The northern lights glow green over Hotel Rangá luxury hotel during wintertime.

The Northern Lights in Iceland: Month by Month

Discover Iceland's northern lights month by month. Plan your adventure with insights about when is the best time to witness the aurora. From epic shows in the autumn to chilly displays in the wintertime, every month offers visitors a different experience.

The Northern Lights in Iceland: January

January is a wonderful month to experience the northern lights in Iceland. In fact, January in Iceland is one of the darkest times of the year. This means even more time to potentially spot the northern lights. On January 1st, sunrise is at 11:19 and sunset is at 15:43. By January 31, sunrise is at 10:11 and sunset is at 17:11.

On clear January nights, there is the opportunity to see brilliant aurora displays. However, it is important to wear warm clothes–January in Iceland can be quite chilly. Be sure to bring a warm jacket, thermal base layers and woolen socks and gloves. Or better yet, buy a traditional, hand knitted Icelandic lopapeysa sweater in a local shop.

If you are still feeling cold, do not worry. Hotel Rangá offers guests the use of snowsuits and blankets to ensure that you stay nice and toasty. Better yet, why not order a hot toddy or a spiked hot chocolate at the bar? Our Rangá Bar is open 24/7 with bartenders who are happy to offer suggestions for the most warming drinks.

The northern lights glow green over Hotel Rangá luxury hotel during wintertime.
The northern lights glow green over Hotel Rangá luxury hotel during wintertime.

The Northern Lights in Iceland: February

February in Iceland is still deep in the Icelandic winter. Nights are still very long, meaning that there are many chances to spot the aurora. On February 1st, sunrise is at 10:08 and sunset is at 17:14. By February 28, sunrise is at 8:39 and sunset is at 18:42.

February in Iceland is filled with many different types of weather. Some days are clear and bright, filled with a warming winter sun. However, winter storms can blow in, bringing strong winds, snow and cloud coverage. This will of course affect our ability to see the northern lights.

In order to see the northern lights we need completely clear skies. A small amount of cloud cover–even if not visible to the human eye–can interfere with our ability to see the phenomenon. As a result, we recommend that you stay at Hotel Rangá for several days. This will give you more chances to look for the aurora. Check out our current offers–our Age of Aurora deal will give you big savings on a 4-night stay at Hotel Rangá.

Aerial shot of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon covered in snow during the wintertime.
If the road is passable, you can visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon during the winter

The Northern Lights in March

March in Iceland is still the prime northern lights viewing season. The nights are slowly starting to get short, but there is still plenty of time to spot the aurora. On March 1st, sunrise is at 8:36 and sunset is at 18:45. By March 31st, sunrise is at 6:50 and sunset is at 20:15.

In Iceland, March is often when stable weather patterns begin to emerge. The winter’s storms often begin to die down, and we can often expect cleared skies. However, it is important to keep in mind that Icelandic weather is highly unpredictable. In fact, there is an Iceland saying that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

Furthermore, the spring equinox occurs around March 20th. During equinoxes, the Earth’s magnetic poles fall into a right angle to the direction of the solar wind’s flow. This makes the solar wind more powerful and can consequently result in stronger magnetic activity. As a result, northern lights displays can be more intense and more beautiful around this time.

Pink and green northern lights shimmer above the mountain Vestrahorn in south Iceland.
Pink and green northern lights dance about Vestrahorn. Photograph by Stefan Liebermann.

The Northern Lights in April

April in Iceland is known as the tail end of the northern lights viewing season. By this time, the days are rapidly shortening. On April 1st, sunrise is at 6:46 and sunset is at 20:18. By April 30th, sunrise is at 5:04 and sunset is at 21:47.

As a result, we typically see our last northern lights of the season between early and mid April. The weather in April is slightly warmer during the day, and there is a feeling that spring is in the air. However, April nights can still be very chilly–so don’t forget those woolen mittens!

It is good to note that the brightness of the moon can affect the visibility of the northern lights. If there is a full moon, the increased light can make it difficult to see displays of low solar activity. However, when solar activity is very strong and there are intense northern lights, it doesn’t matter much whether the moon is full or not. However, it can still be a good idea to check the lunar calendar.

Green northern lights above the Sólheimasandur DC3 plane wreck.
Northern lights above the Sólheimasandur DC3 plane wreck. Photograph by Stefan Liebermann.

The Northern Lights in May

Iceland in May is the beginning of midnight sun season. On May 1st, sunrise is at 5:01 and sunset is at 21:50. By May 31st, sunrise is at 3:26 and sunset is at 23:26. As you can see, the days are quickly getting longer and longer.

Though there is some nighttime darkness, it is very minimal. While it is technically still possible to see the northern lights in May, these sightings are quite rare. If seeing the northern lights is on your bucket list, it would be better to visit Iceland during the wintertime.

Even though May is not the prime season for northern lights, Iceland offers plenty of other fun activities. During this season, spring is in the air. Birds are returning to Iceland and leaves are starting to appear on the trees. May in Iceland is a great time to explore Iceland’s south coast or go on a fun adventure tour.

The snow-covered volcano, Hekla, underneath Iceland's midnight sun.
The snow-covered Hekla volcano underneath Iceland’s midnight sun. Photo by Olivia Synnervik.

The Northern Lights in June

In June, Iceland’s midnight sun is in full swing. On June 1st, sunrise is at 3:23 and sunset is at 23:29. By June 30th, sunrise is at 3:03 and sunset is at 23:57. The time between sunset and sunrise is never fully dark. Instead, the light appears as a kind of perpetual dusk. As we approach the summer solstice, it is completely bright all night long.

