The Best Northern Lights Hotels in Iceland

The Best Northern Lights Hotels in Iceland

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The northern lights, as seen above an accommodation in Iceland. Discover the top northern lights hotels in Iceland. Increase your chances of seeing the northern lights and enjoy one of the best winter activities in Iceland in amazing locations.

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are one of the unique experiences you'll enjoy in Iceland. Every year, Icelanders are rewarded with great views of this natural wonder.

The country has a lot of remote areas amidst beautiful landscapes, far from the city lights, for the best viewing locations. However, Iceland's capital, Reykjavik city, is not a great place to hunt for this phenomenon because light pollution can drown them out.

See the northern lights during a self-drive tour.

Though you can join northern lights tours departing from Reykjavik—including bus tours, minibus adventures, private tours, and boat tours—you can maximize your chances of seeing the aurora by staying at a hotel in the beautiful Icelandic countryside. If you are looking for the best accommodation to see the northern lights, you can find establishments tailored to different kinds of travelers all over Iceland.

What are the Northern Lights?

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon that occurs when solar particles enter the atmosphere over arctic and subarctic regions. These particles create vivid colors like violet, electric green, and even pink.

The aurora often appears as a cloud-like band across the sky, but when intense, the lights can dance flamboyantly, creating the most mesmerizing displays. As such, witnessing them is a top bucket list activity for many travelers.

The only time to see the northern lights of Iceland is during winter, mainly between September and April. In summer, the midnight sun outshines and obscures the aurora borealis, so it isn't possible to see the northern lights between mid-May and early August.

Where to Stay to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

You can stay in Reykjavik if you want to see the northern lights by car or on a guided tour, but those staying out in the countryside can see them with more ease. The following hotels are far from light pollution and close to amazing spots to see the aurora borealis all around the country. 

Fosshotel Nupar

Fosshotel Nupar is found near Iceland's South Coast.Photo from Fosshotel Nupar

Fosshotel Nupar is a three-star hotel with a prime location near the South Coast that can provide you with the perfect resting spot at the end of your northern lights hunting trail. The hotel is near Route 1, also known as the famous Ring Road of Iceland, and has a rating of 4/5 stars from over 1,060 reviews.

The hotel is an excellent accommodation where you can take in the awe-inspiring northern lights from the comforts of your chosen room.

What you'll immediately notice about the property surrounding the accommodations is its spaciousness. With plenty of room to roam and unobstructed views, you'll be able to keep an eye on the sky and watch for elusive auroral activity.

Kirkjubaejarklaustur's view from above.

Photo from Regina Ragnarsdóttir

Fosshotel Nupar is located in a remote settlement called Kirkjubaejarklaustur village, which makes it even easier to view the aurora borealis from the nearby open plains.

There are also some fantastic natural attractions nearby, which you can use as foregrounds for unique photos of the northern lights.

The Skaftafell Nature Reserve, 28 miles (45 kilometers) east, is characterized by glaciers, basalt rock formations, and waterfalls. The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is slightly more distant, 61.1 miles (98.3 kilometers) from the hotel, but the views of the aurora borealis over the lake of icebergs are breathtaking.

In the opposite direction, you can travel 65 miles (105 kilometers) to reach the mystical black sands of Reynisfjara beach.

Being near so many natural attractions also allows you to take part in fun winter excursions in Iceland when staying at Fosshotel Nupar. For instance, a trip to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon can be coupled with an ice cave tour in Vatnajokull glacier. Vatnajokull glacier is the largest of its kind in the whole of Europe.

Before and after a long day of adventure, seeking out a bit of local flavor is easy to do during your stay at Fosshotel Nupar. Kirkjubaejarklaustur is home to top eateries such as Systrakaffi and Kjarr Restaurant.

Meal you can eat at the Fosshotel Nupar restaurant. Photo from Fosshotel Nupar

If you prefer to eat at the hotel, there's a restaurant and bar onsite where you can order meals and refreshments. The restaurant also offers a daily breakfast buffet for an additional fee.

It's safe to say that you won't go hungry when staying at this top hotel.

Fosshotel Nupar accommodates various group sizes with a combination of room layouts. The hotel has 99 rooms, which allows for single, double, and triple occupancy. 

The Fosshotel brand offers a variety of accommodations across Iceland, trusted by travelers for quality and excellent service. At Fosshotel Nupar, you'll find all the amenities you need to ensure your comfort, including free Wi-Fi and parking, as well as tour and ticket assistance.

