Plan your trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights

30 September 2014

The opportunity to experience the country nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice, we’re sure you will agree, is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that you won’t want your students to miss out on. With its spectacular waterfalls, dramatic coastlines and countless opportunities to witness geothermal activity, WST can offer your school a truly unforgettable experience in Iceland.

The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s great displays, and one of the many phenomena that make Iceland a unique winter destination. Also known as the aurora borealis, the mysterious green and yellow streaks of light create an unforgettable show in which the night sky is suddenly lit up with a wondrous glow of lights that dance overhead. Unfortunately this natural phenomenon’s appearance cannot be either predicted or guaranteed.

Here at WST we want to make the most out of your trip to Iceland, so we wanted to share with you the optimal conditions in which you can see the Northern Lights.

When to travel to Iceland

Travelling to Iceland between the months of autumn and early spring offers the best possibility of witnessing the Lights. Astronomers have recently predicted that the Lights will be some of the brightest in decades over the next few years due to a peak in the solar cycle, so now is definitely the prime time to make a visit.

A cold, crisp, dark clear night is the best to see the spectacular sky show, and the lower the temperature the brighter the show. The lights can be seen from Reykjavik, or you can venture further outside the city and increase your odds. Only 20 minutes outside of the capital in the north-west of Iceland is Reykjanes, which is known for its Olympic-sized geothermal pool, a famous spot for sightings of the lights whilst enjoying a midnight dip. Many people also head to Thingvellir National Park to experience the lights, standing next to the surface of a vast frozen lake whilst the lights swirl between the landscape of the rift valley.

Key Sights

This year, the Bardarbunga volcano eruption lead to some spectacular lights-spotting opportunities. Check out a photo of the two amazing natural phenomena captured together here on Vatnajökull glacier, by Ársæll Hauksson the owner of Southcoast Adventure, a tour company which Paul and Duncan, our Iceland specialists used whilst on a recent staff familiarisation visit.