Planning a trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights? First of all, take me with you because I would do anything to do it all again! It’s one of those moments where you just can’t believe it’s happening- it’s simply magical! For me it was a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I tell EVERYONE they should do.
If you’re dreaming of heading out to Iceland to try and catch the Northern Lights, then here are my top tips on what you have to know before you go.
VISIT ICELAND IN THE RIGHT SEASON
The general advice for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is to visit between September and March. This is when Iceland has the least amount of daylight and also the coldest nights which are the ideal conditions for the lights to show. However, as this is Mother Nature we’re talking about, the Northern Lights have been seen in Iceland at various times of the year, including August but this is pretty rare!
BOOK YOUR NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR FOR THE BEGINNING OF YOUR STAY
I mentioned this before in my post about my Northern Lights Tour, but I really think it can give you the best chance of seeing the lights. Superjeep (who were brilliant) also offer a free second chance to go out on a tour with them if you don’t see the Northern Lights the first time. I believe that many other tours do this also, so by booking your first try early on, you will hopefully have time and the chance to rebook for the second one if you need it (but hopefully you won’t!).
CHECK THE AURORA FORECAST
The Aurora Forecast is exactly that – it gives you a decent idea of your chances of seeing the Northern Lights over the next few days. It shows the prediction for the cloud coverage (which is what you don’t want to see) and the Aurora Forecast number, indicating the predicted activity level. Don’t worry if this number is low, a level 2 storm can still be amazing! I believe when I went to Iceland the activity level was at 3 and it was still stunning.
CROSS YOUR FINGERS
Do not forget that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon! Nothing and no one can guarantee that you will see the Lights- I was told that even if the aurora level is at a brilliantly high number, you STILL may not see them. So keep everything you have crossed that today will be your lucky day!
PRACTICE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS
Who doesn’t want to come away from this experience with some amazing photos? Well, taking photos in the dark is definitely a bit of a skill. I’m seriously not going to preach here about my photography skills (because I don’t really have any at the mo- I’m working on it though!) but if you have a decent camera and want to have a go, I would definitely recommend having a practice beforehand. Make sure you get a tripod as well as the camera really can’t move at all for this type of photography.
WRAP UP VERY WARM
As the ideal conditions for the Northern Lights to show are when the temperatures are low. Night time in Iceland between September and March varies between about 3 and -3 degrees celsius! You’re likely to spend a lot of your time standing in snow so good gloves, boots and coats are a must!
No one knows where and when the Light might show. On my Superjeep tour we stopped at about 3 different spots over the course of a number of hours before we eventually and luckily saw the Lights on the way back home. Each time you stop off it’s easy to get excited and just think ‘this is it! Any second now!’ but trust me, it’s probably not going to be that quick.
PICK YOUR TOUR GUIDE’S BRAINS
I can only speak from my personal experience, but I think it would be fair to assume that the guides who do the tours are locals and pretty experienced. Use your waiting time to ask them stuff! The chances are they are full of tips, knowledge and incredible stories.
BE PREPARED TO GO WHEN IT DOES HAPPEN!
You never know how long the Northern Lights will show for, so make sure you’re ready to take all the photos you want!
Don’t forget to stop and enjoy it!
I would love to hear about your Northern Lights Trip! Leave me a comment and share your experience!