Can You See the Northern Lights In Iceland In August? (Is It A Good Time?)
Can you see the Northern Lights In Iceland In August? Is August even a good time to go to Iceland?
Our good friend, Kristin from World on Wheels, was born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, which affects her mobility, strength, balance, endurance, and breathing. Despite these physical challenges, she continues to pursue her love of travel and has unique insights into Iceland, especially in the summer months.
Iceland is a destination for travelers of all abilities who wish to experience nature and witness the northern lights. This incredible country offers something for everyone as there are plenty of hiking opportunities, waterfalls, beautiful scenery, and chances to relax.
If you plan to chase the northern lights in Iceland, you may be wondering when to go in order to experience this magical phenomenon. This post will answer the commonly asked question, “Can you see northern lights in Iceland in August?”, so keep reading for more information.
Can You See The Northern Lights In Iceland In August?
The northern lights can occur at any time that there is solar activity, few to no clouds, and a darkened sky. When there is a lot of daylight they are impossible to see.
Since Iceland is in the land of the midnight sun, August in Iceland on average gets about 16 hours of daylight each day. During this time the sun never fully sets, making it difficult to see the northern lights. If you visit later in the month of August, this is when days start to become shorter and there are a few hours of twilight.
So, while it is possible to see the northern lights in Iceland in late August, it’s not the optimal time to view them. If you are lucky enough to see them, the northern lights won’t have that beautiful contrast that you see in many photos.
Is August a good time to go to Iceland?
While you will have to have a bit of luck to see the northern lights in Iceland in August, it is a fantastic month to visit. This is because August is one of the warmest months in Iceland and has plenty of daylight, making for wonderful opportunities for exploration.
You will have your pick of amazing activities that are sure to make your trip memorable. In fact, the hardest part may be deciding what to do during your stay and fitting everything in. So, if you can’t do it all, use it as an excuse to come back to Iceland!
When Is The Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Iceland?
Traditionally, the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is between September and May. The winter months of November to February are optimal as there are shorter days and longer (darker) nights.
Another fantastic time to see the northern lights in Iceland is around the two equinoxes as magnetic and solar activity (which causes the northern lights) are at the best angle in relation to Earth. This angle and activity can cause brighter and stronger lights similar to what you see in popular photos. These equinoxes occur twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Where To See Northern Lights In Iceland
Whether you are vising Iceland in August or another time of year, and you’d like to try your luck at spotting the northern lights, make sure to search for them in the following areas.
📍Thingvellir National Park
Things To Do In Iceland In August
While many people hope to see the northern lights in Iceland, there are also plenty of other activities to enjoy during your stay. Listed below are just some of the incredible things to do in Iceland in August that will ensure you have a wonderful trip.
✅ Relax in the Blue Lagoon
Situated next to a geothermal energy plant, the lagoon is actually an unusable byproduct of geothermal energy production. It was later found that the water (which contains silica, algae, and minerals) had healing properties for people with psoriasis.
Today, thousands of people visit this relaxing spa like environment every year. It is even accessible to wheelchair users and people with limited mobility thanks to a ramped entrance, accessible changing rooms, and other features.
The Blue Lagoon makes for a wonderful day trip. Alternatively, you could choose to make it a relaxing spa getaway by staying at one of the onsite hotels.
✅ Hallgrimskirkja Church
Located within Reykjavik, this iconic church is a symbol of the city. Constructed in 1986, this jagged-towered church symbolizes nature within Iceland.
Once inside, you will find the largest pipe organ in the country. It has a staggering 5,275 pipes, 72 stops and weighs 25 tons. For a real treat, plan to attend a service to get to hear it’s beautiful melodies.
Unlike in many churches, which are highly decorated with elaborate works of art, visitors will experience the stark and modern decor that is traditional in Icelandic culture. It’s simple interior puts the focus on worship rather than the building itself.
Outside of the church is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson, who is thought to be the first European to go to North America (even though Christopher Columbus traditionally gets this credit).
✅ Gulfoss Waterfall
A popular stop along any Golden Circle tour, Gulfoss is a two-tiered waterfall that empties into a deep canyon. There are several viewing areas so guests can get different perspectives of this unique waterfall.
Some of these pathways are closed during winter, making August a wonderful time to visit to see the falls from different angles.
When you visit, prepared to get wet from the mist of the falls. Make sure to wear (or bring) appropriate clothing to keep you from getting drenched. In addition, pathways may be slick so wear good shoes with a non slip grip.
