Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

by ilive4travel

Published on Mar 29, 2019

*This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

There is so much to see and do in Iceland, some famous others not.  Like the Golden Circle, Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling between Continents, seeing all the wildlife in Iceland, visiting the Blue Lagoon and watching the Northern Lights Iceland.  I visited in April, which is a great month to visit Iceland.

Iceland can be a difficult country to get around in winter and I was glad of all the Iceland travel tips I got from my friends before I left.

I had been recommended a company to use to see the Northern Lights in Iceland by a friend who was in Iceland when I arrived and so I decided to go with them.

  • Please note that I paid full price for this trip and am writing about it here because of the amazing experience I had with this company.

Happyworld Iceland are a small company that offer an amazing experience, our group was 6, they only have small jeeps and so the groups are never big, this means that they can take you to spots that the big bus companies won’t go, it also means that on days when the other bus companies don’t go out, they will look at the cloud forecast and choose the best place to see northern lights.

The lights are out 280 days a year but they may not be seen as they can be out during the day when you can’t see them. They might last a few hours or a few minutes but when you see them it’s worth the wait.  If you want to see the Northern Lights while you are in Iceland then it is best to book a tour for your first night, this way if you don’t see them it gives you more nights to go out and hopefully see them.

We were picked up in the jeep by Anita and taken to a lighthouse about an hours drive away, there were a lot of clouds near Reykjavik and so we had to go further afield.  I was there in March and it was freezing despite 2 pairs of thick hiking socks, numerous layers of clothing and 2 pairs of gloves!!  We were stood around looking in the sky hoping for something to happen and while we did that Robert set up his telescope so that we could keep our mind off the cold.  This is a great idea, while nothing is happening with the Northern Lights, Robert was pointing out different planets to us, and it was so clear, it was amazing.  That night despite waiting for 3 hours, the lights decided not to appear and so it was back in the jeep and back to Reykjavik.

As we had not seen the lights we were told that we could get another chance at seeing the lights and we didn’t have to pay any extra!! We would be picked up again the following night.

After a day exploring Iceland we got back to our hotel to a message from Anita telling us the lights were out and we would be get picked up early.  So exciting, I had always dreamed of seeing them and tonight was going to be the night!!  We were picked up and as the sun was setting you could see them in the sky.  We stopped on the way out of Reykjavik so we could see them and get some pictures in case they weren’t out for long.

The attempt on my phone was shocking!! After 3 years, I still hadn’t read the instructions on my camera so couldn’t get a shot on that!!!  Though if you know your camera you can get some great shots of the Northern Lights.

Wow such an amazing sight, to see the lights dancing around the sky.  It was then back in the car and a few miles further out of Reykjavik to a place where there was only us, it was so good not to be sharing the spot with a coach load of people.

We got out of the car and just stared at the sky while Anita set up the camera and Robert the telescope.  What an amazing site I have never seen anything like it, it looked like there was a dome coming down around you and the way the lights move around in the sky put a smile on all our faces!!  Luckily we weren’t thinking about the cold and were enjoying the show that we were seeing.  Here are some of the photos from the night.

Unfortunately I can’t take credit for these amazing pictures, they were taken by Anita & Robert.  As you can see we had pictures taken of us with the Northern Lights in the background, that is something that is so amazing to have, which if I had of gone with one of the big bus companies I wouldn’t of had.  The photos they took were included within the price of the trip and emailed out to us a few days later.  Thank you Anita & Robert, it is so special to have these memories.

After a few hours staring into space and watching the show, we were given hot chocolate to warm us up, which was just what we needed to keep us going until the light show faded for the night.  It was then back to Reykjavik after such an amazing experience.  I have friends who have been to Iceland and not been lucky enough to see them, just try from day 1 and keep trying and fingers crossed you will get to see one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen.

I would also like to tell you that Happyworld Iceland in summer do paragliding, I have seen some of the pictures from there trips and the views look amazing.

I hope that one day I will go back in summer and get to see the whole of Iceland and Reykjavik when it’s warmer as there is so much more to do in summer too.

When is the best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland

The Northern Lights season is from late August to mid April but you stand more chance of seeing them between late September and late March.

Typically the best time for Northern Lights is February, March, September and October.

Where to stay in Reykjavik

I stayed in 2 places when I visited Reykjavik, the first I was on my own and stayed in Reykjavik Downtown HI Hostel which is around US $60 for a bed in a 10 bed dorm.

Hotel 101 which is from US $147 for a double room including breakfast.  Click here for up to date prices and information.  

Reykjavik is not a cheap city though there are a couple of places you can stay for less than US $30 a night.

Click here for all options in Reykjavik.

Did you enjoy this post, then don’t forget to pin it.

a pin created by ilive4travel about seeing the northern lights in iceland and showing a picture of green lights in the dark night sky

 

 

——-  About me ——-

girl sat on some wooden stairs wearing a black jumper

Clare from Ilive4travel

Hi my name is Clare and welcome to ilive4travel.  I am originally from the UK but spend most of my time in Peru, the country that caught my heart.

I have visited 73 countries and love to share with you everything I have learnt about these countries in my guides.

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28 Comments

  1. Maggie

    What an amazing experience! This is at the top of my list. A tour sounds like the best bet, especially since it comes with photographers so you don’t have to try and take awkward selfies!

    Reply
  2. Kari (Happy Coconuts Travel Blog)

    wow those photos are ridiculous!! So incredible they almost don’t look real 🙂 Nice work, I would love to see this in person someday. My husband say them from Alaska and said it was spectacular. Nice post 🙂

    Reply
  3. Kassie

    Wow this sounds like such an amazing experience. I’ve only caught a glimpse of the northern lights from a plane window but would love to see them like this in person someday. They have a new cheap flight from Boston on WOW Air so I definitely need to check it out!

    Reply
  4. Kathy

    Wow you are so lucky. I have been to Iceland (too late in the year – April), been to Norway (at the right time of year but too far south) and Lapland (right time of year but too cloudy) and have never seen the lights.
    I love it when companies deliever their promises of small groups and when they really want you to see what you are paying to see. When I return to Iceland I will def look into using them.

    Reply
  5. Cliodhna

    Wow those photos are amazing! They look like something from another planet. So cool that you didn’t have to pay extra for another chance at seeing the lights. I would love to see them someday.

    Reply
  6. Melissa | Parenthood and Passports

    This is something I’ve wanted to do forever! A couple of times we missed the lights by one or two days. Your pictures turned out amazing! Definitely an advantage to using a small tour group.

    Reply
  7. Allison

    What an amazing experience! This has something that has long been on my bucket list but so hate the cold so it’s a constant rug of war lol. I love that your tour was in a small group and they took you out again for no extra charge. I did chuckle at your camera phone ineptness as I am well and truly in the same boat. Loved this!

    Reply
  8. Christina from Happy to Wander

    So happy that you got to see them! I was there back in April and it was FREEZING so I can relate to how cold you must’ve been but wow how worth it! I road tripped in a camper van and managed to catch the lights twice. Absolutely incredible sight.

    Reply
  9. Diana

    These photos are amazing! I went to Iceland last November with my family, and we went on a tour to see the Northern Lights as well, but unfortunately we did not get to see them as it was too cloudy that day. We did get a free pass to come back again the next day, but that was our last night in Iceland. It’s a good reminder to schedule your Northern Lights tour for one of your first nights in Iceland so in case you don’t get to see it the first night, you can go back the second night and try again.

    Reply
  10. Kathryn

    Wow, this is one of the things on my must see list. Sounds like a great tour company too

    Reply
  11. Alex Datsev

    The pictures are really something out of this world! Iceland is definitely on my to-do list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  12. Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow

    Wow how stunning! This is one of the top things on my bucket list, to go to Iceland & see the northern lights. We get the ‘southern lights’ at the bottom of NZ but I’ve never witnessed it. The whole journey to and from the spot sounds like such an adventure too!

