The elusive northern lights are a big reason to visit Iceland during the fall and winter months. But their appeal also lies in their fickleness: We’d love to promise you’ll spot these mystical wonders during even a short trip, but only Mother Nature knows when to sweep these colorful curtains over the night sky.
Still, much of the fun is in the hunt, and there are several ways you can maximize your chances of success:
The time it right: You’ll only catch the northern lights when it’s dark, so the viable window is from the end of August to late April before near 24-hour daylight takes over the country.
Rain is bad: Well, not rain exactly. But just like daylight, clouds are not northern lights spotter’s friend. Wait for clear skies.
Get out of town: Light pollution from Reykjavík or other communities can block out some of the best viewings. Even locals drive to the outskirts of town in evenings when the show is particularly spectacular.
Put away the camera: You read that right. All too often, after hunting for hours, an unforgettable display of multi-colored lights will dance right overhead, but people are so busy holding iPhones in front of their faces and struggling with tripods that they forget to stop and experience the moment. Leave the photo-taking to professionals. Being there is priceless.
Weather permitting, Gray Line Iceland offers daily northern lights tours during the season. We’ll take you to the best places for aurora activity that day, with some Icelandic folklore along the way.