Fascinated by extraordinary light phenomena, sight is so awe-inspiring that it seems to be out of this world? If you want to have a chance to see them, here are the 10 best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland!
What is the Northern Lights?
An aurora borealis – known as the northern lights in the northern hemisphere and the southern lights in the southern hemisphere – is a luminous manifestation caused by the solar winds. In fact, this majestic phenomenon is caused by cosmic rays from the sun hitting the earth’s magnetosphere.
Along with Norway, Finland and Sweden, Iceland is one of the countries known for being a prime spot to observe the Northern Lights. This is because the island is isolated in the middle of the North Atlantic and relatively untouched by urban light pollution. It’s easy to see why northern lights enthusiasts love to go there to watch these sublime phenomena!
If you too want to see these dazzling formations, you’ll probably want to know the best places to observe them. We’ve put together a list of the 10 best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Keep your eyes peeled and let’s go!
Best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland
1. The village of Vik
This small village is located on the south coast of Iceland, south of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Its beach, made entirely of black sand, is a popular spot for viewing the Northern Lights in Iceland. It is not for nothing that many lovers go there for a romantic moment. But, all the while, staying warmly covered!
If you are visiting during the winter season, it may be a good idea to visit at night. You can try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights with the gentle lapping of the waves in the background: a magical experience!
This glacial lagoon is located in the south-east of Iceland and borders the splendid Vatnajökull National Park. The reason we mention it is because it is considered one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Indeed, the place is simply stunning with its placid blue waters where icebergs from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier float.
In winter, in addition to the seal colonies, the area is crowded with tourists who come to watch the aurora illuminating the area! And during the day, they can enjoy an extraordinary hike through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.
Iceland’s capital is a city, albeit a small one, but with many light sources. These, unfortunately, normally make viewing the Northern Lights difficult or impossible. That said, it is possible to get away from the city by just a few kilometres to see these magnificent magnetic phenomena. For example, you can go to Álftanes to see them dance over the Icelandic capital. It’s an absolutely magical sight!
Or climb Perlan Hill, one of the city’s most famous museums, for a breathtaking view of the city. From up there, you may be able to see the polar lights reflected in the sea. Or take a stroll through the paths of Ösjkuhlíð Park, a small forest adjacent to the park, which will help to reduce urban light pollution.
4. Borgarnes Harbour
There’s one thing you need to understand when looking for the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. It’s that the nights are longer in the northern and western parts of Iceland! The small harbour of Borgarnes is located in this area and offers the curious visitor a chance to watch the aurora dance.
From Borgarnes, you can see them twirling above the charming little fishing boats floating in the bay. These boats are symbols of Iceland and show the importance of the ocean to its people.
Like all Icelandic words, this one sounds decidedly strange! Come on, we’ll help you, it means “the hot baths of the locals” in Björk’s language. And with good reason! In this volcanic region of southern Iceland, it is possible to bathe in rivers and natural baths. In this territory sculpted by lava flows, the temperature of these hot springs is around forty degrees!
And this is exactly what makes this area, with its spectacular scenery, one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Difficult to access during the winter, it is well worth the effort. Imagine watching the aurora while enjoying a pleasant swim in a natural bath!
In southwest Iceland, this spot is popular with photographers who come to capture some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. And the town is considered one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Many people come here to see these unique solar displays.
They move gracefully over spectacular waterfalls. The place has been the location of several famous video clips, series and films as the natural scenery seems unreal!
7. Snæfell Peninsula
This small piece of land at the western end of the country has many iconic spots in Iceland. One of these is the Snæfellsjökull volcano, which has a magnificent glacier with volcanic vents at its summit. It is famous for being the entrance to the centre of the Earth in the famous novel by Jules Verne! There are towering cliffs and fjords. It is part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park, one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. It is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, with the perfect amount of silence and solitude to watch them.
As the place is less than two hours drive from the capital Reykjavik, you will have no excuse not to go and admire them! Once there, be sure to drive along the north coast to Kirkjufell, one of Iceland’s most famous mountains.
8. Keflavik Peninsula
Another peninsula, this time less than thirty kilometres west of Reykjavik. If we’re telling you about it, it’s because there’s a good chance you’ll pass by Keflavik when you arrive in Iceland! Indeed, it is here that the main airport of the island is located. This is where most travellers come to find the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland!
By moving away from the cities and villages present on the spot, one can benefit from a sky free of light pollution. But also and especially of a very weak human presence! In short, you will have understood, it is certainly a spot of exception to contemplate these incredible cosmic phenomena.
9. Skógafoss Waterfall
In the very south of the country is this spectacular waterfall on the Skógá River, cascading down a cliff over sixty metres high. It is one of Iceland’s most famous sites!
Here, many photographers and curious people come to admire this natural wonder. But there is also a lot more to see in this place, which is very close to the spectacular Landmannalaugar region. The area is protected from all sources of pollution, allowing you to enjoy the incredible waves of light that rip through the Icelandic sky.
In this city in northern Iceland, located at the bottom of a gigantic fjord, you can walk around and enjoy the Nordic heritage. For example, you can discover beautiful Icelandic churches and a famous botanical garden with endemic species from all over the country. But what is less well known is that the sparsely populated area is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland!
The northern part of the country is indeed an ideal place to admire them since it benefits from an almost non-existent light pollution. So, if you are visiting the region, don’t hesitate to stop in this privileged natural setting. The population is very welcoming and will be happy to offer travellers who come to discover Northern Iceland an exceptional stay!
When you’re ready to see the northern lights in Iceland, you’ve got plenty of options.