Sometimes I forget that the things that may seem obvious to me as a local are not so obvious for those who are not born and raised here at 64°N. It would be tempting to some to answer questions like that with snarky comments, making fun of the person asking, but today I’m just going to answer a question I get all the time. Because I’m nice that way.
Question: Can you see the northern lights in summer in Iceland?
First of all, if you are new to Iceland and it hasn’t been on your radar for very long there’s a very important thing you need to know about this marvelous island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. With places as far north as here we have this thing where the winters are dark but the summers not so much. In fact, in the summer we have a period where it’s basically bright all the time. If you are not familiar with the midnight sun this Wikipedia article can maybe explain what it’s all about.
If you want to see the northern lights there are a few things that have to come together: The activity level has to be decent and the sky needs to be clear. But first and foremost you need it to be dark and that’s where you start running into problems with seeing the aurora in summer. Because it doesn’t get dark, remember?
So the short answer is no – you can’t see the Northern lights in summer in Iceland. The long answer though is that it depends on how you define summer. Although the last northern lights tour is on April 15th and they don’t start again until September 15th it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to see the lights outside of that time. I’ve seen them in May and I’ve seen them as early as around 20th of August. Which is technically still summer. Ish.
But June and July is more or less out of the question because of the aforementioned midnight sun. Which is something that is worth visiting Iceland for in itself.