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Iceland Northern Lights Holidays

Volcanic landscapes, dramatic coastlines and waterfalls galore might hog the headlines in Iceland – but this is also a superb destination for northern lights watching. September to April is the time for aurora-hunters to head north to the Land of Ice and Fire, though sightings do occur as early as August.

Location is everything. Reykjavik makes an exciting winter break destination with its quirky culture and buzzing food and arts scene, but we wouldn’t recommend it for a northern lights holiday. There’s just too much light pollution. That’s why, in 35 years of creating Iceland holidays, we’ve developed close partnerships with the country’s best rural hotels and lodges. Located deep in the countryside, far from the overpowering glare of city lights, they go the extra mile to help you witness the northern lights.

When to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

The northern lights are visible for nearly nine months of the year from late August to mid-April offering plenty of scope for planning your holiday. Autumn and spring – especially during the equinoxes – tend to see an increase in activity. Couple this with milder temperatures and more daylight and this can be a great time for self-drive touring. Alternatively, visit in the depths of winter when snow-dusted mountains and frozen waterfalls form a stunning backdrop to a northern lights holiday in Iceland. You can also combine aurora hunting with orca watching during February and March, or plan a special break celebrating Christmas or New Year.

Expert analysts are able to predict aurora patterns a month in advance based on solar activity, but these are not set in stone and don’t account for weather patterns. Therefore, when it comes to choosing when to see the northern lights in Iceland, we recommend focusing on the elements you can control: where to stay – away from light pollution so you can react quickly to the whims of nature; what to see and what to do.

Icelandic astronomer, Saevar Helgi Bragason shares his passion and knowledge of the northern lights in this video… and when visiting Iceland, Saevar’s website Aurora Forecast offers real-time data to steer you in the right direction for a successful northern lights hunt!

Northern Lights Holidays in Iceland

Recommended Hotels for Iceland Northern Lights Holidays

Many of the hotels we use are in prime aurora-viewing locations and many offer an aurora wake-up service, so you won’t miss a thing should the lights make an appearance.

Hotel Ranga – this 4 star ranch style hotel has exceptional surroundings, with some of its rooms overlooking the East Ranga River. Its countryside location is one of the best in Iceland for keen aurora hunters. Offering a fine dining restaurant, excellent service and outdoor hot tubs, this is one of our favourite properties. Ranga also boasts it’s own observatory with a state-of-the-art telescope for night-sky viewing year round. Aurora experts are frequently on hand to offer guests an added dimension to their northern lights experience.

Hotel Husafell – tucked into the forested hinterland of Borgarfjordur in south west Iceland, this rural bolthole enjoys dark night skies with superb aurora potential. Modern and full of contemporary flair, Husafell has 36 rooms with mountain views and provides an ideal base for exploring nearby Langjokull or the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is slightly further afield.

Hotel Glymur – situated in the countryside but only a short drive from Reykjavik, Glymur overlooks a stunning fjord. With outside hot tubs and a fantastic restaurant (try the fish soup!), this is a homely but stylish hotel. Within easy reach of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the area’s numerous waterfalls, glaciers and geothermal attractions are easily explored.

Hotel Siglo – this hotel sits on the edge of Silgufjordur in a picturesque small fishing town on the north coast and offers a stylish place to rest and relax whilst searching for the northern lights. With stunning mountain and ocean views, you can watch the daily catch be delivered to the hotel’s splendid restaurant.

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