I Saw The Northern Lights In Iceland – Now I Can Die Happy!

“Is that a cloud? Or is that the Northern Lights?”, Johna wondered aloud with controlled enthusiasm. I quickly swiveled my bar stool to face the window behind us and squinted to see outside from Kex Hostel.

“Huh… mayyyyybe…?” I said, hopping down to get a closer look. We saw what looked to be a light green cloud in the sky just over Reykjavik Harbor, which vanished within seconds. Wait, did we both just imagine it?

Not more than 30 seconds later, the green cloud reappeared in the sky just to the left of where we’d seen it. Then it grew darker. “THIS IS IT! THIS IS IT!” I shrieked with more excitement than I’ve ever felt on a Christmas morning. Nevermind that we’d just been served our order of delicious herbed potato wedges and fancy cheese, or that the dapperest of Nordic male specimen had insisted we wouldn’t be able to see it from here, or that I’d just smacked a metaphorical *HEY EVERYONE I’M AN AMERICAN TOURIST* sign on my forehead.

I bolted upstairs to our room, grabbed my camera and tripod, and hustled to the waterfront to witness the most colorful of Mother Nature’s performances from the front row.

Northern Lights in Iceland 

Nothing about this Northern Lights experience made any sense. Most sources insist that you’re most likely to catch them from October through April, somewhere in the 10pm-2am range, in a clear sky in the middle of nowhere. Yet here we were after 2 weeks of camping in the wilderness and being on constant lookout for them, randomly witnessing the Northern Lights at 9:45pm on September 12 in Reykjavik.

It was crazy. It was perfect.

Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland

Northern Lights in Iceland 

I watched with my mouth agape as small splotches of green appeared throughout the sky, one or two at a time. They slowly grew in size and intensity, then disappeared within minutes.

No, it wasn’t the dramatic multi-colored display I’ve seen on countless postcards or even on Instagram the week before our trip. But it was my first time seeing the Northern Lights. You always remember your first time; and if you’re lucky, it’s with someone special – somewhere special.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first time seeing the Northern Lights: with some great friends on our last night in Iceland.

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? When and where?

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

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  • Holy moly beautifulness. The NL are HIGH up on my list of things to see before I too can die happy :)

    • lindsaypunk

      OMG it was the same with me before I saw them! I wouldn’t mind seeing them again sometime, though ;P

  • Such amazing photos! I’ve seen them in Alta, Norway. They were so gorgeous, lots of green! It was late October when I saw them. I literally left Iceland two days after you posted that you saw them in the city. AHHHHHH! But I’m glad you got to see them!

    • lindsaypunk

      AHHH that must have been incredible! Norway, gosh, that’s another place I need to get to someday. What a place to see them!

      And whaaaaat! Where were you when this happened, elsewhere in Iceland?!

      • I was on a plane back to the U.S. [insert crying emoji here]

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