Posted by: neilh10 | February 19, 2011

Hunting for the northern lights? head to Flateyri!

One of the main attractions in Iceland in wintertime, is the opportunity to see the northern lights. People travel from all around the world to get to Iceland, just in the hope of seeing the northern lights.

The locals are frankly quite bemused by the situation. The first time I travelled to Reykjavik in winter, I asked about going on a ‘northern lights hunt’. The guy behind the desk was not optimistic about the chance of actually seeing the northern lights. ‘Tonight… it’s about 7%’. That doesn’t seem like particularly good odds. I asked him what the best odds are, when the weather is exactly right, and, as I recall, he thought it was about 14 or 15%. So, I asked, what exactly is the point of going on one of these tours, with such miserable odds? ‘Well, their main selling point, I guess, is that they take you out in to the middle of nowhere for a few hours’.

Several months later, the first time I saw the northern lights properly, was in Flateyri in October. The locals in the pub thought nothing of the bizarre light show that was taking place outside, as strange faintly coloured beams of light danced around the sky, over the mountain and reflected in the fjord. ‘Five minutes. You can see the northern lights in five minutes. There’s nothing to it’.

The only way I can explain the northern lights is as very powerful beams of light being projected around the sky. They move around and shift in different directions, and it can be quite frightening if you haven’t seen them before. The beams are faintly coloured (they always look green when you photograph them, but they are less so in real life), but I am told that they vary quite significantly in colouration. The photo’s never really do the experience justice, but my friend Pete did manage to snap some photographic proof.

We were interrupted again, this time by a guy from Reykjavik, on vacation. ‘This is nothing. sometimes, it feels like they are 50 metres above your head, and you can literally reach out and grab them’.

Something to look forward to, one night in the future, then.

I’ve no evidence to back this statement up, but I would suspect that the odds of seeing the Northern lights in Flateyri are far better than the 7-15% predicted on the northern lights hunt. Personally, I saw them with varying degrees of visibility on almost every night I was in the town back in October and December, although the conditions were admittedly good back then, with few clouds in the sky. The reason why the Northern lights are so much more visible in Flateyri is that it is further north, and there is zero light pollution.

Overall, if you want to see the northern lights, there are few better places in Iceland to head out to than the Westfjords. Although there can never be any guarantee of seeing the northern lights, travelling north outside of Reykjavik is going to increase your chances substantially.

Interested in visiting the Westfjords in Winter? Want to go to Flateyri and check out the northern lights for yourself? There are few better places to stay than my apartment. The apartment is available all year, and the rate in Winter is £60 per night or £250 per week. For more information, click HERE .



  1. […] another part of iceland, in the westfjords, Neil from flateyri, was also lucky. So lucky that according to him, he is able to see some northern lights every […]

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