Northern Lights, Iceland

Northern Lights, Iceland

To catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights we booked a trip to Reyjkavik. We had our fingers and toes crossed to see the Northern Lights. The phenomena arises from charged particles from the sun reacting with the earth’s atoms causing electrons to move to a higher energy state. The drop of electrons energy state emit a photon of green light-the Aurora Borelias.

It’s a cold time of year, with plenty of snow and chasing the Northern Lights requires patience in the cold. We packed in base layers which are a great way of keeping warm, fleeces, thermal legging, socks, hats and double layer gloves, and snow boots. We thought we would give the new WOW airline a go but there’s something that makes us resent having to pay extra for luggage. So after meticulous weighing by jumping on and off scales, subtracting the weight of our bags, determined not to exceed our allowance, we decided to wear our snow boots and ski jackets. We felt like silly, overdressed snowmen at the airport, but were relieved to see many others had done the same.

With a six day trip booked in December we eagerly sat on the right side of the plane and tours booked according to the weekly forecast we were hopeful to see the Northern Lights dancing. We vaguely saw a greenish looking cloud from the plane, which we convinced ourselves may have been a glimmer of the Northern Lights. The tours we booked kept getting cancelled due to the cloud cover and weather. We thought we caught a slight glimpse on an early morning tour from the coach. Only for the guide to shatter our dream by telling us, it was just lights crelated by the moon.

We gave up hope until the last night when the forecast for the Aurora Borelias was quite active and midnight would be cloud free. From 9pm we looked out of the window when suddenly we spotted a green hue appear. We rushed outside and caught the phenomenal experience of the Northern Lights. It lasted just a few minutes and the sky lit up with green beams. Excited, we walked for miles, down the marina to find a dark spot and waited for hours in the snow. The clouds came and went and then came back and we didn’t see any more activity. However what we did see was extraordinary and a moment to be cherished.


A trip to Iceland, is a once in a lifetime trip for most. Seeing the Northern Lights is all about luck and timing but we will let you into a few of our tips to optimising your chances of seeing the them and capturing them.

-September through mid April are the most likely period to witness the Northern Lights phenomena in Iceland
-Check the cloud cover and northern light forecasts.
-It’s recommend to go to Iceland for at least 5-7 days as the Northern lights tend to be visible without cloud cover for a 2-3 days and may disappear for a few before becoming visible again.
-It’s possible to catch a glimpse of the the natural phenomena on the plane. Flying from the UK try and sit on the right hand side of the plane to maximise your chances.
-Take extra batteries for your camera as freezing temperatures and long exposures can be draining to batteries.
-Pack a tripod and a camera with remote shooting and a wide 14mm lens are nice to have. Be set up and ready as activity can be short and it’s not easy to capture.
-Capturing photographs of the Northern Lights requires a good camera and optimised settings. For the canon 70D we used a shutter speed of 10 seconds and ISO 800 and aperture f3.5 with manual focus set to infinity.
-Wrap up warm as it can be absolutely freezing. Layers are a great way of keeping warm. You may be standing around for hours waiting for the Northern Lights to appear.
–Book a tour which takes you away from the illuminated city.
-Most tour companies will allow you to tour again free if you don’t see the northern lights on the first attempt.
– The lighthouse in Reyjkavik is a good spot to see Northern Lights from the city.

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