Iceland – Tips to see and take pictures of the Northern Lights

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Attraction value: be lucky and freeze at night waiting for it. (It’s worth it)

Main tips

You can check the aurora forecast on this site Icelandic Met Office. Here is a brief explanation:

  • The white areas of the maps are the clear sky areas. It means that it is a good place to see the aurora. The hard green means High clouds so it will be hard to see it.
  • On the bottom, you have the forecast for the actual day and the next two days and hours.You can choose a different day or hour. The map changes according to your selections.
  • The aurora forecast is found on the right corner of the page. It has a rating of between 0 and 9.
  • Try  not to stay in big cities/towns. The building lights will reflect the sky and fade the northern lights. We saw it in Borgarhöfn (accommodation: Lækjarhus Farm Holidays) and Myvatn Lake (accommodation: Vogafjós Guesthouse). Both accommodations were good for seeing the northern lights.


Main tips for taking aurora pictures:


We are not photographers and we made it. It took a few moments playing with the camera setting before finding the best way to do it. From when it starts till the actual dancing lights you will have a few minutes (or hours) to play with it. Play with the lights when it starts to be ready to the show.

  • Bring a tripod with you. Without it, you won’t be able to take aurora pictures.
  • You must have a camera that you can control the Shutter Speed / Exposure time. We used 40″
  • Play with your ISO. We used 400 and it worked fine for us.

My personal experience


We were relaxing in our guesthouse room when someone knocked our window. She was euphoric and pointing to the sky. Seems like everybody is there to see the lights… We took the camera and the tripod very fast and ran as fast as we could and we forgot our winter clothes… It was FREEZING outside. It was around 2ºC and we saw the start of the aurora. We set up the camera and one of us went inside to dress up. The camera was never unattended. LOL

It starts with a fading green light on the horizon. We could see it because it was completely dark and it was like that for a long time. After a cup of tea and a lot of expectation, it starts to get brighter. We were so focused on the horizon and we forgot to look up. When we finally did it the sky was bright and green. As impressive as it was it wasn’t the aurora yet. After a while, the lights start dancing – Dancing green and pink lights

Talking to a local I asked if the lights are still something special to him. He mentioned that he doesn’t go out for lights with intensity 6 but he saw a 7 once and it was the most incredible moment of his life. Hope you are lucky enough to see a 7 – we weren’t but we are glad to have seen a 6 and a 5!


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