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Frequently Asked Questions

About Northern Lights Tours & Holidays in Iceland

Seeing the northern lights is something many hope to experience—and this is possible in Iceland. The northern lights may appear whenever the sky is dark and clear, but northern lights tours take you away from the light pollution of cities and towns to provide you with the best shot at catching the celestial display.

1.  When is the best time to see the northern lights?

During winter nights when the sky is dark and cloudless. A lack of light pollution also improves visibility, so leaving the town or city is recommended.

2. What region in Iceland is best for spotting the northern lights?

North Iceland and the Westfjords have less hours of sunlight per day during the wintertime than the rest of the country, so those areas present more opportunities. The northern lights are regularly seen in all regions of Iceland, however, so long as the sky is dark and clear.

3. Is a sighting of the northern lights guaranteed on the tours?

No, the northern lights are a natural phenomenon and sightings can never be guaranteed. Tour operators try to predict them the best they can, according to solar wind- and weather forecasts.

4. What happens if I don’t see the northern lights on the tour?

There are no refunds, but most operators allow you to try once more, free of charge. Please contact the tour operator for a re-scheduling and further details.

5. What happens if the tour is cancelled?

You can either decide to move it to another date or get a full refund.

6. How long does the tour last?

It depends on the tour you choose, please contact a travel planner for further information.

7. Is the tour going to be on a big bus or a minibus?

We have a great selection of tours, and you can choose between a minibus, a big bus, a super jeep and a boat.

8. Can I see the northern lights in the summer?

Not at the height of summer, but it’s possible in late August when autumn is approaching and the nights get dark.

9. What colour are the northern lights?

The northern lights are most commonly green, but if they are particularly strong, they can also be purple, red, pink, white and blue.

10. Why are the northern lights so common in Iceland?

Iceland has long dark nights throughout the winter, providing the perfect canvas for the northern lights to appear. Also, Iceland is situated well above the 60° north latitude line, which is the lowest point on which the lights are regularly seen.

Customer reviews

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Overall, it was a fantastic 3 day tour . Although the weather is changeable, our tour guide Heimir rearrange the order of the stops flexibly to make sure we could join both glacier hiking , ice cave and other spots. To be honest, I felt a little disappointed about the glacier hiking due to the time we staying on the glacier. The time was quite short but I thought is was disrpted by the bad weather. The storm came right away when we arrived the parking lot. As for ice cave, we were really lucky to see a quite big and beautiful one . And we had enough time to take pictures in the cave and there were only our group. We finished these two activities on the second day because the weather was awful on the third day. Besides, we were unlucky that it wasn’t the right time to see the dimonds on the beach ,which I eager to see, however; our gide Heimir took us to another place th see the dimonds near the glacier . Dimonds there were really spectacular and was one of my favorite spots in Iceland . To conclude, I felt thankful for the all arrangement of our guide , or we might miss those activities and amazing sceneries if I we went by ourselves . I definitely satisfy this 3 day tour!

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Our tour was in early March 2018. We were lucky with the weather and it was beautiful every day. The tour was easy to setup up just note the communications might not be immediate depending on time zone (I am in US). It did not affect any of the travel. I recommend at your hotel to ask where the tour buses pick up passengers. Ours was not clear and our guide Sveinbjorn had to search us out. Sveinbjorn was a fantastic guide. Was a safe driver and could definitely relax and watch the scenery without worry. He takes pride in his country and enjoys talking about it with a passion. He made sure were on time and had it set where we arrived earlier at places then other tour groups which made it easy for us to get around. If the place was dangerous he made sure the group knew (multiple times). What I liked is I learned more about Iceland from him then any other resource. Now more about the trip. Each day we were on the road by 8 local time so the day starts early. All the hotels were nice and there were some brand new ones. A travel note is once you are at a hotel expect to be there and no other exploring since they are isolated. I personally was nervous about hiking the glacier but our guide (did not remember his name) kept me at ease and it was a great experience. The ice caves were fantastic and a lot of it was due to our guide Faye. She kept us entertained and played Icelandic rock music for us. All the places we stopped were interesting and we were glad we did the extended tours to the east side of the island (away from most of the tourists). I think my only frustrating thing was the end of the tour from Akureyri back to Reykjavík. We did not spend any time in Akureyri because our plane left about 11:00am local time. Might have been nice to seen more of Akureyri. And once we arrived back in Reykjavík we assumed there would be transportation since the tour asked where we were staying once we got back in Reykjavík but we had to find it ourselves. Plenty of taxis just be aware. I recommend a new visitor to the island to use a tour company and I think you will enjoy your stay

