Sitting high up on most people’s bucket lists you’ll probably find a desire to see the Northern Lights in person, and it’s no surprise. This ethereal, almost magical, occurrence is one of the most breath-taking things you’re likely to see on earth, and while it requires a bit of luck in your timing, it’s not actually that difficult to get a great view of this incredible natural phenomenon.
What Are the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a spectacular naturally occurring light show caused by specific ions or atoms from the sun’s atmosphere colliding with gaseous particles from the Earth’s atmosphere. The patterns and moving shapes are caused as these atoms get affected by the lines of magnetic force. It’s a complicated phenomenon to explain, but it’s utterly spectacular to see!
Some Basic Tips for the Northern Lights
First and foremost, you’ll want to head to Iceland in the winter months, because this is when the area is at its darkest. Try and get to your viewing point before midnight too for the same reason. Of course, don’t forget, you’ll want plenty of warm clothes on your trip, because you’re in Iceland in the winter at night and its cold! You might be waiting a little while for the Northern Lights, so bringing a comfortable portable chair isn’t a bad idea, along with a thermos of hot coffee.
Before you choose a specific day, consider the moon’s phase, and try and go during a new moon or early waxing or late waning moons, when the sky will be at its darkest.
Other than that, there’s not much to it! Just some patience is all you need!
Where is the Best Place to See Them?
There are many places that are suitable for viewing the Northern Lights!
If you’re in the Reykjavik area, the best place to see the Northern Lights is Seltjarnarnes, a peninsula that is quite well protected from light pollution and offers excellent viewing opportunities. For something a bit closer to the city, you might try Perlan, although you’ll start to experience some light pollution this close to the city.
The real magic of the Northern Lights comes alive once you leave the Reykjavik area though. Heading out to areas like Thingvellir and Threngsli, you’ll get a classic, unobstructed view of this magnificent experience without having to drive too far.
For a beach experience, consider Vík. Right near town there’s a black beach that makes a very relaxing and sensory experience out of the Northern lights, adding the sounds of the ocean and waves to the lightshow in front of your eyes.
The fjords of Iceland are, of course, another very popular spot to observe the Northern Lights, and the East Fjords are probably the best of these.
As you can see, you have many choices for destinations in Iceland to visit and view the Northern Lights. You’re so spoilt for choice that you can get more than just a light show because you get the Iceland experience you want out of your visit too.