Northern Lights Forecast for Iceland

One Stop Northern Lights Forecast

The Northern Lights season runs from 1st September, through winter, until 15th April, typically. 

To see the Northern Lights with your naked eye, you need: 

  1. Darkness (winter only)
  2. Clear skies (no clouds)
  3. Aurora activity (Northern Lights)

Todays Cloud Coverage and Satellite Images of the Aurora

Here’s How To Read The Map

The map is updated daily and gives you an indication of Northern Lights viewing. It’s a little confusing as the green colour is very similar to the colour of the actual Northern Lights but in fact the map shows green as cloud coverage and white as clear skies. The white areas are where you need to head for.

On the map you can see areas of white, light green and dark green. The white colour in the forecast means no clouds, so clear sky. This is ideal as you need to have a clear sky to see the Northern Lights. The light green means partly cloudy and dark green means very cloudy so a low chance for sightings as the visibility is low.

Basically if you can see the stars, then you have a chance of seeing the lights.

Why Does Cloud Coverage Matter?

The reason why we want to have the areas without clouds (or light clouds) is because it is impossible to see the lights when the sky is covered with clouds. When it is partly cloudy (light green areas) you still have a chance seeing the lights by finding a gap in the clouds.

How Often in the Map Updated?

The forecast is updated around 6pm daily so it’s best to keep a close eye on the forecast before heading out on your hunt.

For more information on viewing the Northern Lights in winter time, please read this article.

How are the Lights Monitored and Expressed?

Satellites are the main tool for observing and monitoring the sun and particle fluxes heading for Earth. Without these it would be difficult to create a reliable Northern Lights forecast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin of the USA (NOAA) operates a couple of these, both covering the rear and the front of the Sun. The satellites both generate images and have sensors for observing particle fluxes from the sun. By using these observations we are able to create a Northern Lights forecasts based on numerical simulations and forecast models.


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2 days self-drive tour to Reykjavik and Hveragerdi

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2 days self-drive tour to Reykjavik and Hveragerdi

Explore some of the main wonders of Iceland by getting this 2 days self-drive idea to Reykjavik and Hveragerdi.

This self drive idea is perfect for those who want to have a relaxing time in their Iceland vacation yet want to explore a few wonders of the country. You will first go to the capital of Iceland called Reykjavik and explore the place that reflects what Iceland is all about. On the second day, you will head to Hveragerdi and explore its places of interest. With a rental car from Thrifty, you can truly explore the wonders of Iceland in just two days.

Westfjords

THE 2 DAYS ITINERARY

Day 1 – Arrival via Keflavik International Airport; Explore Reykjavik

Arrive in Iceland via Keflavik International Airport late in the morning, get your rental car in Thrifty and drive towards the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. Once there, you can check in at Hotel Cabin and drop your things before exploring the city.
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Source: Bryan Pocius

You can relax a bit for awhile by going to The Culture House, National Centre for Cultural Heritage so you can explore the national heritage of Iceland. This establishment has various long term and short term exhibitions that are given by relevant institutions. You can also explore exhibitions on selected national treasures as well as attend tours, gatherings, lectures, artisitc events and public ceremonies.
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Source: JasonParis

Next stop is the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is Reykjavik’s main landmark and one of the best tourist attractions. This is known as the largest church in Iceland and the tall tower can be seen from anywhere in Reykjavik. The church tower is open to everyone from 9:00 to 20:00 so you can get a breathtaking view of the city from there. If you are into great architecture and stunning views, the Hallgrimskirkja Church is a great place to visit.
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Source: o palsson

Another great tourist attraction to go to is the Perlan, which is the a historic landmark building that lets you have a panoramic view of the entire Reykjavik. It is known to be a huge water storage facility that collects geothermal water in order to supply it to the city. You can visit the Viking Saga Museum for more local history. And when you get there by lunchtime, you have a the choice of either eating in the restaurant or at the revolving restaurant that has 360 degree view of the city over 2 hours. It also has a viewing platform that you can go to for relaxation and peacefulness.
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Source: moohaha