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8 Day Winter Excursion | Guided Circle of Iceland Minibus Tour

4.9 average rating | 16 reviews

8 Day Winter Excursion | Guided Circle of Iceland Minibus Tour

We joined the 8-day tour with our guide Svein in March, hunting for amazing Aurora and beautiful landscapes. In the end, I left my camera on the minibus. Svein was so kind to send it back to me. I was really appreciate it.

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I really want to take the time to write a proper review for this awesome tour. I just got back home to the USA last night, and am off again tomorrow on a business trip to TX, so this has to be brief right now! It's not difficult to give this tour 5 stars ! Our guide, Olafur Valtyr Rognvaldsson (better and more easily known as OLI) was awesome! He kept us entertained throughout the tour, and was a font of all knowledge relating to Iceland and its heritage. He was also our driver (we did not have both a driver and a guide, Oli did double duty) and we felt very safe with him driving through the snow and rain. I was glad I was not driving in that! Our minibus seated 20, and there were 18 of us on the tour, so it was a little snug in the bus, but not too bad. (The worst part was the couple who kept eating dried fish - the smell of very fishy dried fish in a warm bus was a little nauseating to say the least!) Oli was pretty good at keeping us on schedule, and was very flexible in moving things around so that we were able to see all the major sites in reasonably good weather. We did the Ice Cave Walk on the second day rather than the third day to take advantage of the fact that it was the end of the season and it would be closing on our last day. We also went to a different glacier from the original one on our schedule because the snow was coming down thick and fast on the one we were supposed to climb and it would not have been a pleasant trek. We had an awesome guide for the glacier walk - he made sure we were all safe, and gave us lots of information about the glacier. We also had the opportunity to sample nature's 'champagne' - 700yr old crystal clear ice! Big G (our guide) climbed up a ways to hack out some clean and clear ice for us to try. We were glad of it at that point, as the climb up the glacier left us all hot and sweaty, despite the cool weather! All of the areas we visited were outstanding. The waterfalls, the beaches, the national parks were spectacular and we had plenty of time at each to enjoy the sites. The Geyser was interesting ... I expected something like Old Faithful, but it was a much tamer version! Still fun, though! One of the most fun parts of the trip was when Oli took us to a 'secret' waterfall - we waded through a stream and climbed over rocks to get through an opening and when we entered through the gap in the rocks, there was a fantastic waterfall hidden from the road. Really cool way to end our tour! Oli also took us to see the Icelandic horses, which wasn't technically a part of the tour, but was a testament to his flexibility and him wanting us to have a great experience. He also pointed out a great place to see the Aurora, but unfortunately, we had cloud both nights and so we were not able to view that natural phenomenon. Although we were there at the beginning of April, it was still pretty chilly in the mornings and evenings, and when the wind blew it was bitingly cold! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the two hotels we stayed in. Both were very clean, and while the rooms were small, modern and minimalist, they were very comfortable. Be warned, though, that the food in the hotels is VERY expensive! We were a captive audience at the first hotel and dinner was $US44 a person - a small bbq chicken breast, three boiled potatoes and a scoop of boiled vegetables!! Tasty, but extortionately priced for what really could only be described as Diner food. The second hotel, in Hofn, was expensive too, but the food was stellar and much better value than the first hotel. Regardless, both hotels were very nice and food in Iceland is very expensive everywhere. The breakfasts in both hotels were very nice and you could certainly eat a substantial amount to keep you going throughout the day. I would, without a shadow of doubt, recommend this tour if you want to experience Iceland at its best. Our guide, Oli, was excellent and from what I am reading from other reviews, so are all the other guides used by Aurora Hunters. But, of course, we think we got the best one!!! Thanks to Oli (Olafur Valtyr Rognvaldsson - I sure hope I spelled that correctly!) we had a fantastic trip.

