Dream destinations: The Northern Lights Iceland Igloo

Everyone’s got a bucket list of dream destinations. Here’s why northern lights in Iceland in an igloo should be on yours.

More than just a great room

Travel has been busy leveling up! You can check in to all kinds of places these days. There are bungalows on stilts in the ocean, plush rooms in forgotten castles, even little treehouse palaces that you climb into the forest canopy to hide away in. 

Luckily, we get to claim one of these wonder destinations as our own here in Iceland. Popularly sought as ‘igloos, we like to call them Bubbles. Most people search for Northern Lights Iceland igloo when trying to find them online. The Bubbles regularly find their way into the company of these great escapes, on these fabulous dream lists- and for good reason. 

Not only are they gloriously strange little structures, being fully transparent and domed at the top, but they come with the grandest view that one can offer. There are no windows, curtains, or options to add to the price for a better scene out of your one window. The whole Bubble is your window. And the scene- well, it speaks for itself.

A land that needs no introduction

The Bubbles can be found in the country of Iceland, a small island nation tucked away in the vast North Atlantic. A micro paradise of color, texture, and breathtaking natural wonders, Iceland on its own is a dream destination. 

Because of its size, one can easily travel the perimeter highway, or Ring Road, of the country in 5-7 days by car. On the way, you will pass through multiple otherworldly landscapes- and some would joke- multiple seasons as well. From the electric green moss covered lava fields, to the hulking blue and white glacier tongues of the south, all the way to the red and orange rocky underbellies of the protected geothermal areas throughout, Iceland is a treasure box of sights that charms in all seasons of the year. 

People visit Iceland in all seasons, each of them on a different quest. Some come in the autumn for the changing colors of the Arctic flora, or the last well lit days of world class hiking. Some visit in the summer to experience the Midnight Sun, the festivals, and the multitude of leisure sports that the country indulges in during this mildest season of the year. 

But others come in the depth of our magical winter, to journey into the glacial embrace of ice caves, ski our cozy slopes, and hunt for one of our most famous treasures- the dancing lights of our night skies. 

Iceland is a feast for the eyes, no matter when you visit. But aside from its regular earthly headliners, it also happens to be a prime location for aurora viewing- one of the world’s most ethereal phenomena. 

Because of Iceland’s northerly location to the pole, it is common for low level solar activity to form northern lights that are visible from the island. This is why they are more regularly expected in countries closer to the pole, instead of the more southerly lands that they can visit on the occasion of a great solar storm. 

As you may know, auroras can happen at any time of year, and depending on strength, can reach quite far down from the poles- but our ability to see them with the naked eye depends on the cooperation of many outside factors. So the closer you are to the pole, the easier it will be to catch the more regular activity. 

Being a bit more compact than many of our neighbors, Iceland’s size means that if the cloud cover is merciful, you will never be more than 30 minutes from a location in which you can aurora watch from. 

It also means that you will often be within proximity to a populated town, paved roads, and a lack of debilitating light pollution that countries with larger cities struggle with. These factors make Iceland an ideal hunting ground for auroral viewing. (And being cozy. It’s important!)

The Northern Lights Iceland igloos 

northern lights iceland igloo

So you know about Iceland- but what about the Bubbles? Tucked away in the spruce and aspen forests of the Icelandic countryside, there are to date less than 20 Bubbles available to stay in. This is a unique experience that is kept small and limited to tiny amounts of people. 

Maintained by a small team and inaccessible to any travel sites or outside agents, all of the Bubbles exist on farmer owned forested land. It is a dream of the Bubble team to support local farmers by creating another way to earn money, without risking their few trees to industrialized tree felling. 

The Bubbles encourage small-scale gentle tourism to places of great beauty, the fragile Icelandic forests, in order to preserve these treasures of nature for all of us, and for the generations to come. So when you stay in a Bubble, your experience enriches not only your life- but the lives of many others. 

In a time when we need to protect our trees and carbon sinks more than ever, the Bubbles serve an important role. Outfitted in two different forest locations in the Golden Circle region and the south coast area, the existence of these magical little igloos harnesses the power of travel for good- and they are only getting started. 

With many dreams for the future, the team at Bubble regularly states that “nature is luxury”, and after a visit to the Bubbles, you can see why.  Both Bubble locations are unique and carefully organized to create the lowest impact on the surrounding area. Each Bubble is enclosed in their own small grove, and is closed in tight with local flora that changes with the seasons. 

They are heated, and are perched on their own handmade wooden platforms for balance. Inside each one lies a sumptuous, luxury hotel grade bed with downy comforters and luxe furnishings. They are watched over by a local team, who can squirrel away artisanal snacks and bubbly before you arrive, at your request. 

Unlike many unusual accommodations, the Bubbles are not serviced by a large hotel or massive complex. They are truly a part of the forest, and are served only by the manicured mulch pathways between them, and the tiny service bath houses that they share. 

The goal here is to blend in to nature as a guest, and to appreciate its gifts. Not to impose upon it, and interrupt its growth and health.  

