Iceland

Travel Forums Europe Iceland

1. Posted by LucyFranco (Budding Member 2 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

I’m going to Iceland in November and will keep my fingers crossed to see the northern lights, can anyone recommend a tour company, and is it best to book before I go or wait until I’m there? Thanks

2. Posted by BeateR (Budding Member 8 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

You have to be very lucky to see the Aurora. In November normally the weather is very claudy. But for seeing the northern light you need a clear sky, no moon and no lights from cities.
It doesn't make sense to book in advance, better wait how the weather will be.

Beate

3. Posted by Apollo111 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

You do not need to use a tour company to see the Northern Lights! What you need is a clear sky and a place with as less artificial lighting as possible (otherwise, the city lights will wash out the auroral displays).

In order to see the Northern Lights, I went to the outskirts of Rejkjavik, in Laugarnes quarter, on the Easternmost side of the city. As the sun was setting, I started out from the Opera (located on the seaside, in the city center) and just walked along the boardwalk for 30-40 minutes, until I got to an area with empty beaches and only a couple of houses and storehouses distantly scattered throughout the landscape. I went off the main road (to distance myself from the public illumination poles lining the road) and I got close to the beach. As soon as the twilight was over and it was pitch dark, the Northern Lights became visible. It was an amazing show - and it was free.

Iceland is the safest country ever and you won't have any problems being in such a remote place after sunset.

Of course, a guided tour will take you to a very desert and dark place, with lots of beautiful scenery, out in the wilderness, so that might be a bonus. It wasn't worth it 30€ to me, but to each their own.

As a company, I would recommend Gray Line. I went on a Golden Ring guided tour with them (Thingvellir-Gullfoss waterfall-Geysir) and it was a highly entertaining and exciting experience. I highly recommend going with them on guided tours around the country, as there's not much of a public transportation in Iceland and, if you don't rent a car and drive yourself, guided tours are the most convenient way to getting to several amazing landmarks. They also offer Northern Lights tours at night. If you choose to go on such a tour, instead of trying to watch the aurora on your own, it's better to book it during the same day, even during the afternoon, so that you are able to have a better picture of the weather conditions. If the sky is not clear, you won't see anything.

Initially, I was planning to go on a tour to see the Northern Lights and I was pondering this idea, while walking around Rejkjavik, as it was getting dark. As luck would have it, the public lighting on the boardwalk close to the Opera had broken down for the length of several hundred meters. I paused for a second, looked at the sea and was surprised to see a fluorescent green band in the sky. I would never have seen it, if the lights had worked. I was in awe. This experience helped me understand that no tour was needed. When I got back to the hotel, I read up on how to best see the Northern Lights and, thanks to the information, I decided to set out to the dark place mentioned before, for the following night. I was pretty pleased that I didn't have to use a guided tour.

To help you pick a good night to watch the Northern Lights, keep an eye on the auroral forecast:
https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/
The bigger the number in the upper-right box is, the higher the chance for increased auroral activity (i.e. auroral displays that are clearer and more intense).

A little bit of research on Northern Lights will get you a long way and help you make the right decisions to maximize your chances of seeing them.