Green northern lights reflected on a pond at Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.

Photos of the Northern Lights in Iceland

Hotel Rangá is an epic location to photograph the northern lights. Keep reading to learn more about the aurora and see some of our favorite photos of the phenomenon.

We are thrilled to share some fantastic photos of the northern lights in Iceland at Hotel Rangá. Our property is located in the heart of the Icelandic countryside with limited light pollution. What’s more, you can book our four night Age of Aurora package and have more opportunities to experience the majesty of the night sky. Stargaze in our Rangá Observatory with our two high-powered telescopes, and take advantage of our special aurora wake-up call service to get notified whenever the magical aurora borealis should appear.

Green northern lights glow above Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.
Green northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Amazing Photos of the Northern Lights in Iceland at Hotel Rangá

The northern lights are a fleeting thing – they can dance and shimmer in the sky for many minutes, disappear and then return hours later. This is why Hotel Rangá offers our special northern lights wake-up call service: someone is always on the lookout so that you won’t miss the aurora. But the ephemeral nature of the northern lights also makes them an incredible photo op. We want to seize the moment and preserve it – to try and pin down and make permanent the shining greens and pinks as they swirl above in the dark night sky.

Green northern lights reflected on a pond at Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.
The magical aurora borealis. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Photographing the northern lights in Iceland

Even if the northern lights are not very intense, you should be able to take a photograph of the phenomenon. In fact, cameras can sometimes pick up the northern lights when they aren’t visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, we highly recommend that you use a DSLR camera.

On a DSLR camera, you can manually adjust the settings so that they are optimal to capture the aurora. However, phone technology is improving every day, and there are several apps that make it easier to get a good shot with just your phone. Check out our blog post about how to photograph the northern lights to learn even more tips and tricks.

Green and pink northern lights almost appear to pulsate in the night sky over south Iceland.
Intense aurora activity in south Iceland. Photo by Sævar Helgi Bragason.

How to be camera ready at Hotel Rangá

We mentioned Hotel Rangá’s northern lights wake up call service, but how does it work? When you arrive, press the button on your room’s phone that says, “Aurora wake-up.” You’ll be added in our system so that we are sure to notify you should the aurora appear. As soon as it starts getting dark, our reception staff starts to keep an eye out. During the early morning hours, our night guard keeps watch for any spots of color in the dark sky. We will call you as soon as the aurora starts to dance – we just can’t promise when!

To make sure that you are ready for a midnight aurora sighting, keep your warm clothes and camera close to your bed. That way, you can dress quickly once you receive a wake up call. If you plan to take photos with a DSLR camera, it is a good idea to adjust its settings so that you are ready to get a great shot. If you need a tripod, we have some available to you in the Hotel Rangá Reception.

Stars and northern lights shot through a fisheye camera in the Hotel Rangá Observatory.
Stars and northern lights shot through a fisheye camera in the Hotel Rangá Observatory. Photo by Gísli Már

Northern Lights Season: When and Why

In Iceland, wintertime is northern lights time. During the summer months, we experience almost 24 hours of daylight due to our location near the Arctic Circle. We need the skies to begin getting darker and before we can catch the aurora shimmering above. As a result, in Iceland the northern lights are only visible from late August to early April.

A dark night sky during wintertime also means low temperatures. Be sure to bring warm clothes when you visit Iceland: gloves, a hat and scarf are a good idea. We also have comfy winter suits at Hotel Rangá to make sure our guests are nice and toasty even on the coldest evenings.

A band of northern lights stretches out beside Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.
The northern lights are visible from late August to early April. Photo by Paige Deasley.

The mystery of the aurora explained

For centuries, humankind has pondered the existence of the mysterious aurora. Cultures around the world associated the dancing lights with many meanings – some good and some bad. But what are the northern lights anyway? It all has to do with the sun. Solar particles collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. As a result, colorful light is generated.

This is why we always check for solar activity – it is a simple way to try and determine if the northern lights might appear. You can see solar activity on sites like Look at the Kp index forecast; the Kp number shows the aurora’s strength. The higher the number, the more likelihood there is a huge solar storm. However, northern lights can appear even when the Kp number is quite low. At the end of the day, the unpredictability of the northern lights is where they get their magic.

Green northern lights glow above Hotel Rangá luxury hotel in south Iceland.
Hotel Rangá offers a northern lights wake-up call service. Photograph by Stefan Liebermann.

Hotel Rangá: Limited Light Pollution

Hotel Rangá is located in south Iceland, far from any cities filled with bright streetlights, skyscrapers and other ambient light. Our countryside location makes our property a prime spot to view the aurora, especially in today’s day and age. Based on statistics from the United Nations, approximately 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. What’s more, this proportion is only expected to grow.

While cities offer many amenities not available in the countryside, they just don’t allow the same view of the night sky. On a clear night, the stars glow so brightly above Hotel Rangá that it will take your breath away. Limited light pollution also makes the colors of the aurora even more intense.

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A pink and green band of northern lights stretches out across the sky over the Hotel Rangá Observatory.
Our Rangá Observatory has two high-tech telescopes. Photograph by Paige Deasley.

Hotel Rangá: Age of Aurora Offer

Save big when you book Hotel Rangá’s Age of Aurora Offer. This special deal includes a 20% discount and gives you more chances of seeing the northern lights. With the offer, you will receive breakfast, a welcome drink upon arrival and access to our Rangá Observatory. Contact the Hotel Rangá reception to make your booking today.


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