Best Iceland hotels to see the northern lights

Iceland is one of the best countries to visit in order to try and see the enchanting celestial natural phenomena of the northern lights. As elusive as they are breathtaking, staying in the right place can certainly help to maximise your chances of success.
Northern Lights in Iceland. Photo: weniliou/Shutterstock
Northern Lights in Iceland. Photo: weniliou/Shutterstock

Caused by streams of charged particles from the sun hitting the atmosphere, the shimmering blue-green arcs and waves of the aurora borealis are potentially visible dancing across the night sky over Iceland from October to March. Viewing them is reliant on the right weather conditions, over which you obviously have no control. However, there are hotels all around the country, away from excessive light pollution, with a focus on viewing the northern lights. Choose a clear, dark night and gaze up to the heavens… Here is our guide to the best Iceland hotels to see the northern lights.

Hotel Rangá

Around two hours by car from Keflavik International Airport, Hotel Rangá overlooks a river from its remote setting amid unspoilt Southern Icelandic countryside. Built in log cabin style, the hotel offers cosy rustic rooms, a restaurant serving modern Nordic cuisine and three outdoor hot tubs. Known as a reliable spot from which to see the northern lights, the hotel's amenities make the viewing experience as pleasant as possible for guests. The chic lounge bar has a first-floor balcony wrapped around it, and there are custom-made benches and warm blankets, as well as wake-up calls so that you don’t miss the northern lights – if they appear. For guest who would like to view the planets and stars, there’s even an observatory on-site, complete with a two telescopes and a roll-off roof.

Hotel Rangá, Iceland

Hotel Rangá, Iceland. Photo: Lodgingeo

Hotel Húsafell

On the site of a former farm away from any light pollution, Hotel Húsafell sits surrounded by the hilly landscapes of western Iceland in the country’s Aurora Zone, meaning it is in premium northern lights territory. Powered exclusively by hydroelectric energy produced on-site with natural spring water that flows from the region’s lava, this contemporary lodge offers stylish, understated rooms and an airy restaurant serving gourmet seasonal Icelandic dishes. You can enjoy soaking in two outdoor pools and hot tubs filled with geothermally heated water, and will (hopefully) be woken from slumbering in your comfortable bed up to three times a week during winter by automated calls triggered when the northern lights come into view.

ION Adventure Hotel

Less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the sleek ION Adventure Hotel is isolated amid the mountainous volcanic landscape of Thingvellir National Park. Within easy reach of Kerid volcanic lake crater, Gullfoss Waterfall and the bubbling mud pits and steaming hot springs of Geysir, this architecturally remarkable hotel occupies a redeveloped former workers’ inn. Jutting out of the mountainside and supported by enormous pillars, the building is as dramatic as the terrain that surrounds it. The minimalist interior features a light-filled restaurant and lounge bar with floor-to-ceiling windows that are perfect for watching the night sky through. Or you might choose to gaze hopefully skywards as you enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the geothermally heated, covered outdoor pool.

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

On Iceland’s southeast coast, the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is set in a contemporary wood-panelled building surrounded by rugged scenery just off the Route 1 ring road. Spacious, minimalist interior spaces include guest rooms with mountain or countryside views through large windows. A 20-minute drive takes you to the breathtaking natural beauty of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Its unique landscape, with enormous crystal-clear ice blocks on a volcanic black sand beach, reflects the blue and green glow of the northern lights, when they appear, creating a psychedelic effect that makes the lagoon one of the best places to see the northern lights in Iceland. 

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. Photo: Shutterstock

Deplar Farm

Set in a secluded valley surrounded by the verdant mountainous landscape of northern Iceland, the remote location of upmarket lodge Deplar Farm is both completely free of light pollution and close to the Arctic Circle, making it an ideal hotel from which to see the northern lights. With turf roofs and dark wood cladding, the lodge blends seamlessly with its surroundings, which annually receive some of the heaviest snowfall in the country. Tasteful guest rooms and elegant interiors are complemented by a spa, flotation tanks, an outdoor sauna and a geothermally heated indoor/outdoor pool with its own swim-up bar. What better destination in which to view the spectacular natural display of the aurora borealis?

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