Best Time To See Northern Light In Iceland: 9 Best Months

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best time to see northern light in Iceland
Photo by Vincent Guth on Unsplash

Are you also interested in seeing the Northern Lights? Are Northern Lights on your bucket list as well? Then worry no more; you are at the right place. The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are very high. It is because of the long hours of darkness during the winter, a full eight-month northern lights season, and the low light pollution throughout the country.

Iceland is a magical place for seeing the best display of Northern Lights in the world. You will be able to see the best aurora borealis here in September. The incredible landscapes like mountains, waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, rock formations and cliffs make the experience even more wonderful.

By the end of this article, you will get to know what is the best time to see Northern Light in Iceland.

What Are Northern Lights

Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are photon particles created by oxygen and nitrogen molecules reacting with Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) in the earth’s atmosphere.

The sun throws out SEPs in solar flares during various solar activities. Most of these SEPs are deflected by the earth’s magnetic field. But in and around the North and South pole, the intensity of the magnetic field decreases, making them less magnetic poles.

The SEPs that glide inside the earth’s atmosphere react with the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the upper atmosphere, resulting in the Northern Lights. The geomagnetic storms that take place also impact the intensity and stability of the Northern Lights.

Since the magnetic poles near Iceland are relatively weaker than most parts of the world, the aurora viewing experience in this place is mesmerizing. Aurora hunters are always eager to capture the best they can from the bright auroras in the sky.

Not only the locals but aurora borealis in Iceland also attract many tourists from all over the world. There is a special Iceland Northern Lights tour that is arranged for tourists. Things you should know regarding the aurora displays in this country are mentioned in this article.

Best Time To See Northern Light In Iceland

The Iceland Northern Lights season starts in late August and is in proper form till the mid of April. Among these months, the preferred time to see Northern Lights in Iceland is March and September. It is because solar activity is at a peak during these months, which increases the chance of seeing the aurora displays.

On the other hand, September and March also have a warmer weather forecast compared to the additional months in the northern lights season. During these months, fewer or no clouds are seen in the sky, which also adds to the better experience of seeing the Northern lights. The warm weather makes everyone feel more comfortable staying outside for a longer time, resulting in better aurora viewing.

Photo by Nelly Volkovich on Unsplash

The aurora season or the aurora forecast generally corresponds with the fall and winter seasons in the year. This time of the year has the most darkness and is ideal for seeing the northern lights forecast not only in Iceland but in all northern lights viewing locations worldwide.

During summer and early spring, it is not ideal to see the northern lights in Iceland because the daylight hours are long, and the lights of the north do not get enough nights. Therefore, most Northern Lights tours are conducted during fall and winter solstice. During this season, the night sky turns beautiful with the aura of the Northern Lights.

Best Months To Witness The Northern Lights 

As mentioned above, there are some specific months when you can enjoy most of the northern lights in Iceland. Let us know about these months in detail.

1. August

If you plan to visit Iceland to see the northern lights, we suggest you visit this place in August. It is guaranteed that you will be able to experience the nice northern lights in Iceland during this time. Also, make sure to check the aurora borealis forecast beforehand. Who knows, you can get luckier.

2. September

If you could not see the northern lights in August or could not make it to Iceland during August, try to visit this place in September. It is because, in September, the Northern Lights tend to stay in the night sky for longer.

In addition, Iceland’s weather in September is much better than in the other months, making it the best time to visit Iceland. There is fewer or no cloud cover during this time which contributes to the clearer vision of the aurora borealis.

Apart from these, there is also some solar storm in this month which contributes to the maximum intensity of nature’s light. Clear skies are ideal for getting a wonderful northern lights experience.

3. October

During October, Iceland’s weather is relatively cold than the other months. The country experiences its first snowfall during this time. Since the snow persists for some time, there is more cloud cover, contributing to the light’s low intensity.

Solar activity generally peaks during the first two weeks of October, and the temperature is less cold than in the other winter months.

4. November

Generally, the weather in November is a bit unpredictable. The ice and snow present in this month indicates the beginning of cold and harsh winter months in Iceland. One advantage of visiting Iceland in November is there are long hours of darkness, which means you can see the northern lights in Iceland for longer hours.

5. December

There are few tourists during this time of the year, but the darkness prevails for long hours. It is also one of the perfect months to see the northern lights if you can withstand the cold of Iceland in December.

