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What to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

What to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

Are you wondering what to wear to see the northern lights in Iceland? If you are traveling to Iceland in Winter chances are seeing the aurora is high on your to do list. However to view the northern lights you are facing a long time out in cold conditions. In this guide we will round up what to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland from base layer to top.

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But before we get on to our outfit inspiration we thought it would be worthwhile letting you know some of our other tips for viewing the aurora in Iceland.

Best time for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland?

Icelandic Church and Northern Lights - what to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland
what to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

First thing is if you want to even stand a chance at seeing the Northern lights you have to travel in the winter.

Iceland is home to the midnight sun in summer (typically in June, July and August), so if you travel to Iceland during these months you stand no chance of seeing the aurora.

If you want see the lights then you have to travel between October – March. This is the only time for seeing the lights. However October and March have lower chances of seeing the lights compare to November, December, January and February.

For more information on what to wear to Iceland in October check out this post.

And don’t forget to check out our other Iceland packing list guides such as:

What are the best conditions for viewing the Northern Lights?

On top of the season you travel in, you also need to have good weather to increase the likelihood of a northern lights viewing. For northern lights viewing you have to have crisp weather. A cloudy day with rain is not good for Northern Lights viewing.

What is the best area in Iceland?

So now you know the conditions you need and time of year to travel to see the aurora in Iceland, we will turn our attention to the best area in Iceland to stay.

The main thing you need to know about the Northern lights is that to see them clearly you really need to have darkness / dark skies.

Therefore the cities in Iceland such as Reykjavik are not the best places to see the lights.

However if you are staying in Reykjavik and want to stand a chance of seeing them you need to take an excursion out of the city.

As there is never any guarantee that the lights will appear, if you are on an excursion rather than staying at a hotel with a northern lights alarm, you will be standing in a dark field for a long time. This means you need to dress appropriately for the weather.

What to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

The key to what to wear to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is lots of layers and keeping warm. Therefore we recommend all of the belo:

Merino Underwear

But by Merino underwear I don’t mean pants / boxers / knickers. I am talking about a thermal base layer.

I recommend having thermal leggings and a thermal shirt as your base layer for your Northern Lights outfit.

Sweaters / Jumpers/ Hoodie / Fleece

Now you may think that one sweater or hoodie or jumper will be enough for viewing the Northern Lights but trust me it really isn’t.

The weather in Iceland in Winter is very cold, and add to that the wind and cold of the night, and the standing still in a remote snowy field – trust me you will want to get as many of these on as you can.


So now you know what to wear on your top half what about the bottom?

WE recommend wearing something really thick and waterproof. I recommend wearing a pair of ski trousers as these provide warmth and water proofing.

Winter Coat

When thinking about the best coat for seeing the Northern Lights you need it to have some waterproofing, some wind breaking and basically be as thick as possible.


Again, most people only take one pair of gloves to view the Northern Lights but I recommend actually taking two. Why? Let me tell you.

I would take a thinner pair that have the ability to be used with phones. If the lights do appear then you will want to take a lot of photos but trust me you don’t want to have to take your gloves off to do so.

However you also will want a warmer thicker pair of gloves or potentially even mittens to put on over the top for when the lights are putting on a show.


A warm hat that has some waterproofing is a great idea. Also if your face feels the cold you could also consider adding a balaclava to the list.


Any extra layers are a good idea so I would personally always add a scarf.


Although hats can cover ears we also recommend having earmuffs with you as your extremities get very cold very quickly when you are seeing the lights.

Best Shoes for the Northern Lights

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are really the only choice of shoes to wear for watching the northern lights. You need a pair that are waterproof and can cope with cold weather.

Sneakers and trainers are a big no no for watching the Northern lights as your feet would become ice blocks in seconds.

And don’t forget to wear thick hiking socks. If you can comfortably out a couple of pairs on then we would recommend wearing two layers.

Have you been to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? What did you wear? We would love to hear in the comments.