The Northern Lights Tour in Iceland (Aurora)
Do you want to do the unbelievable Northern Lights Tour in Iceland?
One of the best things to do in Iceland for any tourist!
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights or if we want to use the scientific term, the Aurora Borealis, but why? Well due to the nature of the earth’s magnetic field, the auroras only appear at the poles, usually above the 60° latitude mark in the north, and below the 60° latitude in the south. Luckily Iceland sits at the latitude of approximately 64° north and is therefore ideally located to spot them. All the more reason to make Iceland on your bucket list!
Let’s look what’s in this post for you;
- The chances of seeing them
- What are they?
- Best time to see them
- Which tour to book
- How to book
- Our experience
- What if you don’t see them
- Final thoughts
What are the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
Obviously there’s no guarantee that you will get to see this natural wonder. And, sorry to disappoint, there’s a chance you won’t get to see them!
But there’s apps and websites that show the forecast of the Northern lights.
What are the Northern Lights?
But what actually are The Northern Lights? I’m not going to confuse you with too much science don’t worry! To put it simply, the Northern Lights are caused by electrically charged particles from the sun hitting the Earth’s magnetic field. This ‘solar wind’ is funnelled down to the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Their intensity depends on the activity of the sun, and the acceleration speed of these particles. As a result, energy is released and causing peculiar luminous green streaks across the skies. And voila, you have it the Northern Lights!
Best time to see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are one of the biggest draws to visiting Iceland in the winter, between the months of September to April. The downside being that they are a natural phenomenon and thus elusive and unpredictable due to ever changing solar activity.
Some suggest the best time to see the Northern Lights is between November and February as these are the darkest months with the longest possible window to see the lights. On the other hand, these months also have the worst weather with lots of rain, snow and clouds often disrupting the view of the Northern Lights.
So we know what’s the best month to see the Northern Lights, but when’s the best time to see the Northern Lights? Well once darkness falls, the Aurora can be visible at any time of day, but the optimum time seems to be around 9.30 pm to 1 am, hence the time of the tours.
Which tour operator should I choose?
If you’ve already searched on the web for Northern Lights Tour you’ll soon realise there are lots of tour operators to choose from, but how do you know which one’s best? Seeing the Northern Lights is a once in a lifetime experience so you want to choose the most reliable and reputable company. Well that’s where we come in, after doing our research we decided to choose Saga Travel and we weren’t disappointed.
Number one we actually got to see the Northern Lights so it was a massive thumbs up from us, but the whole tour from start to finish was fantastic. The communications prior to our trip were professional and quick, we had a brilliant guide who shared his passion and knowledge about the Northern Lights and the transport was well organised.
And that was all down to Saga Travel, a creative and dynamic tour operator with small group guarantee for all scheduled departures – meaning you’ll have a more personalised experience. They offer a range of action-packed day tours from Akureyri, Lake Mývatn and Reykjavik and a range of private tours, short breaks and tailor-made travel experiences all over Iceland. So make sure to check out their website if you’re looking for multiple tours whilst in Iceland and book in advance as this popular tour operator is often booked up!
How to book?
The easiest way to book this popular tour is online. It literally takes 2 minutes to book, then your minibus will either pick you up at your hotel in Reykjavic or at one of the bus stops.
As the Northern Lights are a natural wonder, they can often be unpredictable meaning every trip will be different. But here’s a little insight into our trip to give you an idea of what to expect.
We got picked up at 8pm in a minibus and met our guide and the rest of the group (maximum 18 passengers). We drove 5 minutes to the Aurora Reykjavik Museum, which is a perfect first stop to learn about the history and science of the world’s most stunning natural phenomenon. There’s even a display showing different images of the Northern Lights that have been captured all over Iceland and projected onto a 7-meter wide screen in 4K quality. This makes you even more excited for what’s ahead, although don’t be disappointed if you’re pictures don’t turn out as great! But don’t worry, there’s experts on hand to get your camera ready for your unique photo of the Northern Lights – they’ll assist you with the right settings and give you the best tips for capturing the magical Aurora.
You get to spend around 45 minutes exploring the interactive museum before heading back onto the minibus and driving to your first and hopefully the last destination. We drove for around 45 minutes to an area North of Reykjavik where there was minimal cloud coverage. Here we got out and waited for the evening show… Unfortunately, we were disappointed. After waiting for what felt like forever our tour guide decided to try an alternative destination. Back on the bus, we go. At this point, my hopes were depleting. We drove for another 30 minutes and repeated the process, just as I was about to give up I saw a flicker of green.
At first I thought I was seeing things, I was both tired and cold (thanks to Iceland’s wind chill), was this really the Northern Lights?! But yes there it was. An unbelievable display of dancing colour, light and texture, it was like waking up in a fairy-tale, full of mystery and magic. Nothing like I’ve ever seen before.
I managed to snap some pretty cool photos to prove to friends and family back home I’d seen one of the world wonders. Once I had my photograph evidence I sat back relaxed, put my camera away and just enjoyed the magical show. We even got hot chocolate to warm up and an endless supply of traditional glazed Icelandic donuts – yum!
After around one hour, the Northern Lights were fading and it was time to head back to Reykjavik, the whole bus was silent on the journey home – either from being in awe of the Northern Lights or from tiredness (it was midnight after all!).
What if I don’t see the Northern Lights?
This is a question that comes up a lot in discussions. Obviously the Northern Lights can’t be guaranteed as it’s a natural phenomenon. But don’t worry, Saga Travel have you covered. If your tour guide confirms that no Northern Lights were seen they’ll invite you on a complimentary Northern Light Tour.
So my advice is to book the tour early on your vacation so you have plenty of opportunities to rebook. It’s really not something you want to miss out on – believe me!
So there you have it, a complete guide to the Northern Lights. If you’re in Iceland you must book a Northern Lights Tour with Saga Travel – trust me you won’t be disappointed!
Don’t forget to check out my other Iceland travel guides;