    Reply
  13. Krysti

    Wow how incredible! It is one of my ultimate dreams to see the northern lights and I’ve heard of quite a few people that visit and miss it! I love that the company took you out again without paying extra. So cool that the photos were included as well. Saving this post for when I get to go myself!

    Reply
  14. Sonja

    Wow those are amazing photos to have taken on your phone even! When I was in Iceland it was super cloudy and we took photos with a camera that showed the Northern Lights, but we couldn’t see them very well with the naked eye. Hoping to go back and for it to be like this!!

    Reply
  15. katie

    I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights, they look incredible!! There are too many places on my list now! 🙂 Some great photos too 🙂

    Reply
  16. Arnav @ Eat, Travel, Live and REPEAT

    Those pictures are absolutely stunning.The northern lights indeed look a marvel in the sky.Glad you could spot it on your 2nd night , it just made your trip memorable with such lovely photos.I would definitely like to camp under the open sky and view the Northern lights all night long.

    Reply
  17. Jimmy and Tina

    Wow, your photos are incredible! I know Jimmy would like to see the northern lights, and I always thought it was strange that he’s never seen them. I often have taken for granted how lucky I have been to see them so many times in my life. We get them in Northern Minnesota with the best show on my car ride up to Canada! Your photos are stunning and I think Iceland northern lights look so nice in the background picture of you in them. Very neat!

    Reply
  18. Vicki Louise

    What a fantastic experience! I’d love to see the Northern Lights and great you found a tour group that was small and personal enough to make the best of the weather and take you to the spots the bigger coaches can’t go. I’ll definitely keep them in mind for when we finally get there!

    Reply
  19. Ticking the Bucketlist

    The lights are so mesmerizing! I have seen them in Iceland and in Sweden both, though personally, I believe that Iceland is the best place to see them! Did you see the lights being reflected in the water at Thingvellir or at Jokulsarlon? They look even more magical! Glad that you have ticked this item off your bucketlist!

    Reply
    • ilive4travel

      No I didn’t, they were out in the day so as soon as it got to dusk we went out of the city to somewhere not too far to watch them. Was an amazing experience 🙂

      Reply
  20. Neha Verma

    What an experience!! I am glad you finally got the snaps that wonderfully capture the light. I would love to see the Northern Lights.

    Reply
  21. Janine Good

    I would love to see the Northern Lights. I had the opportunity in NordKapp Norway to see them, but the weather sadly was so foggy that nothing was visible 🙁 Iceland looks incredible and I hope to get there someday!

    Reply
  22. kerri

    Looking forward to seeing the northern lights in Canada later this year. They are such an amazing thing aren’t they. Great shots and loved reading about your experience.

    Reply
  23. Only By Land

    Great information! I’m visiting the Iceland next month (March, the same as you) and the most important thing for me is seeing the lights. This option with jeep sounds better than a bus and less crowded too. That’s really good that Happy World took you again for free the next day as the lights didn’t come out the first night. Your pics with your phone are ok but the others are amazing, great trip! The lights are a natural wonder of the world.

    Reply
  24. Natalie

    OH, what an adventure!! I so want to see this one day and the tour company you chose sounds just perfect for us. We always travel with the kids and love a small group setting if we need to use a tour. I think every bucket list should include the northern lights!!

    Reply
  25. Paula - Gone with the Wine

    Great photos! I love northern lights! I grew up in Finland Scandinavia and used to enjoy them every winter. Getting good pics of them is quite hard. I’m glad you had great time in Iceland.

    Reply
  26. Kellyn

    Great photos. I’m heading to Iceland in September. Hopefully, I’ll get some clear skies with the opportunity to see these beautiful lights dance across the sky.

    Reply

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