Go at the Right Time of Year
September to March are the best viewing months for the Northern Lights in Iceland. Winter means shorter days and longer nights. We went in November which was a sweet spot for prime Northern Lights viewing combined with manageable temperatures and lower chances of snow storms causing dangerous road conditions. November also still has enough daylight hours to do plenty of sightseeing during the day.
Don't Stay in Reykjavik
You can rarely see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik because of the light pollution from the city. There are Reykjavik-based tour companies that will drive you out of the city to try to view the Northern Lights. The tours are expensive though. If you stay in Reykjavik for most of your trip you could also drive out of town with your car rental every night and hope to see them that way. Instead, I recommend that you stay outside of the city in small towns so you have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights every night. Book homes with hot tubs for a warm viewing experience too! Our home rental in Fludir, a tiny remote town, is where we were able to view the Northern Lights.
**This tip also helps save you money on lodging and food. When people say Iceland is expensive, it is often because Reykjavik is expensive. If you stay in home rentals in small towns throughout the country, it is significantly more affordable. **
Download an App to Help Track the Northern Lights.
We used My Aurora Forecast-Aurora Alerts Northern Lights and it was accurate. It was fun to track the Northern Lights with the app throughout the trip.
Stay up Later
Similar to regular star viewing, where the stars become more visible later into the night, your chances of seeing the Northern Lights also increases as it becomes darker. The night we first saw The Northern Lights, we had all gone to bed and the tracker app alarm woke one of us up when they became visible at 11 pm.
Additional Reading: A One Week Road Trip in Iceland Itinerary
Trip Dates: November 24-December 2nd, 2017.
Article Updated: June 2020