The Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

© Thampitakkull Jakkree/Shutterstock
© Thampitakkull Jakkree/Shutterstock
Photo of Camille Buckley
16 August 2017

There is nothing quite like peering into the dark night sky spotted with stars to find a shimmering river of colors undulating across it, in a curtain of colors ranging from neon green to lavender and pale pink. In Iceland, the Aurora is usually visible for eight months of the year and can be seen as early as late August.

© Jamen Percy/Shutterstock

While getting out of any light pollution helps immensely in seeing a clear Aurora, even the modest city lights of Reykjavik cannot block it out. In Reykjavik, there are a few elevated and nearby remote places that are a great starting point. However, if you are lucky you will catch the Aurora while sitting in the geothermal hot spot at one of the city pools. Keeping an eye on the Aurora Forecast website will also help with timing. Anywhere remote will give you optimum visibility, but here are a few places that have a great natural backdrop already.


Grótta is only a few kilometers from downtown and yet feels like much more. Located at the tip of Seltjarnarnes peninsula, this bird-watching paradise by day is removed enough from the city to give you a good view. Dress warmly as you won’t want to be distracted by the cold when the Aurora arrives.

Grótta Location

Northern Lights over Reykjavik | © Tom Withnall/Flickr

Northern Lights over Reykjavik | © Tom Withnall/Flickr


Öskjuhlið is the closest thing to a forest in Reykjavik. Begin at the building called Perlan at the top which is shaped like a glass dome. If it is during opening hours, head to the observation deck on the top floor. This offers great views of the city as well as excellent visibility in all directions.

Perlan Location


If driving a few hours out of town, head to the town of Vík. The black sand beach just next to the small fishing village is an incredible place as the backdrop to a dancing aurora. Just keep your eye on the waves, which are known to be strong with an undertow to match.

Vík Location

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þingvellir National Park

þingvellir National Park is also a great place to see the Aurora. Far enough removed from Reykjavík, this landscape of lava rock and moss make a great backdrop. If driving the ring road, be sure to check out making a reservation at The Aurora Bubble Hotel. In these translucent structures located close to Reykholt, guests can spend the night under the stars in comfortable protection from wind and weather.

© Paraksa/Shutterstock

Ásbyrgi Canyon

Ásbyrgi Canyon, meaning Shelter of the Gods, is located close to Húsavik in North Iceland – another beautiful, remote setting in which to gaze at the dancing Aurora. With 100-meter high cliff sides and a woodland forest of ash, birch, and willow, enjoy a full immersion in the landscape both cosmic and earthly.

Ásbyrgi Canyon Location