The best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

Seeing the Northern Lights is high on every winter traveller's bucket-list. And, with minimal light pollution, months of perfectly dark nights and plenty of vast wilderness, Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see this most spectacular of natural phenomenons. Check out the best places to see the aurora in Iceland below, then get in touch to start planning your ultimate Northern Lights holiday.

Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Golden Circle

Northern Lights outside the cathedral in Reykjavik

Reykjavik Cathedral

South Iceland's famous Golden Circle, spanning a route between the iconic Thingvellir National Park, geothermal geysers and Gullfoss waterfall, is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Our Iceland Northern Lights tours include visits to all these areas and the Golden Circle – a total of 300km loop from Reykjavik – offers some of the best vantage points for viewing the aurora, all of which can be explored on our Romantic Iceland and the Northern Lights itinerary. However, you often don’t even need to stray from the capital to catch a glimpse. On clear nights, the aurora can be spotted from Reykjavik's parks, Öskjuhlíð Hill in the centre of the city or at Grotta Lighthouse, while drives beyond the city limits give you an even better chance. 

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West Iceland

Northern Lights by a waterfall in Husafell in West Iceland

Northern Lights, Husafell

One of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is the rugged, much-unexplored west of the country. Here, wild, sweeping landscapes filled with fjords, hot springs and waterfalls make for a spectacular setting to see the Northern Lights. Visit the famous Snaefellsjökull National Park and Mount Kirkjufell before whale watching and road trips among the vast black desert before heading out on Northern Lights tours away from the crowds. 
Explore West Iceland with a stay at Hotel Husafell, a National Geographic Lodge hidden in the wilderness that's perfect for watching the Northern Lights.

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North Iceland

Northern Lights in front of the Deplar Farm hotel in North Iceland

Deplar Farm, North Iceland (Credit: Eleven Experience)

Home to the iconic Arctic Coast Way, the north of Iceland is the driest part of the country, meaning fewer clouds and a better chance of spotting the lights. It also sees fewer visitors than south Iceland, so is well worth a visit for excellent Northern Lights viewing if you'd rather get away from the crowds. Drive between icons like geothermal Myvatn and Dettifoss waterfall before private Northern Lights tours in this starkly beautiful area with a friendly guide, away from the light pollution, to search for the Northern Lights. There are incredible hotels in this wild region, like Deplar Farm, while small group tours are a wonderful way to explore, like on our North Iceland Aurora Adventure.

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When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Northern Lights in Thingvellir National Park in south Iceland

Northern Lights, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

You may have heard that heading to Iceland in the middle of winter is best for optimal viewing of the Northern Lights. However, did you know the lights can appear from as early as September and last all the way through April? Outside of winter, you won’t get those long winter nights, but more agreeable temperatures and longer days mean more time for activities outside of spotting the aurora. Plus, the Atlantic jet stream means Iceland is generally less cold than its Scandinavian neighbours, whichever time of year you go. Just avoid June to August if you want to see the Northern Lights, as the Midnight Sun – when the sun never sets below the horizon – means the auroras won't appear.

How to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

SuperJeep car on snow in Iceland

SuperJeep tour, Iceland

To see the Northern Lights in Iceland, our top Iceland Northern Lights tours include everything from self-drive tours to all-inclusive packages. Expect everything from Golden Circle tours to Blue Lagoon soaks, with experienced guides bringing travellers to little-known viewing spots. We’ve highlighted our top tours to see the Northern Lights in Iceland to the right, or click the button below to discover more of our top Northern Lights holidays.

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