Should You Go Toward the Light?

Witnessing the Aurora Borealis – aka the Northern Lights – is often described as a surreal, almost mystical experience. At its most spectacular the charged particle event puts on a light show that shames even the world’s biggest fireworks displays.

Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. You see, I’ve never actually seen the aurora.

Observing the northern lights in their full glory certainly isn’t impossible, but it isn’t all that easy either. That isn’t going to stop mynthe from trying though:

It has been my dream to see the “dancing lights” ever since I read about them in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen”. … I finally decided that I need to do this in 2015.

mynthe is traveling to Iceland for this purpose, and so is seeking advice on how best to organize her trip so as to see the aurora, and perhaps a few other of Iceland’s amazing sights while she is there. Specifically she is considering the following two tour options:

The first option with combining 2 tours comes to cheaper total. However, the first 3 days are pretty much on my own except for the Northern Lights hunt on the 2nd night. I intend to add on a couple of day tours or just explore the city on my own. The 2nd tour in this option also includes 2 nights of northern lights hunt.


The second option is more expensive by about 300USD but it focuses more on the northern lights hunt by having 6 nights outside of the city to do that. Also, this tour has the option of a small tour group of 14 instead of the usual 45. However the price is almost doubled because of this.

sarahelaine suggests there are several factors to consider when planning this, or any other, trip to Iceland:

When I was in Iceland I had a very short trip at new year 2010, and didn’t see the lights because the moon was too bright- check moon phase tables before you go!


The highlights for me on my short trip were the geysers and the hot springs. Blue lagoon is very touristy, but actually well worth going- you can organise it so you go on the day of your flight, if it’s not first thing, on your way to the airport.

I regret not having time to see more of the nature, especially the glaciers. The big limitation when we were there (apart from it being a short trip) was the lack of daylight- only about five hours in midwinter.

Truthfully, I’m not sure seeing the aurora borealis is really on my bucket list. But Iceland’s other natural attractions are climbing the must-see list rapidly.

What about you? Have you hunted the aurora? If so, was it worth it? And if you were making a trip to Iceland to what points of interests would your predelictions take you?

Read the thread in its entirety: Chasing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland

Image: “Me and the northern lights” by Ben Husmann. CC BY 2.0.

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