Can you see the Northern Lights from Reykjavík during winter?

We suspect that all travelers who come to Iceland during winter would like to catch a glimpse of the Northern lights, Aurora borealis.
July 28, 2017
Lilja Þorsteinsdóttir

We suspect that all travelers who visit Iceland during winter would like to catch a glimpse of the Northern lights, Aurora borealis. We get asked a lot if it’s necessary to go outside of the city limits to see them, or if they’re visible from Reykjavík city.

Light pollution kind of ruins everything

When the Northern lights are bright and the sky is clear, yes, they are visible from Reykjavík. You could try to find a spot somewhere up high so you get an unobstructed view of the night sky and hope for the best. However, the lights in the city will dampen the experience. Reykjavík is an exceptionally well-lit city with bright street lights everywhere. The difference between watching the Northern lights from Reykjavík or somewhere away from the city lights is . Not only are they brighter and more beautiful, but being away from the city noise and surrounded by the harsh landscape makes the experience much more memorable.

Do as the locals do

In fact, most Icelanders prefer to drive a bit out of the city if the Northern lights forecast (yes, we have one, like a weather forecast) is good. They want to spend an evening with the family, lying in the snow and watching the show. With mandatory hot chocolate and baked goods, of course. A great way to spend the hours of darkness.  

So, what’s the verdict?

The short answer is: Yes, sometimes you can see the Northern lights from Reykjavík. But the lights in the city interfere so you don’t see them as clearly as you would if you go outside of Reykjavík.

Your best chance is with the experts

Our Northern lights tours are driven and guided by experts. They know all the best places to see the  northern lights outside of Reykjavík and thoroughly check the Aurora-forecast before heading off for the aurora hunt.

Got a question? Send us a message:

At Travel Reykjavik, we realise that booking a trip can be a confusing process. You might have specific questions or requests. Feel free to drop us a line and we´ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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