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Iceland FAQ: Northern Lights

  • Blog
  • Louise Jones
  • 10-02-2017 16:30:43

The Northern Lights are an amazing phenomenon, a natural wonder of the world- and we're here to answer all of your questions about this amazing night-time light show!

How are they formed?

We have solar winds to thank. (Hang on in there, this is only a short science lesson- promise.) Solar winds approach Earth and cause a distortion in our magnetic field surrounding the planet. Some of these solar winds escape into our atmosphere, around the magnetic poles (hence why the Aurora are stronger in the Arctic- as well as the Antarctic, where we get the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis).

The escaped particles mix with atoms and molecules that form gas, releasing photon energy in the form of light. And like that, the Aurora Borealis appear!

Where's the best place to see the Aurora?

Luckily for our travellers, Iceland is located within the band of the Arctic Circle where the Northern Lights can be seen- meaning that even though the countryside offers a clearer sky, sometimes the Aurora can be seen just walking down the high street in Reykjavik!

For the best guaranteed results, we recommend getting away from cities- the less light pollution from street lamps and cars, the better your chances are of seeing the Lights. Northern Iceland is a great location for switching up the regular Aurora hunting routes- check out our Northern Lights in the North package with stops at Myvatn and Iceland's northernmost town, Siglufjordur.

When can I see the Northern Lights?

The Lights can be seen as early as late August, and as late as mid-April. We recommend booking your break between October and March- the beginning and ending of cycles are the best times to see the Lights. In the summer there's no chance of seeing the Lights even though they're still technically "there". Instead Iceland is home to 24 hours of daylight in July and August- no matter when you go, there's always something amazing about Iceland's night skies!

How can I guarantee a Northern Lights sighting?

We'd love to know that too! In short, there's no concrete way of ensuring you can see the Northern Lights- that's the downside to this amazing natural phenomenon, it is completely up to nature. There are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances whilst in Iceland- such as travelling out to the countryside, as we mentioned above.

Guided tours are great for bettering your Aurora chances because the guides will plan routes every day based on the offs of seeing the Lights.

It also helps to stay for longer- an extra night is an extra chance! On average, you realistically have a 40-60% chance of spotting the Lights in Iceland if you stay there for 5 nights like in our new Aurora Iceland package.

A 7 night stay in Iceland- like our Northern Lights Explorer guided tour- offers a 85-98% chance of seeing the Aurora.

Even better: if you stay for 14 nights with our Northern Lights Discovery tour, your odds of seeing the Lights increase to 90-98%!

If you're interested in booking a Northern Lights break this winter, email us at or call 01904 406534 to discuss holiday plans with our Iceland experts. An office staffed by Icelanders, we have first-hand knowledge of travelling and living in Iceland so can recommend the best in accommodation, tours, travel and culture.


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