Northern Lights


Hotel Rangá red logo.

“The real adventure is that we can never predict when the Northern Lights will appear. There is nothing like that moment when the sky surprises us with a spectacular show - you have to see it to believe it.”

Embla Einarsdóttir

Reception at Hotel Rangá
Two female receptionists at Hotel Rangá working on their computers to make hotel bookings.
Photo by Herman Desment

Photo by Sævar Helgi Bragason

Why Hotel Rangá is a great place to see the Aurora

Black and white hand drawn image of old-fashioned telephone.


Did you know that the northern lights can appear at any time of night? From sunset to sunrise, you can never predict exactly when the show will start. But don't worry - we've got you covered. Our aurora wake-up service ensures that guests never miss an appearance of the northern lights. Simply press a button on your in-room phone and receive a call whenever the northern lights should appear.

Hand drawn image of Hotel Rangá with green northern lights overhead.


Hotel Rangá is a northern lights hotel located in the Icelandic countryside, far away from most light pollution. By turning off our external lights, we provide optimal conditions to view the night sky. On clear nights, you will be able to spot beautiful constellations and distant planets. If you are lucky, you might even be able to watch the northern lights in style as you soak in one of our geothermally heated hot tubs with a glass of bubbly.

Black and white drawing of woman wearing snowsuit peering through a high-tech telescope at the sky.


On clear nights, a local astronomer guides our guests through a tour of the night sky. You will learn about constellations, galaxies and distant planets. The Rangá Observatory is stocked with two high-quality telescopes to enhance your journey through the cosmos. You will spot amazing detail not visible to the human eye and learn fascinating facts about the solar system.

Black and white hand drawn picture of Hotel Rangá's snowsuits.

Keeps You Warm

Hunting for the northern lights in the winter months can be a bit chilly, it’s true. Not to worry - we have warm snowsuits available for you to borrow while you are outside enjoying the show. Just ask in the reception, and our staff will get you suited up. You will be cozy and warm while you watch the colors move across the night sky.

Black and white hand drawn image of Hotel Rangá's special benches for viewing the northern lights.

Cozy Lookout

The northern lights are truly astonishing. Bands of green, purple and even pink light dance and move in breathtaking formations across the horizon. Wooden benches are located outside the hotel, handmade specifically for guests to sit back and watch the skies. To keep you warm while you watch, we also provide soft blankets. Our bar is open 24/7 if you feel like a midnight hot chocolate or even a hot toddy.

Black and white drawing of tripod and camera.


Want to take photos of the northern lights should they appear? Read our Guide to Northern Lights Photography below and learn to take a great shot. You can also borrow one of our tripods to get some amazing long exposure photos. You will be able to share your amazing northern lights experience with friends and family long after your trip to our magical country.

Photo by Sævar Helgi Bragason

Pink and green northern lights shine bright above Hotel Rangá luxury hotel in south Iceland.
Hotel Rangá northern lights hotel is the perfect spot to see this incredible natural phenomenon. Photo by Stefan Liebermann.
Guests at Hotel Rangá gaze up into the night sky filled with green and pink northern lights.
Look up, you just might spot the northern lights.
Shimmering Bands of Dancing Light

The Northern Lights

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are a naturally occurring phenomenon resulting in beautiful colored light displays that are visible against the night sky. The northern lights appear when charged particles from the Sun interact with the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. As solar particles collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, light is generated. In Iceland, the northern lights are visible between September and March.

Black and white drawing of a digital camera.

Your Guide to
Northern Lights

and Equipment

Have the camera ready before going to sleep and make sure it is fully charged. The cold can reduce the battery power.

Scout out a good location before nightfall. Keep in mind that the lights will be visible towards the north. We can recommend a good location.

Find your fastest wide-angle lens.

Use your tripod or borrow one from our lobby. 


Settings for
your camera

Pre-focus your lens on infinity 

or use live-view with loupe.

F Stop wide open (f/2.2 – f/4).

Fast northern lights:

ISO (800-4000).

Slower northern lights:

ISO (400-800).

Experiment with exposure, 

from 5 sec for fast lights to 

half a minute for slow lights.

Shoot in RAW image format for more options in post editing.

Set the timer to at least 2 sec or use a remote control to shoot.

Clear Skies and Solar Winds Are essential

Auora Forecast

To see the aurora borealis, we need clear skies and solar activity. It is possible to create a short-term aurora probability forecast by checking the weather forecast (specifically, cloud coverage) and current solar wind conditions. The most accurate predictions can be made only 24 hours in advance; however, it is always possible for conditions to change last minute. You can click the link below to learn more about the upcoming Aurora Forecast.

Swirling green northern lights in a starry sky over the Hotel Rangá Observatory.
Photo by Kristján Pétur Vilhelmsson

Photo by Tom Stahl

Woman peers through a high-powered telescope in the Hotel Rangá Observatory underneath a starry sky.
Our Hotel Rangá Observatory features two high-powered telescopes. Photo by Milan and Seila.
intimate evening with the universe

Rangá Observatory

The Rangá Observatory houses two high-quality astronomical telescopes: a 14 inch Celestron Edge HD Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector and a TEC 160ED APO refractor on a Astrophysics 900 mount. The scopes can be turned towards the stars to view amazing details on Jupiter, see Cassini's Division in the rings of Saturn, and even intricate details on the surface of Mars. Share an intimate evening with the universe as you gaze into the clear night sky and uncover entrancing constellations and distant planets.

The Aurora @HotelRanga Instagram

enjoy the northern lights with us @hotelranga

FAQ Northern Lights at Hotel Rangá

In Iceland, the northern lights are visible between September and April. Slightly after the autumn equinox and slightly before the spring equinox there are statistically somewhat better viewing conditions and more consistent northern lights. However, although there are somewhat better chances of seeing the aurora during that time, we can never guarantee that the lights will appear.


There are three main variables that affect the chances of seeing the northern lights in Iceland: solar winds, local weather and the moon. The moon has an inhibitive effect in regards to weaker auroras. We have, however, seen some stunning northern lights under a full moon — especially during a very active solar wind. The main factor that influences the appearance of the aurora is the sun/sunspots/CME activity and the local weather (i.e. clouds). You can see the forecast for the next few days at this link.

Because the sun almost never sets during Icelandic summer nights, the observatory is only open between the months of September and April, unless upon request. To stargaze, we need clear skies with no chance of high clouds or rain, as moisture and high winds can damage our telescopes while high clouds blur out otherwise spectacular views.


We open our observatory when the forecast shows that the sky will remain clear for several hours.

We pride ourselves on being a northern lights hotel with special services and offers. We offer a northern lights wake-up call to make sure that our guests do not miss the lights should they appear in the middle of the night. We also provide warm snowsuits and blankets for our guests, and custom-made benches are available in the front of Hotel Rangá for guests to use while they watch the show.

Yes, we can see the northern lights with our bare eyes. When solar activity is low, sometimes cameras can pick up northern lights that are less visible to the human eye. However, when solar activity is high, the northern lights are easily seen.

The observatory is open every clear night and often has a local astronomer available to take you on a tour of the night sky. However, if you wish to see the observatory outside of opening hours we are happy to show it to you (no telescopes can be used though). 

Yes, when the observatory is open is also available for locals and travelers who are not staying at the hotel. Please book in advance via telephone or email. We usually know around 17:00 on the same day if the conditions permit the Rangá Observatory to be open.

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