For many, catching a glimpse of the famed and elusive Northern Lights is a lifelong wish. Unfortunately, for many people, it’s something they will never get the chance to see organically, depending on where they live on the globe. This means that for most people, travelling considerable distances is required to view the lights. Thankfully, for those who visit Iceland, it’s one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, and in this blog, we’ll explain just why that is.
If you’re trying to plan the best Northern Lights vacation, you must put Iceland at the top of your list. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, only occur in some of the world’s northernmost countries. This is because they materialise as a result of the sun’s radiation interacting with the earth’s magnetic poles. Thanks to Iceland’s location, situated far north in the Atlantic (and just shy of the Arctic Circle), the Northern Lights can reliably be glimpsed throughout the winter months.
Iceland also has the benefit of being a country with a lower population. This means that less light pollution is produced, especially once you get outside of Reykjavik (though you can sometimes glimpse the lights within the city). This, combined with the long, dark nights throughout winter, creates the perfect storm for Northern Lights viewing. As a country that has plenty of darkness (and the Northern Lights are only visible at night), this provides light hunters with plenty of opportunity to see them!
Some of the darkest parts of Iceland include the Westfjords and Northern Iceland, making these some of the best places in Iceland to see the Northern Lights. That being said, just about anywhere in Iceland that is dark with a clear sky should allow you the opportunity to view them - so long as you visit between September and March.
For people who come to Iceland with the sole purpose of viewing the Northern Lights, one of the best things to do is find a tour operator. Iceland, being the popular tourist hotspot that it is, has a wealth of guided tours to choose from, many of which have the sole aim of helping people spot the Northern Lights. While it can never be guaranteed, you’re more likely to find Aurora Borealis with the help of an expert than on your own. However, there is nevertheless merit to heading out on your own and finding an entirely unique shot.
So much of what makes Iceland special (in addition to the culture, the welcoming people, the wildlife… this list goes on and on…) is the otherworldly landscape covering every inch of the island. The stunning scenery makes the perfect backdrop for heart-stopping views of the Northern Lights.
Iceland allows you the chance to see the Northern Lights above a roaring waterfall, flanking an imposing mountain, reflected in the icy waters of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, dancing over an active volcano, or looming above a silent and watchful glacier.
Want to get excited about your upcoming Icelandic adventure? View some of the best photos of the Northern Lights! And if you’re eager to find the perfect view of the northern lights on your own, a great way is to hire your very own rental car with Iceland Car Rental. Browse our quality fleet of hire cars today.