Best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland Aurora Lights !

If you plan to see the Aurora Borealis, you should know that the best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland in 2020 is during late autumn and during wintertime considering the solar activity of 2020. I promise it will be an unforgettable experience that you will thank yourself year after year!

Best time to see Iceland Northern Lights is during late autumn and early spring months. You have a higher chance of seeing aurora borealis if you go in September – October or in March as these  are the closest months to the Equinox, when solar maximum activity takes place. High solar activity translates into highest chance of seeing the Aurora lights on the dark sky of Iceland.

 

Best time to see northern lights in iceland
Best time for northern light in Icelandic landscape

How can you see the northern lights in Iceland ?

Most important thing is to choose the right month to visit Iceland for the northern lights, and even more important is to be in the right place at the right time to spot the aurora borealis in Iceland.

Easy to say, not so easy to accomplish, because aurora borealis is not so easy to spot, especially if you never did this before.

Don’t worry though, because I will guide and help you with travel tips in this article so you can have the highest chance of seeing the northern light during your trip.

We followed these rules, and we did not leave the country without seeing the green lady on the dark sky.

best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland in 2019
best time of year to see Northern Lights hunt

Do I need a car in order to see the northern lights in Iceland ?

The best thing you could do when chasing Aurora Borealis is to rent a car.

A car gives you the freedom and flexibility to move and spot these incredible lights.

You might have to drive late in the night to isolated places to catch the best shot and you’ll get very quickly how important is to have a rented car in the nearby.

Get the best price for your car rental today

When is the best time to see northern lights in Iceland in 2020?

In my opinion, the best time to experience the Iceland northern light is during September and October, because you will experience friendlier weather conditions.

It has higher temperatures and fewer clouds than December and January, and possible greater solar activity so consider booking your accommodation from time to get the best price for the best locations.

What is the Best time OF YEAR to see northern lights IN ICELAND ?

First of all let’s agree what “best” means, because it can be many different things depending on different factors.

  • Some months are good because they have more hours of darkness meaning a higher chance of seeing Aurora Borealis.
  • Some months are best because the temperatures are more friendly (not so cold)
  • Some months are good because they have fewer people, fewer crowds mean more perfect photos.
  • Some months are great because they are easily accessible because of friendlier weather conditions.
  • Some months are good because they have very high solar activity
  • Some months are prefect because are cheaper being outside the high season for Aurora Borealis.

Which are the best months to see the northern lights in Iceland ?

Everything depends on your goal of seeing the Aurora Borealis and the weather conditions that you prefer and can endure.

In my opinion, these are the best months to see the northern lights in Iceland:

July

  • Spotting the northern light in July is almost impossible because there is not enough darkness.
  • You have to be really really lucky to have a very high solar activity at the darkest hour of the night to see it

August

  • Travel at the end of August and you increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland in August.
  • Check the solar activity and the aurora forecast on vedur.is.

September

  • In September the nights are longer, it is not that cold and solar activity is generally higher at the equinox.
  • September is one of the best months to see northern lights in Iceland, especially because of weather conditions and less cloudiness and higher solar activity.

October

  • During October’s first two weeks the solar activity is generally higher and the first snowfalls take place in most of the island.
  • It is less cold than in winter months so October is a good month to see the northern lights in Iceland.

November

  • Snow and Ice start the winter season in Iceland, and some attractions might be harder to reach because of that.
  • Weather is more unstable, but you get an increased number of hours of darkness so you have a higher chance to see the northern lights in November.

December

  • Enjoy many hours of darkness, fewer tourists in most places, higher solar activity, so December is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.

January

  • If your goal is to take photos of the northern lights in Iceland with the snowy winter wonderland scenery, then January is one of the best months to see northern lights in Iceland.
  • Dress warm and have your camera ready, the whole island is already in Arctic winter.

February

  • More tourist comes in February, though snow and cold are still present and constant.
  • Many small waterfalls are still frozen so February might be the perfect time to capture the Northern Lights in Iceland.

March

  • End of March comes with warmer temperatures, it is the end of winter and the spring equinox which means higher solar wind activity.
  • More and more tourist visit Iceland as March is one of the best months to photograph the Northern Lights in Iceland.

April

  • Spring is here, so the number of hours of light increases a lot, and the scenery of Iceland changes with the thaw.
  • You have a higher chance to see the Northern Lights in April during the first two weeks.
  • Chances lower as you approach the end of April.

May

  • May is close to summer so the long days, and lesser hours of dark translate into very very low chances, which means May is not the best month to see Aurora Borealis in Iceland.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the season of Northern Lights in Iceland starts in September and ends in March, sometimes at the beginning of April, with the rare occasion of seeing it at the end of August and beginning of May and only if you are far enough from light pollution and city lights.

We still consider the best Northern Lights season in Iceland to be during autumn and early winter, that is from September to December.

We wrote some more detailed articles on this subject here: Best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland , should you wish to read more about it.

