THE BEST WAY TO ICELAND
From LAX, service to Reykjavic begins on American, Virgin America, Air New Zealand, US Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Air Tahiti Nui and connects (changing planes) to Icelandair. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $873.
To call numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 354 (Iceland's country code), and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Motel Best, 7 Stapavegur, Vogar; 866-4664, www.motelbest.is. Clean, Spartan accommodations and helpful management, about halfway between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik, the capital. Doubles begin at $190, including breakfast.
Northern Light Inn, Blaalonsvegi, Grindavik; 426-8650, www.nli.is. Located in a starkly beautiful lava field next to the famous Blue Lagoon. Doubles begin around $130, including breakfast.
Hotel Borg, 11 Posthusstraeti, Reykjavik; 551-1440, www.hotelborg.is. A beautifully appointed Art Deco hotel in the heart of old Reykjavik. Doubles begin at $273.
Hotel Ranga, 851 Hella, Iceland; 487-5700, www.hotelranga.is. A luxury countryside hotel in South Iceland, which caters to aurora watchers. Doubles begin at $226, including breakfast.
WHERE TO EAT
Café Paris, 14 Austurstraeti, City Center, Reykjavik; 551-1020, www.cafeparis.is. A popular and congenial café in the heart of Reykjavik's old city center, with a range of light fare. Entrees about $10 to $15.
Anaestu grosum, 20 B Laugavegi , Reykjavik; 552-8410, www.anaestugrosum.is. Good vegetarian fare at this centrally located Reykjavik restaurant. Entrees run about $10 to $15.
Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon, 240 Grindavik; 420-8806, www.bluelagoon.com. Innovative interpretations of traditional Icelandic meals, from pickled salmon with blueberries to baked cod loin with tomato jam. Entrees about $15 to $40.
SEEING THE LIGHTS
Plan your trip during the spring or fall equinoxes, when auroras are more active.
Select a span of nights when there is little or no moonlight. Avoid city lights. If you can't see stars, you won't be able to see an aurora.
Plan to watch the sky from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and be prepared to wait. Once it starts, auroral activity can last 30 minutes.
Although you can see the lights on your own, organized tours are plentiful. Tours cost from about $90 per person (for an evening excursion from Reykjavik lasting several hours) to $1,100 per person (for a four- to five-day package that includes lodging, transportation and other activities).
If you are serious about seeing the lights, you can also book at least a week in Fairbanks, Alaska; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada; or Tromso, Norway, all favorable spots close to the geomagnetic poles.
TO LEARN MORE
Scandinavian Tourist Board (including Iceland), ( 212) 885-9700, www.goscandinavia.com or www.icelandtouristboard.com.