights. You can get there by foot, car, bicycle or scooter, or take bus route 14 to Grandi bus stop. The best vantage point is on the northern tip, so walk up Eyjaslóð street along the water.

Perlan Sightseeing Platform in Iceland
Photo: Perlan’s 360° sightseeing platform offers great vantage points.

Perlan sightseeing platform

Perlan museum is in Reykjavík, just two kilometres [1.24 mi] south of the city centre. A large sightseeing platform wraps around the glass dome, where you have a 360° panoramic view of Reykjavík and beyond, which offers a great, unobstructed vantage point to see the Aurora.

To get to Perlan by bus, you can take bus routes 13 or 18. You can also travel by foot, ride-share, bicycle, or scooter. You can buy tickets to the sightseeing platform at Perlan’s reception for ISK 2,990 [$22, €20]. The observation deck is open until 10 PM, giving you ample time to observe the lights.

Northern lights and the peace tower in Iceland
Photo: Golli. The Northern Lights Yacht Cruise invites for beautiful views of the bay.

See the Aurora from a yacht

The Northern Lights Yacht Cruise will give you incredible views and the ability to see the Aurora more clearly. The two-hour cruise leaves from the old harbour in Reykjavík at 10 PM and is for those aged seven and older. As of 2024, the price is ISK 14,700 [$107, €99] per person, including blankets, Wi-Fi and a guide.

For an even better vantage point, there are more northern lights excursions, many of which depart Reykjavík city centre. You can also rent a car and chase the Aurora on your own.

No luck?

If you are not fortunate enough to catch the northern lights while in Iceland, you have other options. You can opt for a virtual experience by going to Perlan and experiencing them in the planetarium or to the Aurora Northern Lights Center in the Grandi harbour area, where you can admire the lights through VR goggles.

Northern lights exhibition in Perlan
Photo: The northern lights show in Perlan’s planetarium.

To keep track of the best times to see the northern lights in Iceland, using apps such as My Aurora Forecast & Alerts can better your plans. You can also visit the Icelandic Met Office’s website, where you can see the Aurora forecast. Note that on their map, the white areas indicate clear skies and a higher chance of seeing them. You will find their activity level in the upper right corner.



The Best Winter Tours and Activities in Iceland

Sightseeing is just one of the popular activities during winter in Iceland

There are many fantastic activities during winter in Iceland, be it glacier hiking, ice caving, or snowmobiling. So, put on your woolly hat, drape your shoulders in a scarf, and let’s explore the many exciting options that an Icelandic winter has in store. 

The winter season in Iceland lasts between November and March. During that time, this otherwise green and pleasant land becomes blanketed with ice and snow, and the nights become so long as to cast each day in perpetual twilight.

A woman skiing in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Winter in Iceland presents all kinds of fun activity options.

It should be understood from the outset that there are many activities in Iceland that can be done in both the winter and summer. Great examples are visiting a lava cave, snorkelling or scuba diving in Silfra Fissure, sightseeing on the Golden Circle route, and many more.

Nevertheless, some activities are far better suited to the winter, and these should be prioritised during your visit. Most activities can be taken part in as single tours, but it is often the case that many will be included as part of a full itinerary, such as this Golden Circle Super Jeep tour with Snowmobiling

What glacier tours are available during the winter in Iceland?  

A man inside an Icelandic ice cave
Photo: Skaftafell Blue Ice Cave & Glacier Hike

They don’t call Iceland “the land of ice and fire” for no reason. While it may be true that the country’s fearsome volcanoes have dominated global headlines in recent years, its glaciers remain as impressive and domineering as ever. 

There are 269 glaciers in Iceland, the largest among them being Vatnajökull, which covers around one-tenth of the entire country. With that in mind, it should come as little surprise that this mighty ice cap in southeastern Iceland is a popular choice for glacier tours.

Other tours take place at Langjökull – located in the western Highlands – as well as Mýrdalsjökull, and its outlet glacier Sólheimajökull, which are just north of the quaint coastal village, Vík í Mýrdal. There are also opportunities to explore Snæfellsjökull glacier, on the western promontory of Iceland.

Go hiking up a glacier 

Hiking a glacier is one of many great activities during winter in Iceland
Photo: Skaftafell 5-Hours Adventure Glacier Hike

Equipped with spiky crampons, walking poles, and the gumption to experience new heights, hiking Iceland’s glaciers remains a beloved activity amongst winter travellers. 