For getting more educated in this trip, go to Geothermal Energy Exhibition at the Hellisheiði Power Plant. Geothermal energy in Iceland is harnessed here in various ways to help the environment. The experienced guides will tell you how they are done and give you informative presentations with multimedia shows on how energy is used globally. The facility also provides a wide selection of educational materials on geothermal energy that you can buy and read.
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Source: ThinkGeoEnergy

The last place to go is the Reykjavik Art Museum’s Ásmundarsafn sculpture collection that exhibits almost all of the works of Iceland sculptor, Asmundur Sveinsson. His works can also be seen in the garden outside of the museum and inside as well. The building was designed and constructed by the sculptor himself to make it his home and studio. View his amazing works and even buy casts of his selected works in the museum shop.
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Source: o palsson

Once done exploring, go back to Htoel Cabin and have dinner and lounge at their restaurant and bar. If given the chance, you can have a glimpse of the Northern Lights that can appear anytime. Here is the map of Day 1:


Day 2 - Visiting Hveragerdi and Departing Iceland

After having breakfast in Htoel Cabin, check out and drive towards the Heidmork, the largest forest and nature reserve in the area. It is one of the popular tourist destinations and recreational areas in Iceland because this is where Reykjavik's water reservoirs and drinking water wells are located. There are 4 million trees here and has been taken care off since the whole place is fenced off.
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Source: peturgk

Since you are already nearby, it is good to visit Raudholar. This tourist attraction consist of cluster of red volcanic pseudocraters in the Elliðaárhraun lava fields and is located on the south-eastern outskirts of Reykjavík, Iceland. You can take photo opportunities here and be at awe of its natural formations.
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Source: Atli Harðarson

The next place to go is the hot springs capital of the world: Hveragardi. For the whole year, there are pillar of steam from the numerous hot springs that are seen rising up out of the ground. You can go to the geothermal park and soak into the hot springs there after walking and touring outside the whole morning. There are also various relaxing treatments found here that you can avail so you can rejuvenate and re-energize before leaving Iceland. Afterwards, you can eat in any of the restaurants in Hveragardi and then explore the town a little more.
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Source: borkur.net

After done exploring, you can drive back to Thrifty to bring back the rental car. And then proceed to Keflavik International Airport and depart from Iceland. Here is the map for Day 2:




7 days self-drive tour around Iceland

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7 days self-drive tour around Iceland

Explore the highlights of Iceland through this 7 days self drive idea that combines adventure and relaxation.

If you want to explore the highlights of Iceland that combines relaxation and adventure, then this 7 days self drive is the thing for you. You will visit unbarren yet interesting places such as Ódáðahraun lava fields, the Magnificient North East and Lake Myvatn Surroundings as well as the city of Akureyri and small towns. You will rent a 4x4 rental car from Thrifty and drive your way to the great surroundings of Iceland.

Westfjords

THE 7 DAYS ITINERARY

Day 1 – Arrive in Keflavik International Airport and visit Golden Circle

This day is all about visiting the Golden Circle and be at awe with its wonders. You arrive in Keflavik International Airport and get your 4x4 rental car from Thirfty. Then go straight to the Golden Circle and visit the Gulfoss (Golden Falls), which is known as the queen of Icelandic waterfalls because of it wonderful and breathtaking beauty. It is located in the canyon of the Hvita river. This amazing destination is the best place to visit because you will be at awe with the water rushing down the three steps of lava layers that gives off a breathtaking and splendid aura. Then the water flows and “vanishes” in the crevice that is not seen by most tourists which makes it more magnificent and will leave you more fascinated. After touring this, you can have a tasty and delicious lunch in the Gullfoss cafe where they serve the traditional Icelandic meat soup and various meals.


