The best place to see the northern lights

November 15, 2021


The northern lights can light up the skies when the conditions are good. Stefan guide in Iceland.

Where is the best place to see the northern lights?

Iceland is the best place to see the northern lights. If you can, hire a professional tourist guide to maximize your chances to see the northern lights. Several reasons exist to support the claim that Iceland is the best place to see the northern lights.

Northern lights exist only in the northern hemisphere whereas the southern lights exist only in the southern hemisphere. They often mirror each other. Aurora borealis is another name for the northern lights and aurora australis is another name for the southern lights.

Iceland is perfectly located to see the northern lights

Northern lights in Iceland

The northern lights are best seen between 60 and 75 degrees latitude north. Conversely, the southern lights are best seen between 60 and 75 degrees latitudes south. Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland happens to be 64 degrees north and the country’s second largest city Akureyri is just below 66 degrees north. The actual Arctic Circle at 66 degrees goes through an island just off Iceland’s north coast. Both the latitude and longitude of the country favor aurora viewing.

Iceland is the most accessible place on Earth to see the northern lights

Iceland is blessed with an international airport 35 miles from the capital city of Iceland. Several airlines fly into this airport directly from various airports in the United States and Europe. Airlines which have serviced Iceland in the past are…Icelandair, Delta, United, SAS, Lufthansa, Wizz Air and more.

Iceland offers amazing sights other than the northern lights

Even without the northern lights, Iceland an otherworldly place to visit, with glaciers, geysers, massive waterfalls, and volcanoes. Should you stay in Reykjavik you’ll have a great choice of restaurants and hotels. If you’re in Iceland only for a few days it makes great sense to make Reykjavik your base and do day trips from there and on suitable nights search for the northern lights. The most popular day tours in Iceland are the Golden circle, South coast to village Vik, Snaefellsnes peninsula, Borgarfjordur valley and Reykjanes peninsula and Blue lagoon spa visit. A professional guide can customize your stay so you make absolutely the most of it.

Where to see the northern lights in Iceland?

Some popular places to watch the northern lights are on the outskirts of Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland. The lights can also be seen in the west, north and east as well as in the less accessible highlands. The main goal is to find a place where electric lights don’t effect the viewing.

When is it possible to see the northern lights in Iceland?

Northern lights may be seen in Iceland between late August until mid-April. This means they are only visible in winter. Reason why they cannot be seen in summer is because the days are too long  then and the skies don’t get dark enough for the human eye to be able to see the northern lights with the naked eye.

How do I maximize my chance to see the northern lights?

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Toyota ProAceVerso 2018 model. Has 6 comfortable seats for passengers.

If you’re in Iceland you can find information about cloud cover and predicted activity on several different websites. Some are better than others. A professional guide will sift through the online information and make a call where to go to avoid the clouds and what time of the evening to start. Tours typically last 3-4 hours when done from Reykjavik. This includes the time it takes to drive far enough away from the city lights, be in a good location for a couple of hours and returning to Reykjavik.

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights and southern lights in the southern hemisphere appear when particles from the Sun collide with air molecules in the earth’s atmosphere transferring their energy into light. This occurs around the Polar Regions where those magnetic fields converge. These magnetic fields create auroral ovals around the top and bottom of our planet which move and distort as the earth rotates and solar flare activity increases.

Why hire a professional guide?

It is a great idea to hire a professional driver & guide when in Iceland. Couples, groups of friends, school groups and business associates can benefit greatly from such a service. Check out the article which mentions some of the benefits of hiring a private guide.

By Stefan

Stefan is a professional guide in Iceland. He's been guiding visitors since 1988 and still loves his job! Professional general guide, hiking guide, incentive guide. National park ranger. Teacher and lecturer and former head of the Iceland Tourist Guide School. Seven univerisity degrees.

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