Iceland, a land where fire meets ice, offers a natural spectacle that captures the imagination like no other: the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Witnessing this celestial dance of lights is a bucket-list experience for many travellers. The best Northern Lights tours in Iceland provide not just a front-row seat to this natural wonder but also enrich the experience with expert knowledge and local insights. These tours, led by experienced guides, take you to the best spots at the right times, significantly increasing your chances of witnessing the Auroras. In this article, we explore the top guided tours that offer the best chances and experiences for viewing the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Super Jeep tours are among the most popular and thrilling ways to chase the Northern Lights in Iceland. These tours use specially modified vehicles capable of handling Iceland’s rugged and often snowy terrain, allowing access to remote areas with minimal light pollution – perfect for Aurora viewing. The adventure begins right from the ride, as these 4×4 vehicles traverse off-road paths to take you away from the crowds.
These tours often include small groups, ensuring a more personalized experience. Guides are adept at reading weather patterns and have a deep understanding of the best locations for viewing the Northern Lights, which can vary nightly. The Super Jeep tour combines adventure with the hunt for the Auroras, making it an exciting option for those seeking both thrill and beauty.
For those looking for a more exclusive experience, private Northern Lights tours offer luxury and comfort. These tours provide a personalized experience, often with luxury transportation, such as private cars or SUVs, and include amenities like gourmet snacks, warm drinks, and even photography assistance to capture the magical moments.
Private tours can be tailored to individual preferences, whether it’s choosing a specific location, starting time, or even incorporating other activities into the night, such as a visit to a geothermal hot spring. This bespoke experience is perfect for couples, families, or groups seeking a more intimate and comfortable Aurora hunting experience.
Boat tours offer a unique vantage point for viewing the Northern Lights – from the water. These tours depart from places like Reykjavik’s Old Harbour and sail away from the coastal lights. Watching the Auroras reflect off the ocean adds an extra layer of magic to the experience. These tours are not only about the destination but also about the journey, as sailing along the Icelandic coast at night is an experience in itself.
Most boat tours provide warm overalls and have indoor areas where you can stay warm. Some even include educational talks about the Northern Lights, adding an informative touch to the awe-inspiring experience. For those prone to seasickness, however, it’s important to consider this factor before booking a boat tour.
For photography enthusiasts, guided photography tours are an excellent option. These tours are led by professional photographers who know the best spots and techniques for capturing the Northern Lights. They provide tips on settings, composition, and how to best use your camera in low-light conditions.
Photography tours often head to diverse locations, from open fields and frozen lakes to waterfalls and other scenic spots, providing a variety of backdrops for your Aurora photos. These tours cater to all levels of photographers, from beginners to advanced, and offer a chance to not only see the Northern Lights but also to learn how to capture their beauty forever.
For the dedicated Aurora hunter, multi-day expeditions offer the highest chances of witnessing the Northern Lights. These tours typically include accommodations in rural locations known for high Aurora activity. Throughout several nights, you’ll have multiple opportunities to see the lights, and your guide will take you to different locations based on the forecast and weather conditions.
Multi-day tours often include other activities such as glacier hikes, hot spring visits, and cultural experiences, making the most of your time in Iceland. These tours are perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the Icelandic landscape and culture while chasing the elusive Northern Lights.
In response to growing environmental consciousness, eco-friendly Northern Lights tours are becoming increasingly popular. These tours emphasize sustainability, using low-emission vehicles or even conducting tours on foot in areas with high aurora visibility. Guides on these tours are knowledgeable not only about the Northern Lights but also about Iceland’s environment and the importance of preserving its pristine nature.
Eco-friendly tours often include educational components about the impact of climate change on the Northern Lights and the Icelandic environment. These tours appeal to travellers who are conscious of their carbon footprint and want to enjoy Iceland’s natural beauty responsibly. It’s a way to witness the Aurora Borealis while contributing to the conservation of the very landscapes that make such phenomena so breathtaking.
For those interested in combining the natural spectacle with cultural enrichment, some Northern Lights tours incorporate aspects of Icelandic culture and history. These tours might include visits to local museums or cultural centres where guides share stories about Icelandic folklore and legends surrounding the Northern Lights, providing a deeper understanding of the country’s heritage.
Additionally, some tours offer the opportunity to visit local communities or dine in traditional Icelandic restaurants, allowing travellers to enjoy authentic Icelandic cuisine while waiting for the lights to appear. This blend of natural wonder and cultural exploration offers a more comprehensive Icelandic experience.
Adventurous travellers might enjoy the thrill of chasing the Northern Lights on a snowmobile or ATV. These tours are typically conducted in areas with snow-covered terrain, like glaciers, which provide a unique and exhilarating way to search for the Auroras. Equipped with all the necessary gear, participants can speed across the icy landscapes, adding an element of adventure to their Aurora hunt.
Snowmobile and ATV tours are often guided by experts who know the best spots to view the Northern Lights, ensuring safety while maximizing the chances of a successful sighting. This option is perfect for those seeking a more active and adrenaline-fueled experience in their pursuit of the Northern Lights.
For a comfortable yet immersive experience, luxury camping or ‘glamping’ tours offer a unique way to view the Northern Lights. These tours provide accommodations in luxury tents or domes equipped with all the comforts, often situated in remote areas ideal for Aurora viewing. Imagine watching the Northern Lights from the warmth and comfort of your bed through a transparent dome or tent ceiling.
These tours often include additional services like gourmet meals, hot tubs, and guided walks. Glamping provides a perfect balance between adventure and comfort, offering an intimate experience with nature without sacrificing the luxuries of a traditional hotel stay.
Cruise expeditions along Iceland’s coast offer another perspective for viewing the Northern Lights. These cruises navigate away from coastal light pollution, providing clear, dark skies ideal for Aurora viewing. Onboard, experts often give lectures about the Northern Lights and other astronomical phenomena, enhancing the educational aspect of the experience.
These cruises also offer the comfort and amenities of a ship, including fine dining and entertainment. Passengers can view the Northern Lights from the deck or their cabins, depending on the ship’s facilities. This option combines the adventure of a sea voyage with the magical experience of viewing the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights in Iceland present a spectacle that transcends mere visual beauty; it’s an encounter with one of nature’s most magnificent displays. The best Northern Lights tours offer diverse ways to experience this celestial phenomenon, catering to various preferences and styles. Whether it’s through eco-friendly tours, cultural insights, adventurous snowmobiling, luxurious glamping, or serene cruise expeditions, each option provides a unique gateway to witnessing the breathtaking Aurora Borealis. These tours not only showcase the stunning natural beauty of Iceland but also offer an unforgettable experience under the Arctic skies, leaving visitors with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.