Like true mountain men, hikers will revel in the crevasses, moulins, and natural ice sculptures that characterise the pristine glacial landscape. Besides, such dizzying heights allow for breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding countryside.  

Experience the thrill of snowmobiling 

A man rides a snowmobile across a glacier in Iceland
Photo: Unforgettable Golden Circle & snowmobiling – A Private Tour

Die-hard adrenaline junkies may want to take their exploration of Iceland’s glaciers to the next level. Well, in such a case, there is no better option than taking to the ice on a snowmobile.

With the wind in their hair and the throttle at their thumbs, snowmobiling tours allow guests to cover far more ground (or ice, strictly speaking,) in a way that is both intensely memorable and incredibly fun.

Groups are led by certified guides who will be sure to provide their guests not only with clear leadership and instructions but also with the necessary equipment, including a protective helmet and outerwear.  

Snowmobilers in Iceland pose in front of the Northern Lights
Photo: Private South Coast with Snowmobiling on Eyjafjallajökull volcano

Both beginner and experienced riders alike are quite capable of taking part in a snowmobile tour. Anyone 18 years old or beyond, with a regular driving licence, is free to operate their own machine. Those without a licence can perch a ride as a passenger. 

The best places to take a snowmobiling tour during the winter in Iceland are at the glaciers Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Vatnajökull, and the Tröllaskagi Peninsula. 

Discover crystal blue ice caves  

Tourists in the Sapphire Ice Cave.
Photo: Golli. Tourists in the Sapphire Ice Cave

Beneath Iceland’s mighty ice caps, glittering caverns of sapphire entice visitors to behold their glory each winter season. Ice-caving tours are far easier than they sound, with many having accessible walkways that let you revel in the natural splendour of these frozen environments.

The vast majority of ice caves are naturally formed, with the most popular located beneath Katla and Vatnajökull. There is one notable exception however – the man-made ice tunnels built beneath Iceland’s largest ice cap, Langjökull, best enjoyed as part of the Into The Glacier experience. 

 

In certain locations around the country, it is even possible for guests to try their hand at ice climbing. While not for the faint of the heart, scaling a wall of frozen water is an experience without comparison. 

Experienced, certified guides will equip new climbers with ice axes and a harness, before relaying all the necessary steps to hone their skills on the ice. Two of the best places to try ice climbing in Iceland are Sólheimajökull glacier and Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Experience the Northern Lights in Iceland 

People observing the Northern Lights in Iceland
Photo: Golli. There is no greater show than seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland’s winter

One of the greatest reasons for visiting Iceland in the winter is the chance to witness an astonishing dance – the Northern Lights! Otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis, Iceland’s skies will, from time to time, erupt in a flurry of colours. Green ribbons. Pink waves. Yellow crests, and dashes of red. 

Ancient Icelanders once treated these solar patterns with wary suspicion. They considered them omens of events to come. Today, they are widely appreciated as synonymous with just how magical winter in Iceland can be. 

 

As with any natural phenomena, there can be no guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights. But our ability to predict when and where they might appear is better than it ever has been before. There are many dedicated tour operators who will escort you to the best stops, as well as offer handy tips on how best to photograph them. 

If you’re planning to seek out this phenomenon for yourself, be sure to keep an eye on the Aurora Forecasts. That way, you will know when solar activity is at its strongest. Also, plan to seek them out on nights devoid of cloud cover, in locations with little light pollution. 

What wildlife tours are available during the winter in Iceland? 


It might seem too cold for them, but many animals live in Iceland during the winter. With that said, many of the migratory birds that make Iceland their summer home leave during the winter, but that does not mean there are no opportunities to find wildlife. So what are some of the more popular wildlife tours available during this season? 

Whale-watching in the winter in Iceland 

Whales of Iceland
Photo: Golli. Whale Watching in Reykjavík

Whale-watching tours are available in both the winter and summer in Iceland, but the colder season does present some unique opportunities. For one thing, playing witness to the snowy Icelandic landscape from the deck of a seafaring vessel feels strangely fitting for a country so intertwined with the ocean.

There are many whales and dolphins that can be seen in Icelandic coastal waters. Some of the most common species include Minke whales, Humpbacks, and Harbour porpoises. In some areas, it may also be possible to spot Sperm whales, Orcas, and even our planet’s largest living mammal, the mighty Blue whale.

