Northern Lights forecast

See the Northern Lights in Iceland

For anyone traveling to Iceland in the winter, the greatest attraction is the near guaranteed chance of catching a glimpse of the flying rainbow that is the Northern Lights in Iceland. But having made plans to come all the way to the cold little country in the North Atlantic, you may ask yourself: When do the Northern Lights appear in Iceland?

What time of year?

On clear nights during the Icelandic winters the opportunities to watch the Aurora Borealis displays really are countless. This is because the solar winds that blow electrons and protons from the sun towards the earth causing the Northern Lights in Iceland blows more rapidly from the Sun's poles than from its equator and during the winter months the sun and Earth are tilted in a way that means the conditions for dazzling displays of light are optimal.
 
However if you really want to get technical;
The average speed of particles crashing into the Earth's magnetosphere waxes and wanes every six months following the tilt of the Earth in its orbit. The solar wind speed is greatest – by about 50 km/s, on average – around 5 September and 5 March when the Earth lies at its highest heliographic latitude. These are, statistically speaking, the golden moments, the time you are most likely to see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland.


When and Where?

Just by traveling to Iceland in the winter you have a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights spectacle. However, the best time of night to watch for auroral displays is around local midnight give or take a few hours.
Areas in the north of Iceland also tend to be best but you can also see great displays in the south of Iceland too.
Also, if you want to increase the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland then you may want to consider staying away from the big cities and towns. Consider booking a room at a countryside hotel, renting a cottage, or staying at one of the many farm hotels in Iceland.
This is because areas that are not subject to light pollution are the best places to watch for these dazzling lights.
But remember, you don’t have to stray far away from Reykjavik to see the Northern lights in Iceland, a short 15 minute drive to the city limits will take you far enough out of the glare of the city lights to clear the skies of man made lights. There are even places within Reykjavik itself where the Northern Lights are perfectly visible.

 
How to plan a Northern Lights Holiday?

To help Northern lights enthusiasts who travel to Iceland the Icelandic meteorological office has created special Aurora Borealis forecasts predicting with some accuracy the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland at a particular date in a particular place.
A cloud cover forecast is issued several days in advance and cloud density is indicated on a map of Iceland. The map indicates where in Iceland tourists are most likely to encounter clear or partly clear skies increasing the chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis.
The Northern Lights forecast makes it easy to plan an Aurora Borealis tour several days in advance but it is as yet not possible to make long term predictions.
If you travel to Iceland during the winter you are quite likely to happen upon a spectacular display of these heavenly lights, in fact, all you really need to do is keep your eyes on the sky.
Northern Lights tours are available from Reykjavik and other locations in Iceland. They can take many forms including hunting for the Icelandic Northern Lights near cities, on water or in open country.