✅ Thingvellir National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers visitors the chance to walk between two tectonic plates in a unique geological area. You’ll be able to say you walked between two continents!
Additional paved pathways and other trails allow you to explore various areas of the park and lead to a waterfall and filming sites for the HBO show “Game of Thrones”.
Other popular activities include fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving through Silfra Fissure. The glacier water that makes up this area is filtered through dense lava rock, resulting in incredibly clear water. Visibility can be up to 328 ft!
To visit the park, you can either drive yourself (which is the best option if you want to explore in depth) or take a Golden Circle Tour. Either way, this is a must see stop when you are in Iceland.
✅ See the Highlights of a Golden Circle Tour
Doing a Golden Circle Tour will help you see some of the most popular sites in Iceland. In addition to the two previous sites mentioned on this list, a Golden Circle Tour will also allow you to see some of the geysers in Iceland.
Strokkur Geyser will be one of the stops on your tours. It erupts every 4-10 minutes and can reach heights of 49-65 feet making for a spectacular site. In the same area you may see other smaller geysers and other geothermal features.
FUN FACT: Golden Circle Tours leave from Reykjavik and last a full day (anywhere from 7-11 hours). Some tours also include Kerið crater. If you don’t plan on renting a car, this is an excellent way to see Iceland.
✅ Hike to an Active Volcano
In 2021 there was a lot of eruption activity among Iceland’s volcanoes. While these eruptions may or may not be occurring during your visit, you can still have the opportunity to hike to an active volcano to see fumerols and steam vents. If you are lucky, you may also see lava.
Several tour options are available and may allow you to see other popular sites as well. Participants should have moderate fitness and be comfortable navigating uneven terrain.
✅ Search for Puffins on a Tour
Puffins are adorable little black and white birds with orange beaks that stand about 10 inches tall. An estimated 60% of the population of Atlantic Puffins reside in Iceland, so this is a fantastic place to do a tour!
Between May and August, you can be seen Puffins nesting along the southern coast of Iceland. If you want to spot these birds, it’s best to book at tour. Binoculars and onboard commentary about Puffin’s behavior and lifestyle are included.
✅ Walk on a Glacier or in an Ice Cave
For a unique and memorable experience, walk on a glacier and explore the everchanging Blue Ice Caves. Head to Jökulsarlon the Glacier lagoon and then onto Vatnajökull National Park to walk on Vatnajökull Glacier and go inside the naturally made ice caves.
When you book a tour for this activity, the company will provide all the necessary gear and equipment. Additionally, companies will use special super jeeps that can easily navigate the rough terrain.
✅ Go Horseback Riding
Iceland is known for its horses, so why not take the opportunity to go horseback riding while you are visiting? Icelandic horses have a unique gait that allows them to easily navigate uneven terrain. You can pass by lava flows, moors, and mountains on your tour.
Tours will include all the riding equipment necessary and offer both morning and afternoon departures. Many experiences also provide a warm beverage.
✅ Try to Spot Whales While on a Tour
Husavik is considered to be the whale capital of Iceland. Several tours are available here to allow you to search for Humpback and Minke Whales. You may also see dolphins and seabirds during your adventure.
Multiple departure times are available and several types of boats are available. For a more intimate experience, consider doing your excursion on a RIB boat with a maximum of 12 passengers and bringing you closer to the water.
What Do You Wear In Iceland In August?
Temperatures peak around 55 degrees Fahrenheit in Iceland in August, making it one of the warmest months. Layering will be your best bet to prepare for different types of weather. To get the most out of your trip, make sure to pack the following items.
- Sturdy shoes with non-slip grip
- Rain jacket
- Long sleeve T-shirt
- Fleece jacket
- Comfortable socks
Does it get dark in Iceland in August?
Later in the month of August will have longer twilight hours. However, August won’t ever have that pitch-black sky that is needed to truly get the full experience of seeing the northern lights. Darkness in Iceland in August is equivalent to dusk.
Conclusion: Northern Lights In Iceland In August
While there is a chance to see the northern lights in Iceland in August, if you visit at the end of the month, it won’t provide you with the optimal viewing conditions.
Despite this, August is still a great time to visit Iceland due to the wealth of activities and the pleasant weather.
Overall, Iceland is an amazing place that is an excellent vacation destination no matter when you choose to plan your trip here.