Though remote and isolated, surrounded on all sides by the winds and swells of the Atlantic and a snowflake away from the Arctic Circle, Iceland is impossible to ignore as a holiday destination. It's also one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. See itinerary ideas
Here, the outdoors is God, and its followers head into the wild interior each weekend to hike, ski, climb and kayak. The island offers some of the world's most exciting landscapes on a grand scale, where lava flows melt glaciers, giant waterfalls burst through igneous rock, thermal springs bubble away under freezing blizzards, and, on clear winter nights, the sky is swept with the radiant green of the Northern Lights.
What is the best month to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?
Although they’re visible from as early as October until as late as March, we recommend focusing your search from around late December to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, when nights are at their longest and the snowfall has settled, leaving clearer skies. Like Iceland’s weather, the aurora is famously unpredictable, but it is known to be at its most active between September and April. The winter months are ideal for a holiday to the area, given that cold, clear skies produce less rain and clouds making for excellent viewing conditions.
Which part of Iceland is best for Northern Lights?
Iceland's Golden Circle – a popular 300km loop from Reykjavik – offers some of the best vantage points for viewing the lights. However, you often don’t even need to stray from the Icelandic capital to catch a glimpse. On clear nights, the aurora can be spotted from Reykjavik's parks or at Grotta Lighthouse, while drives beyond the city limits gives you a better chance. There are also plenty of Northern Lights tours on offer in Iceland, with experienced guides who can bring travellers to little-known viewing spots.
Is Iceland dark in the winter?
Iceland, like its Scandinavian and Nordic neighbours, has many months of dark, cold weather. During winter, there is far less light because of the country’s high latitude, with maximum of 5 hours of light in December, meaning you’ll have to pack in those activities. However, it also means excellent Northern Lights viewing opportunities.
Is December a good time to go to Iceland?
December in Iceland is cold and dark, but also one of the best times to spot the Northern Lights, soak in hot tubs and the Blue Lagoon, and cosy up in log cabins and luxury hotels. Our Iceland's Northern Lights & Winter Wonders itinerary is ideal to explore the aurora's ballet as it includes a stay at an isolated hotel with almost no light pollution, meaning clear, dark skies, and perfect weather for the light show to reveal its psychedelic colours.
Northern Lights over Skogafoss, Iceland
Which is the best month to visit Iceland?
Something of a tale of two seasons, Iceland offers the best of both worlds, from summer fun to winter adventure. When you visit depends largely on what kind of scenery you’d prefer. If it’s the iconic snowscapes and desolate panoramas you’re after, stick to winter. If you prefer to be surrounded by greenery and a little more warmth, summer's your best bet. Iceland thrives in the winter season, but once it shakes off its dark nights, vibrant national parks and the midnight sun make for spectacular views and scope to explore even further. It's an ideal time for an epic self-drive, where you'll pass spectacular lakes, mountains and waterfalls. See this and more on our Highlights of Iceland Self-Drive or Iceland Express, where vast green landscapes give way to glaciers and an abundance of wildlife, including whales and puffins around the fjords.
Can you stay in an igloo in Iceland?
There are no igloos in Iceland, with the country preferring to leave that to its Finnish and Swedish neighbours. But, its luxury design hotels among dramatic national parks, private blue lagoon cabins and Scandi-style lodges are sure to delight. Luxury accommodation such as this is on the up in Iceland, and recent innovations mean architecturally-designed hotels now exist in the most remote areas, such as the spectacular ION Luxury Adventure Hotel. Here, Nordic themed rooms of concrete, blonde wood and soft sheepskin provide the setting inside, whilst outside, a vast, remote landscape gives way to the stunning show of the Northern Lights and the Golden Circle, the popular 300km route that loops from the capital into the southern uplands and back.
Strokkur, Golden Circle, Iceland
Reykjavik, South Coast & Golden Circle Holidays
The capital Reykjavik is a gateway for the dramatic scenery. It's the most northerly capital in the world, and the famous Blue Lagoon and Gullfoss waterfall can be easily reached from here. Our Hotel Ranga and the Blue Lagoon itinerary encompasses visits to the lagoon and waterfall as well as outdoor hot tubs, horse riding and a chance to see the Northern Lights.
Whilst it's the most visited area in the country, the south of Iceland is not to be missed. The spectacular scenery includes the Geysir and the Pingvellir and Vatnajökull National Parks, the latter of which is home to the Vatnajökull Glacier, bigger than all other European glaciers combined.
It's also home to the Breioamerkurjokull Glacier, where house-sized blocks of ice calve off and form icebergs. See all this spectacular scenery with our West and South Iceland Nature and wildlife break, ideal in any season, where you’ll also soak in geothermal pools, visit crater lakes and see whales and wild Icelandic horses.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
West Iceland Holidays
Even more rugged is West Iceland, the most westerly point in Europe, where a wild and largely untouched landscape plays host to fjords, foxes and Northern Lights that combine to form a spectacular landscape, with the Snaefellsjökull National Park, containing a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano, being one of the most notable.
There are also wonderful orca whale-watching opportunities on the North Atlantic coastline, and it's home to Mount Kirkjufell, the emblematic mountain of Iceland. Explore the wilds of the west further with our Snaefellsnes and the West Fjords self-drive to really get off the beaten track. You’ll explore glaciers and dormant volcanoes, as well as seeing the 440m-high sea cliffs alive with puffins, gannets and razorbills, recognised as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world.
The majestic eastern fjords are found on the opposite east coast, framed by mountain peaks and vast black desert expanse. From the rust-coloured Lonsoraefi wilderness to the enormous glacial inlets, the east presents a continuation of this country’s epic landscapes. Explore it within the Highlands & Lowlands of Iceland self-drive, where you’ll see the wild terrain of the Highlands and lava fields, and visit the horse-breeding valley of the Skagafjörður fjord.
North Iceland Holidays
The north of the island might see fewer visitors, but still boasts dramatic landscapes to rival . The scenic Diamond Circle route takes in the highlights; the geothermal Myvatn area, Dettifoss waterfall and sheer cliffs of the Asbyrgi crater. See it all on our North Iceland Odyssey, where you’ll whale watch, explore Siglufjörður, widely regarded as one of Iceland’s most beautiful towns, and visit Puffin Island where 30,000 puffins reside on the shores.
Get in touch with a tailor-made travel specialist today to begin planning your trip to magical Iceland.