Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line

Home » Attraction, Museums, Theme Parks & Tours » Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line

When planning our trip to Reykjavik we thought it is best if we look around for a Northern Lights tour in Iceland. After all, we didn’t want to go travelling in Iceland in the middle of the night with no idea what we were looking for. January was the best time to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights. I can’t image anyone travelling to Iceland and not wanting to see the northern lights. Once upon a time that would have been appealing but with two young kids, a tour in Iceland was definitely the way to go.

A Northern Lights tour in Iceland is a must!

Along with a trip down the South Coast and the Golden Circle, seeing the Northern Lights is a must. Having checked out a lot of tours to see the Northern Lights in Iceland online we decided we would go with Grayline having had good experiences with Gray Line tours in the past. We choose the Gray Line Northern Lights Mystery Tour for getting around Iceland.

The Gray Line Nothern Lights Mystery tour includes:

  • Watching the Northern Lights flashing across the sky in brilliant patterns
  • Learning about the science of Northern Lights
  • Engaging and educating guidance
  • Complimentary pick-up and drop-off for hotels and guesthouses in Reykjavik
  • Round trip transportation
  • Professional tour guide

One thing about the Northern Lights tour they are dependant on the weather and as they say in Iceland the weather can change in a matter of minutes. The first night we were scheduled to go on the tour we received an email early afternoon saying because of weather conditions the tour was off. As luck would have we were near the Gray Lines office in downtown Reykjavik when the email came through. We went to the office and rescheduled for the next night. Easy as that!

Northern Lights Mystery Tour Number 1

Northern Lights tour in Iceland
Best case scenario on your tour would be to see the lights shine and dance like this

Best time to go to Iceland for the Northern Lights is Winter

At 8 pm the next night the Gray Line minivan pulled up outside the apartments we were staying at. We were asked to confirm our names and then we promptly piled on the minibus. We drove through the dark streets of the Icelandic capital on our way to the Gray Line depot where we would meet up with the full-size bus. Sitting on the bus you could hear people talking in many languages from all around the world. One thing that was apparent was the excitement in the air. Everyone thinking of possibly seeing the Northern Lights from everyone on board. Iceland guided tours are the way to go in this country.


Where do we stay in Reykjavik

We stayed at Downtown Reykjavik Apartments. Located on the edge of the Reykjavik City Centre. Fully self-contained including cooking facilities in your room and a guest laundry. We stayed in a family room for 4. The apartments are located on the edge of the downtown area within walking distance to restaurants and shops.

Book your stay at Downtown Reykjavik Apartments HERE


Northern lights tour in Iceland
High-quality Northern lights near lighthouse Garðskagavita. We hope you get to see the lights like this

Once we arrived at the depot we then changed bus onto a much bigger bus that could accommodate more people. We were greeted by our guide, our names were ticked off again and we climbed on to get some seats. Our guide was so nice and friendly! Her sense of humour was hilarious and the girls loved her straight away. Once the last minibus arrived we were off!  We headed out of Reykjavik towards Reykjanes to a seemingly well-known spot that tour companies use to see the lights. Apparently, Gray Line are constantly in touch with the Icelandic Bureau of Meteorology to find the most likely spots the lights will appear. The spots to see the lights are void of all artificial light.

Make sure you bring warm clothes on your Northern Lights tour Iceland

The spots to see the lights are void of all artificial light. We were given instruction by our tour guide on the way out how to set up our camera’s to catch the best pictures of the lights. Sometimes it was confusing and we later asked her to have a look at our camera to see if she could help us sort out a couple of the settings.

⇒ You might like our related article, Traveling to Iceland 

It was absolutely no problems and within minutes we had some of the settings sorted out. We pulled into a car park in the middle of nowhere. We were joined by about 8 other full-size buses making it about 300 people standing around freezing waiting to see the sky dance. It was about this time I was glad we had bought great quality jackets from North Face for the girls and Columbia for Bec and myself.

And wait we did, to the untrained eyes it was really hard to see. Spotting the cloud that would give you the best sighting was difficult to us and once we actually got out onto that lava field it was hard to find your guide again. We would head back to the bus to ask our guide what we should be looking for sometimes just to make sure we were right. But you would certainly know after you took a picture. Our great guide would say there are some low-quality Northern lights out there, have a look and take a picture. If you had your camera set up right it would easily capture colours that the eyes could not see.

