Chasing the Northern Lights, Iceland
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are a beguiling natural light display that occurs when storms on the sun hurl charged solar particles into space. When these collide with the earth’s atmosphere, they unleash a reaction, emitting streaks of bright light. They’ll either appear twirling gently in shades of milky green, or as pulsating multi-coloured streaks in the sky.
To make the most out of the trip, check out the famous Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss Waterfall and Hallgrímskirkja, a natureinspired church in the heart of Reykjavík.
Air tickets: $1,000 - $1,500
Nordic countries are home to this seasonal spectacle, but Reykjavík, Iceland is still the most affordable and accessible place to see them. Book a flight to Keflavík International Airport and then travel to the main city via Flybus, Airport Express bus or by car. The best time to catch the lights is from October to March. A week would be the optimal duration for a trip as the lights tend to be active for two to three nights, and then lie low for four to five nights.
Transport: $30 - $100
Iceland doesn’t have a public railway system, but they do have public buses that you can take. However, Reykjavík is a small and walkable city, so go on foot if you want to explore the city itself.
Guided bus tour: $50 - $100/day
For checking out the Northern Lights, guided tours have the advantage of being led by expert guides and drivers who are familiar with the road conditions. Some tours also offer to take you out for another night for free if you fail to see the lights on the first.
Car rental: $80 - $100/day
If you want to explore beyond the city, rent a car. It’s by far the cheapest and most convenient way to get around Iceland.
Accommodation: $60 - $300/night
Hotels in Iceland are expensive, so consider booking an Airbnb or a guesthouse to save money. Most travellers make Reykjavík their base and go on day trips to see the Northern Lights. If you want to stay nearer to them, there are hotels available out of the city, but they’re on the pricey side.
Food: $40 - $80/day
Food is relatively expensive in Iceland and a simple meal can cost you up to $30. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to stay away from restaurants and visit a grocery store to stock up on food.
Tip: The celestial display is largely affected by the weather, clouds, timing and light pollution, so make sure to check the local weather and Aurora Forecast first.