 

There are also a variety of departure points for your whale-watching adventure. Reykjavik, of course, provides the chance to see these majestic animals in the waters of Faxaflói Bay. Other popular places include northern towns like Akureyri and Húsavík. To the west, on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Ólafsvík and Grundarfjörður also provide fantastic sea tours. 

Before embarking on your whale-watching trip, make sure to wear warm layers, a woolly hat, and gloves. To help you stay warm, operators will provide you with outer thermal wear. But winter accessories are still crucial to avoid the sharpness that comes with brisk sea winds. 

Ride Icelandic Horses in winter 

Icelandic horses are a unique breed, bred in isolation in Iceland since settlement times.
Photo: Golli. Riding Icelandic horses is a brilliant winter activity in Iceland.

It is possible to ride Iceland’s majestic, yet stumpy horses in summer and winter, but the latter offers such a fantastic perspective of the landscape, it would seem careless not to give it a special mention. 

Taking to the saddle, your guide will lead you down hidden trails, passing through twisted lava fields and farmland meadows nestled beneath a glittering coat of snow. As your appreciation of Iceland’s rural terrain grows, so too will your love of this special horse breed. 

Horse riding tours are open to both beginner and experienced riders, and your guide will set the pace not only to your ability level, but also your confidence riding. 

With that said, working in close proximity to animals can be nerve-wracking for some people. But if it’s any consolation, Icelandic horses are considered a highly intelligent and patient breed, so have no fear saddling up upon these miniature mounts.   

Soak in Iceland’s Spas and Hot Springs in winter 

A woman and her child relaxing at the Blue Lagoon
Photo: Reykjavík – Blue Lagoon round-trip transfer. Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

There are countless ways of staying active during the winter in Iceland, but on vacation, a more appealing option can be to simply slow down, relax, and unwind. 

In such circumstances, the nation’s luxury geothermal spas and steamy hot springs provide the perfect antidote. Note that hot springs describe pools that are found naturally within the landscape; the former are specific attractions that will often require pre-booking. 

Feel the heat in Luxury Spas across Iceland 


There are many fantastic mineral-rich spas to choose from. As Iceland’s most famous luxury retreat,
the Blue Lagoon is an obvious choice. With its milky blue waters and silica-rich mud masks, it is little wonder that this geothermal bath has become one of Iceland’s best-known attractions. 

Surrounded by the dark volcanic fields of the Reykjavik Peninsula, many guests choose to stop by the Blue Lagoon either at the beginning or the end of their vacation. This is for the simple fact that Keflavík Airport is only a short distance away. 

 

But there are many other great spas to choose from. One of the newest to the scene is the Sky Lagoon, only a five-minute drive from downtown Reykjavik and boasting a stunning infinity pool. 

This horizon edge on the water allows for great views of the ocean. More than that – the President of Iceland’s iconic residence. Guests can also take part in their healing wellness ritual. It includes a warm sauna inside a reconstructed turfhouse, a mist shower, a refreshing cold plunge. 

There are many other spas located elsewhere across the country. In Reykholt, for instance, Krauma Baths offer serenity and comfort through warm waters fed by Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver. 

Not far away, in the village of Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon adds a sense of authenticity to your experience. It is built beside the steaming hot pockets of the Hverahólmi geothermal area. The Secret Lagoon is well known as the oldest outdoor geothermal pool in Iceland. 

In the north, Myvatn Nature Baths has delighted guests since first opening in 2004 with its placid blue waters and lakeside views. 

Embrace nature with Iceland’s hot springs 

Enjoying Reykjadalur hot river in Iceland's winter
Photo: Reykjadalur Steam Valley Hike & Geothermal Baths Private Tour

For anyone hoping to avoid the inevitable artificiality that comes with Iceland’s luxury spas, the nation’s naturally-formed hot springs might be a better bet. 

But first, a word of warning – temperatures can vary greatly between hot springs, so make sure not to hurt yourself by jumping in without checking their heat levels first. 

Hrunalaug is one of the more isolated, yet widely beloved hot springs. This small, but local-favourite is closeby to Flúðir village. You will need to venture off the beaten track to find it. Whilst not built-up by any means, Hrunalaug does have a small and rustic changing hut on-site. It provides some level of shelter when changing in and out of your swimsuit. 

