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Where to See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik

By Adelina October 21, 2019

reykjavik northern lights map

Enjoy the Aurora Borealis at Your Doorstep

Reykjavik is a great place for watching the Northern Lights. In Iceland, you don’t have to drive hours to witness the power of Earth’s magnetic field. They’re just as amazing in the city.

If you’re wondering where to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, we’ve got all the best spots picked for you. Pack a blanket and a warm thermos and enjoy an unforgettable auroral display in the heart of the city.

1. Grótta Beach

grotta lighthouse

The first rule for watching the Northern Lights is to find a place as dark as possible. Too much light pollution will simply outshine the aurora. Only a few miles from downtown Reykjavik, Grótta Nature Reserve is one of our favorite nearby places that’s still unspoiled by the city lights.

Located on Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in the Greater Reykjavik area, the nature reserve has a beach and a small lighthouse. Grótta features a perfect atmosphere to watch the natural light show. 

Keep in mind that Grótta is one of the most popular places for watching the lights around Reykjavik. If you’re looking for some privacy, you might want to consider other locations (you’ll find some below!).

Grótta Beach is perfect for a small picnic. Pack a few snacks and settle in to watch the aurora borealis.

2. Hljómskálagarður Park

Lake Tjornin

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to April when the nights are their darkest. This also means the nights are their coldest! Nobody wants to freeze their face off while they’re waiting for the Northern Lights to show up. The best solution is to stay in the city, just a few steps away from the warmth of your hotel room.

Hljómskálagarður Park is in the heart of Reykjavik. Within the park, Tjörnin Lake reflects the Northern Lights on its calm waters. Trust us — this sight makes the already-beautiful lights twice as impressive.

The park is close to many popular hotels and bus stops.

3. The Old Harbor

old harbor

One of the most accessible places in the city for watching the Northern Lights is the harbor. 

Though Reykjavik’s Old Harbor has significantly changed in past years, it continues to be the beating heart of the city. The entirety of Reykjavik was built around the harbor, which was an important fishing hub back when fishing was Iceland’s main industry. 

The famous Harpa Concert Hall opened in 2011 as one of the first additions in the Old Harbor’s redevelopment plan. Now, the harbor is a vibrant cultural spot with museums, cafés and boutiques. Fishing boats have been replaced by tour boats, which take tourists on whale and puffin watching excursions. 

For your best chances of seeing the Northern Lights, check the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s official Aurora forecast website. It may be difficult to tell whether the lights will be visible until the evening of the same day. But even if the lights are off, a stroll along the harbor is always pleasant.

4. Perlan


Perlan is an eye-catching museum with an observation deck and planetarium. Located on top of Öskjuhlíð Hill, Perlan is easy to spot from anywhere in the city.

Perlan’s Observation Deck features an unobstructed 360° view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. It’s a great place for watching the auroras, weather permitting. 

Don’t be upset if the lights aren’t visible when you visit Perlan. Instead, head down to the museum’s Áróra, an impressive 8k planetarium show. The show combines art and science to create an experience that takes the Northern Lights to the next level.

Reykjavik is a great place to experience the magic of nature, even if you’re staying in the city center. Check the forecast and dress warmly. The magical Northern Lights will do the rest for you!

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