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You have a higher chance to see Northern Lights in Iceland during winter

You must know that Aurora Borealis season in Iceland is tightly correlated with late autumn and winter, which is the period of the year with the most darkness hours, and also the coldest.

If you were thinking to visit Iceland in spring for Aurora Borealis, think again, as this might not give you the highest chance of spotting it since the days are longer, there is fewer hours of dark, so fewer moments with total darkness.

During winter time one of the best things do in Iceland is watching the northern lights as they are such a beautiful and unique phenomenon, I cannot properly express what I felt when I first saw it.

 

During wintertime, best locations to see the northern lights in Iceland are not so easily accessible as there can be closed roads because of weather conditions so better book in autumn.

Take a Northern Lights tour if you don’t want to organise the trip yourself and this way you will just focus on seeing and photographing the amazing phenomenon.

When the roads are not closed you will most likely find ice and snow on the roads so you should drive carefully as it is not a pleasant experience.

Best time to visit northern lights in Iceland in 2020 travel tips
Best time to visit northern lights in 2020 travel tips

Though many will consider November and December as the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland, my advice is to visit Iceland in October or in late September.

I say this because weather is more friendly and you still have plenty of darkness after 6-7 pm to spot the aurora borealis, also the solar activity is higher during autumn and winter.

You can also consider to visit Iceland in February or March for similar reasons.

Best time to see the northern lights in Iceland in 2020 by solar activity

If you choose to visit Iceland in December or in November, days will be short, nights will be long so you have more chances to spot the northern lights.

Historical Data of Northern Lights in Iceland by Month in 2020

You can use this calendar for reference, but please keep in mind that the KP is a random factor, and will vary from one year to another.

The below calendar does not show cloudiness, which is a key factor for determining your chances of seeing the northern lights in Iceland.

 
Nights with KP ≥ 3
Dark Nights ≥ 4 hours
Northern Light Nights
Northern Lights in Iceland in January 21 31 21
Northern Lights in Iceland in February 20 28 20
Northern Lights in Iceland in March 21 31 21
Northern Lights in Iceland in April 20 0 0
Northern Lights in Iceland in May 19 0 0
Northern Lights in Iceland in June 10 0 0
Northern Lights in Iceland in July 16 0 0
Northern Lights in Iceland in August 17 0 0
Northern Lights in Iceland in September 26 17 16
Northern Lights in Iceland in October 19 31 18
Northern Lights in Iceland in Novemebr 18 30 18
Northern Lights in Iceland in December 16 31 17

*KP is the value related to the Aurora forecast and ranges from 0 to 9. To see Northern Lights, you usually need a KP 3 or higher, though rarely you can spot it even at KP 2.

Also take in consideration the aurora forecast from vedur.is and other official websites that show you the solar activity forecast.

The KP factor and the low and mid-level clouds, lower clouds, mid clouds and high clouds, all of which can greatly influence your chance of seeing the aurora borealis.

In one word, you could have a KP factor higher than 7 (which is very rare) and you will not see anything if the sky is full of clouds (the lower and mid clouds are the ones causing the most overcast).

Aurora forecast vedur.is Northern Light forecast
Aurora forecast vedur.is Northern Light forecast cloud cover

Weather factors that will influence your chances of seeing the northern lights

You should also take in consideration other factors like weather:

Snow and Blizzard

Snow and blizzard could close many roads, resulting in the impossibility to visit those best spots to see the northern lights.

Cloudiness

Cloudiness is another very important factor to consider, December generally can have more clouds than November or October and this might be an inconvenience.

Solar activity

The “engine” that produces the aurora borealis is at a higher intensity at equinoxes.

If you are lucky enough and  a solar storm happens during your trip to Iceland, the aurora intensity will be even higher.

Of course there are two equinoxes, but only one that has darker sky and that is the autumn equinox which could be your best bet when traveling to Iceland for the light show.

The closer you are to autumn equinox when you visit Iceland for Northern Lights the higher are your chances to see the green lights on the sky.

best time to see Northern lights in Iceland in 2020
best time of year to see Northern lights in Iceland

best time of year for northern lights in iceland

Best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland in 2019, also named aurora borealis, took its name from the Roman goddess of the dawn whose name was Aurora Borealis word comes from Boreas which in Greek means north wind.

During winter nights with clear crisp sky you can spot the magnificent Northern Light magically dancing on the sky, lighting up the landscape around you.

Seeing this amazing show on the night sky composed of coloured waves of light dancing above you is something totally unique and definitely an unforgettable experience.

In my opinion book in autumn as the best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland in 2019 is during September and October

The weather is better so you have more chances to move from one spot to another.

Watch the aurora forecast from vedur.is and also look for the weather forecast for clouds as you cannot see the aurora borealis if the sky is full of clouds.

 

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Comments (1)

This is such a great post and it’s made me want to go and see the Northern Lights even more now. Another place that is added to my bucket list 🙂

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