What Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland For Northern Lights?


Iceland is an island nation that holds many eye-catching sceneries and places. The dramatic landscape consists of volcanoes, lava fields, and hot springs. They bring timeless beauty to this country. Iceland is most famous for auroras that cover its skies. Since it exists in the Arctic region, auroras appearing in Iceland are also called northern lights. Of course, you should be mindful about the time if you want to see the northern lights. That is because always, there is the best time to visit Iceland for northern lights!

Auroras are displays of natural light variations in the sky that we can see around skies in Arctic and Antarctic regions. The lights appear as spirals, curtains, rays, or dynamic flickers, bringing out visually pleasing sights. Iceland is known as one of the best places on earth to observe this display of lights. So, let us discuss more details on when and where to see northern lights in Iceland.

Best Time To Visit Iceland For Northern Lights

What Month is Best to See Northern Lights in Iceland? -Best Time to Visit Iceland for Northern Lights

Despite holding the attraction of thousands of people, you can only see northern lights at a specific time of the year. Even then, it happens only with enough solar activity. So, before traveling to Iceland to see auroras, we should ensure the best month to see northern lights in Iceland.

The best time of year to visit Iceland for northern lights would be the months with less light, clear sky, and sufficient solar activity. That is because the darker skies will let you witness auroras more vividly. With a pitch-black canvas as the background, the paintings of lights you see will leave you with great captures. Therefore, the recommended best time of year to see the northern lights in Iceland will be the winter months.

Usually, Iceland’s northern light months are from September to March. Out of them, we can’t specifically say what month you may prefer. But if you want to enjoy just auroras, November, December, and January are the best months.

Depending on the latitude, Iceland gets only about two to four hours of daylight in midwinter. That means you get ample time to watch the auroras. Another advantage of visiting Iceland during winter times is being able to admire the snow-covered landscape of the island. You can also explore the crystal blue ice caves, another marvelous winter phenomenon existing in Iceland.

Along with the advantages, there are downsides to traveling to Iceland in the winter season. Iceland endures the coldest days during the winter months. Nights are exceptionally colder, and storms can also occur in this period. There’re also possibilities of clouds covering the skies, which will obscure the auroras from the vision. Sometimes the extreme weather leads to tour cancelations and closing down roads.

You can also visit Iceland to see auroras in autumn and spring. The weather is usually milder in those seasons. Cloud cover can be lesser in that period. But due to the extended daylight hours, it would not be easier to hunt down auroras as in wintertime. You will get smaller periods to enjoy the northern lights even though the weather is suitable.

Weeks around the end of June, the sun hardly sets in Iceland. You can even see the sun at midnight, which means the skies are very bright during that time. In the period between the end of May to the beginning of August, nights will be brighter than other months of the year, which means there’s only little chance for you to observe the Northern lights in this period.

That does not mean you get zero chance of seeing auroras in the summertime. The color curtains can be seen faintly during the few hours of darkness at the very beginning and end of summer. Amidst the bright and vivid colors of Icelandic sunsets, you will get to experience a whole new side of the auroras as they mix their colors with the colors of sun rays.

Best Time To Visit Iceland For Northern Lights

For those who do not particularly enjoy extreme weather and cold, September would be one of the best months to visit Iceland. You’ll somehow get the chance to see the northern light as it is closer to wintertime, and you will also get to participate in various summer activities.

Each aurora in each season has its beauty. Even though they are hard to see, autumn and spring auroras create colorful views, just like an aurora that appears in the crispy and clear winter sky. Iceland also contains many marvels of nature all over the island.

It does not what month you decide to come to Iceland; the land will ensure that you experience an adventurous and fantastic time among its natural beauties. Glacier hiking, snorkeling, and snowmobiling are some of the activities you can engage in Iceland. You can experience them besides watching the stunning northern lights at night times. Based on these details, you can decide what is the best month to visit Iceland so that you can enjoy the best time out there in the snowy plains.

What is the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland?

The darkest nights are the best time for northern lights in Iceland. Particularly in December, you get the longest nights, so auroras are visible from three in the afternoon until nine in the morning. But usually, they can be viewed between 10.00 pm to midnight with much clarity. So, most Northern light hunt tours start around this time.

The least optimal time to see auroras would be in the hours around sunset and sunrise. A significant amount of sunlight will be present at those times, and it will cover the true brilliance of the aurora colors. Similarly, seeking auroras in the early hours after midnight is not highly recommended because of the noticeably cold atmosphere.

So, remember to dress in proper clothes when you step out to the cold nights seeking northern lights, or else you will not be able to experience your tour in high spirits with excitement.

Knowing the optimal time to see the northern lights means you can be assured to see the best auroras, plus it will help to carry out your plans the other day without facing any problems.

best place to see the northern lights

Where in Iceland is the best place to see the northern lights?

Reykjavik, the capital and the largest city of Iceland, is the go-to place for most aurora seekers who wish to witness the beauty of the northern lights. It is in the southwest part of the island. The city area provides accommodations and dining places along with entertainment options so that everyone can fully enjoy their holidays without any worry. Even though the city area is good to stay and relax, you should go outside the city to enjoy the northern lights. So, taking Reykjavik as the starting point, you can travel around in search of auroras.

