Best time to travel to Iceland

Northern Lights in Iceland

A rare and spectacular show with colors ranging from blue to green is one of the leading reasons to visit Iceland

Best time: September–mid-April

Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights

With its untouched nature, serene waters, and astonishing cliffs, Iceland is one of the best places in the world to experience the northern lights phenomenon. The island country also is located on the latitude of about 64° north, which is suitable to see the aurora. You should choose a place that is far away from cities. The darker the better, although if you come across aurora borealis in Reykjavik, you'll be able to see something as well. The undertones of blue, yellow, green, and if you get lucky, red will make your Icelandic nights so much brighter.

When to see northern lights in Iceland

The season for the natural light show lasts from September to mid-April. At other times, the midsummer light is simply too bright to see the aurora. To see the dancing lights, the night has to be extremely dark so avoid full moons. On the contrary, the winter equinox period is usually a good time. The night should also be very clear, without clouds that block the lights. The northeastern part of Iceland usually has fewer clouds than other regions.

Also, check for solar activity on one of the special websites. You should look for numbers that are larger than Kp 2 which gives you a good chance to witness the wonderful phenomenon and capture it on camera.


Westfjords region in North Iceland is known to have longer nights due to its location and fewer clouds than other parts of the country, which gives better chances to get a glimpse of aurora borealis. The region is also less populated so there is less light pollution. You can book a guided tour with one of the local operators or go on an aurora chasing adventure by yourself. The old Viking ruins at Vatnsfjörður and the historical town of Ísafjörður will provide some picturesque details for your aurora pictures,


East Iceland or Austurland is also known to be a good location to watch northern lights. Most tours take place around Egilsstaðir, a small town, located on the banks of the Lagarfljót river. Reflections in the river will help you make stunning aurora photos. Go on a hike with a local aurora-watching group to get away from the lights and closer to stars.


Greater Reykjavik area luckily doesn't have that much light pollution which makes it quite suitable for the Northern Lights chase. The ideal spot for that is Grótta, a nature preserve on the very end of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, north-west of Reykjavík. If you get lucky you can capture Northern Lights by the Iconic Grotta Lighthouse. The area is also known for its vivid birdlife. Laugardalur Park and Oskjuhlid forests are good places to go on a night excursion, being not far from the center and easy to navigate.

Northern Lights Cruises

Boat tours is an easy option in order to enjoy Northern Lights in all of their glory. The boats will take you far into the sea and away from light pollution. Water reflections will create great effects, and it's also a very comfortable option since you don't have to hike in the cold night.

Northern Lights Cruises are available from Reykjavik, heading to Faxafloi Bay and from Akureyri, going to Eyjafjordur Fjord. The tours last for about two hours

Practical info

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

The Northern Lights can be seen in Iceland from mid-September to mid-April. The bright summer light does not allow for aurora sightings. For optimal viewing, find a location where the sky is very clear without any clouds or light pollution. This is usually in the northeastern region of Iceland. Use trusted websites to check for solar activity and ensure the KP index is equal to or greater than Kp 2 to have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Show more

Where are the best locations in Iceland to see the northern lights?

There are many great places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. To get the best experience, head to the Westfjords or East Iceland, particularly around Egilsstaðir and Lagarfljót river. Reykjavik areas such as Grótta, Laugardalur Park, and Oskjuhlid forests are also good locations. Going on a guided boat tour from Reykjavik or Akureyri that takes you to Faxafloi Bay or Eyjafjordur Fjord can also ensure prime Northern Lights viewing conditions. Show more

How can I increase my chances of seeing the northern lights in Iceland?

Increase your chances of witnessing the Northern Lights in Iceland by selecting a remote, dark location that's far from the cities. Enrolling in a guided tour helps here. Watch out for solar activity on reliable websites and wait for clear nights without any clouds, which obstruct the view. Avoid booking a tour during the full moon. The Westfjords, East Iceland around Egilsstaðir and Lagarfljót river, and areas around Reykjavik are great places that'll maximize chances of viewing the Northern Lights. Show more

What is the difference between boat tours and northern lights cruises for viewing the northern lights in Iceland?

Boat tours and Northern Lights cruises are both good for watching the Northern Lights in Iceland. Boat tours usually last a short time and take you to sea, away from light pollution. It's an easy and comfortable experience with lovely reflections in the water. Northern Lights cruises last longer and cover more ground, taking you to different locations. They have well-equipped guides, clothing, and refreshments, offering a more immersive experience than just a boat tour. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: