One of the magical moments in the Icelandic winter is to witness the northern lights dancing across the sky. They can appear as a green ribbon on the horizon or do a wild dance all over they sky in vivid colours of green, purple, pink, yellow and red.

A northern lights hunt with Iceland Unplugged includes a top private guide, a luxury 4X4, exquisite refreshments and assistance in setting up your camera for capturing the Aurora. We offer door to door pickup and drop off, and never have more than four passengers per vehicle. Our refreshments include hot Cacao, Austrian Stroh rum, French Champagne with Strawberries, Macarons, and Icelandic beer.

We decide every day before noon if we´ll go out hunting in the evening if clear skies and aurora forecast make a good northern lights show very likely.

Price per person 29.000 ISK or a private tour for up to 4 people for 89.000 ISK. We pick you up at 20:00 and return sometime after midnight.

Call us: Aron 861 3889 & Teitur 897 1469 or email: bookings@icelandunplugged.com

Below are a few photos from our tours and your seven steps guide on how to see the northern lights in Iceland.

How to see the northern lights in Iceland

Solar activity, clear sky and darkness are the three main conditions that have to align for you to see the Northern Lights. Factors like going away from light pollution, having more time and flexibility, using the right information on the Internet and relying on local knowledge will dramatically increase your chances.

 

1. Solar activity. Number one precondition for Northern Lights is strong solar activity that will result in high magnetic interference in the atmosphere above Iceland thus creating the Northern Lights. Without strong solar activity you will not see the Northern Lights simply because they are not there. You can still have a magnificent experience enjoying an endless dark blue starlit sky, see the different constellations, the Milky Way (like a silver white ribbon across the sky), shooting stars and satellites.


2. Clear sky. You need to see the sky to see the northern lights. A perfectly clear sky on an open plateau or near the ocean is best since there you´ll have a big unhindered view. Note that even if there are some clouds you can still often see the northern lights through and in between them.


3. Darkness. Stay away from any light pollution like street lights, cities and passing cars. Moonlight from a full moon can be pretty bright so the darkest night is when there is a new moon.


4. Time. The more time you have on your hands while in Iceland the better your chances are. In winter it is not unusual to have a few days in a row of dark clouds, snow and rain that will block your view of the sky even if there is Northern Lights activity above the clouds. The more time you have in Iceland the better are the chances of you enjoying clear skies.


5. Flexibility. If you really want to see the Northern Lights be ready to travel to different parts of the country on short notice. Lets say you get into Reykjavík and the weather forecast is clouds, rain or snow for the next three days in all the South West part of Iceland. The North East part might still have a forecast for totally clear skies and high magnetic interference. If you are ready to hop on a domestic flight to Akureyri, Húsavík or Egilsstaðir then you might see a crazy northern lights show that same night, stay one or two nights in a guesthouse or hotel and see beautiful natural sights far away from the tourist crowds in and around Reykjavík.


6. Use the Internet

The Icelandic Met Office http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ has a webpage showing you the Aurora forecast. In the top right corner it shows you the forecast for magnetic activity coming from the sun that will likely translate into Northern Lights activity. There you can also see the exact hours for sunrise, sundown, hours of darkness and how much moonshine there is on any given night. The center part of the page has a map of Iceland showing the forecast for cloud cover and clear skies. Dark green is heavy cloud cover and white is clear skies. If you have a car go to where the sky is forecasted to be clear. (white colour) The paler the green colour the more chances you have. Sometimes just one small hole in the clouds is enough for you to see the Northern Lights.

The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska also has an excellent forecast for northern lights activity: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Europe/20170614

The Leirvogur Magnetic Observatory http://www.raunvis.hi.is/~halo/lrv.html shows you the magnetic intereference (Northern Lights) in the sky above Iceland and is updated every ten minutes. It may look complicated but basically you only need to look at the top graph. If there is even a small deviation up or down from the flat line on the graph then there is Northern Lights activity. Then of course it has to be dark, you have to find a clear sky preferably away from strong electric lights and of course look up.


7. Rely on local knowledge

Last but not least get in touch with us at Iceland Unplugged. We know the months of the year and the hours of the night that have historically produced the most powerful northern lights displays. We know how wind direction and landscape interact to produce clear skies. We can even plan your trip to align with the strongest northern lights activity forecasted with up to 27 days notice. Drop us a line and lets start planning the northern lights hunting trip of a lifetime.