The 7 Best Northern Lights Tours In Iceland [2021 Reviews]

One of the most magical experiences anyone can have is seeing the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky in an explosion of shapes and vivid colors.

If viewing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, Iceland is undoubtedly the best place to experience this natural light phenomenon in relative comfort.

From September to April every year, dedicated tour guides take excited visitors on nightly hunts to find ideal locations to observe the beauty of nature.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the fortunate few who have witnessed Nature’s most wonderful light show.

Best Northern Lights Tours In Iceland

 Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour From ReykjavikNorthern Lights By Boat In ReykjavikNorthern Lights Hunt From Reykjavik By Minibus
editors choice
Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik  Northern Lights by Boat in Reykjavik Northern Lights Hunt from Reykjavik by Minibus
Departure Point:Pick up service from central Reykjavik hotelsReykjavik Old HarborPick up from all Reykjavik hotels
Departure Time:9:30 PM9 PM9 PM
Duration:4 Hours2 Hours3 Hours
Includes:Tour guide, a minibus ride, refreshments, free-reschedule if you don’t see the Northern Lights, and free entry into the Aurora MuseumTour guide, boat cruise, knowledgeable guide, and onboard Wi-FiTour guide, bus ride into the countryside, blankets, use of a camera

Be sure to see our other Iceland tour reviews: Glacier & Ice Cave Tours and Whale Watching Tours.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Iceland Northern Lights Tours

  1. Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik
  2. Northern Lights by Boat from Reykjavik
  3. Northern Lights Hunt from Reykjavik by Minibus
  4. Reykjavik: 4–Hour Northern Lights Deluxe Tour
  5. From Gullfoss: Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour
  6. 2-Hour Northern Lights Cruise from Reykjavik
  7. 3 day Golden Circle, Ice Cave, and Northern Lights Tour

We have reviewed the top rated Northern Lights tours in Iceland providing overviews and highlighting the details of each. We also make recommendations on staying in Iceland in our guide section.

Iceland Northern Lights Tour Reviews

#1 Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour From Reykjavik

Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up service from central Reykjavik hotels
  • Departure Time: 9:30 PM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Includes: Experienced tour guide, a minibus ride into the countryside, refreshments, free-reschedule if you don’t see the Northern Lights, and free entry into the Aurora Museum

The minibus will pick you up from your hotel in Reykjavik and transport you into the depths of the Icelandic countryside.

Here you will be leaving behind the light pollution of the city and seeking out the darkest places with the clearest patches of sky to view the world’s most famous light display.

With only 15 passengers on each tour, you will enjoy the intimacy of a small group sharing a journey of discovery as you hunt the Aurora Borealis.

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The guide uses their local knowledge and experience, as well as communication with other guides, to find the most likely locations for clear viewing.

Refreshments are provided while you continue your adventure—Icelandic donuts, hot chocolate, and fermented shark … if you’re brave enough.

The tour operators are so positive you will see the Northern Lights during your quest that they guarantee a free reschedule if you don’t.

You can cancel your tour up to 24 hours beforehand with no charge. This tour also includes free entry to the Aurora Museum in Reykjavik.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#2 Northern Lights By Boat In Reykjavik

 Northern Lights by Boat in Reykjavik

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Reykjavik Old Harbor (Hotel pick-up available on request)
  • Departure Time: 9 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Experienced tour guide, boat cruise, knowledgeable guide, and onboard Wi-Fi

This is a unique and effective way of hunting for a good vantage point to view the Northern Lights unhindered by surrounding landmarks or any light pollution.

Join the friendly, experienced, and knowledgeable crew aboard a luxury boat in Reykjavik Old Harbor and sail into the North Atlantic Ocean.

You will get great views of the city lights and distant mountains. Within 30 minutes, the boat will reach a location free from light pollution where you have an excellent chance of viewing a spectacular light display.

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There is Wi-Fi aboard the boat so don’t delay uploading your unique photographs of the Aurora Borealis onto your Facebook account and Instagram. Hot drinks and soup are provided.

If you need to cancel beforehand, there is free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour begins.

If the weather is too rough to set sail, you will be taken on a small private bus ride to hunt the Northern Lights on land. In addition, you will receive a free ticket for the next available boat tour.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#3 Northern Lights Hunt From Reykjavik By Minibus

 Northern Lights Hunt from Reykjavik by Minibus

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up from all Reykjavik hotels and guest houses
  • Departure Time: 9 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Experienced tour guide, bus ride into the countryside, blankets, use of a camera

Wherever you are staying in Reykjavik, the minibus will come to collect you for this journey of discovery.

