Gray Line Iceland - Where to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik

Posted by Admin on 04 Oct 2023

Where to See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik: A Guide to Iceland's Aurora

Northern Lights over Perlan in Reykjavik

Imagine the sky above you transforming into a mesmerizing light show as you stand in the heart of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, paint the night sky with vivid colors, creating an unforgettable experience. In this guide, we’ll take you on an aurora hunting journey, sharing the best spots, tips, and tricks to witness this natural wonder right here in Reykjavik.

From understanding the ideal conditions for aurora sightings to discovering hidden gems within the city, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also discuss capturing the perfect Northern Lights photo, so you can preserve these magical memories forever. Ready to embark on a journey to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Ideal conditions for Northern Lights in Reykjavik include clear skies and darkness.

  • Visit top spots within the city limits, such as Grotta Lighthouse, Öskjuhlíð Hill or Seltjarnarnes Peninsula to witness the captivating beauty of the Aurora Borealis.

  • Take a guided tour or capture stunning photos with expert knowledge and equipment, perfect for sharing this natural wonder!

Ideal Conditions for Northern Lights in Reykjavik

Witnessing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik largely depends on weather conditions. The key factors include clear skies and darkness, which are crucial for a successful aurora hunt. During Iceland’s winter months, the long nights provide ample opportunities to spot the dancing lights, making it an ideal time to visit the North Pole’s counterpart, the South Pole, which boasts its own light show – the Aurora Australis.

Searching for auroras requires both patience and a bit of luck. Although your chances increase when you visit Iceland during the darker months, monitoring weather forecasts and aurora predictions is advisable. This will equip you with the necessary information for optimal aurora sightings on a clear night.

Clear Skies and Darkness

The absence of artificial lights from cities and developed areas creates an optimal natural environment for witnessing the Northern Lights. To experience the dancing lights without city light pollution, finding a secluded spot away from urban areas is essential. Some fantastic places to witness the majestic aurora can be found along the walking path from the Sun Voyager sculpture, away from Harpa Concert Hall.

The best time to witness the spectacular Northern Lights in Reykjavik is during the northern lights season, which runs from September to April, with peak times being from late August to mid-April. Spring and autumn months offer more favorable weather conditions and temperatures, with increased aurora activity around the equinoxes. Planning your trip during these seasons will give you the best opportunity to admire the Northern Lights.

Checking Weather Forecasts

Keeping an eye on weather forecasts can greatly increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik. Checking the northern lights forecast provides valuable information on solar activity and cloud cover, allowing you to plan your aurora hunt accordingly.

Extending your time in Iceland can also increase your chances of enjoying clear skies and unforgettable aurora sightings. The aurora forecast in Iceland uses a scale of one to nine, with anything above three being worth venturing out for, as a two is usually easily visible. The forecast gave detailed information about cloud cover across the country. As a result, you can easily see which places are likely to offer the most clear skies..

Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to embark on your hunt for the elusive Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon that shares its Arctic home with the captivating midnight sun.

Person celebrating the Northern Ligths

Top Viewing Spots Within Reykjavik City Limits

If you’re eager to see the Northern Lights without venturing too far from Reykjavik’s city center, you’re in luck. Several prime viewing spots within the city limits offer spectacular views of the night sky, including Grotta Lighthouse, Öskjuhlíð Hill, and Seltjarnarnes Peninsula. These locations provide an excellent opportunity to admire the aurora while still being close to the amenities and comforts of Iceland’s capital city.

A visit to these premier viewing spots will not only allow you to experience the mesmerizing Northern Lights but also Reykjavik’s breathtaking natural surroundings. So, grab your camera, wrap up warm, and get ready to experience one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles in the heart of Reykjavik.

Grotta Lighthouse

Grotta Lighthouse, located on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, offers a magical view of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik. The lighthouse’s low light pollution and stunning backdrop make it an ideal spot for aurora hunting. The most delightful way to reach Grotta Lighthouse is by walking along the picturesque path from the Grandi area or by taking an e-scooter or bus.

Grotta Lighthouse is situated on the beautiful land-tied island of Grótta. This enchanting location provides a serene setting for witnessing the Northern Lights, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. As you watch the aurora dance across the sky, the lighthouse’s silhouette adds an extra touch of magic to the experience.

Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture the captivating beauty of the Northern Lights at Grotta Lighthouse.

Öskjuhlíð Hill

Öskjuhlíð Hill, at the base of the iconic Perlan Museum, is another popular choice for witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights dance in the sky. The lush, forested area surrounding Perlan offers an ideal dark setting for aurora viewing within the city limits. Öskjuhlíð Hill is conveniently accessible, with wheelchair-friendly pathways throughout the hill.

In addition to its prime location for Northern Lights viewing, Öskjuhlíð Hill offers:

  • The Northern Lights Planetarium at Perlan, offers an immersive audio and visual experience of Iceland’s stunning landscapes illuminated by the magnificent auroras

  • The opportunity to see the Northern Lights firsthand

  • A unique and engaging exploration of this natural phenomenon

Visiting Öskjuhlíð Hill provides both the opportunity to see the Northern Lights firsthand and enjoy a unique and engaging exploration of this natural phenomenon.

Seltjarnarnes Peninsula

Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, located in the southwest of Reykjavik, is an ideal spot for Northern Lights hunting due to its minimal light pollution and breathtaking scenery. This popular aurora viewing location is conveniently accessible, with its coordinates at 64.1558° N, 22.0053° W, which is influenced by the earth’s magnetic poles. The best time to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights at Seltjarnarnes Peninsula is between September and April.

As you wait for the aurora to make its appearance, take a moment to enjoy the Kvika Foot Bath, a delightful geothermal tub where you can warm up your feet. With its stunning surroundings and serene atmosphere, Seltjarnarnes Peninsula offers a truly unforgettable experience for Northern Lights hunters visiting Reykjavik.

Northern Lights over a lighthouse in Reykjavik

Hidden Gems in Reykjavik for Aurora Hunting

For those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, Reykjavik has hidden gems perfect for aurora hunting. Heidmörk Park and Elliðavatn Lake are two amazing spots in Reykjavik that offer secluded locations away from city lights, ideal for an unforgettable Northern Lights experience.

These hidden gems offer an opportunity to escape the usual tourist spots and delve into Reykjavik’s natural beauty. Surrounded by nature and far from the distractions of the city, you’ll have the perfect setting to fully appreciate the awe-inspiring Northern Lights.

Heidmörk Park

Heidmörk Park is Reykjavik’s largest and most beautiful nature retreat, located just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away from the city center. With its amazing features, including:

  • Walking paths

  • Lakes

  • Forested areas

  • Lava fields

Heidmörk Park offers a peaceful location for a northern lights hunt, perfect for those interested in northern lights hunting.

Near Elliðavatn Lake, you’ll find a spectacular spot perfect for capturing the stunning Northern Lights, with small abandoned cottages and trees adding a beautiful touch when using a wide-angle lens.

The best time to experience the majestic Northern Lights at Heidmörk Park is during the autumn and winter months, typically lasting from mid-August to mid-April.

Elliðavatn Lake

Elliðavatn Lake, situated in the area of Reykjavik, is another hidden gem for aurora hunting. This stunning location offers a serene setting away from the bustling city, providing an ideal backdrop for viewing the Northern Lights. Elliðavatn Lake is conveniently accessible by public transportation, with bus number 5 from Hlemmur taking you to the Bugða residential area near the lake.

As you wait for the Northern Lights to grace the sky, explore the charming abandoned cottages and trees surrounding the lake. These serene and picturesque surroundings make Elliðavatn Lake a perfect spot for experiencing the magic of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik.

Best Ways to See the Northern Lights from Reykjavik

While finding your perfect spot to witness the Northern Lights in Reykjavik can be an adventure, guided tours offer a hassle-free experience with knowledgeable guides and transportation to the best viewing locations. These tours provide expert knowledge on the aurora borealis, ensuring you won’t miss the breathtaking spectacle if it makes an appearance during your stay.

From affordable Northern Lights bus tours to exciting ATV tours that take you deeper into nature, there are various options to suit your preferences and budget. So, why not join a guided Northern Lights tour and let the experts lead the way to a memorable aurora experience in Reykjavik?

