It’s aurora borealis season! It’s always best to get out of the city to get a good look at the lights but there are a few places inside the city limits where the Northern Lights are clear. Here’s a list of some good ones.
Note: It’s best to get out of the city! This is because in and around the city there is always light ‘pollution’ – a lot of light sources. This tends to overpower the relatively fainter Northern Lights, so you can’t see them. Here, however, are the best spots in and around Reykjavík city.
Reynisvatn is a small lake way by the city limits in the small neighbourhood of Grafarholt. It‘s so close to the city yet so secluded, since people rarely go there.
How to get there: Punch these coordinates into Google Maps and get directions: 64.125897, -21.731609
Possibly the closest place to down-town Reykjavik, it‘s well within walking distance. It’s not difficult to find it, as the glass dome on top of the hill is seen from most places in the city. This glass dome is Perlan Museum, open every day from 09:00 till 20:00. For a small fee you have access to their viewing deck with a beautiful 360° view over Reykjavík and its surroundings. If Perlan Museum is closed when the northern lights appear, it’s still worth going to Öskuhlið hill, because you will have a magnificent view from there.
How to get there: Punch these coordinates into Google Maps and get directions: 64.129156, -21.919063
Possibly the best place in the Reykjavik vicinity. It’s very poorly lit, which is good. It’s facing the ocean which is always majestic. And like said before, it’s just a terrific place to watch the stars and go northern lights hunting. Or to make out.
How to get there: Punch these coordinates into Google Maps and get directions: 64.164502, -22.021556
I have to drop my home town in there as well. There you get a great view of the city, you get to venture into a neighboring town and if you’re lucky, catch some great northern lights. The church on top of the hill is legendary, some people call it the McDonald’s church. You’ll know why when you get there
How to get there: Punch these coordinates into Google Maps and get directions: 64.112335, -21.912948
Wherever the Guide tells/takes you
There are numerous agencies which can take you northern lights hunting. Even though the spots listed above are the best in the city, your greatest chances are always going to be away from the city lights. There are three main types of tours, the Super Jeep, the Boat or the Bus tours.
Basically the Jeep is probably the most luxurious, and exclusive, with at most 10 people in the truck, and they can go back roads and to interesting places. The Boat Tour has the benefit that you’re able to walk around on the vessel, and even if the lights don’t materialise on that particular night, you still get a nice boat tour of the bay and get to see the city lights in the night. It has, however, the detriment of being more weather dependent, since you don’t just need a clear night, you also need a relatively still one. The Bus is the cheapest option, and it’s a fine way to see the lights. All these different tours have experienced guides and organisers whose job it is to find the lights, so you can rest assured that if they are to be found, they will find them.
You could also rent a car and drive anywhere the forecast is good, which gives you a bit more flexibility and privacy, but then of course you don’t have the guides who know where to go, and if you don’t see the lights, you don’t get a do-over.