How to plan a northern lights vacation
It is a common misunderstanding that the northern lights appear every night throughout the year. We have years of experience on giving visitors advice on how it is best to plan a northern lights vacation and we would like to share that experience with you!
1. When you are planning a northern lights holiday the timing is of course crucial. The northern lights can appear every month of the year but you need darkness in order to see them. So, with a forecast of active lights in July for instance, you won´t see anything due to the 24 hour daylight. So, May- August are off. The northern lights season starts in the beginning of September and ends mid April. Late August it has started getting dark though late at night so you could be lucky and see the lights then. Then length of your stay is also vital as the lights often appear for 2-3 days and then nothing for some days. Therefore we always recommend a least a week to increase your chances!
2. We always recommend visitors to plan their visit to Iceland as a nice winter holiday with loads of tours and activities. Enjoy all the wonderful things the country has to offer during the day. Whether you choose tours or a self drive, you will be touched by the pure and unspoiled nature, the views and the sites. The northern lights are a bonus to it all. Keep in mind the hours of daylight you have during your stay. The months with the fewest hours of daylight are December and January, but then again, you have the most darkness in order to view the lights when they appear!
3. Keep a close eye on the northern lights forecast. It is usually updated around 6 pm daily. You need to look for white or light green areas (i.e. no or little cloud cover) and the number needs to be 3 (moderate) or higher. However, keep in mind that even though the forecast says low, look up into the sky if it is clear as the forecast might be wrong and the lights dancing during the evening and/or night.
4. Some opt for a self drive to hunt for the northern lights. That is all good, just keep in mind that the road conditions in Iceland during winter can be difficult and dangerous, especially out in the country. Slippery roads, snow and even blizzards. Other opt for tours – either bus tours, super jeep tours or private tours. Combo tours are often popular, like for instance Golden Circle and Floating. Other options include for instance on a glacier just to name one.
To sum up: Choose the winter months and stay for at least a week. Keep a close eye on the forecast. Choose the hunt that suits you best, whether it a self drive or tours. Plan your holiday around what Iceland has to offer and look at the northern lights as a bonus.