Due to Iceland’s midnight sun, we are unable to see the northern lights in June. However, the midnight sun offers its own set of advantages. Visitors can explore Iceland at any time of day or night. Visit some of Iceland’s most well-known sites at midnight, away from any crowds.

June in Iceland is also a great time to go on a super jeep tour to Landmannalaugar or Þórsmörk Nature Reserve. Located on the edge of the Icelandic highlands, these areas are filled with incredible geological formations. See beautiful waterfalls, glacial rivers and even bubbling hot springs.

View from a rib safari boat on the ocean looking out at the Westman Islands.
A rib safari tour is an excellent way to see the Westman Islands. Photo by Olivia Synnervik.

The Northern Lights in July

Iceland’s midnight sun continues into the month of July. On July 1st, sunrise is at 3:05 and sunset is at 23:56. By July 31st, sunrise is at 4:30 and sunset is at 22:35. This means that we are unable to see the northern lights in Iceland in July.

July is an amazing time of year to take full advantage of Iceland’s natural beauty. We highly recommend that guests at Hotel Rangá take a day trip to the Westman Islands. In fact, it only takes about 40 minutes to drive to the ferry from Hotel Rangá.

On the Westman Islands, you can enjoy a variety of lovely hikes. The islands are also known for being one of the largest puffin breeding grounds. Drive to the puffin observatory and watch the birds dive and swoop from the cliffs. The Westman Islands also have several museums and delicious eateries.

Green northern lights in a sky with gold and pinkish clouds in south Iceland.
To see the northern lights we need clear skies and solar activity.

The Northern Lights in August

August in Iceland means that northern lights season is right around the corner. Iceland’s long summer nights are slowly getting darker and darker. On August 1st, sunrise is at 4:33 and sunset is at 22:32. By August 31st, sunrise is at 6:06 and sunset is at 20:48.

August in Iceland is always an exciting time of year. There are many fun festivals as Icelanders try to soak up the last of the summer sun. What’s more, we usually see our first northern lights of the season at the end of August.

During this time of year, the weather is still relatively mild. This means that there is less chance of cloudy, stormy skies. However, it’s still a good idea to bring a warm jacket–those August nights can get a bit chilly.

Green and pink northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá in a starry night sky.
Did you know that the northern lights are never the same color twice?

The Northern Lights in September

September in Iceland means that auroras are firmly back in our skies. Of course, we still need dark, clear skies and solar activity to see the aurora. On September 1st, sunrise is at 6:09 and sunset is at 20:44. By September 30th, sunrise is at 7:32 and sunset is at 19:01.

What’s more, the autumn equinox takes place around September 20th. Remember, equinoxes can sometimes result in more powerful solar wind and stronger magnetic activity. Consequently, we sometimes experience more vivid northern lights around the autumn equinox.

Weather in September is relatively mild. There is often much potential for clear skies and good viewing conditions. As a result, September is the official start of the tourist season for the northern lights. It’s also a great time of year to go on a fun ATV tour or horseback ride.

Four people stand underneath the night sky filled with green northern lights.
Visitors look up and stare in awe at the incredible northern lights.

The Northern Lights in October

October in Iceland is a great time to hunt for the northern lights. The nights are growing longer and longer, providing more opportunities for a great show of auroral activity. On October 1st, sunrise is at 7:35 and sunset is at 18:57. By October 31st, sunrise is at 9:06 and sunset is at 17:14.

October in Iceland is often filled with all kinds of weather. Though fall storms can begin to blow in, there are usually many beautiful days with calm skies. However, the temperatures are beginning to drop. Don’t forget to bring warm clothes and base layers.

As a result, we do recommend that our guests stay at Hotel Rangá for several days. This will give you more chances to experience clear skies and a good showing of the northern lights. In fact, Hotel Rangá’s Age of Aurora offer is usually valid starting from October 1st.

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.

The Northern Lights in November

November in Iceland is filled with dark nights and plenty of time to see the northern lights. On November 1st, sunrise is at 9:10 and sunset is at 17:11. By September 30th, sunrise is at 10:42 and sunset is at 15:49.

Winter is in the air, bringing cold temperatures and sometimes even snow. Be sure to bring a warm coat, sturdy shoes as well as warm gloves and a hat. Even though it’s cold outside, there are still plenty of fun outdoor adventures to experience. As Icelanders say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

At Hotel Rangá, we offer a special northern lights wake up call for all of our guests. This means that whenever the aurora appears–day or night–we will call directly to your room. All you have to do is head outside, where you will see the dancing lights moving high overhead.

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.

The Northern Lights in December

December in Iceland is the darkest month of the year and prime aurora season. On December 1st, sunrise is at 10:45 and sunset is at 15:47. By December 31st, sunrise is at 11:20 and sunset is at 15:40. What’s more, the winter solstice occurs around December 22. This is the longest night of the year–meaning lots of time to search for the northern lights.

In December, the weather is usually cold and sometimes snowy. It is important to always check the weather forecast at vedur.is before you go on any self-drive tours. If you do experience a stormy day, why not visit the Lava Center in nearby Hvolsvöllur. Learn about earthquakes and volcanic activity with fun, interactive exhibits.

Christmastime in Iceland is filled with lights and cheer. Icelanders love to get together and celebrate with good food and drinks. At Hotel Rangá, we always serve our famous Christmas menu on special days of the month. It is incredibly special to see the northern lights during this joyful time of year.

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    A glass of red and white wine beside a vase of lupine at the luxury Rangá Restaurant.