Aurora Borealis in Iceland: A Guide to Observing it at its Best

Aurora Borealis in Iceland: A Guide to Observing it at its Best

Hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland is an adventure that attracts travellers from all over the world, eager to witness one of the most fascinating natural spectacles on the planet. This phenomenon, also known as the northern lights, paints Iceland's night sky with vibrant colours dancing among the stars. In this article, we take you through everything you need to know to experience the Northern Lights: when to see them, where to go and how best to capture this incredible celestial spectacle.


When to see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland

The Northern Lights are visible in Iceland during the winter months, from September to April, when the nights are long and dark. The optimal time to observe it is between December and February, when darkness envelops the island almost around the clock. However, this does not mean that it cannot also be seen in early autumn or late spring, if the weather conditions are favourable.


Where to observe the Aurora Borealis

Iceland offers many ideal places from which to admire the Northern Lights, far from the light pollution of the cities. Here are some of the best:

  • Thingvellir National Park: Only an hour's drive from Reykjavik, this national park is not only a site of outstanding historical and geological importance, but also offers a perfectly dark night sky to observe the lights of the north.
  • Vik: The small village of Vik on Iceland's south coast is renowned for its black sand beaches and impressive rock formations, which provide a spectacular backdrop to the Northern Lights.
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: The glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon, with its floating icebergs reflecting the aurora lights, offers one of the most breathtaking views.


How to Photograph the Aurora Borealis

Capturing the Northern Lights with your camera can be a challenge, but also incredibly rewarding. Here are some tips to make sure you bring home spectacular photos:

  • Use a tripod: To avoid blurred photos, a tripod is essential to keep the camera stable during the long exposures required to photograph the aurora.
  • Set a long exposure: Start with an exposure of 15-30 seconds and adjust from there according to the intensity of the lights.
  • It uses a wide opening: To capture as much light as possible, use the widest aperture available on your lens (e.g. f/2.8).
  • Increase the ISO: Don't be afraid to increase the ISO to improve your camera's sensitivity to light, but watch out for image noise.


Tips for a Successful Aurora Hunt

  • Check the weather: Clear, cloudless nights are ideal for observing and photographing the Northern Lights.
  • It monitors auroral activity: Use apps and websites to monitor geomagnetic activity and predict when the aurora will be most visible.
  • Dress appropriately: Prepare for the cold with warm, waterproof and thermal layers. Comfort is key to enjoying the show.
  • Be patient: The Northern Lights can appear at any time during the night, so patience is essential.


The Northern Lights are just one of the many natural miracles that make Iceland a unique destination. Watching the northern lights dance across the night sky is an experience that sticks in the memory, a moment of pure magic that connects those who experience it with the wonders of the universe. By following this guide, you will have the best chance of witnessing this incredible natural spectacle, armed with useful knowledge on when, where and how best to experience the Northern Lights in Iceland.


Plan Your Adventure with Iceland Adventures

Remember, the key to an unforgettable experience is planning. As well as choosing the right time and the perfect location, make sure you consider all the practical aspects of the trip. Contact us and we will give you our personalised advice on how best to plan your trip, either with our private tours or with our 'Self Drive' service.