Another popular hot spring – or should we say, river – can be discovered amidst the sloping hillsides of Reykjadalur Valley. Nearby to Hveragerði town, the hot river can be visited after a beautiful 3 km [1.8 mi] hike. Please be vigilant that some parts of the river are much hotter than others. So do be sure to, at least, dip a toe in before jumping in with abandon. 

In Summary 

Posing at an ice berg during winter in Iceland
Photo: Golli. A traveller posing at Diamon Beach in South Iceland.

For those who can handle the cold weather, Iceland’s winter season promises a variety of experiences like nowhere else can. 

Be you an adventure-seeker or a travelling homebody, you’re promised memories sure to stick with you for years to come. 

Spotting the Northern Lights in Iceland

The auroras over Öxarárfoss Waterfall

The chance to see the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, is among the top reasons why travellers visit Iceland during the winter months. But what causes this incredible natural phenomena, and how can you maximise your chances of seeing them? Read more on the best tips and tricks for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.

There are few experiences in this world more memorable than seeing that most fantastical of cosmic light shows – the Aurora Borealis!  

Green northern lights above a lake in Iceland
Photo: Golli. The auroras can appear in many forms and colours

Unpredictable, otherworldly, sometimes fleeting – it is a happenstance as capable of surprising unsuspecting travellers as it is appearing exactly when forecasted. 

With that in mind, the Northern Lights should be considered a true force of nature; something that cannot be tamed, nor delivered at will. Regardless, their appearance in the night sky brings about a lasting gratitude to all those lucky who see them. 

So, before we offer any useful tips on how best to catch them, let’s first go into a brief explanation of just what these lights are. 

What are the Northern Lights? 

Northern Lights over a lake
Photo: Golli. Northern lights over lake Þingvallavatn

Aside from being a visual delight, the science behind why the Northern Lights appear is compelling. This phenomena happens when charged particles originating from the sun – known as a solar wind – make their way towards the Earth’s magnetic field. The majority of these particles are deflected back into space, but some manage to break through. 

The protons and electrons that make it inside collide with atmospheric gases made up from oxygen and nitrogen particles, resulting in something called ionisation. This collision strips the gas of its electrons, if only temporarily. 

 

As these ionised particles recoup their electrons, a cosmic dance of colour ensues. In fact, many observers are unaware that the exact shades on display can be traced back to which gases are regathering electrons; oxygen produces green and red light, and nitrogen produces pink, blue, and purple light. As to exactly what colours can be seen, and how intensely, largely depends on the strength of the solar wind, and the altitude at which the ionisation process occurs. 

The Aurora Borealis happens close to the planet’s magnetic poles – or polar regions – typically above a latitude of 60-75 degrees north and below 60-75 degrees south. With that knowledge, it stands to reason that the Northern Lights can be seen in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Alaska, Russia, and, of course, Iceland. 

So, as you might expect, there is such a thing as the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis. For anyone planning a trip after Iceland, you can expect to see them in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Argentina, and the Falkland Islands.

The Northern Lights in Norse Mythology

 


Of course, with the advent of modern scientific knowledge, our understanding of the Northern Lights and why they occur is better than ever. However, the earliest settlers to this country – those driven by their belief in the
mythologies of the Norse pantheon – had their own, beautiful interpretations. 

For example, some considered the lights to be a manifestation of the elemental forces that created the world, while others saw them more literally as the appearance of the rainbow bridge, Bifröst, connecting the realm of the Gods (Asgard) with that of men (Midgard.) 

Looking at the aurora borealis in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Travellers observing the Northern Lights in Iceland

There are even tales that the glimmering nature of the Northern Lights were the reflections of armour worn by slain warriors, now at rest in the halls of Valhalla. 

Some sightings were not quite so dramatic in their interpretation. According to some folklore, some ancient Icelanders considered the Northern Lights to be an ill-omen. According to one story, if they appeared during childbirth, it was claimed – somewhat comically – that the offspring would be born cross-eyed. 

Where can you see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland?

Northern Lights over a mountain in Iceland
Photo: Golli. The Northern Lights above an Icelandic mountain

The Northern Lights can be seen all across Iceland. There is not one particular spot they favour, so regardless of where you are in the country, make sure to keep your eyes skyward.

There is, however, one other thing to bear in mind regarding the best location to spot these colourful ribbons. If possible, avoid all forms of light pollution, as this can often diminish how vividly they appear. Just think that as much is true of seeing stars in the night sky.

This means that venturing into the countryside for a spot of Northern Lights hunting is far more preferable than attempting to seek them out in the city centre. That is not to say that the Northern Lights won’t appear, but chances are, they will be far more intense to the observer when they are not diluted by the glare of street lights or head lamps. 

How to predict where the Northern Lights will appear? 

Auroras above the trees
Photo: Golli. The auroras lighting up the trees!

The best months to see the Northern Lights in Iceland are between September and April. In reality, they are occurring above our heads at all times, but daylight shields them from view for most of the year. 

There can be no exact predicting when the Aurora Borealis will rear its kaleidoscopic head, but specialists are improving year after year. 

Professionals monitor solar wind activity with the aid of satellite technology, which also helps them to determine changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. A part of this process relies on watching out for solar spots and flares, which can be great indicators as to how intense solar winds might be. 

 

They also closely observe geomagnetic storms, caused when a solar wind meets the magnetosphere. Results are ranked as part of the KP index. Otherwise referred to as the geomagnetic activity index. It can provide very real insights into how intense geomagnetic storms are. 

The KP index is broken down into levels 1 – 9. The lower half shows little geomagnetic activity. The upper half the opposite, bringing with it a higher chance of the Northern Lights appearing, even at lower altitudes. 

Your best bet is to keep up to date with the latest Northern Lights forecast. There are a number of websites and mobile application that offer this, as seen below:

Aurora Reykjavik 

Vedur 

Aurora Forecast 

We would recommend downloading Aurora Forecast applications on your phone. It might remind you to check up on them throughout your visit. Forecasts can change quickly, so getting into the habit can only be in your best interests. 

Are there Northern Lights tours in Iceland? 

Northern Lights over an Icelandic church
Photo: Golli. Auroras above a church in Iceland

Why yes indeed, there are many Northern Lights tours available in Iceland – did you truly think otherwise? 

Operators will not only transport you to the most secluded, darkest spots in the country, but will offer you incredibly useful tips on how best to photograph this wonderful occurrence. Some will even offer you photography equipment to rent! 

Some tours will be single activity excursions, meaning hunting them will be your primary task that night. Others come bundled with other activities, such as caving, glacier hiking, or horse riding, adding a further layer of adventure to your Northern Lights experience. 

For those looking to take part in an organised excursion, consider this Northern Lights Small Group Tour with Hot Chocolate and Photos, which offers 4-hours of hunting the auroras in Iceland’s countryside. 

Auroras over a mountain in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Northern Lights above a mountain peak

For those hoping for something a little different, this Reykjavík Northern Lights Cruise offers the opportunity to experience the lights from atop the bobbing ocean waves surrounding the Icelandic capital. 

There can be no guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights on your tour. Operators will often offer you to come back the next night free-of-charge. To mitigate this risk, some tours will choose to bring a telescope, allowing you to appreciate the twinkling stars of the cosmos, regardless of whether the lights appear or not. 

And though it’s painful to say so, a word of warning. Understand that Northern Lights tours are, above all else, a business

Unfortunately, that does imply that some less ethically-motivated operators may exaggerate. Encouraging the likelihood of seeing auroras might secure your booking, after all. Hence why we stress that you check on the forecast yourself before taking a licensed tour. 

In Summary 

Auroras in Iceland
Photo Golli: The Northern Lights appear any time in Winter.

The Northern Lights is truly a bucket-list experience. Seeing them should be considered a priority when travelling to Iceland during winter. 

How you choose to hunt the auroras is up to you. Superjeep, minibus, ocean cruise, or as part of a private group. All methods promise a mystical experience that demonstrates the very best of what Iceland’s nature has to provide. 

So wherever you happen to find yourself in Iceland, make sure to keep your eyes firmly on the night sky. You never know just when the Aurora Borealis will make their forever-welcome appearance. 

What Is Iceland Like in the Spring and Fall?

Hraunfossar Waterfalls in Iceland

Icelandic nature during shoulder seasons

During fall, Iceland’s nature takes on a unique palate of orange, maroon, and moss green, making autumn in Iceland a treat for your eyes. During the spring, the empty branches start blooming after a long winter’s rest, and the grass turns green again. Both fall and spring are excellent times to observe the rich birdlife of Iceland, as migrant birds pass through during this time. The well-known Atlantic Puffins arrive in April and stay until September. You can see the puffins in several places, but the most convenient way is to take a boat tour to Akurey island or Lundey island from Reykjavík harbour.

