The Best Places to See the Northern Lights near Reykjavík
In varied shades of greens and reds, the Northern Lights that illuminate the Arctic sky have captivated humans for many years. For visitor itineraries intersecting the Icelandic capital, spotting the Aurora Borealis might be easier than you think. If you find yourself in or around Reykjavík, you are in with a winning chance already.
You cannot miss the holy grail of skywatching on your Icelandic holiday. Read our blog to find the best places to see the Northern Lights near Reykjavík.
Grandi Area and Old Harbour
Originally an industrial fishing site, the Grandi area in Reykjavík’s Old Harbour is now bustling with cafés, restaurants, and art galleries. Despite this growth, the light pollution here is low. If you ever find yourself shopping in Laugavegur, don’t forget to walk down to the harbour to catch a stunning glimpse of the Northern Lights reflected in the water!
If you stay a while longer exploring Grandi, you will find a scenic path by the sea that will take you from downtown Reykjavík to the island of Grótta. Atop the black sands of this land-tied island is a lighthouse that offers a spectacular view of the Northern Lights.
If you visit the island in summer, you will catch Icelanders watching birds in this nature reserve.
This hidden gem is about a 15 to 20 minute drive from Reykjavík city centre. Heiðmörk Park is full of lakes and forested areas making it an ideal location to spot the Northern Lights away from the hustle of the city. With cottage-dotted banks, Elliðavatn Lake is the best spot among them all!
A wide-angle lens is best suited to capture the aurora borealis.
In the greater Reykjavík area lies Mount Úlfarsfell. Thanks to the efforts of a regional forestry association, Úlfarsfell’s forested slopes create a dark environment ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. You can park your car at the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain and hike to the top. However, we recommend seeking alternative locations if you are visiting in winter as the ice can make the ground slippery.
Standing nearly 1,000 feet tall, this towering mountain will allow you to watch the city of Reykjavík dazzle under the Northern Lights.
Translating to “Church Mountain” because of its geometric perfection, this hill on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a photographer’s dream. Located two hours from the city, Kirkjufell’s popularity means that it might not necessarily be secluded. Nevertheless, it is sought-after for a reason, it offers one of the best views of the Northern Lights.
An hour’s drive from Reykjavík will bring you to the village of Garður. Bordered by Faxaflói Bay, this village on the Southern peninsula has not only one but two lighthouses! Dating back to 1897 and 1944, the lighthouses at Garður will allow you to soak up some Icelandic history as you observe the magical phenomenon across the Arctic sky.
Be sure to say hello to the dolphins and whales popping up near the shore!
Þrengslin Lava Tunnel
If you ever wanted to watch the Northern Lights from a lava tunnel, Þrengslin is your chance. This road between Reykjavík and Þorlákshöfn is devoid of pollution-causing infrastructure. Step out on an evening tour at Þrengslin Lava Tunnel and look up at the Aurora Rising across the Arctic Sky.
Don’t forget to turn around and catch a glimpse of the colourful reflection on the edge of the lava tunnel interior.
From hidden spots in Reykjavík to better-known areas, Iceland’s capital and nearby regions offer some key locations to witness the Aurora Borealis.
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