Updated: 14 May 2022
Celestial lights dance across the night sky in glowing green, red, and pink hues, as you snuggle under a blanket. You’ve finally ticked it off your bucket list – seeing the Northern Lights from Reykjavik. Iceland’s capital, albeit cold, is astonishingly beautiful – particularly because it’s one of the top spots in the world to witness the magic of the Aurora Borealis.
If you’ve been dreaming of Northern Lights Reykjavik tours, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our guide to the best spots to see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik.
7 Best Places to See the Northern Lights from Reykjavik
Seltjarnarnes is a relatively secluded area in the north-western part of Reykjavik. The narrow Icelandic peninsula is one of the best spots to set up your photography gear, huddle under a blanket and watch the striking display of the Northern Lights. Witness double the magic as the lights reflect on the water while the iconic Grotta Island Lighthouse waits patiently in the background for your photo op.
2. Bjork Park
Another incredible spot, close to the Grotta Lighthouse, Bjork Park offers a different perspective over the sea, as well as the lighthouse itself. Make sure you head to the small lake called Bakkatjorn – just before the golf course begins – for a stunning place to watch the Northern Lights. Get creative with your photos by adding some reflections.
Nestled in the southern part of Reykjavik, Perlan – which means The Pearl – is one of the most accessible places to view the Northern Lights from Reykjavik and is no less pretty. The location is a favorite among photography enthusiasts thanks to its expansive views over the city and, of course, the stunning night sky. Because it is closer to civilization there will be some light pollution, so be prepared to be patient at this spot.
4. The Sun Voyager
For those of you who don’t plan on renting a car, the Sun Voyager sculpture is the perfect spot for you to see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik. Just a 10-minute walk from the city center, the sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, is an ode to the Sun in the shape of an old Viking boat. Although the path is dotted with streetlights, the Sun Voyager is nestled in a slightly darker cove which should give you excellent visibility.
Fun fact: The ship also faces north towards Mt.Esja, across the bay along Reykjavik’s coastal front.
Reynisvatn is a small lake situated on the eastern side of the city, in a quaint neighborhood called Grafarholt. While it’s relatively close to the city center, there aren’t many buildings and roads in the area, making it one of the best places to capture the Northern Lights from Reykjavik – minus the light pollution.
Ægisíða is a popular local walking path that trails along the southern coast of the Reykjavik peninsula. Not only is this an incredible spot to bask in the glow of the Northern Lights, but it also offers visitors some exquisite and uncompromised views of both the sea and the evening sky. Make sure you get an Instagram-worthy shot of your Reykjavik adventure overlooking the bay to the presidential residence at Bessastaðir.
If you don’t mind a short trip by car, then Þingvellir is definitely worth a visit. Sitting in the middle of Iceland’s most popular traveler’s trail, the Golden Circle, this spot is a fantastic location to enjoy nature’s greatest cosmic wonder. Located around 50 km from the capital’s center, the Þingvellir National Park offers one of the best spots to capture unspoiled pics of the Northern Lights from Reykjavik.
How Can I Maximize My Chances of Seeing the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?
The most important thing you need with you to view the lights is patience. Frequently, travelers will only stand outside for a short period before giving up and heading back into the city or their accommodation.
The Northern Lights are incredibly unpredictable, so once you’ve picked your spot for the night all you need to do is remain patient and hope for the best. In the meantime, keep your camera ready, sip on a cup of hot chocolate (make sure you’ve brought a flask with you), and stay wrapped up while you look up at the stars.
What is the Best Month to See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?
This comes down to 2 factors:
Time of Year – The best months are between October and March.
Time of Day – The best time of day is in the hours around midnight.
What If the Northern Lights Conditions Aren’t Good?
If your hunts prove unlucky due to unfavorable conditions, then head to Perlan’s Áróra exhibition, for the first-ever 8K Northern Lights planetarium show.
Is Reykjavik Expensive?
Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So you’ll need to plan your trip well to fit in with your travel budget.
Is Reykjavik Safe?
As of 2021, Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. Which should come as no surprise, since the country has taken the top spot for 14 years in a row. Aspects that make it the most peaceful nation on Earth include: low crime rates, welfare systems, robust education, fair pay for workers, and “non-existent” tension among economic classes.
What Should You Avoid in Iceland?
- Don’t leave your coat at home: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable and can change rather dramatically within a single day. So no matter how pleasant the weather may seem at the time, make sure you never leave without a warm coat in tow.
- Don’t underestimate the weather: While the temperature range isn’t drastic. It can go up to +20 degrees Celsius in high summer and doesn’t usually get lower than -15 degrees Celsius in winter. And despite its name gets very little snowfall. It’s the wind you need to look out for here. Expect constant winds near the sea – from mild gusts to blowing gales. There’s even a local joke that when there are calm winds in Iceland, it means the entire North Atlantic is experiencing calm winds.
- Keep safe at beaches: Iceland has some beaches which are not safe for swimming. For instance, Reynisfjara has claimed a few lives. When you see warning signs in Iceland that something is dangerous, adhere to them. Don’t stand too close to the water’s edges or turn your back on the waves. Not even for a selfie.
- Don’t stand on any ice: When exploring glaciers don’t walk on top of a glacier without a certified mountaineer guide. Just don’t. The surface ice may look lovely and strong, but ice can easily break and send you into icy depths.
- Avoid shopping at 10-11: If you have a late flight, a 10-11 may be your only choice, but wherever possible steer clear of this supermarket chain. Simply because it’s the most expensive supermarket in Iceland, and prices here are sometimes three times higher than at the cheapest alternative. Save money by shopping at Bonus, Kronan, or Netto stores.
- Use proper etiquette when visiting baths and pools: Always follow all rules when visiting baths and pools. For instance, if you are required to shower before you enter, make sure you do so.