The weather in Iceland during fall and spring

During any season, Iceland’s weather can change often and quickly. Sometimes, you can even experience all four seasons in just one day! For this reason, it is best to be prepared and regularly check for weather updates and road conditions. In the fall, the average temperature is 4-7°C [39-45°F], and in the spring, 0-7°C [32-45°F]. In the spring, the daylight is, on average, 15 hours. During fall, it averages 10 hours. Fall and spring bring more rain than the other seasons, so bringing water-resistant coats and footwear may be a good idea.

The roads in Iceland

Route 1, often referred to as “the ring road”, will take you around the island with clear road signs and paved roads. However, some remote locations may only be accessible by gravel roads. You will not be able to travel to the Highland, as the F-roads that take you there are only open from June to August.

Foggy road in Iceland
Photo: Golli.

Driving safe

Due to rainfall, water can accumulate in the roads’ tyre tracks or other dips, causing hydroplaning. If this happens, slow down by letting go of the accelerator and pump lightly on the break if needed. Note that rain, fog, and snow can reduce visibility, especially during the darker hours. Make sure to never stop in the middle of the road or enter closed roads; it is illegal and can cause serious accidents. In case of an emergency, call 112. Make sure to bring essentials such as warm clothing, snacks and beverages, and to have a GPS/map at hand. It is good to familiarise yourself with Icelandic road signs before driving. For information regarding weather and road conditions, you can call 1777. With some preparation and research, you can have a safe and adventurous journey!

Northern lights in Iceland during spring and fall

Late fall and early spring are good times to see the northern lights, though never guaranteed. You can catch them yourself from wherever the skies are clear, but tours are available to see the northern lights shining brighter from better vantage points. The tours usually run from mid-September to mid-April, as the rest of the year brings too much daylight to see the aurora. You can view the northern lights forecast here. Note that the white areas on the map indicate clear skies and a higher chance of seeing them. You will see numbers in the upper right corner representing their activity level.

What is there to do in the spring and fall in Iceland?

Inside:

Iceland offers a diverse range of museums. In Reykjavík, Perlan museum has interesting interactive exhibitions presenting virtual northern lights and a man-made glacier, in addition to educational exhibitions on natural history and geology. Other museums in Reykjavík include the Maritime Museum, the Whale Museum, the National Museum of Iceland, and the Reykjavík Art Museum. Iceland offers a variety of restaurants and cafes where you can experience both Icelandic and foreign cuisine. You can browse Iceland’s unique art, clothing, and jewellery designs in local shops around the country.

Perlan Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland
Photo: Perlan Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland

Outside:

Hikes in areas such as Heiðmörk nature reserve and Þingvellir national park will bring you a new appreciation of the scenic nature of Iceland through lava, moss, lakes, and rich history. Road trips to the villages and towns of Iceland are a great way to experience authentic Icelandic culture. To keep warm during cold days, submerge yourself in some of Iceland’s many geothermal pools and lagoons. Mountains, black sand beaches, waterfalls, glaciers, and geysers are some of the natural wonders of Iceland worth exploring, whether on your own or by going on various excursions.

As summer and winter are the peak seasons of tourism in Iceland, fall and spring are more affordable for flights and accommodation while bringing fewer crowds. Whether chasing the aurora, exploring Iceland’s nature and its wildlife, or immersing yourself in the local culture, the shoulder seasons provide fascinating scenery for a vacation to remember.

 

Dazzling Northern Lights to Be Visible in Iceland Tonight

Northern Lights over a lake

Clear weather conditions and solar wind are expected to make for bright and powerful northern lights tonight, Mbl.is reports. When space is at its windiest, the northern lights are at their most beautiful, a press release from a science communicator notes.

Clear weather and solar wind

In a press release published today, Sævar Helgi Bragason – educator and science communicator (editor of the Astronomy website) – predicts that clear weather conditions and solar wind will make for dazzling northern lights tonight, Mbl.is reports.

Sævar points those interested to the Icelandic website Auroraforecast, which publishes information regarding space weather, the magnetic field, and cloud cover over Iceland. The website provides all the most important information needed for people hunting for northern lights.

“The Northern Lights are created when fast-moving ionised particles from the Sun, referred to as solar wind, collide with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. When space is at its windiest, the northern lights are at their most beautiful. This fast solar wind that we are experiencing right now can be attributed to a coronal eruption on the sun last March 11,” Sævar Helgi stated in the press release.