Hotel Laxa

Hotel Laxa, is a three star hotel near Lake Myvatn.Photo from Hotel Laxa

Hotel Laxa, sometimes called Laxa Hotel, is another three-star hotel that should be on your radar when looking for the perfect northern lights hotel during winter in Iceland. It has a rating of 4.5/5 stars from over 625 reviews.

Tall mountain peaks surround the flat plain where the hotel resides. However, its lack of towering trees and large buildings still allows you an unobstructed view of the northern lights. This feature is one of the many that makes Hotel Laxa a great stop during your Iceland vacation.

The hotel is located less than two miles (three kilometers) away from Lake Myvatn, one of the most famous attractions in North Iceland. Due to its location, you'll get stunning views of the aurora borealis over the beautiful waters.

The majestic Dettifoss waterfall near the Diamond Circle.

Hotel Laxa is on the Diamond Circle sightseeing route, the most famous road in the country's northeast. The area is well-known as the location of some of the most popular attractions in the region, including the Asbyrgi Canyon, Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss waterfall, and the coastal town of Husavik.

Due to the hotel's proximity to these sights, you can add a variety of activities to your itinerary, such as a whale-watching and puffin tour.

Spend your day enjoying hiking excursions, hot springs, and wildlife sightings, then marvel at the northern lights above you as night falls.

Hotel Laxa offers various room layouts, including a choice of a standard room or a lake view. There's also a bar and a restaurant onsite. Amenities such as Wi-Fi and free parking are included.

Reykjhalid village, near Lake Myvatn. This hotel also welcomes business groups for team retreats and provides a conference room for up to 25 people. As such, Hotel Laxa can meet the needs of a range of travelers.

The hotel is only 8.5 miles (13.5 kilometers) from the nearest settlement, Reykjahlid village, so you can purchase snacks and other necessities if needed.


Another top-tier option for a northern lights hotel can be found in South Iceland's Hella village. Landhotel is a four-star hotel that provides a stellar vantage point for watching the aurora borealis amongst mountains and countryside landscapes. Over 135 reviewers have given it a rating of 4.5/5 stars.

Landhotel with the northern lights above. Photo from Landhotel

The hotel is also close to the Golden Circle and the South Coast waterfalls, making it an excellent choice for travelers.

The Golden Circle, just like North Iceland's Diamond Circle, offers many attractions in one central location, including the spectacular Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and the cultural and geological wonder Thingvellir National Park.

These sites are not just among the most popular in Iceland but are particularly impressive under the northern lights.

After exploring the surrounding landscapes and Golden Circle attractions, you won't be disappointed with your Landhotel accommodation. For starters, every room at the Landhotel has a stunning view and sleeps up to three guests. There's also a separate sitting area and a refrigerator for your use.

A group enjoying their meal at the Fridheimar Tomato Farm. Photo from Fridheimar Travel Guide

Enjoy the hotel's sauna, or treat yourself to a relaxing massage at the onsite spa. And be sure to check out the small but exceptional nearby attractions of Fridheimar Tomato and Horse Farm and Solheimar Eco Village.

Another unique service the hotel offers is its series of yoga classes and multi-day yoga retreats. These take place outdoors, where the nature of Iceland surrounds and grounds your yoga practice. 

You can participate individually or as part of a group (a special rate is available) before spending your evenings hunting the northern lights.

The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, and a restaurant is available for lunch and dinner. If you're going out for the day, you can request a pre-packaged meal to take with you on your adventures. However, inform the staff in advance, so they have enough time to prepare your meal.

Seljalandsfoss Horizons

A Seljalandsfoss Horizons lodge, with a clear night sky. Photo from Seljalandsfoss Horizons

If you're staying in South Iceland, you could consider booking a luxurious cabin at Seljalandsfoss Horizons, another excellent accommodation for chasing the northern lights. Over 65 reviewers gave it a 4.5/5 star rating.

The nearest community to the hotel, Hvollsvollur town, is around 14 miles (23 kilometers) away, while the settlement of Hella is a bit further, at about 21 miles (34 kilometers).

Seljalandsfoss Horizons is also near the turf house Keldur and manor Oddi, which are around 15 miles (25 kilometers) away.

The cabins at Seljalandsfoss offer a cozy resting place amidst rustic surroundings for couples, groups of friends, and families of up to four. Each of the luxurious lodges has two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dishwasher, and a Nespresso coffee machine.

