The northern lights are a huge magnet for thousands of travelers visiting Iceland annually. However, my advice is that you should not visit Iceland only to try to see the northern lights. Iceland has so much more to offer, and the Aurora Borealis is an elusive natural phenomenon whose visibility depends on many factors. However, I know full well that people will continue to flock to Iceland, dreaming of seeing the northern lights in Iceland. Since it is the start of the northern lights season, I wanted to interview an expert who knows everything about maximizing your chances of seeing the northern lights. Therefore, contacted Grétar Jónsson, the founder and owner of Aurora Reykjavik, The Northern Lights Center, to ask him for hints and tips on how to catch the northern lights. I am also delighted to say that this top-rated exhibition is now among my partners. Sign up for my newsletter to receive a 15% discount on the admission price to the Aurora Center.
The northern lights light up the winter sky above the Aurora Reykjavik Northern Lights Center.
The northern lights light up the winter sky above the Aurora Reykjavik Northern Lights Center.

Visit Aurora Reykjavik to induct yourself into the mysteries of the northern lights in Iceland

Aurora Reykjavík is a great starting point for those who are intrigued by the spectacle of the Aurora Borealis. Visitors will learn about the myths and science surrounding the Northern Lights through interactive displays and test camera settings in a unique Northern Lights photo simulator. The highlight of the experience is a 30-minute HD time-lapse movie that captures the aurora’s shimmering dance across the sky. For an even more immersive experience, watch a 360° film of the Northern Lights in VR goggles. The visit also includes access to an interactive exhibition, a Northern Lights photo simulator, and a free hot drink. With multilingual textbooks and QR-code-based audio guides available (remember to bring your phone and headphones), the exhibition is designed to engage and educate visitors from around the globe. Plan on spending approximately 60 minutes exploring the exhibition.
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in the north of Iceland lit up by the northern lights in winter.
Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is all lit up by the aurora.

Hey Grétar, thank you for taking the time for the interview. Are you optimistic we will be seeing the northern lights in Iceland this season?

You’re welcome, and thank you for having me. As for the visibility of the northern lights this season, it’s important to note that the Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon influenced by various factors, including solar activity, weather conditions, and geographical location. While we can’t predict with certainty, I’m cautiously optimistic that this season might provide some excellent opportunities for viewing the northern lights. We’re currently heading towards solar maximum, a period where the Sun is more active than usual. We expect the peak in 2023/24, and we already witnessed some extraordinarily colorful and strong displays last season. So chances are very good!
Northern lights light up the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland.
Just imagine having a night that at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon.

What tips do you have to optimizing the changes of seeing the northern lights in Iceland?

Maximizing your chances of seeing the northern lights in Iceland involves a combination of preparation and flexibility. Here are eight tips on how to see the northern lights in Iceland.

Tip 1 on seeing the northern lights in Iceland: Stay Informed about forecasting

Keep an eye on aurora forecasts and solar activity predictions. Websites and apps dedicated to tracking space weather can help you gauge the likelihood of strong auroral displays.

Tip 2: Stay Multiple Nights

Plan to spend several nights in Iceland. This increases your odds of catching the lights on a night with clear skies and favorable conditions.

Tip 3: Choose Dark Locations

Get away from city lights to minimize light pollution. This enhances your visibility of the auroras. The countryside and remote areas are ideal.

Tip 4: Check the Weather:

Clear skies are crucial for seeing the auroras. Monitor weather forecasts and choose nights with the clearest predictions.

Tip 5: Be Patient

The northern lights can be elusive. Even if the conditions are right, it might take some time for them to appear. Patience is key.

Tip 6: Capture the Moment

If you’re into photography, learn how to set up your camera to capture the auroras. A tripod and longer exposure settings are usually necessary.

Tip 7: Consider a guided tour

Driving in icy conditions in night, and trying to find a suitable location with clear skies can be very tricky and even dangerous. On a guided tour, you will not only meet like-minded people but travel in the safe hands of experienced guides that will show you the beauty of the Aurora with ease.

Tip 8: Visit Aurora Reykjavik to prepare you for seeing the northern lights in Iceland

Before heading out to witness the real thing, prepare yourself with knowledge at Aurora Reykjavik. Learn about the phenomenon, and camera settings, and immerse yourself in the aurora experience. Our team of experts, photographers and Northern Lights enthusiasts at the Northern Lights Center get you all set for your successful hunt.
The northern lights shimmer above the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
The northern lights shimmer above the Blue Lagoon.

What are your favorite activities and places here in Iceland?

Iceland is a land of stunning natural beauty and unique experiences. Some of my favorite activities and places include:

Golden Circle

This iconic route takes you to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. It’s a great introduction to Iceland’s geological wonders. Þingvellir National Park is also my favorite location for Northern Lights photography. The reflections of the aurora in the lake are simply stunning.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

The surreal beauty of this glacial lagoon, dotted with icebergs, is truly captivating. You might even spot seals in the area.


Exploring Reykjavik, the capital city is a must. Enjoy its vibrant arts scene, unique architecture, and delicious food.

Blue Lagoon

Relax in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. It’s a rejuvenating experience against a backdrop of lava fields. And it’s also a great spot for witnessing the Northern Lights.

Hiking and Nature

Iceland’s wilderness is unparalleled. Whether it’s exploring volcanic landscapes, hiking glaciers, or enjoying the tranquility of its many waterfalls, nature is always a highlight.

What advice do you have for those visiting Iceland for the first time?

For first-time visitors, Iceland can be a truly enchanting destination. Here are a few tips to enhance your experience:

Embrace the Weather

Icelandic weather can be unpredictable. Pack layers, and waterproof clothing, and be ready for sudden changes in conditions.

Respect Nature

Iceland’s pristine landscapes are delicate. Stay on marked paths, follow guidelines, and leave no trace to preserve its beauty for generations to come.

Stay Curious

Iceland is rich in culture, history, and folklore. Take time to learn about its traditions and engage with locals to get a deeper understanding of the country.

Plan Ahead

While spontaneity is great, some attractions and accommodations require advance booking, especially during peak seasons. Plan your itinerary accordingly.

Try Local Cuisine

Don’t miss the chance to savor Icelandic delicacies like lamb, fish, skyr (a dairy product), and traditional pastries.
Remember, Iceland’s beauty lies not only in its natural wonders but also in the memories you create while exploring its unique offerings. Enjoy your time here to the fullest!