When to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

When is the best time to go to Iceland?

We know it’s beautiful all year round, but if you want to catch the Northern Lights or gaze at the Midnight Sun keep scrolling.

While people often refer to Iceland as the ‘land of ice and fire’ (no thanks to Game of Thrones), the reality is more complicated. During winter, thick, smeary fog rolls off the endless rolling weight of the North Atlantic. By summer, lush vegetation and warmer days wage a gentle war against the blue-white ice. It’s not all knee-deep snow and boiling lava. Because we have local guides and deeply knowledgeable experts on the ground, we can make sure that your adventure to Iceland suits not only your calendar, but the types of things you want to see and do once you get there.

So, this is our account of when to travel to Iceland, what to do during those seasons and some of our favourite hotels to retreat back to  – but it isn’t by any means exhaustive.

Puffin watching in South Iceland

Spring in Iceland

March to May sees the start of sunny weather and blue skies; in turn, giving way to singing birds and blooming wildflowers. Puffin-watch on the Westman Islands, uncover the myths of Reynisfjara black sand beach and get the perfect shot of the thundering water at Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

Journey into Þríhnúkagigur Volcano

One of our favourite Iceland experiences in May? Heading deep into the dormant volcano of Þríhnúkagígur (translating to Three Peaks Crater). Last erupting over 4,000 years ago, Kamil one of the expert guides, will lead you safely across the lava field and to the crater entrance, from where you’ll descend 400 feet down. Not for the faint-hearted, you’ll travel to the bottom in an open cable lift and get a unique perspective on Þríhnúkagígur that few have experienced before. Fear not, if some aren’t a fan of this method, there are in fact two ways to journey to the base of the volcano. Let us know, and we’ll arrange an incredible helicopter ride in instead.

Stay at: Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik and you’ll be in perfect position to explore the buzzing neighborhood.
Read more: Next up on our epic volcano tour through Iceland is snorkelling between two tectonic plates.

Golden Circle tour in Iceland

Summer in Iceland

Summer in Iceland falls between June and August. Things are mostly at their warmest after July, however. And this is Iceland, so don’t expect to melt too quickly. Picture epic ice climbing excursions, summer festivals and mornings spent in geothermal pools.

Search for the Midnight Sun in Þingvellir National Park

First of all, what is the Midnight Sun? Good question. The Midnight Sun describes a period during which the hours of daylight are massively lengthened, and at a local time of midnight, the sun remains visible. Peaking in June, the period lasts broadly from May to August. Due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle, you’ll discover days when it seems the sun will never set (it does, eventually). Our local guide Omar, will take you to the best spot in Þingvellir National Park to catch a glimpse of this spectacle.

Stay at: Hotel Ranga and receive a personal wake-up call when the Northern Lights start dancing above.
Read more: Embark on an epic guided-hike over Sólheimajökull glacier.

Autumn in Iceland

Autumn in Iceland

From early September through to early November, visiting Iceland in Autumn is simply stunning. A feast for the eyes; as the red and orange hues emerge, every day gets a little colder, leaving behind a trail of crisp Icelandic air in its wake.

Explore the lava tunnels of Raufarhólshellir

From the grounds of the fourth-largest lava tube in Iceland, we’ll hook you up with Anna, an expert caving guide in Iceland for an adrenaline-pumping tour of the tunnels. Suited and booted with a helmet, headlight and gloves you’ll start the journey past huge rocks, passing over jagged terrain and through dark passages. You’ll be taken to the source of the cave: the lava falls. Of course, if you’d rather a night time tour of the cave—minus the crawling—e can arrange that too. Just give us the nod. 

Stay at: The Sandhotel in Reykjavik and visit one of the most renowned bakeries in Iceland.
Read more: Ahead of lava tunnels, dine between the vines at Friðheimar; the most spectacular greenhouse.

Iceland in Winter

Winter in Iceland

One word: magical. Two words: Aurora Borealis. Visiting Iceland in November – March continues to beguile travellers all around the world. Head out on nowmobile rides, explore ice caves and of course, hunt for those Northern Lights.

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

Because of the country’s astonishing lack of light pollution, the night sky in Iceland is not only great for star-gazing, but also perfect for chasing the Northern Lights. Properly speaking, the prime season to see the lights is between October and March. There’s no guarantee that you’ll catch sight of them (weather conditions, cloud, and other factors can intervene), but we’ll ensure you’re guided by the region’s biggest aurora-fanatics who will do everything they can to light up your life; whether it’s on a snowmobile tour, a late-night hike or an afternoon jeep ride. The choice is yours.

Stay at: The Retreat at Blue Lagoon; one of our favorite hotels in Iceland. See for yourself here. 
Read more: Gaze at beautiful black puffins on Dyrhólaey rock with Iceland’s bird expert.

COLD OR HOT FOR ICELAND?

So, whether it’s hiking during the warm summer or chasing the Northern Lights in the winter, we can tailor your Icelandic adventure exactly to your needs. Head to our Iceland country page to see all of our epic, and chilled, Iceland itineraries.

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