Northern Lights
ICELAND Travel & Trails

Hunting for Northern Lights in Iceland – The Thrill of the Chase


The Northern Lights are magical.  I’m not sure how else to describe it.  However, I wasn’t sure if I should include it on this list, since it’s not guaranteed that you can experience it. Sometimes it’s too cloudy and sometimes there’s just not enough solar activity. I think it would be a mistake to make it your sole reason for going to Iceland.  But, it would also be a mistake not to hunt for it if you’re in Iceland during fall and winter.

We were very lucky to see the Northern Lights on our trip to Iceland last October. We had 10 days in Iceland and during that time we saw it only once. Our hunt for the Northern Lights started on the night we landed in Akureyri. We drove to isolated places in the middle of the night, looking for a clearing in the clouds, and asking locals if they thought it was a good night to see the lights.  The hunt was fun and it made it more exciting when we finally saw it!

Northern Lights

It was 5 days into our trip when we finally got to experience the Northern Lights. I still remember seeing it after returning to our cabin located on a quiet farm, just outside of Eggilstadir.  It was around 10 p.m. and we were coming back from the grocery store. As usual, we scanned the night sky for any signs of something different.  I saw a very faint green light and just kept staring.  The clouds cleared and there it was!  It’s hard to describe without sounding like a hippie.  The Northern Lights looks like a green brush stroke shimmering and dancing. It would fade and then become stronger, then more clouds would clear and we would see it dancing behind us.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

This was one of the few times I wished I had a proper camera. I’m really just a phone camera person, but I felt like this was a once in a lifetime event.  We tried to take some photos, me with an iPhone and my husband with his GoPro. Both were insufficient, so we gave up and sat on the front step of the cabin and just enjoyed the lights.  It was another magical Icelandic experience among many.

Since my pictures were useless, I’ve borrowed my sister’s photos for this post. She also saw the Northern Lights on her trip to Iceland a few years ago. These pics were taken on the month of October, close to Seyðisfjörður.

Tips for your Northern Lights Hunt:

–       Check the Aurora forecast on this site (http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/).  This will tell you how strong the lights are for the upcoming nights

–       Around 10-11 p.m. drive out to somewhere far from city lights

–       Park safely where you can see a clearing in the sky

–       The hardest part – relax and wait

–       Bring some snack and your favourite playlist

–       Dress warmly, especially if you end up on a mountain

–       Bring your camera and a tripod will really help

Good luck with the hunt! Always remember, there are more things to see and do in Iceland.  For more ideas, please check out my post Top Ten Things to do in Iceland.

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