The Northern Lights in Iceland are a wonder in the nighttime sky that you have to see during your visit. While an Iceland Northern Lights hotel seems like a really cool idea, it can also be extremely expensive. Chances are, if you’re camping in Iceland, you probably want to save some money. That’s why a DIY Iceland Northern Lights tour by campervan is a great option. So when can you see the Northern Lights in Iceland and what the best way to view them?

Iceland Northern Lights tour with friends in a camper rental

The Northern Lights in Iceland

This phenomenon happens due to solar activity and solar particles interacting with the earth’s atmosphere. The matter and materials expelled from the sun during a solar flare make their way towards our planet. As the molecules and atoms collide with those in the upper stratosphere, photons (small packets of light) are produced. The colors we see on the ground depend on the types of gases discharged from the sun. You’ll commonly see shades of amethyst and emerald or even magenta or turquoise set against a sometimes milky sky.

Countries like Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland experience dancing, colorful lights in the nighttime sky. Their position close to the Arctic circle and the North Pole means a prime viewing seat. You just need to know when to come and where to go.

Best Time to See Northern Lights in Iceland

If you’d like to know when to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, it’s possible from late September through mid-March. This is when the country has left behind the seemingly endless light of the Midnight Sun and has longer evenings. The dark skies and longer nights mean you’ll have the best chance of catching a glimpse. Colder weather often translates to clear skies, so coming during the winter offseason could be a great idea. You might even be lucky enough to spot them when you arrive at Keflavik International Airport.

When you come during Iceland Northern Lights season, it’s important to remember that the longer you stay, the better. If you’re only here for a night or two, you might only have a 50% chance of seeing them. If you have a 5-day itinerary or 7-day itinerary, that number increases to 70-80%. Every night is a new chance to spot the Aurora Borealis, and everything depends on the weather. This means that the more days you spend here, the higher your odds.

An Iceland Northern Lights tour with the right camper rental

How to Do an Iceland Northern Nights Tour

So know that you know the best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland, let’s talk about how to do an excursion on your own. While some travelers opt to go with a tour operator, it’s also entirely possible to do it with just your travel companions. Here are some tips.

Ideal conditions for a do it yourself Iceland Northern Lights tour by campervan are when skies are clear and dark and aurora activity is high. This is why it’s best to get as far away as possible from civilization. Go out into the countryside with a good distance from cities or towns. Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon makes a wonderful viewing spot if you are staying in Vik.

There are plenty of places along Route 1 (the Ring Road) where you can stop. Just make sure you’ve pulled into a parking lot or other designated parking area so you don’t block traffic or other cars.

Always check the Northern Lights forecast for Iceland on the Iceland Meteorological Office’s official website. You’ll be able to see whether aurora activity is high, moderate, or low. You can also check whether or not skies will be overcast on the night you’re planning your outing.

You also want to have the right vehicle. After all, it’s great to see the lights from the front seat, but wouldn’t it be much better if you had a panoramic view? There’s nothing better than finding the perfect spot away from everything and then hopping into the back of your camper. The only thing better than viewing the Northern Lights is doing it from the comfort of your bed or sleeping bag.

Best Campers for a DIY Northern Lights Hunt

Models like the VW California or Mercedes Marco Polo offer a nearly 360º view of your surroundings while you’re out hunting for the Aurora Borealis. It’s almost as good as sleeping under the stars, so ask your camper rental company if they have these models available. Then after you’ve had this magical experience, you return to your campsite for the night and dream about what you just saw.

Iceland Northern Lights tour over the mountains

DIY Iceland Northern Lights Tour By Campervan

Doing an Iceland Northern Lights excursion doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. All you need is the right vehicle, ideal weather conditions, and your sense of adventure. Seeing Mother Nature’s spectacular show in the sky will no doubt leave you in awe, and rightfully so. After all, how many people can say they’ve seen the Northern Lights in Iceland?

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