Published June 5, 2019
The Northern Lights are a fickle beast—they’re anything but predictable—but at Perlan’s Áróra planetarium in Reykjavík, you can catch them year round regardless of weather or location. It’s a unique opportunity; one you no doubt won’t find anywhere else in the city.
To be blunt, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived to the sparkling dome of Perlan one sunny day, ready to experience Áróra. I’d never been to a planetarium before and as I walked into the theatre, with massive screens papering the curved ceiling and walls, I was skeptical. Could a film compete with the gorgeous Aurora Borealis? Would it give me the same awe-inducing feeling as standing outside? What had I gotten myself into?
But as the last film ended, I sat in the cushy chairs of the theatre completely blown away. For full disclosure, I was actually upset that I couldn’t stay for another hour and watch more. The Áróra planetarium is an amazing experience, a true hidden gem, and something I’ve since genuinely recommended to all tourists who ask me what to do in Reykjavík. As well, all I know who’ve taken my advice and gone have agreed with me—this is something you can’t miss.
Your planetary experience
The planetarium offers two films: “Áróra” and “Lost In Time.” Both relate to Iceland and the Aurora Borealis but take radically different approaches in educating you about the natural phenomena of the country. Both manage to beautifully walk the line between educational and entertaining. You’ll leave the theatre knowing more about Iceland and the Northern Lights while in a trance from the gorgeous 8k scenery—a delightful duo of sensations.
Unlike other Northern Lights-themed places, Áróra’s self-titled picture begins by diving deep into outer space and exploring the concept of the Aurora Borealis on other planets. The visuals are, without hyperbole, breathtaking. I had never known that our fellow solar system buddies Jupiter and Saturn had their own Auroras but it’s since become a fact I’ve told people numerous times. The information in this film is something I don’t want to spoil—but get ready to watch the Aurora light up not only Iceland, but far away worlds as well.
The other, “Lost In Time,” offers some of the most jaw-dropping footage of Iceland I’ve ever seen, and since it’s in a massive planetarium covering your entire field of vision, it’s even more extraordinary. If you had only one afternoon in Iceland and wanted to experience the entire country in less than an hour—waterfalls, lava fields, and glaciers included—this would be a pretty good way to start.
The Áróra planetarium is an unparalleled addition to the Reykajvík entertainment scene and something I’d wholeheartedly recommend. If you choose to follow my sage advice, make sure to check out the Wonders of Iceland exhibit afterwards—the ice cave is another not-to-miss Reykjavík experience—and Perlan’s notorious viewing platform for the best vista in the city. So fear not, locals and visitors about, there is a place where you can always see the Northern Lights and luckily, it’s but a ten minute drive from the city centre.
Films featured in the planetarium may vary from month to month. For more information see www.perlan.is.