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7 Day Northern Lights Self Drive Tour | Destination Ice Cave

4.8 average rating | 92 reviews

7 Day Northern Lights Self Drive Tour | Destination Ice Cave

Just came back from the tour and everything was great. The whole trip was well organised and we were also very lucky with the weather .... I'm sorry to say it is of great importance. We started early and I strongly recommend to do that to beat the biggest crowds. Do double check the roads while you have Wifi as the GPS took us on a closed road and we ended up doing a little 100 km detour... We had the comfort package and all hotels were great except the last one. First five nights were all at nice clean hotels but the last one in Reykjavik was at the Fosshotel Baron, great location but not very updated or clean. Definitely not a comfort hotel but more of a budget. As many others noted food is expensive, even if you eat hamburgers and pizza. I would absolutely recommend to book with Guid to Iceland as this tour really gets yo to see the major attractions. We drove 1600 km in 5 days so get ready to drive :-)

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6 Day Guided Winter Tour | Highlights of South, East & North Iceland

4.9 average rating | 18 reviews

6 Day Guided Winter Tour | Highlights of South, East & North Iceland

We completed this tour in March 2018 and our tour guide was Hildigunnur(Hildi). The whole tour was an amazing experience from start to finish. Our wonderful guide Hildi was a great ambassador for her country and ensured that we not only enjoyed the trip but also received a great insight into the history, culture and geography of Iceland. Nothing was too much trouble for her as she would help us with scheduled or unscheduled stops for photos, trying local produce and understand in local folklore. The trip was well planned with convenient stops and lovely accommodation. The atmosphere which Hildi created was one of comfort and relaxation while enjoying some unbelievable scenery. We enjoyed not having to rush which we would have done if we did day tours from Reykjavik. All in all a great tour with an excellent, caring and fun tour guide.

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Wasn't sure whether a tour was the way to go but it was great. Our guide Hilmar navigated some ferocious weather expertly and then adjusted our schedule the next day when the roads closed. That let us get in all we were promised plus some bonus sites despite the delay. His stories and knowledge enhanced the trip for sure and having a driver let me concentrate on the sights. Great trip.

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Ragnheiður was a fun and great guide with an amazingly positive attitude and we enjoyed the trip immensely. She kept us very comfortable and made the most of our time with good pacing of the viewpoints and visits with plenty of rest-stops in between. The sights were all well picked and provided a wonderful view into the natural treasures of Iceland. Very happy with the tour and our wonderful guide Ragnheiður.

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Iceland provides a plethora of stunning landscapes and unimaginable geographical wonder! Wanting a unique honeymoon location, i can't be happier with my decision. A travelers dream and a photographers heaven, this four day tour is absolutely recommended for first time tourists to get a taste of its magic. In the comfort of a luxury tour bus led by a knowledgable guide, we were taken to a few of the major features of the so called "land of the gods." Covering the golden circle, glacier hiking, ice caves and some stunning waterfalls, the tour is well paced providing each traveler enough time to let it all sink in without wasting any time. The unpredictable weather of Iceland may hinder with the schedule, but our guide would make sure to make the best of clear skies, and keep us safe and warm during a storm. The hotel location at Hofn is absolutely beautiful, and if you're lucky enough to catch the Northern lights, like we were, well trust me it can't get better than that.

