10 Steps to Experience the Northern Lights at Your Doorstep in Iceland

10 Steps to Experience the Northern Lights at Your Doorstep in Iceland

12.10.2018 | Camille Beuvard

The Northern Lights light up the Arctic skies from late August to mid-April, when otherworldly shades of green dance across the night skies, coming in various shapes and intensity. Because they are best seen in remote places, we have gathered here our 30 Northern Lights friendly partners, those who offer extra services during winter season, to provide you one of the most remarkable experiences of your life. Celebrate the winter at the top of the world this year, and experience one of Nature’s own secrets.

1. Get an Update on the Aurora Forecast

By staying at one of our 30 Northern Lights friendly partners, you will get helpful information on your arrival, from likelihood of northern lights that night to cloud coverage. Our hosts will help you read the Kp Index, and indicate you the best places to go to maximize your chances and overall experience of northern lights.

Northern Lights in Iceland

 2. Ask for a Wake Up Call

You don't want to wake up the next morning and be told that the show was incredible when you were sleeping. Most of our accommodation offer a wake up call free of charge if some northern lights are spotted. Do not hesitate to sign up when you check in and let’s hope for a good show tonight. Depending on where you are staying at, you will be offered a phone call or have someone knock on your door. Please note that our hosts have early duties in the morning, and most offer the wake up call until midnight or the closure of the reception area.

Northern Lights in Iceland 

3. Get Information about the Phenomenon

Our partners are willing to provide you information about the northern lights phenomenon as well as some tips on how to get dressed properly for a comfortable experience. At Lamb Inn, we recommend you check out the educational material about northern lights in English, along with a beautiful photo exhibition, to build up the excitement. Skútustaðir also features some pictures of northern lights taken in the vicinity… Until you see them with your own eyes !

Northern Lights over Skútustaðir

Northern Lights over Skútustaðir 

4. Soak in a Hot Tub under the Twinkling Stars

Northern lights are a sight to behold, but can you simply imagine marvelling at them from the warm waters of a geothermally heated outdoor pool? Our partners are unanimous: this might simply be the best spot to observe northern lights dancing over your head. Some are outdoor, some are under a glass roof, others are on the seafront (Blábjörg Guesthouse), but all have been designed to maximize relaxation and offer a cosy viewpoint when skies turn green. Here are some of our favourite:

Hot tub at Hotel Hafnarfjall

Hot pool at Hotel Hafnarfjall

Hot Pool at Hestheimar

Hot pool at Hestheimar

5. Enjoy Hot Beverages

Northern Lights, yes but not at just any price. You don’t want to be frozen to the bone or go home with a cold. Our partners have thought of everything and kindly offer you refreshments to keep you warm as you wait for the show to begin. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea, together with some homemade pastries and biscuits. Or perhaps you would rather opt for a glass of red wine served straight in the hot tub ?

Winter at Hotel Vos

Northern Lights over Hotel Vos

6. Stay Warm with Blankets

In addition to the hot beverages mentioned above, you might be provided with some warm blankets, like at Bjarg Guesthouse. This is as cosy and comfy as a northern lights adventure gets! And in case the northern lights are shy tonight, you will undoubtedly enjoy the comfort of a blanket while stargazing.

7. Enjoy the Show from the Comfort of a Home 

You are rather sensitive to cold and the idea of getting out at night gives you goosebumps ? Here again, our partners have got you covered.

At Vogur Country Lodge, you might want to ask for their special room located on the upper floor, where the large skylights bring the northern lights straight to your bed!

At Hótel Laki, we recommend you go up to the roof, where there is a heated glasshouse, from which it is absolutely fabulous to be sitting and look at the northern lights on a crispy winter night.

At Hótel Lækur, northern lights can be seen from the lounge area and the kitchen, providing all the comfort of a home and wonderful views. Gunnar, the host, is also really keen on giving you advice on how to photograph the northern lights.

Northern Lights over Hotel Lækur

Northern Lights over Hotel Lækur

Likewise, at Dalshöfði, you can get a first glimpse of the northern lights from the large bay windows of the dining room, with lights off and candles on before following the paved track outside to get your best shot. 

Skorrahestar Guesthouse also has a so-called "northern lights window", ideal for the waiting. There, you are also welcome to go on a late-night visit into the sheep shed to pet the sheep and horses while waiting for the green lights. It spares you a trip outside, and once you spotted northern lights, you are free to go admire them better. 

In Stöng, in Mývatn area, is a lounge with an almost 360° glass window, where you can sit and watch the show comfortably, with absolutely no light pollution from the other farms around.

In Hotel Grímsborgir, you can access the terrace directly from your room and watch the lights dance endlessly.

Northern lights over Grimsborgir

Northern Lights over Hotel Grímsborgir

8. Low light pollution, far from city lights

Our selection of accommodation are located in the countryside, far from city lights, thus with very low to inexisting light pollution.

At Hotel Kríunes, located by Elliðavatn, in the outskirts of Reykjavík, you don’t have to embark on a northern lights hunt, as they are coming to you! The area boasts some of the best conditions for northern lights, with mesmerizing games of reflection on the lake. A delight for photographers.

Northern Lights seen from Kriunes Hotel

Northern Lights seen from Hotel Kríunes

Blábjörg surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for northern lights sightings: you can either drive into Njarðvíkurskriður, from which you will get a wide view and a pitch black (we mean green!) night, or walk some 50 meters from the guesthouse to the old pier, which makes for the perfect foreground. Northern lights to the sound of the waves, anyone?

In Neðra-Vatnshorn, we recommend you take a sit on the bench of the outdoor patio and enjoy the moment !

9. Extinguish the lights on-site to enhance the Northern Lights experience 

Although our hosts have most likely seen the northern lights a hundred times, what they want is YOU to experience them and go home with unforgettable memories. If the forecast are good, our hosts are willing to switch off or adapt the outdoor lighting to enhance the Northern Lights experience. You won’t have to blame that lamp post for your pictures, the only thing that will dazzle you tonight will be northern lights.

Note that some places like Vatnsholt even provide flashlights at the lobby for guests wishing to walk in the area.

Northern Lights in Iceland

10. Go on a Themed Tour

Stella and Gísli, your hosts at Heydalur have designed a tour to make you experience the northern lights at the fullest in one of the most remote, yet magnificent regions of Iceland, the Westfjords. Because the fjords deserve a few days of exploration, the tour combines great outdoor activities such as hiking, snow-shoe walking, ice-fishing, horseback riding, kayaking (available in September and October) and relaxation in the local hot springs. In the evening, you will be rewarded with foodies delights and - that’s why we are here! - northern lights.  

Hey Iceland has many more partners that are also part of our Northern Lights friendly accommodations. Check them out!

We also recommend that you check our full selection of northern lights tours and activities.

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