Even though Iceland is not competing to reach the top of the charts regarding popular tourist destinations, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to visit this beautiful, but cold country.
The country’s capital city, Reykjavik, might be a relatively small one, but it draws an unexpected number of visitors from far and wide. Whether you come for the fantastic landscapes, geothermal springs, for the endless summer days, or solely for the lively nightlife and the incredible bars, you can’t go wrong with Reykjavik.
There is, however, one extra reason why you might want to visit Reykjavik (and Iceland, in general), and that reason is photographing the northern lights. Here is our list with the best spots to admire and photograph the northern lights in Reykjavik and its surroundings.
Seltjarnarnes is a relatively secluded area located in the north-western part of Reykjavik. The narrow peninsula is one of the best places to set up your photography gear and capture the northern lights alongside their reflection in the water. For a bit of extra drama, you can include the iconic Grotta Island Lighthouse in the photos as well.
Located in the southern part of Reykjavik, Perlan (The Pearl) is one of the most accessible places to view the northern lights. The location is a favorite among photography enthusiasts, because it offers a great view over both the city and the night sky. Of course, since it’s close to civilization, there will be some light pollution.
Reynisvatn is a small lake situated on the eastern side of the city, in a small neighborhood called Grafarholt. It’s relatively close to the city’s center, but since there aren’t many buildings and roads in the area, it’s one of the best places to capture the northern lights without being interrupted and, of course, without light pollution.
Ægisíða is the name of a local walking path along the southern coast of the Reykjavik peninsula. It offers to visitors some exquisite and uncompromised views of both the sea and the evening sky over the bay to the presidential residence at Bessastaðir.
If you don’t mind a short trip by car, then Thingvellir is definitely a place worth visiting in order to capture the northern lights. Located at somewhere around 50 km from the capital’s center, the Thingvellir National Park will provide one of the best basis for a series of stunning, artistic photos.
Situated close to the Grotta Lighthouse, it offers a different perspective over the sea as well as the lighthouse itself. Just before the actual golf course, there’s a small lake called Bakkatjorn. It’s an excellent place to take photos of the northern lights, especially if you want to get creative and add some reflections.
A few tips for photographing the Northern Lights
For a successful photography session, you will need two things in spades: patience and warm clothes. The northern lights can appear any time after the sunset, so you’ll have to be patient and check the sky constantly. Usually, you’ll want to go for the places with no light pollution. Since waiting might imply waiting in the cold for hours on end, make sure you bring some hot drinks, as well as have warm and insulated clothes. Last but not least, remember that the northern lights will appear on the north side.