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See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Wrap up Warm

Because you will be outside watching the night sky, seeking out the Northern lights can be a cold proposition. If you are not prepared properly for the low temperatures at night time you may not fully enjoy the Northern Lights. Iceland’s annual temperatures vary from about 4°C to a low of -25°C, but the best time to take a Northern Lights holiday is between the winter months of September and March. Taking the midpoint of this to be January, you should expect the temperatures to be around freezing point at best. You will also see that the further you move inland from the coast, the colder it gets.

It is probably little comfort to learn that Iceland would be much colder were it not for the Gulf Stream – the same one that keeps Britain so balmy. However, the Gulf Stream does mean that it should be a more comfortable experience seeing the Northern Lights Iceland makes available than those in Scandinavia or Alaska, for example. Unfortunately it is very difficult to see the lights during the summer months because this far north the daylight hours last so long, with almost perpetual daylight at midsummer.

It is recommended that you gear up with a puffy down parka and wear good winter boots. You should be prepared to wait a while, and the more comfortable you are the more you will be able to enjoy your tours or Northern Lights holidays; something as magic as the sky aflame cannot be hurried, and it is certainly a spectacle worth waiting for. It is good to invest in some glove liners, and some extra socks or insoles in your boots. Also, it’s good to have a warm vehicle nearby, which of course you will, if you take one of the Northern Lights tours offered in sturdy 4X4 vehicles. You may find that certain gear is provided by your holiday operator, so it makes sense to check before you buy anything.

Capturing that Image

No doubt when you see the Northern Lights in Iceland you’ll want to record the moment with a photograph. Anyone who has taken a photo at night will know how difficult it is to produce a picture that resembles what you were seeing with the naked eye. As well as the dark to contend with, there’s the issue of trying to photograph light itself. Because of this, photographers recommend special equipment, but say that it may be possible to get an image with a camera that is capable of taking long exposures. It’s not straightforward, so don’t be too disappointed if the snaps you take of your Northern lights tour don’t come out very well; your friends and family will just have to believe you have seen the Northern Lights in Iceland from the enthusiastic way you recount the experience. Or you can pick up a postcard.

Vikki Beale is a holiday expert for iceland2go, a specialist operator providing the best itineraries to see the Northern Lights Iceland offers. We arrange luxury holidays and tailor-made holidays to Iceland and Greenland, with sights including glaciers, geysers and fjords.