The Northern Lights

Science, Wonder and the Myth

The bright dancing lights of the Northern Lights are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.

Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

In ancient China people believed that the Northern Lights were a dragon's fiery breath. The pursuit of Northern Lights is in the evenings when its dark and the sky is clear. There are plenty of activities including soft adventures during the day. Meet Santa Claus at his home, stay in igloos, ride the snow mobile, or ride sledges driven by husky dogs, visit reindeer farm and more...

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Kakslautannen, Finland... we take you there
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These are the months we would recommend to anybody who prefers to avoid the extreme cold of an Arctic winter. September brings a fleeting autumn but the colours can be absolutely magical but best of all is that you can often see two Auroras for the price of one.

September and October are usually the only months when the Northern Lights are visible at the same time as the lakes and rivers remain ice-free. The beauty of this is that you will often see the Northern Lights overhead and reflected in open water at the same time. It can be a truly spectacular sight and one that doesn’t occur after the big freeze sets in and the waterways freeze and become covered in the first snows of winter.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the last two autumns have given us some absolutely stunning Northern Lights and 2014 caused one of the very best guides in the business to describe it as “the best in my lifetime”.

As a naturally occurring phenomenon, the appearance of the Northern Lights is notoriously difficult to predict any further in advance than about two hours before it happens.

January to March

These are probably the three most popular months for Aurora hunting because they bring long dark nights and plenty of snow to play in during the daylight hours while you wait for darkness to fall.

This program or any other program does not guarantee viewing of the Northern Lights.

How cold is it in Iceland, exactly?

The average temperature during the summer is about 10–13 °C (50–55 °F) but can reach 20–25 °C (68–77 °F) on the warmest days. During the winter the average temperature is around 0°C (32 °F), but in the highlands −10 °C (14 °F) although it can get as cold as −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F).

However, the temperature varies from day to day and even hour by hour. It also varies in different parts of the country, so if you are going on a road trip, the weather can be totally different at your destination than from where you departed.

And then there is the wind factor. The wind can make it feel much colder than the thermostat is telling you.

That may sound cold... or maybe not as bad as you expected. So should you just dress like an Eskimo in the winter and wear a bikini in the summer? No. The most important key word is layering. 

Keeping warm and dry

During the winter, it's a good idea to wear woollen or thermal long underwear, especially if you are going on some hikes or walks. During summer, wear a T-shirt or a top underneath.

Everyone in Iceland owns a fleece jacket or two... or five... and use them all year round. They are soft and warm, both underneath your jacket in the winter or used as a jacket during the summer.

The Icelandic woollen knitwear has had a big comeback in the last decade. Not so long ago, the classic pattern knitted sweater was considered nerdy or hillybilly-ish. Luckily, they are back in fashion and here to stay. The sweaters are now available in different shapes, lengths and colours. Since the comeback, people rediscovered the practical side of them as well.
The Icelandic wool is perfect for Icelandic weather. It keeps you warm when it‘s cold and keeps you cool when it‘s warm and it‘s also water repellent, so you might want to consider investing in one.

Another keyword is wind and water resistant. It is windy and it rains a lot in Iceland... all year round, so no matter when you are visiting, make sure your outer layer is wind and water resistant or water proof.

Hiking shoes; the terrain in Iceland is very rough. Mountain rocks, lava fields, black sand, and ice... that pretty much describes the terrain you will be walking on. So I definitely recommend good hiking shoes, preferably the ones that reach over your ankles to give your feet support and of course they should be water resistant.

And the extras...

Do not forget your swimwear! There are geothermal pools – man-made and natural – all around the country that are open all year round and stay warm no matter the weather. So unless you would like to go skinny dipping, remember to bring your swimwear.

The main accessories you will have to take with you are: a warm hat - the kind that covers your ears, not cowboy hats... they will just blow away to the north pole. Gloves or mittens, a scarf and plenty of warm socks - you might need to change socks during or after your hike.

It will be a good idea to have a small or medium sized back pack with you on day tours, since "layering" also means that you will be peeling your clothes off.

Last but not least, sunglasses. When the sun comes out, it shines almost 24 hours during the summer and during the winter, it can be blinding when it reflects on the ice and snow.

The rest of the clothing you need to bring should just be your every-day clothes... and bring some extra warm sweaters and a winter jacket if you come during the winter time.

In around the city

There are even many Icelandic clothing brands, where designers often use Icelandic material in their designs.
So to sum up - stay warm, stay dry and stay fashionable and I hope you will enjoy your visit to Iceland!


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You cannot rob me of free nature’s grace,
You cannot shut the windows of the sky
Through which Aurora shows her brightening face

Fire Breathing Dragon


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