You will join a small and intimate group of fellow Aurora Borealis hunters to drive deep into the Icelandic countryside in search of places free from light pollution with clear skies to view this solar wind phenomenon.

An experienced tour guide will use meteorological forecasts, their local knowledge, and intuition to find the best locations and also answer any questions you may have about the Northern Lights.

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While seeking the light, you will have the chance to sample delicious Icelandic chocolate while you huddle under the warm blanket provided for your comfort during the cold Icelandic night.

Once you’ve found the world’s greatest light show, don’t worry if your camera can’t capture all the dramatic patterns and shapes dancing overhead.

You will be offered the use of a camera capable of picking out the spectacular variations of colored light in the sky.

If you don’t see the Northern Lights during your tour, you will be offered another opportunity to seek the light free of charge, and if for any reason you can’t make the tour, free cancellation is permitted up to 24 hours before the activity begins.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#4 Reykjavik 4–Hour Northern Lights Deluxe Tour

 Reykjavik: 4–Hour Northern Lights Deluxe Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up from hotels and guest houses within city limits of Reykjavik
  • Departure Time: 9 PM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Includes: Knowledgeable guide, 4-hour bus ride, Icelandic pastries, hot cocoa, and blankets

A small minibus picks you up from your guesthouse or hotel to join an intimate group of 17 other Northern Lights hunters and transports you out of the city.

Free from its noise and light pollution, deep into the remote and peaceful countryside of Iceland you can truly enjoy the show.

Snuggle under the blankets provided and enjoy traditional Icelandic pastries and hot cocoa while your expert guide strives to locate the best position to view the spectacular natural light display.

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With 4 hours to spend, your minibus will travel deeper into the countryside than any other tour and spend longer searching for the lights. Don’t worry if you don’t see the Northern Lights on your first attempt.

This eager tour operator is determined that you will get to see the world’s most famous display of colors and shapes in the sky, so you will be offered a second and even a third opportunity to search with no extra charge.

If you still don’t see the Aurora Borealis after three attempts, you will receive a voucher entitling you to another trip at a future time. Free cancellations are offered up to 24 hours before the activity starts.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#5 Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour From Gullfoss

 From Gullfoss: Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Gullfoss Café, Selfossi (a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik)
  • Departure Time: 6 PM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Includes: Expert guide, monster truck transportation to a glacier, overalls, and 1-hour ride on a snowmobile

This is a unique opportunity to ride on a snowmobile, view the Northern Lights, and explore a glacier! After meeting at the café, you will board a monster truck for a drive across the icy terrain headed for Langjökukk glacier.

At the visitor’s hut, you will be provided with the necessary safety equipment to ride a snowmobile through the dark for a whole hour.

As your guide leads you across the glacier, the eerie glacial landscape will be illuminated in your snowmobile headlights.

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In this rugged environment, far from civilization and light pollution, you have an excellent chance of observing the Aurora Borealis and viewing a spectacular display of dancing colors and shapes in the dark night sky.

Although you will be provided with overalls, you should dress for freezing and changeable weather. It’s a glacier! Wear gloves, headcover, waterproof pants and jacket, and good outdoor shoes.

If you discover that you cannot make the tour, free cancellation is allowed up to 24 hours before the tour begins.

Note that you must have a valid driver’s license to drive a snowmobile, which you must show on arrival, children under 6 are not allowed, and you may take only one child per adult. Children cannot drive snowmobiles.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#6 2-Hour Northern Lights Cruise From Reykjavik

 2-Hour Northern Lights Cruise from Reykjavik

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hlésgata, 101 Reykjavik Harbor
  • Departure Time: 9 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Expert guide, 2-hour cruise, Wi-Fi, onboard toilets, and warm flotation overalls

After meeting at Reykjavik Harbor, experience a 2-hour cruise into the North Atlantic Ocean in search of an ideal location from which to observe and photograph the Northern Lights.

Here you will be far from the noise and light pollution of the city. View the city from the sea while you enjoy refreshments and snacks purchased from a heated indoor bar,

Be sure to dress in the warm flotation overalls provided and step out onto the deck to enjoy the natural lightshow outside.

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It’s no problem if you get caught short because there are toilets aboard. The Free Wi-Fi is great for uploading your amazing shots of dancing shapes and colors in the night sky onto your Instagram account.

If you get tired, there are seats both inside the cabin and out on the deck.

Because the Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon, it is always possible that you won’t see the lights on any particular night. But don’t worry.