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Northern Lights Minibus Tour

4.5 average rating | 110 reviews

Northern Lights Minibus Tour

Highly recommend this tour. We had booked for our first night but there was 0 prediction so the tour was cancelled and we rescheduled for the next night. The tour went ahead and our guide drove us an hour out of Reykjavik and stopped in a remote spot off the road. We waited a little while and then saw a glimpse of the Northern Lights - not that much to see but still a magical experience! After we had seen the lights, loads of coaches went past looking for somewhere to stop - they must have missed the show. Definitely worth choosing a minibus tour over a coach tour!

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2 Day Ice Cave Tour | South Coast Waterfalls & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

4.8 average rating | 195 reviews

2 Day Ice Cave Tour | South Coast Waterfalls & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Amazing tour!! We were able to see everything listed as well as some other places since we had a bit of free time. Our driver/ guide was very knowledgable and gave us a lot of history and insight into the land and culture. Very glad we chose to do it, well worth the money

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8 Day Winter Wonderland | National Parks & Ice Cave

4.6 average rating | 15 reviews

8 Day Winter Wonderland | National Parks & Ice Cave

This was a great trip, Francisco at Guide to Iceland was a great help and answered a whole bunch of random questions from us over the course of planning our trip. All of the tours and accommodations went nice and smoothly. We went with the mid-range hotel options and were placed in the Hotel Klettur in Reykjavik which was an awesome location. It was just a 2 or 3 block walk down to the main shopping/dining street and all of the tour buses picked us up right in front of the hotel (as opposed to meeting at a bus stop like it seemed some of the other hotels had to do). Our kids had really pushed for the high-end hotel option, but I think we picked the right one - we didn't fly to Iceland to have a fancy hotel experience after all. We went on 2 over night trips with Troll Expeditions. The buses were nice, though the "south coast tour" involved a lot more time sitting in the bus than I expected (we were driving through a nasty storm both days) but was worth it. I think the only mistake we made was opting for the northern lights by boat trip. We had figured that a boat would have more freedom to move around and find clear skies, but we basically motored out of the harbor and then made a couple of big circles in the same place for a while, all the time socked in by clouds. I think we'll try a mini-bus northern lights tour on our next visit, other travelers generally gave them more positive reviews.

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7 Day Northern Lights Self Drive Tour | Destination Ice Cave

4.8 average rating | 92 reviews

7 Day Northern Lights Self Drive Tour | Destination Ice Cave

Guide to Iceland was excellent to work with. The tour was very well arranged, all reservations went off without a hitch. David was prompt to reschedule a tour when requested. The hotels were all top-notch, and at the IcelandAir Hotel in Vik, we clearly had the best room in the whole place. The itinerary summaries were really helpful and all of the tips and tricks were great. I highly recommend reading up on driving habits in Iceland (how to pass on 2 lane highways, right of ways for traffic circles, etc), as it is a bit different from US and other parts of Europe. The 4x4 Toyota from MyCar was nearly brand-new, had winter studded tires, and served us very well. Guide to Iceland was a great way to make a well-organized visit to Iceland. It was especially nice though to go off the list to some less crowded hikes and sites as well. Thanks!

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It was a wonderful experience. The tour guide of my trip was excellent and knowledgeable. We made good friends and so as the other members of our trip. We saw beautiful aurora in two nights at our hotels. The last day in Akureyri is a bit disappointing due to the accomodation. Point to note is that the 6 days 7 days and 8 days tour were grouped together. I could recommend an 8 days tour so that you do not have to take a flight from Akureyri back to Reykjavik. Instead you could travel to the west a bit and back to Reykjavik by the bus.

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6 Day Guided Winter Tour | Highlights of South, East & North Iceland

4.9 average rating | 18 reviews

6 Day Guided Winter Tour | Highlights of South, East & North Iceland

We had a wonderful 6 day tour with Ragnheiður. She is a fantastic guide, giving us extra time at places and showing us special places not on the itinerary. Our group of 9 bonded well, in part by our guide and we had a lot of fun seeing the sights of such a beautiful country, taking selfies, playing in the snow, exploring ice caves, hiking up a glacier...the list goes on! The accommodations were fantastic and really added to the experience. We were also fortunate to see the aurora which was a highlight of the trip. I had a wonderful trip and many stories to take home.

