The Northern Lights

Northern Lights by Mt Kirkjufell

Witnessing the Northern Lights dancing before you across the sky, is a transformational bucket-list experience and truly a quest worth pursuing. Although, the Aurora Borealis are omnipresent in the south and north pole, some people wait years or even lifetime to catch them, as they can only be seen under the perfect conditions during certain time of the year.

Myths about the Northern Lights

There are many myths about the astounding Aurora Borealis. In North America, the Northern Lights were believed to be the souls of departed ancestors or even spirits of animals. In China and Japan, there is a myth that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortune. According to Norse mythology, the aurora was believed to be reflections from the armor of the Valkyrie, the legendary female warriors, who decided the destiny of the souls in a battle and determined who died and survived.

What are the Northern Lights?

The Aurora Borealis are electrically charged particles from the sun that get blown into the cosmos by sun storms, resulting in colorful aurora display as they get trapped in Earth’s electromagnetic field. 

Copyright Friend In Iceland

Where can Aurora Borealis be seen?

The Aurora Borealis can be seen on the North Pole and South Pole during winter time and are referred to as the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights respectively. The best places to view the Aurora are situated close to the Arctic Circle, including countries like Iceland, Canada, Norway, Finland and Sweden, typically the norther you go the better chances. It is also possible to spot the southern lights in the southern hemisphere, however, the northern lights are the true star of the show.

What is the best time of the year to view the Northern Lights in Iceland?

The Aurora Borealis can  be spotted during the winter months in Iceland. Although, The Northern Lights can be spotted in Iceland from late August until April, the prime time for viewing the Aurora Borealis is from October to March.

Under what conditions are you most likely to see the Northern Lights?

Although, the Northern Lights are omnipresent in the Icelandic sky, they can only be seen under specific conditions during the winter months. The prime conditions for spotting the Northern Lights are clear sky, strong solar activity and winter nights.  Even though the visibility of the Aurora Borealis can never be guaranteed, the winter season provides endless opportunities for Northern Lights hunting, due to limited daylight hours, considering Iceland only has a couple of hours of daylight during midwinter, depending on the latitude.

Images of the Northern Lights
Can the Northern Lights be seen from Reykjavik city?

Yes, the lights can sometimes be seen from the city, however, they are never very clear as the pollution from the city lights may interfere with their visibility. Therefore it’s advisable to drive away from the city lights or jump on board a northern light cruise.

What color are the Northern Lights?

Although the auroral display is predominately green, sometimes with a hint of white, the Northern Lights can appear in different colors and shapes, from pale to vibrant colors including yellow, orange, blue and pink. However, these colors may not always be visible to the naked eye, but a camera may capture more colors.

How to see the northern lights?

Optimal way to see the northern lights. Join a tour or book a rental car and drive yourself.

Northern Light Tour
greenish northern lights over a forrest
Northern Light Cruise
image of the yacht Amelia Rose and its interior
Self-drive tour
sample car from EuropCar