I went to Iceland for a 3 day weekend. My time was counted and my main goal was to realize a dream: see the northern lights. You can find many offers to go on a tour to chase the northern lights: by boat, by snowbikes, by 4x4 or by bus. I used the last option with a local company Grayline .
For the Northern lights tour, there is no guaranty that the tour will run as it mostly depends on the weather. Iceland weather can change very quickly.
The tours usually run in the evening during winter time and they will come to pick you up nearby, if not at your accommodation until 9 pm and drive you to the central bus station where you will have to jump in a bigger bus with other travelers. The tour lasts for 3-4 hours and they will drop you back in town nearby your accommodation at the end of it.
As you may guess, this natural phenomenon needs some weather conditions to be gathered so that it can be seen. The first night I arrived, the tour was cancelled because of high winds, which was not so bad as I would have been late for the pickup. The next day, it was too cloudy. And finally, the last night before departure, the conditions were gathered. (HURRAY)
The bus went outside of the city in an area with as less light as possible so that we could be in pitch darkness. The guide then gave us some safety guidance and tips to catch the northern lights. Once done, he pointed out where to look and we waited.
At first, the glance was not that strong and could only be seen with trained eyes or using a camera on long exposure mode. But after couple minutes, the show started and we could see them with bare eyes floating in the sky. What a show! It was unreal to see them, I just could not stop looking at them.
We were meant to leave around 11.30pm but the intensity of the lights started to get stronger and as the tours were cancelled on the previous days, they let us an additional hour to enjoy the show and take as many photos as we could!
That is definitely a must do if you travel to Iceland in winter. I highly recommend it. You might not be able to capture the beauty of this phenomenon as you wish, but once you saw it you can always close your eyes and replay it in your mind endlessly.
You can see a couple of shots I took below with my sony A5000 camera.