The experience

Northern Lights Iceland igloo

The Bubble structures are amazing to sleep in, and even more amazing to stargaze from. For those that have already had the chance to aurora hunt in a northern clime, you may recall that it’s… A bit chilly. 

The trade off for witnessing nature’s paintbrush is often a long night out in the cold, windy and damp conditions, frozen hands and a lot of waiting. Like many natural phenomena, an aurora is never guaranteed, and the forecasting systems used to predict them are still very much developing tools. 

This is of course space weather that we are tracking, and those speeds can be challenging to nail down. 

The Bubbles are to date one of the coziest ways to hunt for the northern lights. Fully transparent and heated, the opportunity to lay in a luxe queen bed in your pajamas while sky gazing is definitely not the norm. 

Because of their locations, Bubble guests enjoy the full darkness of an unpolluted sky. Light pollution remains one of the largest challenges to aurora hunting, and is often the primary obstacle for city and town dwellers. But out here in the country, you’ll quickly be able to see why they call the Bubbles “the 5 million star hotel.”

Despite the occasional branch, you’ll have a full open “ceiling” in your Bubble, and can laze away all night without ever having to pull on a coat. It would be an understatement to say that this is likely the most comfortable and luxurious way to aurora watch. 

But wildly enough, the experience does not stop there. Aurora watching the night away and slumbering in the arms of nature are certainly experience enough, but the Bubble team didn’t stop there. 

While a self drive experience is available, Bubble also offers a fully guided tour on the way to your Bubble hideaway. Both to the famous Golden Circle and then also to the South Coast. This means you can be picked up in Reykjavik that morning, and taken on a full tour of the area, expertly guided by one of their staff. This is of no extra cost to you, and is an amazing way to spend the day. 

Upon picking you up at a Reykjavik location of your choosing, your local guide will take you on a whirlwind adventure of the region that you will be staying in. They do this in one of their luxury vehicles, and it includes all of the popular wonders of the area, and some of the secret favorite details of the guide. 

After a full day of sightseeing, you break for dinner at a local eatery, before being seamlessly deposited at the Bubbles. (I recommend the local lobster pizza!) 

With full bellies and tired legs, it’s time for a hot shower or a warm drink in the service house- and then cozy time in your own private Bubble paradise. 

An early night of relaxing and listening to the sounds of nature, and maybe if you can keep your eyes peeled, even some northern lights. 

When you awaken the next morning, your guide will be waiting to bring you back to town. No worries about directions, driving, or beating the clock. Only you, the soft Icelandic countryside in your window, and the soft calm of a slow morning after a once in a lifetime experience. 

Best Place to See Northern Lights

Best Places to View Northern Lights

Below you will find information on some great places in Iceland for viewing the northern lights. These are not only great places to see the lights but also feature many activities and natural sights. When planning a trip to Iceland it’s important to research what kind of things you would like to do and the places to see. The northern lights can only be seen in the winter, when it’s completely dark with clear skies. There are many nights where visibility is low so make sure you have other items on your bucket list and take in as much of the country as you can. The northern lights are a natural phenomenon, so a bonus to your trip.

Hotel Rangá – the best place to see Northern Lights

Hotel Rangá is one of the most renowned hotels in Iceland for seeing the northern lights. It was the first hotel in the country to offer a northern lights wakeup call service to its guests so they could pull their parkas over their pyjamas if the Aurora made an appearance. In addition to their comfortable and luxurious rooms, the location on the south coast is in close proximity to natural wonders like Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the Reynisfjara black sand beach and basalt columns, and the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Hotel Rangá makes for a great place to see the beautiful dancing northern lights.

Hotel Glymur with its amazing village suites

Hotel Glymur is a friendly hotel with a beautiful village suites. It’s located in majestic Hvalfjörður (“Whale Fjord”) just north-west of Reykjavík, and has breathtaking scenery. It has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and a great restaurant that offers everything a hungry stomach needs. The six village suites are uniquely designed villas, each with an open-concept kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, leather sofas, large screen TV, dining table, amazing art pieces and can cater for 4-6 people. With its remote natural location, it’s a fantastic place to see the northern lights without going too far from the city.

Hotel Gullfoss – next to the famous waterfall

Hotel Gullfoss is located right in the heart of the Golden Circle, next to the amazing and famous Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) waterfall. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland—and even the whole world!—it is stunning to see all year round. When the sun is shining on it, there is often a golden rainbow over it that gives the falls their name. During the winter a stay at the hotel is truly magical, with no urban lights around one can walk out into the darkness, or lounge in a hot tub, and gaze at the starry sky and watch the northern lights dance totally undisturbed. You can even get great photos of the lights dancing over the waterfall, capturing two of Iceland’s most famous sights together.

Great hot tubs for Northern Lights viewing

With less than 100 inhabitants, Drangsnes is the ultimate spot for seclusion and solitude for viewing the lights. You can lay in the seaside hot tubs waiting for the auroras to show up over the tiny fishing village, indulge your inner nature-lover by exploring the surrounding area, and go mingle with the locals at the Malarhorn café. When the northern lights do come out here, there isn’t anything or anyone to disturb your enjoyment.