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Source: suvodeb

Next, you go to the geothermal area of Geysir. This place sprouts boiling water of various formations and goes up to 70 meters in the air, plus the ground bubbles and gurgles. There also various hot springs in the areas, so you can try relaxing there before going for a snorkel in the Silfra fissure.
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Source: big-ashb

Visit Thingvellir next, which is home to the largest natural lake in Iceland called the Pingvallavatn. It is a tourist attraction that combines relaxation and exotic. You have the option to dive in the Silfra fissure if you have diving equipment with you as it is one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. Due to its crystal clear waters and blissful shads of blue, tourists and visitors can relax and explore the lake without getting too stressed as you will feel weightless in the lazy and peaceful current.
You can end your day by going to Cabin Hotel Reykjavik and have your dinner in their restaurant and bar. You can either wait for the Northern Lights or prepare for your long drive the next day before going to sleep. Here is the map for Day 2:



Day 2 – Going to Kjölur Highland Trail and Akureyri

Have breakfast in Cabin Hotel Reykjavik and drive your 4x4 rental car from Thrifty to the interior highland track Kjolur, which is a big rocky lava located between the huge glaciers Hofsjokull and Langjokull. Passing by Kjolur is a great experience because it is an uninhabited highland surrounded by mountains with various sizes and shapes as well as the two glaciers thatgive Kjolur a picturesque look. There is also a black desert and a colorful range of Rhyloite Mountains


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Source: ndanger

seljafjordur snæfellsnes

Source: Daquella manera

The next place to go to is the geothermal area of Hveravellir that is also located in between two glaciers. It has hot springs and you can dip into the hot water to relax before continuing on your long drive.


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Source: genevieveromier

Another stopover place you can go to is the valleys of Skagafjordur, a place known for hoirse breeding. You can explore its places of interest sych as the old farm, a museum at Glaumbaer and the tiny old church on Viðimýri. You can also have snacks here and lounge around before driving to Akureyri.
You arrive in Akureyri and check in at Hotel Akureryi. Afterwards, explore 2-3 attractions of the town such as the Akureryri Botanical Garden, Gasir and the Akureyri Church. You can have dinner in Greifinn Restaurant and then lounge at Guesthouse Akureyri and bar before going to sleep.
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Source: spi516

Below is the map of Day 2:


Day 3 – Lake Myvatn Surroundings and Small Villages

After having breakfast in the hotel, check out and drive to the Lake Myvatn area so you can have a closer look at one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland: Godafoss. Take photo opportunities and be at awe with its great beauty
Then you can spend the day exploring and touring the natural wonders of Lake Myvatn and the surrounding areas. The lake is known as a great breeding place for ducks and other birdlife in the summer, while its surroundings offers a wide variety of unique landscapes and amazing geological formations.
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Source: Andrea Schaffer

Some of the places you can visit are: Dimmuborgir lava formations, Krafla volcano, Námaskarð geothermal area, Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters, and the Nature Baths where you can take a bath for rejuvenation and re-energizing. Then you can have a late lunch nearby.
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Source: JasonParis

Afterwards we go to Husavik town---which is also known as The Whale Watching Capital of the World. Obviously, you can take Whale Watching tours here and visit The Whale Museum so you can be educated on whales and the marine wildlife of the town. You can explore 2-3 tourist attractions of the town before checking in at Skulagar Country Hotel for dinner and some few days stay. Explore its surroundings more and, if you are lucky, catch the Northern Lights.
Here is the map for Day 3:

Day 4 – The Magnificient North East and Hiking

After having breakfast, take your 4x4 to Hljóðaklettar, also known as the the "Echo rocks". This is a magnificent canyon that is carved by the glacial river of Jökulsá á Fjöllum. You have the option to hike here so you can explore the many wonders of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. You will also visit the Asbyrgi canyon. The hike will almost take the whole day so make sure that you allot the whole day just for the beautiful North East. You can have lunch in the area.
You will also visit the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, which is the Dettifoss waterfalls. It is a wonderful sight and you can take photo opportunities here.
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Source: plassen

Once done with the hiking and exploring, go back to Skulagar Country Hotel for another overnight stay and dinner. Here is the map for Day 4:

