Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland

There were 3 things I wanted to do on this trip to Iceland: Visit the Solheimasandur plane crash, pet some Icelandic horses and see the Northern Lights. I'm happy to say that I was able to accomplish all three of these things and the Northern Lights were definitely high on my list! It's been on my bucket list for years. I've tried a couple of times before to see them on my previous trip to Iceland and in Alaska, but no luck. This time, with some planning, I was able to finally see the majestic aurora borealis!

Northern lights seen at Myvatn in Iceland

Northern lights seen at Myvatn in Iceland

Before planning our trip to Iceland, I had to make sure I was going on the right dates. I wanted to visit 1) when it wasn't too cold, 2) when the moon wasn't at it's peak brightness and 3) still be in the aurora borealis season. I used two sites to help me out with my planning: Northern Lights Iceland and Moon Connection. I chose April 2 - April 10 because the temperatures were starting to rise, the moon would be at it's darkest during that week and it was still in season for the Northern Lights. It was a bit risky going in the beginning of April since the season was coming to an end, but I read plenty of posts and articles stating that they still saw the lights, so I was optimistic. I also chose to stay 2 nights in cities where it was mostly secluded and the Northern Lights were popularly seen - Myvatn and Hvammastagi.

The beautiful colors of the Northern Lights

The beautiful colors of the Northern Lights

The first night we saw the Northern Lights was in Myvatn. We stayed in a tiny cabin (I mean SUPER tiny) and at around midnight, we turned off the lights and looked out the window. We saw some sort of cloud forming in the distance, but at first, we thought it was a reflection coming from inside. To be sure, we got dressed in all our layers, grabbed our photo gear and ran outside. We still weren't sure if that cloud was actually the Northern Lights, so we took a photo and OMG it was the NORTHERN LIGHTS!!! I couldn't believe it. The colors were so much more vibrant in the pictures and we were getting so excited, jumping up and down.

Northern lights getting brighter throughout the night in Myvatn

Northern lights getting brighter throughout the night in Myvatn

After a few minutes, the lights started getting brighter and it was definitely more apparent that these were the Northern Lights. We went crazy taking all sorts of pictures and people started coming out of their cabins gasping in amazement. As the night went on, the lights got even brighter and started spreading all over the sky. It was such an incredible moment.

The northern lights shining over the peaceful pond in Myvatn

The northern lights shining over the peaceful pond in Myvatn

The next day, we drove to Hvammastagi and our little cabin was so darn cute! This place was even more secluded and only about 7 cabins around us. We thought we were super lucky being able to see the Northern Lights the night before and didn't think we'd be able to see them again, but OMG WE SAW THEM AGAIN!! This time they appeared around 10:30pm and we were more casual about it and took our time taking our photos.

Second night seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Second night seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

I had the perception that the Northern Lights appeared and disappeared within minutes, but you actually have plenty of time to take it all in and take tons of photos at different angles. We were out for at least an hour on both nights viewing the pretty lights. This night, we noticed them right away and the lights were much brighter and more playful. They were actually dancing in the sky! I was just staring up at the sky in amazement. I was so happy at how incredibly lucky we were to see them two nights in a row with such a show.

Northern lights in Hvammastagi

Northern lights in Hvammastagi

I hope these tips help you out in seeing the Northern Lights if you're in Iceland during the season. Of course, you have to factor in weather and the activity level, but if you're in Iceland for at least 5 days, I think your chances are pretty high. If all these factors align, you can even see them in Reykjavik pretty clearly.