Northern Lights tour in Iceland
The best shot we could manage of the Aurora Borealis at church Kálfatjarnarkirkju

Northern Lights tour in Iceland
Another shot of the Northern Lights we witnessed on the first tour near Reykjanes

As the lights were not as good as our guide had hoped for they decided to go to another place to try our luck there. So after about 3 hours we packed up and headed to lighthouse Garðskagavita in search of the lights. Once again we came up empty after standing around for an hour we headed back towards Reykjavik stopping at this beautiful little church Kálfatjarnarkirkju where the Northern Lights finally showed themselves for just a few minutes but enough for the naked eye to see them. The entire bus was really tired at this stage but our guide was on us all to get off and get the picture!

As she was telling us to hurry she was also telling us to be very careful but that we had to hurry! We were all laughing as we got off the bus for this last try at seeing them! At this point, the girls stayed on the bus and the driver was happy to sit with them. There was also another couple on the bus that had just had enough so they said they would watch the girls for us if we would share our pictures with them.

At this tiny little spot was where we got our best pictures of the Northern Lights! After 5 hours of searching in near-freezing conditions, it was time to head back to Reykjavik.  Back in the apartment and in bed by 2 am. As we drove back to Reykjavik our guide and the bus driver decided that the quality of the lights we had seen were to be of a low quality which entitles everyone to another trip.

The girls were able to sleep quite comfortably on the bus at different stages through the tour. When awake they went outside to explore and look for the lights and chatted to people on the bus.

Nothern Lights Mystery Tour Number 2

The next day we rebooked again for another Northern Lights tour in Iceland and again it was so easy. This time we headed south down the coast away from Reykjavik through Selfoss. We stopped at Hotel Vantsholt which is on the south shore of Iceland, a restaurant guest house where you could buy coffee and cake while we waited for the lights to appear. As we had had a very different experience the night before, Bec was much more prepared but we had not brought any money with us to buy a coffee!

⇒ Do you want to go to the Blue Lagoon? We have an article on How to get to Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik ⇐ 

This area was known for its Northern Lights activity. Alas, the lights would not appear at all this night for us. Gray Line tried really hard to find the lights as we drove around the countryside in search of them. We stopped and drove and stopped and drove. Looking, searching and hunting in valleys and on flats near the ocean and in the hills. We didn’t even end up getting very cold on this tour as we hardly got off the bus at all.

Northern Lights tour in Iceland
Ideally what you would hope your Northern Lights look like on the south shore of Iceland
What did we think of our Northern Lights Iceland Tour

I really have to complement the two guides and how they kept you entertained and informed with facts and stories both professional and personal along the journey. The girls loved the stories they told and again the guides happily answered questions that they asked. By the end of the night, both of the guides knew the girl’s names and a few life stories of their own.  I have been on other tours where you get on and you get nothing in the way of information until you get there. With Gray Line Iceland Northern Lights tour, they have both a driver and a tour guide on board for all your needs and inquiries.


Gray Line Northern Lights Mystery Tour

On this tour, you will search for the beautiful and mysterious Northern Lights on this exciting 4-hour adventure from Reykjavik. You could head North you could head South. Gray Line is in constant contact with the Icelandic Bureau of Meteorology. This gets the latest up to date forecasts on where the Northern lights will appear. The northern lights Iceland tour cost is great value for money considering you get 2 chances to see the aurora.

Book your Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line right HERE


In the big picture, we got see the lights for only a short time. Were the lights impressive like you see in pictures? Certainly not for our experience. Can you control the weather or lights? No way. Did GrayLine do all they could to help us find the lights? Yes they did, they went above and beyond to give us the best experience possible. Would we recommend a Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line to anyone visiting Iceland? ABSOLUTELY! put it on your Iceland itinerary. Next up let’s see if we can find the Southern Lights in our own country of Australia.

⇒ We have a related post that you might like, How much does it cost to go to Iceland 

Travel to Iceland

  • Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland. Keflavik International Airport is 50 kilometres from Reykjavik. 6.8 million people travelled through Keflavik airport in 2016,
  • The main carriers at Keflavík are Icelandair and WOW air
  • You can check the prices of international flights to Iceland with cheapOair.  Domestic flights are operated out of Reykjavik city airport which is 2 km from the city
  • The Airport Express return service between KEF airport and both Reykjavik and Akureyri is operated by Gray Line Iceland.This will be a saving on your Iceland travel cost straight away. Book your transfer HERE
  • You can book an airport transfer with Suntransfers who we have personally used on many occasions.
  • You can reserve a rental car and have it waiting for you at Keflavik International Airport.