If you don’t see the Northern Lights on your first cruise, you will be offered the opportunity to try again another night. In the event that you cannot make the tour, free cancellation is permitted up to 24 hours before the cruise begins.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

#7 3-Day Golden Circle, Ice Cave, & Northern Lights Tour

3 day Golden Circle, Ice Cave, and Northern Lights Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up service from Reykjavik
  • Departure Time: 8 AM
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Includes: Expert guide, 2 nights hotel stay and breakfast, visits to 3 waterfalls, 2 geysers, a glacial lagoon, hike along a glacier, hunt for the Northern Lights, and explore inside an ice cave.

If you are dedicated to seeing the Northern Lights but also want to experience some of the other unique natural phenomena around Iceland, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore everything that Iceland has to offer.

Watch a geyser in action, view beautiful waterfalls, explore inside an ice cave, hike along a glacier, and observe the Aurora Borealis.

On the first day of your eventful tour, you will travel to southwestern Iceland and visit Geysir, the waterfall at Gullfoss, and Thingvellir National Park.

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The geyser at Geysir is the most famous in the world, and the English word “geyser” is derived from its place name.

You will also see Strokkur geyser nearby, which sprays hot water up to 98 feet into the sky every few minutes, much more frequently than its more famous neighbor. After an action-packed day, relax at a hotel in Hvolsvöllur.

On the second day, you will move on to southern Iceland and visit Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls. Following that, experience a hike across a glacier at Solheimajökull and marvel at the icy landscape of this sublime natural landmark.

Next, you will see the black sand beach at Reynisfjara before visiting Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Before heading back to the hotel, your expert guide will take you on a night hunt for the highlight of the trip—the Aurora Borealis.

On the third day, you will begin with an unforgettable trek inside a spectacular ice cave. Following that, you will visit  Jökulsarlon glacial lagoon.

The icebergs floating in the blue waters will astound you, and if the place looks familiar, that’s because it was used as a setting in many movies, including A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Batman Begins, Beowulf and Grendel, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider.

Finally, you will return to Reykjavik filled with a wealth of memories.


For tour prices, transportation, and availability:

Iceland Travel Guide

Best Iceland Northern Lights Tours


There are many reasons the Land of Fire and Ice has seen an explosion in tourism since 2019. Not only can you see the Northern Lights, active volcanoes, glaciers, and puffins, you can also relax in a geothermal spa and even bake bread inside a pot buried underground.

What you decide to do in this fascinating country is your choice, but you should take the time to do some research before you go. This guide is here to inform you where you can go, what you can do, and how you can get there, because we want you to have the best vacation of your life in Iceland.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors to Iceland arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Although Iceland only has a population of 359 thousand people, in 2018 this busy airport handled 9.8 million passengers. Despite the number of visitors, there is only one terminal. You will find the check-in times minimal, with an average 20-minute waiting time at the security check.

Inside the terminal, you will find everything clearly signposted in English. Charging points for cellphones and laptops are provided in the waiting area along with free Wi-Fi.

Strollers are provided for children, and there is a dedicated kids’ play area. The usual selection of food outlets and shops are found on the upper floor of the main building. Manned information stands are located throughout the airport.

It is 30 miles from the airport to Reykjavik, the capital city. The speed limit is 55 mph, but the drive usually takes 50 minutes due to traffic. Shuttle bus services link KEF to the city, which you can book in advance online or pay for at the airport.

Some hotels offer airport collection, and you should ask about that when you book your room. You can, of course, jump in a taxi at the airport, but it will be extremely expensive compared to the airport bus service. Car rental is available at the airport, but it is advisable to book in advance.

Planning Tips

With so many exciting things to do and see in Iceland, you’re guaranteed to have a great holiday. However, things do not always go to plan, so here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Tip #1: If you want to see the Aurora Borealis, go between September and March

It’s easier to view the Northern Lights when the sky is at its darkest. In Iceland, the nights are especially long between September and March, but the sky doesn’t grow dark enough to view this magical phenomenon during the summer months. However, do not plan a visit around a full moon, because its light can dampen the impact of this natural light display. The best days to go are around the time of a new moon.

Tip #2: Check out the SolarHam website

If you are especially interested in the Aurora Borealis and want to earn your Geek Badge, check out the SolarHam website. This techy site provides a 3-day geomagnetic forecast, which is useful for aurora hunters to select the best time to view the Northern Lights. The same site provides a satellite map of where the natural light show is right now, so you can look up if you’re near.

Tip #3: Take your time to enjoy all the attractions of Iceland

There’s so much to see in Iceland, it would be a crime not to explore and experience as much as you are able in the time you have. While you are there, do not miss the opportunity to see so many unforgettable natural phenomena in one place. There is nowhere else on the planet where you can see active volcanoes, glaciers, and icebergs, all in one national park.

Tip #4: Book everything in advance, especially in winter

Tourism is on the rise in Iceland, and hotel rooms, tours, and attractions get fully-booked ahead of time.  Don’t miss out on seeing the Northern Lights from the best vantage point possible because all the tours were booked-up before you arrived. Many tours like the ones detailed above offer a 24-hour-in-advance free cancellation, so you take no financial risk booking. Ask about free cancellation when buying your ticket.

Tip #5: Impress your friends with quintessentially Icelandic souvenirs

The budget chain store Bonus stocks many unique Icelandic products, such as Omnom chocolate, Icelandic specialty teas, herbal sea salt blends, and licorice mixed with chocolate. At Bonus, you can pick up great, inexpensive gifts for your friends! Vinbuoin, the state-run liquor store, sells a fine selection of renowned Icelandic spirits, including Iceland’s signature tipple, Brennivin.

And if you like to sort through other folks’ debris for the hidden treasures, a special weekend market is held at Kolaportio in downtown Reykjavik where Icelanders come to sell off their unwanted goods when moving to a new house. You could find anything!

Restaurants & Eating Out

Because of Iceland’s geographical position and climate, vegetables and grains are rare in traditional foods, and many famous dishes focus on preserved seafood or meat. Also, food was scarce in yesteryears, so every part of an animal or fish was eaten. You’ll find many traditional meals involve fish or meat that is salted, smoked, dried, or fermented. Watch out for such culinary delights as baked sheep’s head and fermented shark.

Seafood restaurants are common throughout Iceland, and all serve “fish of the day”, which is usually salmon, monkfish, haddock, or cod. However, if you wish, you can seek out some of the more exotic options. Humar is a kind of lobster caught off the south coast of Iceland, renowned for its tender and tasty flesh.

It is served fried, baked or grilled, though it can also be found as a pizza topping! Plokkfishkur is a fish stew, made to the chef’s specific recipe but usually combining white fish with onions, potatoes, milk, and flour. Harofiskur is a snack you can buy in any grocery store. It is dried stockfish, eaten with butter or straight out of a bag.

Because it is difficult to grow wheat in Iceland, there are many traditional varieties of rye bread, like flatkaka, baked in thin disks on hot stones. One variety of rye bread you should try is rugbrauo, a sweet-tasting, dark bread.

The reason rugbrauo is so interesting for visitors to Iceland is that a common baking technique is to bury a dough-filled pot near one of the many hot springs, such as Fontana Hot Springs, and use geothermal heat to bake the bread. Rugbrauo baked that way is also called hyerabrauo (hot-spring bread).

Icelanders don’t only eat fish and rye bread. Sheep are the most common livestock in Iceland, so lamb is often on the menu. Sheep wander freely around the countryside, eating seaweed, grass, and berries, which tends to make lamb tender with a mild flavor.

Smoked lamb is called hangikjöt and is often served boiled during the winter holidays. Also watch out for varieties of meat you won’t see in most other countries, like puffin, horse, and whale. Despite international concern over puffins and whales, they are still commonly consumed in Iceland.

A meal on vacation isn’t complete without dessert. Popular local sweets include rugbrauosis (rye bread ice cream), pönnukökur (Icelandic pancakes), and snuour (cinnamon bread covered in caramel or chocolate). A dairy product unique to Iceland is skyr.

It is a kind of sour milk cheese eaten like yogurt and often sweetened and flavored with fruit or vanilla.

Nightlife & Entertainment

With long, cold nights throughout the winter, it’s no surprise Icelanders love their nightlife, and much of it is centered where most of the people live—Reykjavik. Because the capital is so small, most of the clubs and bars are within walking distance of one another. In fact, many are along one street, Laugavegur, the commercial artery of downtown.

Most social venues are informal and entrance fees rare. When Icelanders go out for the night, they tend to begin late, and many clubs and bars don’t get busy until after midnight. This is in part because alcohol in bars is expensive, so locals drink at home before setting out.

Many clubs and bars stay open as late as 5 am. Cocktail bars are a recent addition to Iceland’s nightlife, but with the booming tourist trade, they are rapidly expanding.

And don’t worry too much about safety at night. In 2019, the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney ranked Iceland the most peaceful nation on Earth for the 12th year running. Crime rates in Reykjavik are probably lower than anywhere you have ever lived.

Getting Around

Iceland is a small country covering an area slightly smaller than Kentucky. If you wanted to drive from Reykjavik on the west coast to Faskruosfjorour on the east coast, the 425 miles route would take only 8½ hours.

