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  • Starr Wlodarski

Chasing Aurora: A Journey to see the Northern Lights in Iceland


In January 2020, I attended Icelandair’s Mid-Atlantic Trade Show and went in a few days early, to try to see the Northern Lights. The group of us from our agency booked a small group tour that took us not too far outside of Reykjavik. It was a late night considering we just landed that morning, but it was well worth it.


Iceland is an impossibly, beautiful country. With miles of untouched land and whimsical landscapes, it's hard to imagine what could make this place even more magical than it already is. Iceland is one of the best countries for viewing the northern lights thanks to its high altitude. The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, have enchanted people for centuries. In Iceland, these colorful lights have been the center of entertainment and mythology in the country’s culture.


If you’re interested in taking a trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, here are a few tips to know before you go!


WHEN TO GO

To see the Northern Lights, you need complete darkness and a clear night. For this reason, the best season to see the lights is from late September to March. Since the sun sets around 6 pm each day during this time, you'll have plenty of opportunities to see the lights dance across the sky without having to stay out late.


WHERE TO SEE THEM

Unlike most countries, you don't have to travel far out of your way to get a glimpse of the lights. Reykjavik is the only capital city besides Nuuk, Greenland, where you can still see the Northern Lights amid the city lights. For travelers who want to make the most of their trip, you can take a guided Northern Lights hunting tour that will take you to some of the most magnificent vantage points across the country.


NORTHERN LIGHTS MYTHOLOGY

While we know now that the dazzling, dancing lights are caused by solar particles entering the earth's magnetic field high in the atmosphere and ionizing, this wasn't always the case. Icelandic culture is deeply rooted in mythology, and it was believed that the lights could help relieve the pain of childbirth. Viking legend suggests that the lights were a reflection from the shields and armor of the Valkyrie, who would choose who dies in battle and who lives to fight another day!


While the Northern Lights can be very unpredictable, they are spectacular to see. Spend an evening under the stars and witness the magical beauty of the Northern Lights in Iceland.


If you want to try to see the Northern Lights, Iceland is one of the top destinations and it’s also spectacular in the daytime too.

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