Iceland v Greenland: Which Is the Best Country To See the Northern Lights?

You can see the Northern Lights in remote Tasiilaq, in Greenland
You can see the Northern Lights in remote Tasiilaq, in Greenland | © Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Camille Buckley
23 April 2018

The Northern Lights are found in places farthest from the equator. The Aurora Borealis, commonly referred to as the Northern Lights, are an incredible natural phenomenon. As is the case with many of nature’s events, they occur spontaneously, so, unfortunately, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of them. However, consulting an Aurora Forecast is a good way of increasing your chances. Both in Greenland and in Iceland, the Lights can be seen during roughly eight months of the year, usually from late August until April.

Although Reykjavik is not a bustling metropolis that gives off a lot of light pollution by any means, it is still more light polluting than any cities you will find in Greenland. In Iceland, it is definitely possible to see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik, although you have better chances of getting a clearer view the farther you drive out of the city. Iceland is so sparsely populated in the interior Highlands, for example, that you will find no light pollution there whatsoever.

Northern lights above Mount Kirkjufell, Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland | © RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

If you have the chance to take a Northern Lights tour in Iceland, you’ll spend each night searching for them with expert guides in some of the best natural backdrops. Areas such as Snæfelsness peninsula in West Iceland, Jökulsárlón in East Iceland, and Reynisfjara black sand beach tend to be particularly good viewing spots. You can also try finding the Northern Lights from a sailing boat with the Elding Whale Watching company, which is based in Reykjavík.

One thing tourists may notice in Greenland is that in some ways it greatly resembles Iceland, but without as many people and especially with fewer tourists. The tourism industry in Greenland is microscopic compared to that of Iceland in recent years. In Greenland, you can see glaciers, waterfalls, small villages and a unique culture but with more solitude and untrodden paths. This tour company in Greenland offers Northern Lights tours around the area of Kangerlussuaq due to its microclimate. The Northern Lights in Greenland can also be seen in many other areas like Disko Bay, in East Greenland, and Nuuk. In conclusion, both Iceland and Greenland are amazing destinations for spotting the Northern Lights, one just with more tourists and the other with more solitude.

Northern Lights over Ilulissat, Greenland | © Joana Kruse / Alamy Stock Photo

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