If you plan to visit Iceland in December, carry enough warm clothes with you as the temperature gets very harsh.

6. January

It is the perfect time to see Iceland’s northern lights and snow. In January, you can take pictures of the Northern Lights and the snow.

During this time, the country is in the depths of winter, so it is likely for you to be able to enjoy the long nights. These kinds of weather are suitable for seeing the aurora borealis.

7. February

The snow persists in February as well. You will be able to experience cold and snowy temperatures. Most of the small waterfalls are frozen during this time. Tourism starts to flourish this month as tourists from around the world arrive.

Most tourists come to see the northern lights in Iceland in February to capture the amazing snow-filled landscapes along with the Northern Lights.

8. March

The winter months start to fade, and the pleasant weather of March dominates over the other weather conditions. Snow persists in very few places in March. The number of solar activity increases, thus increasing the chance of seeing the aurora displays.

Tourists from all over the world have started to visit Iceland in bulk. It is one of the perfect times to witness the northern lights. It is the ideal month for you if you want to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the Northern Lights in peace.

9. April

In April, the number of daylight hours increases rapidly. With the increase in the number of daily hours, the temperature also changes greatly. Come during the first half if you want to visit this place during April.

It is because there are more chances of seeing the northern lights in the first half than in the second half of April. The temperature increases, which results in the rise of long days. Since the day hours are more than the night, there are fewer chances of getting a good experience of the northern lights.

Amazing Places To See The Northern Lights In Iceland

Some amazing places in Iceland will provide you with a better experience of the northern lights than the other places.

We will discuss these places in detail.

1. JÖKULSÁRLÓN

One of the best places for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is Jökulsárlón. It is a glacial lagoon that is filled with icebergs. We can guarantee you will have an experience like no other in this place.

One of the best gifts you can gift yourself is taking a boat ride around the lake to get a better experience.

Along with the wonderful landscapes, Jökulsárlón is also the best place for northern lights hunting in Iceland. It is located in Vatnajökull National Park and, as a result, experiences no light pollution, which indicates that you will be able to see the northern lights very clearly and prominently.

In addition, you can also experience the amazing sight of the northern lights reflected on the icebergs and lagoon. Not only will you be able to enjoy this in person, but you also will be able to get some amazing shots of the Northern lights.

2. SKÓGAFOSS

It is the most popular waterfall in Iceland and is one of the best places to see the northern lights. The north-facing waterfall makes the experience of viewing the Northern Lights even more fruitful. The place also has a remote countryside location near a volcano named Eyjafjallajökull.

Eyjafjallajökull is one of the most popular places to see the northern lights since it has no light pollution at all.

One disadvantage of Skogafoss is it has a lot of crowds. All the groups and camera flashes can be distracting at times. Since this place is famous among tourists, many photographers visit this waterfall to get the perfect picture of the northern lights.

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

We would not recommend this place if you want to experience the northern lights in a calm environment. Opt for the paces, which have fewer crowds than the crowd at this waterfall.

Regarding the advantages, Skogafoos also has some of the best northern lights hotels in Iceland. Most of the hotels in this region offer stargazing observatory sections where you can sit or lay down and watch the stars for hours.

Not only that, but most of the hotels in this area also offer aurora wake-up calls. To provide the guests with the best aurora borealis display, the hotels also switch off all their lights when the northern lights are prominent.

3. STOKKSNES

Stokksnes is popularly known as the landscape present around the Vestrahorn Mountains. It is a place that combines the beauty of towering mountains along with that of the black sand beaches. Like most of the areas in Iceland, this place also has very low light pollution, which makes it the ideal condition for viewing the northern lights.

The place is considered a paradise for amazing pictures of the northern lights. Here you can see the contrast between the dark landscapes and the bright lights above.

Do you want an easier aurora hunting experience? We suggest you stay nearby the Aurora Cabins in Höfn. Here you will be able to find several private cabins. You can book these private cabins for yourself and get the experience of watching the Northern Lights from the deck of your house itself.

This is your destination if you want to spend quality time with your loved ones while watching the northern lights. Forget the hassle of booking a private cabin for yourself as soon as possible.

4. KIRKJUFELL

Kirkjufell is the most iconic mountain in Iceland. It is also known as “Church Mountain” in this region. Since it has a cylindrical shape which is said to resemble the form of a church, irrespective of the condition of the mountain, you will be able to witness the amazing northern lights since the hill is north-faced. You can view the Nothern Lights from Kirkjufell, even if the display is not intense.