The northern lights above the Skogafoss waterfall.The open plains surrounding Seljalandsfoss Horizons give you the perfect opportunity to see the aurora borealis. Meanwhile, the distance from towns such as Hvollsvollur and Hella ensures you're far from residential lights, which can affect your viewing experience.

Nearby, you'll find several amazing destinations for hunting the northern lights. The hotel's namesake, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, is 19 miles (30.5 kilometers) away. The attraction is exceptional because it is one of the few falls where you can walk behind the curtain of cascading water.

Skogafoss waterfall is more powerful than Seljalandsfoss and even closer, just 17 miles (27.4 kilometers) away. You can even see the northern lights dance above the Solheimajokull glacier, 22.8 miles (36.7 kilometers) east.

The Seljavallalaug pool is open to the public, and is free. If you want to take a dip at one of Iceland's most picturesque swimming pools, check out the Seljavallalaug pool. The pool is 12.29 miles (19.77 kilometers) away from the hotel and has been a local fixture since the 1920s. Admission is free, but be advised that the changing facilities are rudimentary. 

Few experiences are more impressive than watching the northern lights in a geothermal pool.

Arnarstapi Hotel

On the Snaefellsnes Peninsula of Iceland, there's a small settlement of 150 people called Arnarstapi village. The village is home to the Arnarstapi Hotel, one of the best accommodations for seeing the northern lights in this breathtaking part of the country. Arnarstapi Hotel has a rating of 4.1/5 stars from over 210 reviews.

Arnarstapi Hotel, under the northern lights of Iceland. Photo from Arnarstapi Hotel

A vast open space with minimal trees surrounds Arnarstapi Hotel. Also, it's near the coastline of the peninsula. This setup creates a perfect location that allows you to see the aurora borealis across most of the property, while immersed in the peaceful Icelandic countryside setting.

The accommodation has several lodging options, including a guesthouse, private cabins, a hotel, and a campground. Therefore, if you are a solo traveler or coming with a group or family, Arnarstapi Hotel has everything to fit your needs.

The coastal town of Arnarstapi, surrounded by huge cliffs. On the hotel property, you'll have the option to eat at the hotel's two restaurants. The first one, Snjofell Restaurant, offers an American-style menu, while Arnarbaer Restaurant serves some of the best food in West Iceland.

You can also enjoy local cuisine at Arnarstapi's other restaurants, as well as on the greater Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

If you'd like to venture out to the neighboring communities, Hellnar village, an old fishing settlement, is 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) away. Here, you'll find local eateries and cafes with different types of food. One of the top places that locals recommend is Fjoruhusid restaurant, and their most popular menu item is fish soup.

There are plenty of unique places near Arnarstapi Hotel where you can witness the northern lights and make extraordinary memories.

One of the jewels of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Snaefellsjokull glacier, is only 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometers) northwest of the hotel. This geological wonder is over 700,000 years old and is also a favorite hiking destination for many visitors.

The Londrangar cliffs, near Aranrstapi.

The glacier is part of the spectacular Snaefellsjokull National Park, one of three national parks in Iceland.

Raudfeldsgja gorge, which means Red-Cloak Rift, is a beautiful site 2.9 miles (4.7 kilometers) north of Arnarstapi Hotel. Though you can't climb inside it during the winter, it makes for a great foreground when the auroras appear.

Budir is a great spot for seeing the northern lights.The Londrangar sea stacks, which are around five miles (8 kilometers) away, were once a volcanic crater. After battling with the ocean for millennia, what remains are two pillars standing tall upon the cliff. Londrangar's dramatic silhouette has earned it the nickname "the rocky castle."

A bit further from the other attractions mentioned above is the photogenic Budir Black Church. The church is 12.8 miles (20.6 kilometers) from the hotel. The all-black chapel offers excellent photo opportunities, presenting a stark contrast to the brilliant shades of the northern lights.

In Summary

Going to see the northern lights during winter in Iceland is an opportunity you won't want to miss. However, many Reykjavik hotels do not provide the best viewing opportunities because of the light pollution in the city.

Fortunately, going northern lights hunting along the Ring Road of Iceland allows you to visit areas with dark skies and clear weather. As such, you can maximize your chances with smart hotel choices.

The northern lights, looking beautiful above the Icelandic mountains.

By planning your winter holiday around the optimal hotels for aurora borealis viewing, you can see the lights at nearby attractions and even from the comfort of your hotel room.

Book your northern lights hotel today!

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