Best time to see the Northern Lights

The Northern lights can be elusive and there are a few factors you need to keep in mind when trying to witness this great natural phenomenon. Weather, season and location all matter and by taking them into account you can greatly increase you chance to see the Auroras.

We often get the question: When is the best time to see the Northern Lights? There’s both a simple and complicated answer to that question. The simple answer is: From September to mid-April, or when the nights are dark and cold. After equinox in September, the nights in Iceland are fully dark and that alone increases the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. You might find some sources stating that the best time is November – February, but if you decide to visit Iceland during these months please consider that the weather can be unforgiving, lots of rain and snow, which can seriously reduce your chances to see the Northern Lights.

Here is the longer and more complicated answer.

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, due to some very important factors. First, Iceland is close to the Arctic circle and though we enjoy long and bright summer nights, in winter the nights are dark (but not full of terrors) and long. Guaranteed darkness is the single most important factor in seeing the Northern Lights, in daylight the Auroras are invisible.

Weather is also a huge factor and the second most important one. To see the Northern Lights the skies need to be clear, preferably very clear and empty of clouds. Iceland is an island in the middle of the North-Atlantic. Weather changes are frequent here, even more so in winter. You want to have, as mentioned before, clear skies and if rain or snow is in the forecast, the chances for seeing the Northern Lights are greatly reduced. Here’s a tip, clear skies often coincide with cold nights, where the temperature is below freezing. By keeping an eye out for the weather forecast you can greatly increase your chances of seeing the Auroras.

Finally, just as in the real estate business, location is critical. The chances you’ll see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, even on clear, cold nights, are minimal, simply due to light pollution. Cities light Reykjavik are lit up in the night and this diminishes your chance to see the Auroras, so you need to leave the city and head out to the countryside, where there are few, if any, lights. Of course, there come times when the Northern Lights are so strong that they are visible in the city, but we do not recommend that you rely on that to happen. There are many great places in Iceland to see the Northern Lights and you don’t need to travel far from Reykjavik to find perfect locations for seeing the Northern Lights.

Please remember, that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and there’s never any guarantee that they will lit up the sky the moment we decide to look up. Hunting for the Auroras requires patience and warm clothes. If you make sure that you’re dressed in warm clothes and you are willing to wait for the Auroras, your patience can be richly rewarded.

Happy hunting!