If you want good quality pictures, visit this place during the less popular times. It will ensure you get good Northern Lights photos without facing any challenges.

There are plenty of good accommodations available near Kirkjufell. You won’t even have to leave the comfort of your hotel when there is an aurora display. Book a comfortable place with a great view of the Northern Lights.

5. HVÍTSERKUR

Hvítserkur is another name on the list of best places to see the northern lights. It is a rock formation in the middle of a sea, popularly known as “The Rhino”. Like the other places mentioned above, this formation is also north-facing, giving you the best view of the northern lights.

Apart from the northern lights, you will be mesmerized by this place’s amazing formations and natural landscapes. The Northern Lights that reflect on the water and hit the rock formation together form a wonderful sight for the eyes.

6. GOÐAFOSS

Suppose you want to escape the crowd at Skogafoss, head over to Goðafoss, an equally beautiful waterfall in Iceland. Since it is the biggest waterfall in the country, it has sheer height and width.

If you are planning to watch the northern lights from here, get ready to be confused about which is more beautiful: the waterfall or the Northern Lights. Either way, you will sign yourself in for a visual treat.

Make sure to book yourself a nice and comfortable hotel. It is a bonus if the hotel provides an on-site aurora borealis viewing experience.

7. VALAHNÚKAMÖL

Valahnúkamöl is a wonderful sea site located on the Reykjanes peninsula. Since it is a bit away from the locality, it has very low light pollution and therefore offers an obstruction-less view of the northern lights.

Some of the hotels in this area also have a rooftop pool. You can witness the beauty of the Northern Lights from the comfort of your private pool.

8. REYKJAVIK

It is possible to see the northern lights from Reykjavik, but there is no guarantee. There is more light pollution in Iceland’s capital city, which is not the ideal condition for watching the northern lights. You will only be able to see a good aurora borealis display from this region only if the intensity of the lights is high.

If you are planning to see the northern lights from this region, look at the north coast for a better experience.

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

There is one solution for seeing the perfect northern lights in Reykjavik. Book a room in the rotating glass hotel. Since it is located in the city centre, there are high chances for you to see the northern lights.

If you are still unsatisfied, you can also opt for northern lights tours that will ensure you have an amazing experience of the aurora borealis.

Tips To Capture A Good Picture Of The Northern Lights

If you have travelled to Iceland to see the northern lights, it is obvious that you will want to take some good pictures of the same. Being able to click good Northern Lights views depends on many factors. The factors influencing the picture quality of the Northern Lights are light pollution, the time of the year, the light’s intensity and the duration of darkness.

Follow these tips below to capture some good pictures of the northern lights.

  • Make sure to carry a good camera.

  • Double-check all your gears when you are planning to click the Northern Lights.

  • Check the battery, and change and charge them according to the need.

  • Carry a tripod and mount it on the location.

  • Make sure to set the focus to achieve sharp images.

  • It is best to shoot the pictures raw without adding any filters. It will ensure that you can edit the images as per your preference.

  • Always raise the ISO according to the sensor of your camera.

  • Ensure opening the aperture of your lens. It will help you capture more light which results in better picture quality.

  • Select different shutter times to get the perfect click.

  • You can also click the pictures in contrast.

  • Do not just focus on clicking the pictures of the northern lights; rather, make sure to click the images of the amazing landscapes of Iceland along with the Northern Lights.

  • Clicking pictures of landscapes along with the northern lights in Iceland will add more depth and life to your photographs.

If you follow these tips, you will surely get some unique clicks from the Northern Lights. You will be able to flex to your friends and family about your amazing photography skills.

While clicking the pictures of the northern lights, do not forget to take some of your photographs for Facebook and Instagram. You are going to be the topic of discussion for quite some time.

Conclusion

Northern lights are present on the bucket list of a lot of people. Many people dream of seeing the Northern Lights at least once in their lifetime. There are many places in the world where you can witness the beauty of the northern lights. But Iceland is one of the best places to experience this beauty.

If you have come to this article’s end, we hope you have a clearer picture of the best time and place to witness the northern lights. So what is the delay all about? Plan your trip, pack your bags and get ready to see the mesmerizing beauty of nature.

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