Guided Northern Lights Tours

Guided Northern Lights tours offer a stress-free and enjoyable experience, with knowledgeable guides who are specialized aurora hunters and know incredible spots for viewing the lights dancing across the sky. These tours provide transportation to prime viewing locations, allowing you to focus on taking in the breathtaking beauty of the aurora borealis.

Highly-rated Northern Lights tour companies in Reykjavik include Small Group Northern Lights Tour, Arctic Adventures, and Time Tours. Many of these tours also offer cancellation and refund policies, ensuring that if your tour is canceled or unsuccessful, you’ll have a second opportunity to see the Northern Lights for free.

With the guidance of expert aurora hunters, you’ll have the best chance of experiencing the magical Northern Lights during your stay in Reykjavik.

Capturing the Perfect Northern Lights Photo in Reykjavik

Capturing the perfect Northern Lights photo in Reykjavik requires the right camera settings, equipment, composition, and timing. By using a tripod, manual settings, high ISO, manual focus, and long exposure, you’ll be able to take stunning photos of the aurora borealis.

In addition to these settings, keeping in mind composition and timing will help you capture unique perspectives and ensure you don’t miss the perfect moment. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a beginner, following these tips and using the right equipment will enable you to preserve the magical memories of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik.

Don’t forget to share your breathtaking photos with friends and family, showcasing the enchanting beauty of this natural wonder.

Camera Settings and Equipment

For stunning Northern Lights photos in Reykjavik, here are some tips:

  • Use a tripod to ensure stability and eliminate camera shake during long exposures.

  • Adjust your camera settings to manual mode, including high ISO, manual focus, and long exposure, to achieve the best results.

  • Take photos in Raw Image Format for optimal clarity and detail.

  • The ideal shutter speed for capturing the majestic Northern Lights is between 4 15 seconds.

The best camera equipment for photographing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik includes:

  • Nikon D810

  • Nikon D850

  • Nikon Z7

  • Canon EOS 5DS R

  • Sony a7R IV

  • Sony Alpha A6000

  • Nikon D3500

Additionally, a wide-angle lens, tripod, shutter release, extra camera batteries, and memory cards are essential accessories for capturing the perfect Northern Lights photo.

Composition and Timing

For photographing the Northern Lights, considering composition and timing are vital to capture unique perspectives and select the perfect moment. The best time to photograph the Northern Lights in Reykjavik is during the winter months, from September to April when the sky is dark and the lights are most active. The ideal camera settings for capturing the beauty of the Northern Lights at the perfect moment include:

  • Aperture of f/2.8 or lower

  • Lens focus set to infinity

  • Metering mode set to evaluative or matrix

  • ISO adjusted according to the lighting conditions

  • The shutter speed adjusted according to the movement of the lights

Considering the timing of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, the moon phase can also play a role in the composition of your photographs. Bright light from a full moon can enhance the view and photos of the Northern Lights. By keeping these factors in mind and experimenting with different compositions, you’ll be able to capture breathtaking photos of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik that truly showcase their awe-inspiring beauty.


In conclusion, witnessing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik is an unforgettable experience that should be at the top of every traveler’s bucket list. From understanding the ideal conditions for Aurora sightings to exploring the best viewing spots within the city limits and beyond, this guide has provided you with the essential information needed to make the most of your Northern Lights adventure in Reykjavik.

So, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik. With our tips and guidance, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik?

Yes, you can see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik, although light pollution may make them appear a little less vivid. You can head to the Grótta lighthouse which is only a short 3-4 minute drive from downtown for the best chance of seeing them.

What months are the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?

The Northern Lights in Reykjavik can be seen from September to April when the night sky is dark enough to enjoy them. With only 4-5 hours of daylight in midwinter, the nights provide plenty of opportunities for seeing the Aurora Borealis.

How often are there Northern Lights in Reykjavik?

You can expect to see the Northern Lights 7 to 8 months per year in Reykjavik - between October and March in particular - making it one of the best places in the world to view the aurora borealis.

How can I increase my chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?

Increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik by checking weather forecasts, finding secluded spots with low light pollution, and considering joining a guided tour – you'll be in with a great chance to catch the magical show!

What camera settings should I use for photographing the Northern Lights?

Set up a tripod, and dial in manual settings with a high ISO, manual focus, and long exposure for the best Northern Lights photos.

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