Beautiful Northern Lights in Reykjavík and Winter Activities in Iceland
I have noticed that one of the main "things" which our foreign visitors want to witness in wintertime in Iceland are the Northern Lights.
I am often asked if there will be Northern Lights tonight or in January, February, etc - and at what time the lights will be on, as it were, but we locals honestly never know when they are going to show up.
Top photo: Northern Lights as seen from my balcony
Northern Lights as seen from the 12th floor in my mother-in-law's block of flats in Reykjavík
A clear and dark sky is of the essence so that the Northern Lights can be visible to us, and they start appearing to the naked eye around mid-August. By that time the nights start to get dark again after almost unlimited daylight during the Icelandic summer months.
The Northern Lights can often be seen in the city and in spite of the light pollution I often get to witness some fantastic Northern Lights show from my balcony here in Reykjavík.
Northern Lights in Reykjavík
The Northern Lights in my photos were the first Northern Lights I saw last September from my balcony. It started with a single pillar of light in the sky, which then turned into one of the most fantastic shows I have ever seen in Reykjavík.
The Northern Lights were dancing and flickering in the sky, changing from green to white to the most beautiful pink colour.
Northern Lights in November 2022 in Reykjavík
When it is dark outside in wintertime I often look out of my window to see if there are any Northern Lights, as we never know when or if they are going to show up.
When I see a glimpse or the full show, I rush out with my small camera and take some photos, and marvel at this extraordinary sight.
Photos are from my balcony
My photos are not at all professional, as I just go outside and take photos in a jiffy, without a tripod and the necessary preparations.
But I add them here anyway to show you what the Northern Lights can look like in the city.
You will get much better photos of the Northern Lights if you use a tripod and long exposure, as the Northern Lights are flickering and moving the whole time.
Northern Lights in Reykjavík as seen from my balcony
You can join many guided Northern Lights tours from Reykjavík, where the guides will take you on a Northern Lights hunt.
The photographer Iurie Belegurschi, has taken some very professional photos of the Northern Lights and offers many photography tours around Iceland.
Northern Lights at Mývatn North Iceland as seen from the summer cottage
My husband's family owns a summer cottage in North Iceland, in the amazing Mývatn area, and there, away from the light pollution of the city, I have seen the most magnificent and long-lasting Northern Lights, which I have ever witnessed in my life.
The lights were flickering in the sky all night long - and the next night as well! My photo above was shot at the cottage in September.
The Aurora Reykjavík - the Northern Lights Center
If you happen to be visiting Iceland in the summertime, when the Northern Lights are not visible, then I recommend that you visit Aurora Reykjavík - the Northern Lights Centre, where you can watch the sky dancing all year round.
At Aurora Reykjavík, you will get to know all about the Northern Lights, how they are formed and where they come from, etc. The very knowledgeable staff will help you set your camera to the right Northern Lights settings and give you tips on how to photograph the Northern Lights.
At Aurora Reykjavík
At Aurora Reykjavík, you can watch a beautiful film on the Northern Lights, where you will be able to watch some extraordinary photos of the Northern Lights all over Iceland.
The 30-minute long film is running non-stop while the exhibition is open, and you can either take a seat in one of the chairs or lie on the floor in beanbags or on fur and stay as long as you like.
Photo taken at the Aurora Reykjavík exhibition, my Finnish friend and I enjoying the virtual Northern Lights :)
I want to visit Aurora Reykjavík again, if just for the serenity of sitting in a beanbag on the floor and watching the film - highly recommended :)
It is also quite spectacular to put on the 360° virtual reality goggles and watch the Northern Lights up close.
Another alternative is to visit the Planetarium at Perlan - the Pearl and watch a 20-minute-long show on Iceland bathed in the Northern Lights.
Winter weather in Reykjavík
Reykjavík center in November - a snowed-in car
I have often been asked the question: "What will the weather be like in November, December, January, etc?" That is difficult to answer, as the weather changes so much here in Iceland that we never know what to expect.
But to get a better idea of what winter is like here in Iceland you can read one of the many winter articles on Guide to Iceland. Articles have been written about what to expect when visiting Iceland in any given month of the year, f.ex. Iceland in February and Iceland in March.
Reykjavík in November
Fortunately, we have the Gulf stream to warm us up a bit, but we can also experience some cold days with a lot of snow. So do come prepared for cold weather, as it can get very windy and we often experience blizzards.
Wear layers and bring a parka, a hat, a scarf, and gloves. And wear sturdy, non-slippery winter boots.
If you plan on renting a car in Iceland and driving around, make sure that you will get good winter tires or studded tires for better grip, as the roads are often both snowy and icy.
An ice cave in Breiðamerkurjökull glacier
During your winter visit don't miss out on visiting the ice caves, they are absolutely amazing.
We have ice caves in Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and the Katla ice cave by Vík, to name a few of them.
An ice cave in Breiðamerkurjökull glacier - the black ice is ash trapped inside the ice
Katla ice cave is open all year round, but the seasonal ice caves are only open in the wintertime when it is safe to enter them.
You can also visit an Ice Cave in Perlan - the Pearl if you don't have time to visit the ice caves in South Iceland.
The Ice Cave in the Pearl is 100 meters long and located inside one of the water tanks of the Pearl, one of the landmarks of Reykjavík.
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and the Ice Diamond Beach at Breiðamerkursandur is also very popular destination and glacier hikes are always popular.
Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
For more information on the Northern Lights read Nanna's article about the Northern Lights in Iceland. And you can find the Northern Lights forecast here.
Have a wonderful winter visit to my country - I hope you get to experience some beautiful snow and see the Northern Lights:)
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