Iceland 2016 – Day 1/2 – See the Northern Lights. Check.

Last updated: Jun 4th, 2024

This week our new Education Manager, Lucy, has been lucky enough to swap the busy, bustling Rayburn Tours office for the more dramatic landscape of striking, snow-covered Iceland.

As a first-timer to the country, we asked her to jot down her thoughts, experiences and happenings of the visit. By the sounds of it, the adventure has already got off to an exciting start, catching more than just a glimpse of the infamous Northern Lights!

My first glimpse of Iceland from the plane makes me feel as though I’m looking at a photograph – a large expanse of white ice amongst the blue sea, with colours so vivid they don’t look real.

People on the other side of the aisle are straining to see snatches through the windows, but for us it’s no accident that we’re in the ‘best’ seats. Cath Rule, our Geography Tours Development Manager and Field Studies Tutor, had already given me one of the first Iceland tips before we left the office:

“Make sure when you check in you select seat F – you’ll get views of Iceland as we come into land!”

Her expertise coming into play before we even touch down on terra firma…

Walking out of the airport, the first thing that hits us along with the blast of cold is how fresh and pure the air feels. I know Iceland is going to live up to all expectations.

What little is left of the afternoon is spent travelling to our hotel in Hveragerdi, stopping for a quick photo at Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station. Along the way, Cath points out the plumes of steam escaping from cracks and holes in the earth which can only hint at what geothermal activity lies beneath the surface.

An early night is in order after such a busy day, but just before midnight I’m woken by a knocking on my door. Cath’s telling me to look out of my window.

We had done some research and worked out that our most likely chance of seeing the Northern Lights would be at midnight on our day of arrival, but this was still a slim chance. Cath has been going to Iceland for 11 years before managing to see them.

I pulled back the curtains and couldn’t believe the sight in front of me – the sky was lit up with streaks of green, swirling and dancing across the starry sky. The Northern Lights!


I sat and watched as the lights moved and took on various shapes, sometimes fading and sometimes so vibrant it was hard to believe they were real. Other hotel guests were outside in their snow gear to see the view that we were lucky enough to enjoy from the warmth of our darkened rooms.

It was impossible to tear myself away and I sat in the dark for an hour watching the lights until they disappeared. I had been in Iceland for less than 12 hours and it had already exceeded all expectations. I went back to bed, excited to see what tomorrow would bring…

Keep your eyes peeled for more of Lucy’s adventure updates!