Day 5 - Ódáðahraun lava field & Egilsstaðir

Have breakfast and check out from Skulagar Country Hotel early in the morning as it will be a long day of uninhabited wilderness and deserted lava fields. The first stop would be the Herðubreiðarlindir springs located at the foot of Mt. Herðubreið. This springs has a green landscape despite being in a deserted place and has crystal clear springs that make it more beautiful and picturesque.
You can explore Mt. Herðubreið as it has a large lava field, campground and hiking trails. There is also a mountain hut and warden’s station if you need to rest or lounge a bit. Once done, you can have lunch here before proceeding to the next destination.
The next place to go is the great Dyngjufjöll mountain range and the Askja caldera, which are both located near each other. Passing through uneven lava fields and the edge of the Vatnajökull ice field, the Dyngjufjöll is located above the highland plateau while the Askja caldera is found in the center. From here, you can hike towards the Askja Lake and find the explosion crater called Viti, where you can take a short dip in the natural geothermal water of the crater lake.
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Source: Pole Este

Afterwards, head towards the Egilsstaðir town and explore 2-3 attractions there before checking in at a hotel for an overnight stay. You can also have dinner here or prepare for the trip the next day.
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Source: Sibba

Here is the map of Day 5:

Day 6 – Jokulsarlon and Vik

Have breakfast and leave early as it will take you three hours to get to Jokulsarlon, a large glcaial lagoon located in the borders of Vatnajokull National Park. The lake has been growing through the years due to the receding glaciers of the Atlantic Ocean. If you are up for an adventure, you can go jeep or amphibian boat tours to further explore Jokulsarlon. But if you want a quiet tour, you can walk around the whole area and even go to the black sand beaches.
Afterwards, have lunch on the way before heading for the small little town of Vik. This is known as the wettest place in all of Iceland because of its location directly beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
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Source: nicksarebi

The first place to is the village church located at the highest point of the town. The story with this church is the town is in danger of being wiped out due to a massive flash flood that can happen from a glacial runoff in case the active volcano Katla erupts. The Reynisfjara Church is the only building that is said to survive the volcanic eruption and the flash flood. This is why residents have volcano drills where they are trained to evacuate their homes and rush to the church. Hike towards it to see the church up close.
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Source: JasonParis

Next places of interest are the Wool Factory and Nupsstadur Farm and Church. These places are good to explore quietly before taking your lunch. Shop for handcrafts and souvenirs made from the factory itself. The Nupsstadur Farm and Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has old buildings. Afterwards, take your lunch and lounge a bit in one of the tasty restaurants. We recommend Vikurskali that serves delicious lamb soup, fish sandwiches, and meals. Lounge there first before taking a hike to Myrdalsjokull Glacier
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Source: Bods

Once full and ready to go, hike to the Myrdalsjokull Glacier where visitors can easily walk on the ice when the weather is good. This is just one of the largest glaciers in the area and it is not difficult to hike as long as you have experts guiding you along the way. Ask the information center of Vik regarding Glacier walk tours that can take three hours or more.
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Source: cyrildoussin

To end your visit in Vik, relax by going to the Dyrholaey and walk around the Black Sand Beaches. The Dyrholaey is a small peninsula to view the various parts of Vik from a high peak. You will also be able to see a gigantic black arch of lava standing tall in the sea, which is known as the “hill-island with the door-hole”.
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Source: johan wieland

Afterwards, walk around the Black Sand Beach which consists of black sand and black pebbles. You can see the basalt rocks and caves that column the area and makes the beach even more unique---especially at sunset. You can stay here until you are relaxed and ready to drive back.
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Source: Johannes Martin

You can take a dinner in Vik and check in at Hotel Ranga. Here is the map of Day 6:

Day 7 – Blue Lagoon and Depart From Iceland

Check out of Hotel Ranga and go straight to Blue Lagoon for rejuvenation and relaxation.
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Source: Sarah_Ackerman

Drop off your rental car in Thrifty and drive to Keflavik Airport for your departure. Here is the map of Day 5: