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See the Northern Lights in Iceland

  • Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

Iceland, being in the so-called ‘Aurora Belt’, is one of the world’s top places to see the Aurora Borealis, the multi-coloured meteorological phenomenon more commonly known as the Northern Lights.

These shimmering, shifting, ethereal displays of light are caused by charged ions striking the earth’s upper atmosphere. They can be many different colours: commonly green, but sometimes pink, blue, red or yellow. Seeing them dancing over Iceland’s volcanic topography is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a bucket list must-see that’s up there with the best.

There’s no specific best place to see them – they can appear anywhere where there are dark, clear skies and low levels of light pollution. You can even see them around Reykjavik, although the further you travel from the towns, the more intense the light show is likely to be.

For guaranteed sightings, it’s worth taking an organised tour with a professional aurora-hunting company, as they have access to detailed aurora forecasts, know the best spots and sometimes offer a second trip if you don’t manage to see the lights.

With a bit of luck, though, you may see the aurora as an unexpected bonus while you’re off on another Icelandic adventure – perhaps while exploring remote areas like Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords or cruising on the Jokulsarlon lagoon. Hotel Ranga has a special in-house observatory. See the links in our recommendations below.

Who to go with: tour operators

  • Reykjavik, Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

Exterior photo of a wooden pathway leading to the steaming lagoon


Blue Lagoon

This world-famous (man-made) outdoor geothermal pool of steaming 39°C healing waters, surrounded by black lava fields, is Iceland’s star attraction.

Adult price: 35

Min age 2

Good for age: 4+

  • Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

Make the most of Iceland’s dramatic coastline – lunar landscapes, spouting geysers and jauntily coloured fishing villages, tiny against the vast landscapes and ancient glaciers.

Adult price: Varies

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Min 7 days

  • Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

A wild western peninsula offering fabulous hiking, coastal drives, beaches and glacier walks, easily accessible in a day’s drive from Reykjavik.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 1 night

Freq: monthly

  • Hella, Iceland

  • Official star rating:

Hotel Ranga

Place to Stay

Hotel Ranga

A quirky, ranch-style hotel that’s your best base for exploring SW Iceland. The in-house restaurant is excellent, as is the stargazing and Northern Lights viewing.

Average £280

Extra beds


2+ bedrooms


Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club


Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
Frequency: Selected dates
When: Nov-Feb
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

The good news is that seeing the Northern Lights isn’t all down to chance these days. The atmospheric conditions that create the lights are closely monitored, such that impending displays can be accurately predicted by monitoring stations.

Many hotels and tour operators use these forecasts to offer their guests a handy alert service, so you can be gazing skyward for that first ethereal streak. Many hotels even offer aurora ‘wake-up calls’. You can also sign up for your own alerts (Europe only) with the free Aurora Service.

Aurora Reykjavik is a highly recommended operator, while Arctic Adventures offer a thrilling 4×4 jeep tour. Both offer trips from Reykjavik.

When to do it

Theoretically, the Northern Lights are visible at any time of year, but due to the endless days of summer in the far north, the skies simply don’t get dark enough to see them.

That makes winter prime aurora spotting season, especially the period between November to February, when Iceland’s skies are at their darkest, and the aurora activity is usually at its peak.

For the best chance of seeing them, you also need clear skies (clouds are an inconvenient hazard for aurora spotters, and unfortunately there’s no solution but to wait them out). You also need low or zero light pollution, so it’s always better to get as far away from any urban centres as you can.

Even so, the Northern Lights are notoriously fickle; they can appear anytime, anywhere. But if you’re in the right area at the right time of year, your chances of seeing them are excellent – as long as you’re prepared to be patient.

If you haven’t already, see our round-up of the best places and ways to see the Northern Lights that also explains in more detail why they happen, and thus when you’re most likely to see them.