However, because of its small population outside of the capital, you cannot rely on public transport to go sightseeing around the country or reach the best place to view the northern lights. This leaves you with two options: hiring a car or booking a coach tour, like the 3-day Golden Circle tour detailed above.

Within the capital and its immediate area, you do have more options: bus, taxi, bicycle, or walk. The public bus service is inexpensive and efficient, and you can ask for help to find the right bus from your hotel reception. Given that Reykjavik is so small a city, taxis are affordable.

If you want a little exercise, bicycle rentals are available in many hotels, and the city is crisscrossed by dedicated bicycle paths. If you decide to walk, make sure you wrap up well. The weather can deteriorate rapidly in Iceland.


Over the past few years, Iceland has seen a huge expansion in tourism. With a 378% increase since 2010, hotel rooms fill up quickly. Through Christmas and summer, hotels are usually fully booked. Since 228 of Iceland’s 359 thousand citizens live within the capital and its immediate hinterland, settlements throughout the rest of Iceland are small and rooms for visitors limited. Most hotels are in the capital.

You will probably find it most convenient to stay in Reykjavik. You will find a broad range of hotels there, it is near the airport, and many of the attractions along with most of the nightlife are found there or nearby. Many organized tours to other parts of Iceland and major tourist attractions set out from Reykjavik, such as most of the Northern Lights tours detailed above.

Within the downtown and central area of Reykjavik you will find a choice of luxury hotels, like the Hotel Borg downtown and The Icelandair Hotel Marina, overlooking the harbor. If you head a little more out of the center, you’ll find more affordable hostels, such as The Capital Inn and Bus Hostel Reykjavik.

There are some popular hotels outside of the capital near to tourist attractions, such as Hotel Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park, which offers spectacular views of Iceland’s largest mountain, or Skyrhusid Guesthouse near Lake Jökulsarion in the south. Wherever you decide to stay, the important thing is to book in advance. If you don’t, you will miss out on the best rooms.


Iceland is not the place to go if you want year-round sunshine and dry weather. In fact, on 22nd December there are only 4 hours of daylight, because that is the shortest day. That’s great if you want to see the Aurora Borealis, since it can only be seen during dark nights, but not so good for other sightseeing. In contrast, the longest day boasts 21 hours of daylight, 21st June.

The “warm” summer period covers June, July, and August, with an average daily high of 550F and a low of 460F. Yes, 550F is their summer high! Summers are short and cloudy. The winter period covers November through March, two months longer than summer, and is cold, wet, windy, and overcast, with frequent snow. The average daily high drops to 350F in January with a low of 270F.

If your main interest is the Northern Lights, you should go anytime September through March, because the sky is dark enough to view those fantastic electromagnetic displays. If the Aurora Borealis does not interest you, you’ll get the warmest weather and longer days from the end of June to mid-August.


The Aurora Borealis is not the only unique and fascinating attraction in Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice is the best place in the world to see and experience the majesty and power of two extremes in Nature: glaciers and volcanoes.

12 miles from KEF is the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Here you can laze in pools of hot, milky blue water heated by a lava flow. Nearby stands the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant, which uses superheated water from the lava flow to generate electricity and also provide heat for a municipal water heating system.

There are geothermal spas like the Blu Lagoon throughout Iceland, so wherever you choose to stay, you can find one near you and experience the power of molten rock.

If ice and Arctic landscapes interest you, head 140 miles east from Reykjavik to Vatnajökull National Park, which is centered on Vatnajökull glacier and the surrounding beautiful landscape. This park covers 14% of Iceland and is filled with glacial rivers and active volcanoes.

Vatnajökull glacier empties into the glacial lake of Jökulsarion in the south, where you can see 100-feet-tall icebergs freshly broken away from the glacier. Jökulsarion served as a setting in several major Hollywood movies. On your drive back to Reykjavik, you can see two beautiful waterfalls around Skogar. The first, Skogafoss, is an impressive waterfall and a popular destination for Icelandic day-trippers.

18 miles west of Skogafoss is picturesque Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A path allows sightseers to pass behind the curtain of water as it falls into the crystal-clear plunge pool.

If it’s man-made cultural and historical attractions you seek, you’ll find plenty to do and see around Reykjavik. The capital’s earliest history stretches back to 874, but it only became a true city in 1785.

Around Reykjavik, you’ll find an interesting assortment of museums and tourist attractions, like the National Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavik Maritime Museum.

A famous landmark visitors flock to see is the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is the largest church in Iceland. This unique structure was designed by a local architect to resemble the glaciers and mountains of Iceland.

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The Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik is our Editor's Choice for the best Northern Lights tours in Iceland.

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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