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What are the Northern Lights?

The northern lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis, are phenomena that occur at high latitudes when solar particles ionise as they enter the earth's atmosphere, appearing in the night sky in the form of waving ribbons of colour. These ‘ribbons’ have captivated their viewers for centuries, bringing about def defying awe and unspeakable mystery.

The northern lights are, in fact, occurring throughout the year, yet it is only during the dark winter nights that they become visible to the human eye. This is, naturally, what makes northern light hunting one of the most popular winter activities in Iceland. You can partake in numerous tours that take you to the best northern lights spotting locations, such as an affordable Northern Lights Bus Tour that takes you far away from the city's light-pollution, or a Northern Lights Boat Cruise that allows you to witness the auroras out on the open sea. Outside of Scandinavia, it is only possible to go northern light hunting in such places as Alaska, northern Canada and Siberia. 

Modern scientific understanding of the northern lights did not mature until the 1880's when researchers discovered their connection to solar activity. Further study, seventy years later, would deepen this revelation, with new breakthroughs made in the knowledge that electrons and protons travel to earth on a ‘solar wind’. Today, research is ongoing into the northern lights as we further our understanding of deep space and our connection to it.

The northern lights have long been known to the Scandinavian people, inspiring some of the greatest and longstanding tales to have ever come out of Norse Mythology.

One of the most prominent of these relates to Ragnarök, a great future battle that, as foretold, will see the world submerged in water, and a significant number of the Gods dead, including the likes of Odin, Thor and Loki. After the events of Ragnarök, it is said that the world will be born anew, strengthening the ancient themes of birth, death and rebirth.

To prepare for this battle, Odin, the Chieftain of Asgard, would summon his most prized warriors, the Valkyries, female battle-maidens who rode on horseback carrying spears and shields. Ancient stories would surmise that the northern lights were a reflection of this Valkyrian armour.

Another widely spoken about interpretation is that the aurora was the ‘Bifrost Bridge’, a rainbow walkway that led deceased warriors into the glorious, glowing halls of Valhalla.

To the Icelandic Vikings, the aurora was a phenomenon to be celebrated, a popular trend that has continued to this day with countless Northern Lights tours taking place across the land of Ice and Fire. Neighbouring Scandinavians, however, were less than trustful.

Many Norse people, such as the indigenous Finno-Ugric people, the Sámi, felt that the lights were to be feared. Believing these dancing green, red and yellow light waves to be the souls of the dead, the Sámi were careful to never show any sign of disrespect towards the lights, be that whistling beneath them, singing, talking or even waving them to them.

It is said, that those who fail to heed these warnings will be pulled up into the sky, forever trapped among these nocturnal spirits. Due to this slumbering myth, it is thought that some Sámi people, even today, will not go outside when the northern lights dance above.

It is perhaps the Finnish who have the most beautiful allegory for the auroras, believing them to be created by the arctic fox, an animal that just so happens to be Iceland’s only native mammal. The Finnish name for the aurora translates to “Fire Fox”, a direct reference to the ethereal fox that would dash so quickly across the night sky that his tail would brush against the mountains, thus causing a vast and colourful outburst of sparks.

Still, another interpretation of the arctic fox story differs somewhat, and provides some justification on the part of an ancient people as to why the lights only appeared in winter; instead of sparks, the fox’ tail was thought to have kicked up snowflakes into the air which then caught the light of the moon.

When it comes down to the folklore of Iceland particularly, it was believed that the northern lights helped to soothe the pain of childbirth, though women who had yet to give birth were warned not to look at them directly, in fear that the child would be born cross-eyed.

During your visit in Iceland, you have the option of seeing the northern lights on your own. But should you want to view them from the best spots, far away from the light-pollution of human settlements, you would be well advised to take a northern lights tour, in which a knowledgable guide tells you all there is to know about this fantastic phenomenon.

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