Questions concerning a “bright star in the west”

As noted by Mbl.is, Sævar revealed that he had received numerous inquiries from people about that “bright star that shines in the west at sunset.”

“This is Venus, the star of love. It is rising and will be prominent in the evening sky until summer. Jupiter is lower and descends rapidly in the sky until it disappears behind the sun as seen from us during the month.”

Star Stuff

Sævar Helgi Bragason stargazing.

“The more you know about the nature that surrounds you, the more precious it becomes and the more important it becomes to protect it.” That’s the simple reasoning behind Sævar Helgi Bragason’s mission to educate the Icelandic public about astronomy, climate change, and science in general. During a working day that stretches from seven in […]

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Northern Lights Driving Causes Danger

Travellers seeking northern lights can cause considerable danger on roads, according to Aftenposten. Icelandic police authorities have warned travellers of the danger. Travellers come from all over the world to witness the northern lights in wintertime Iceland.

Northern Lights tourism comes with its fair share of traffic problems. According to the Icelandic police, many travellers lack experience driving in winter conditions. “The weather in Iceland changes every five minutes and road conditions alike,” said Jóhannes Sigfússon, police inspector at Akureyri. “A dry road can become icy and slippery in a matter of minutes.”

Nighttime is the most dangerous, as tired drivers not used to the conditions look upwards in search of the northern lights. Eighteen people lost their lives in traffic accidents last year, and half of those were of foreign origin.

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten’s coverage states that travellers often seek dangerous mountain roads and that many a northern lights trip ends in disaster. It also states that travellers often drive in the middle of the two-lane ring road when seeking out the northern lights. The road may twist and turn at a moment’s notice, and a driver that’s not fully alert might end up crashing.

Travellers are advised to use www.road.is for information about road conditions and weather. It is the official road information website of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

 

 

I’m an experienced driver familiar with driving on ice and snow. I want to see the northern lights, but is it safe to drive in winter?

winter tires reykjavík

It’s possible to drive safely in Iceland in winter and your experience with driving on ice and snow will come in handy, but be aware that ice and snow are only part of the risk – wind can also affect driving conditions adversely. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to drive without stress.

Firstly, always check the road conditions and weather forecast before you head out. Depending on these, you might want to adjust your route or the time you start your journey. Icelandic weather is temperamental and can change quickly. If you do get stuck in a snowstorm, slow down and increase your braking distance. Secondly, plan most of your journey so that most of the driving is done in daylight, which can be scarce during wintertime. Another important thing to think about is the kind of car you want to rent. In winter, we recommend a four-wheel drive vehicle, both for safety and comfort. If you’re driving out of the city during winter, don’t get the smallest car available: focus on your safety over the price. You will have a chance to see the northern lights between mid-August and mid-April. We understand that you’re excited to see them, but don’t get distracted while driving. Don’t stop in the middle of the road: find a safe parking spot at a designated area. Finally, get some local advice about your planned route. Some roads in Iceland are known to be difficult to drive in certain conditions or wind directions. If you feel insecure about driving yourself, booking one of the many organised tours with certified tour operators is the safer option.

Northern Lights to Decrease in 2019

Northern lights activity will lessen from 2019-2021 due to decreasing solar activity, Vísir reports. There will be fewer of the colourful, bright displays which have recently attracted tourists to Iceland.

Northern lights are caused by solar activity, which goes through 11-year cycles. During these solar cycles the sun experiences changes in levels of solar radiation and magnetic activity, and as this activity decreases, so do northern lights.

“Now and in the next few years [the activity] will begin to decrease, slowly but surely. So that 2019 will probably be very quiet, 2020 as well, 2021, and then the activity should increase again after that and should reach a high point in 2026, around that time, and the following years, three or four years, there should be very nice northern lights as well,” stated Sævar Helgi Bragason, editor of Stjörnufræðivefurinn website and Facebook page which aim to promote interest in astronomy.

Sævar Helgi assured that even in periods of low activity, northern lights never disappear completely. “We will, however, get fewer colourful, splendid displays of the kind we would like to show off to tourists and see ourselves,” he stated.

Great displays of northern lights are still expected this winter, before the activity begins to diminish.

“This winter has gotten off to a good start, and seems to be continuing to be quite good. So I’m very optimistic about this winter and also pretty optimistic about next winter, though we may see graceful and beautiful displays a bit less often then,” adds Sævar Helgi.