Northern Lights Season 2018
Time flies, the Icelandic never ending summer days are over and the Northern Lights season is approaching again.
The Northern Lights are visible in Iceland from late August to late April, so make sure you book a ticket to Iceland during these months to get a chance to observe this beautiful natural phenomenon.
The Northern Lights are actually active all year but can only be seen with darkness therefore it is not possible to see them in the summer when the sun never sets but they are a great reason to visit Iceland in the winter.
Being the Northern Lights a natural phenomenon, they are quite unpredictable, they can happen any time of the day so luck plays a very important role when you go Aurora hunting.
I know of people who have been in Iceland for three weeks without seeing any Northern Lights and I know of people who have been here only three days and have seen them every night!
I have been working in tourism for the last few years and everyone coming to Iceland always has the same question to ask: “At what time can I see the Northern Lights?”… well sadly there is no set time when they can be seen, it is very hard to guess because there are so many factors on which your chances depend one.
First of all, there has to be quite a high activity in the sun. There are apps and websites which show the sun activity and the Aurora forecast, you can check them and they will help you know when high activity levels are predicted.
Another big factor is the weather. Now, you might have heard the saying “If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait 5 minutes”… this is true and states that the weather in Iceland in very changeable and also quite hard to predict. Even when the sun activity is high, which increases the chance of seeing the Northern Lights, if there are clouds in the sky, they might block the view and also if snow is predicted, it will be impossible to see the Northern Lights. I have seen the best Northern Lights in really cold nights with clear skies.
Another element to take into consideration when you try to see the Northern Lights is the light pollution. Aurora can often be seen from down-town Reykjavik but of course the farther away you go from the city lights, the better. Now luckily for all of us, Iceland has many places where nature is still unpolluted so it is not hard do just drive a bit out of Reykjavik to find perfect places with no light pollution to try and see the Northern Lights.
If you want to stay in the city, you can just take a walk to the Sun Voyager, the statue not far from Harpa Concert Hall, by the seaside. Looking towards the North you might be able to spot some Northern Lights over the snow covered mountains in the bay. You could also walk to Seltjarnarnes or Perlan, just find places without many lights.
I would recommend taking a Northern Lights tour, where expert guides will check the forecasts and drive you to what in their experience are the best places to observe this amazing show of lights called Aurora. You can either join a bus tour or a private jeep tour. If the conditions are not good the tour will be cancelled but you will have the chance to go again another night and also if you can’t see any Northern Lights on your tour, you will be offered to go again another day. You should book your Northern Lights Tour during the first days of your stay so you will have more chances to go in case you are not lucky the first time!
It is not always easy but it is not impossible to see the northern Lights, it takes luck and patience but the feelings you will get when you see the Lights dancing in the sky will just be unforgettable.
Come and hunt the Northern Lights with us!
Text: Elisa Maccagnoni – Iceland Premium Tours