Getting around Iceland and Reykjavik

  • The city buses in Reykjavík are yellow. The Icelandic word for them is strætó, which is short for strætisvagn (streetcar). These buses are the only public transport in the city.
  • The Reykjavik Hop on hop off bus is another excellent option for seeing the sites of the city and surrounding area. Check the current prices HERE
  • The Reykjavik City Card entitles you to entry to some of Reykjavik’s major attractions and free public transport on the buses. More information is available here

Where to stay in Reykjavik

  • Reykjavik has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
  • Hostels in Reykjavik can start from as little as 25 Euro a night for a shared dorm room.
  •  You can search Airbnb for there Iceland offerings. If you have never used Airbnb before get yourself $50 credit by signing and booking a stay right HERE
  • Your Iceland vacation cost will be affected by the quality of your accommodation, choose wisely.
  • Hotels in Reykjavik generally start from around $209.00 a night for a double room 3star and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards the 5-star average price of $271.00.
  • You can compare and book your stay on Agoda, Hotels.comHotels Combined and Expedia
Read more fantastic Iceland articles by Wyld Family Travel 


Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line

14 thoughts on “Northern Lights tour in Iceland with Gray Line”

  1. Seeing the Northern Lights is at the top of my travel wish list! I would probably go with a tour too since I don’t want to be driving around hoping for a sighting.

  2. Really like the first image immediately below the ‘Northern Lights Mystery Tour Number 1’ heading. There appears to be dolphins leaping through the clouds.

  3. Wao! Amazing post, loved all the pictures as well as the useful information!, I’m from Mexico and I’m planing to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights in a couple months so I was doing some research because I have no idea of where specifically can I find them and this is great! Liked that the tour is a combination of watching the lights with educating guidance and the complimentary pick-up and drop-off sounds very convenient! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is the second blog post I’ve read within a week that gave an honest review of what it’s like to try to see the Northern Lights. I think what I’ll take from this is that you shouldn’t make a trip for the sole purpose of viewing them. So I hope you got to see and do much more while you were in Iceland! It would be a dream to get great pictures of the Lights, but from what I’ve heard, there are so many other beautiful sights in Iceland, not to be missed!

  5. wow 300 people that seems busy in Iceland but thanks for your post and great experience!! I joined Grayline day tours before too and they are great. I would recommend them if not self-drive. ???????

  6. Interesting. Home to me is in the midwest, and we often times can see the northern lights. The sky is beautiful and I often wonder what they are like in Iceland. Looks like it’s a hit or miss experience. I’m sure there were other things to see and experience, which made the trip worth it. This tour company looks like they did everything for you, except control Mother Nature.

  7. Mother nature has a mind of its own! I’ve been reading a lot of stories about the Northern Lights, seems like it’s a once in a lifetime experience regardless.

  8. This is high on my list of things to accomplish. I was in the Ukraine and had planned on going North from there for just this purpose but did not realize that the countries North were Schengen and I had not more days left. I know that the lights are a hit or miss but at least you did get the one night. I know there was much much more for you to see in Iceland with or without the lights so it must have been a great family outing.

  9. It really sounds like the tour company worked hard to make this great. Another tips for seeing the lights would be to go to a meetup of travellers- everyone will be discussing tips on seeing the lights and planning to go out and see them. I saw them by walking to a lighthouse outside the city.

  10. Northern Lights is definitely a must see in ones’ lifetime kind of phenomenon. You are really privileged to have seen it. I have heard about the weather and you need to be luck to witness it. The Grey line seems to be a great way to see the lights. It always adds value to your experience when you have informative and helpful guides with you.

  11. That sounds like a great tour! I would love to do this, but sadly I will be in Iceland in the summer so it’s not possible. But I’m glad you had such great guides and were able to take beautiful photos of the Northern Lights!

  12. Iceland has always been on my bucketlist and my feet get itchy seeing this beautiful picture of those beautiful northern lights. It’s really awesome that they organise tours, I never thought of that. I will do now, thanks to you.

  13. Thank you for letting me know that there are Southern Lights as well! I did not know that.

    Living in Manitoba, Canada, I have seen spectacular Northern Lights in Churchill. I would be curious to see if they were any better in Iceland. But we do see them regularly in southern Manitoba and they are indeed a spectacle to see.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.