Who to go with: organised tours


Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

#1 Northern Lights Tour In Iceland from Reykjavik with PRO photos

  • Reykjavik

This is what you get on the tour: ✅ This is the highest rated Northern Lights tour in Iceland ✅ You get FREE photos of you with the Northern Lights in high quality ✅ You get hot homemade chocolate to warm you up in the cold The real stuff! ✅ You get cinnamon buns so you do not get hangry ✅ For you to have the best possible experience, we have collected the elite of guides in Iceland, to make sure your experience will be unforgettable! ✅ You get a wool blanket from the best possible fabric to keep you warm. ✅ Experienced local guide to make your chance the highest of seeing the lights ✅ You can join as many times again if you do not see the Northern Lights. No limit ✅ You get the best service because everyone involved wants to make your experience the best possible ✅ This tour is ran by a small family company We are Northern Lights experts! ✅ With the mix of this team at Reykjavik Outventure, you will not get better experience or chance of seeing the Northern Lights

Price €133

Min age 4

Rating 4.61 / 5 [1533 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Northern Lights Enchanting: Small Group, Hot Cocoa & free Photos

  • Reykjavik

Words alone cannot capture the beauty of this incredible natural phenomenon. It's an experience that we believe you will truly appreciate and enjoy. With this in mind, our Northern Lights tour is centered around the idea of creating a memorable experience. We begin by carefully planning our journey based on weather forecasts, heading towards the best possible locations to see the lights. Sometimes, chasing the lights becomes part of the adventure. If we are fortunate enough to witness this magical display, it will be an unforgettable moment. However, if we don't find them, there will be another opportunity to try. During the tour, we provide complimentary photos, cozy Icelandic wool blankets, hot chocolate, and delicious Icelandic pastries. To ensure a more intimate experience, we travel in a minibus, allowing for smaller group sizes (maximum of 19 people), and avoiding crowded areas to find the best vantage point.

Price €120

Min age 5

Rating 4.57 / 5 [1054 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Perlan Museum - Wonders of Iceland & Áróra Northern Lights Planetarium Show

  • Reykjavik

Wonders of Iceland is a unique exhibition where you learn all about Icelandic nature in interactive and fun ways. Explore the world’s first real indoor ice cave and learn about glaciers at an interactive exhibition. Feel the forces of nature and see how Iceland was formed. Explore seabirds in a lifelike cliff and go on a cinematic underwater journey around Iceland. You also explore a hands-on exhibition about water, by The Icelandic Museum of Natural History. These tickets include Áróra, a one-of-a-kind northern lights experience. It is a 25 min. long dome theatre show in Iceland's only planetarium. You see how northern lights form in outer space and see them dance all around you, virtually surrounded by Icelandic nature. Finally, enjoy the 360° views over Reykjavík from our Observation Deck. There are picture panels and various geological samples from around Reykjavík. Please note that Perlan does not provide pickup for visitors.

Price €36

Min age 0

Rating 4.63 / 5 [957 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Northern Lights Midnight Adventure from Reykjavík

  • Reykjavik

Northern Lights Midnight Adventure is a hunt for Iceland’s magical but elusive Northern Lights. Many visitors travel to Iceland to see the Northern Lights but don’t know where to look. On this tour you travel in a comfortable, heated minibus while your guide searches for the best location to view the Northern Lights. Your guide will also explain the science of how the Northern Lights display occurs. When or if the Northern Lights appear, your guide will offer to take photos for all participants, so you don’t have to bring a professional camera or be a professional photographer to join this tour. This tour is an ideal opportunity to get the most of your time in Iceland. Northern Lights are natural phenomenon and sightings cannot be guaranteed. Operated tours are not refundable.

Price €110

Min age 1

Rating 4.83 / 5 [624 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Northern Lights Cruise from Downtown Reykjavik

  • Reykjavik

The Northern Lights Cruise will sail you out into the dark blue wonder of Faxaflói bay in search of this mystical phenomenon, leaving behind the bright city lights of the capital Reykjavík. Our expert guide will be at hand to answer your questions while you enjoy Mother Nature's lights show and starry skies wrapped up in a warm overall. Elding is an environmentally friendly company and recognised worldwide for its environmental efforts. The aim, mission and goal is to minimise the operational impact on the environment while offering an unforgettable experience at sea.

Price $87

Min age 0

Rating 4.44 / 5 [463 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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