When you look for a place to see the northern lights more clearly, you should avoid the urban areas because artificial lighting will diminish the aurora lights just like the sun. Instead, you can go to the countryside where light pollution is minimal.

There are various places around the island where you can get a good look at auroras. You can take a boat to Vioey Island or a bus to Seltjarnarnes nature reserve. You can also drive by yourself out of the urban area into the darker surroundings where you can hunt down auroras as you like.

North Iceland is a great place you can spend your time when visiting Iceland. That area has an optimal environment for northern lights to appear. Because in there, nights are longer, and the sky is usually cloudless. Unlike Reykjavik, Northern Iceland is less crowded during the aurora seasons, so you can leisurely enjoy your holidays. Aside from auroras, staying in that area provide you easy access to see some other scenic spots in Iceland like Lake Myvatn and the Gooafoss waterfall.

When is the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland?

We are now passing the final months of the year 2021. What better time than this year to get a glimpse at this incredible show of lights?  As previously discussed in this article, this is the best time to visit Iceland for northern lights 2021. So why postpone the journey to next year? Let’s see when can you see the northern lights in Iceland 2021.

First, let us see how these auroras form. When the earth revolves around the sun, the solar winds continuously emitting the sun slams into the earth’s atmosphere. The solar winds then erupt into different colors resulting in northern lights. The year 2021 is currently going through a period called solar minimum. That occurs due to the solar cycle of the sun. Due to this solar-minimum phenomenon, the sun blows out solar winds less frequently. So, auroras happen infrequently in this period. But during this time, the northern lights are more predictable.

So in this year, we can easily find the auroras.

best time to see the northern lights

The sun takes 27 days to rotate. According to the behavior of the solar minimum, if we get to see auroras today, we can most probably see them again after 27 days from today. In 2021, northern lights appeared during the first week of September. Following the prediction about the solar minimum, we can say that they will appear again according to a 27day cycle. Although this prediction is not very accurate, this is the best we can have when dealing with a natural phenomenon like the northern lights. You can go to the official aurora forecast website and confirm the pattern so that you can decide the best time to go to Iceland for the northern lights in 2021.

Iceland Northern Lights Holiday – Best Time to Visit Iceland for Northern Lights

Usually, northern lights tours run between September and April. There’s no particularly optimum time to visit Iceland within that range. You can decide the month according to the preferred aurora type.

The autumn auroras appear from September to October. The best thing about visiting Iceland at this time is it has a bearable temperature compared to other aurora-seeking months of the year. Since the lakes and ponds are yet to freeze, you can enjoy them along with auroras. As the first northern light displays of the season, the colors combined with sunlight showcase beautiful views. So, this particular season provides some of the most impressive aurora displays.

From December to January, you can see winter auroras. Since nights are longer with less daylight, there’s ample time to hunt auroras. The deep, black nights will show you exquisite color curtains amidst the snow-covered display. You can also stargaze on winter nights without light pollution.

The spring auroras are present from February to March. The powerful auroral outbursts called auroral substorms happen during the spring season. They come with little warning and high intensity. You will be able to view auroras that turn the whole sky green, creating spectacular sightings. The days are more extended this season, so you can visit other places in Iceland that hold sights like ice caves and lakes. Participating in winter activities like snowshoe hiking is another advantage you get if you plan your aurora holiday in the spring months. Based on your needs and conditions, you can choose the month and time to plan your holiday.

After deciding the month, you should think about the weather. Iceland faces some of the harshest snowstorms and bears the coldest days due to its proximity to the north pole. So before traveling to Iceland, it is wise to check out the current weather condition of the island. Icelandic Meteorological office announces the weather for the whole country through their official website.

Using that, you can avoid the bad weather periods where it is possible to occur natural disasters. It is regularly updated, with predicted and current cloud coverage around the country, allowing you to see which areas have the clearest skies. The site also displays northern lights Iceland forecast. It has a measuring range from zero to nine, where three and above consider promising scales of aurora visibility.

Iceland northern lights holiday.

When planning an Icelandic northern lights holiday, you should keep in mind that the occurrence of auroras is a natural phenomenon. Even though you are well prepared, there will be times when the odds are not on your side. So, rather than traveling just for a weekend, plan the holiday for two to three weeks where you get more time and chances to watch the northern lights. During your holiday, you can also explore other scenic places in Iceland.  And you can engage in activities like ice-caving and lake tours other than watching northern lights.

One of the last things you should think about when planning the holiday is accommodations. As we mentioned before, you can either reside in the capital city Reykjavik. Or you can go to Northern Iceland seeking auroras.

Many of the Iceland northern lights hotels are in the capital city. Some of the most famous hotels in Iceland are Fosshotel Reykjavik, Grand hotel Reykjavik, Apotec hotel by Keahotels, Hotel Holt, Alda Hotel Reykjavik, and Exeter Hotel. The price to reside in each hotel varies. Almost all of these hotels provide you with online booking, so you can book a place using a hotel booking website or through the official websites of these hotels. According to your budget and needs, you can choose the hotel you would like to stay in during your Icelandic holiday.

If you pay attention to these facts, you can plan your Icelandic holiday easily. You can spend a memorable holiday under the colorful skies of this snowy country, enjoying a peaceful and leisurely time.


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