Editor’s Note: Those who choose to go are strongly advised to check local government restrictions, guidelines, and safety measures relating to COVID-19 before departure, as well as personal comfort levels and health conditions.
8 Best Places To See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights. The aurora borealis happen when electrically charged solar particles clash with atmospheric gases, producing a magnificent neon light display that fills the night sky. Even experts can’t always anticipate when and where the lights will appear, but the ideal time to observe them is during the winter in these high-latitude polar zones. The best places to see the Northern Lights – and how to experience them—are listed below.
With glaciers, geysers, enormous waterfalls, and volcanoes, Iceland is a fascinating destination to explore even without the northern lights. The country’s latitude and longitude are both favorable for observing the Northern Lights, although the weather isn’t always cooperative. An excellent coastal road, on the other hand, allows you to chase clear skies across the nation.
Kirkjufell mountain on the west coast has provided us with some of the greatest aurora viewing opportunities. During peak activity, the northern lights may even be seen from Reykjavik’s suburbs; the Grotta Lighthouse is a favorite viewing location.
When to visit: From late August through early April.
This capital of the Northwest Territories on the shores of Great Slave Lake has its own Aurora Village as well as unique northern lights tourism activities.
Because of its northern latitude and low light pollution, Canada is an aurora viewing paradise; other popular viewing locations include Wood Buffalo National Park and Jasper National Park.
When to visit: From mid-August to late April. Early August through early May in Churchill and Wood Buffalo.
The biggest metropolitan region in northern Norway is 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, although the shoreline offers pleasantly mild temperatures owing to the Gulf Stream. It also features stunning landscapes, spectacular fjords, and the Lyngen Alps.
People have witnessed beautiful auroras near Ersfjordbotn, a settlement 12 kilometers from Tromsø. The Lofoten Islands and the far northern cities of Alta, Nordkapp, and Kirkenes are other famous tourist destinations in the country.
When to visit: Mid-September to late March
Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost town, serves as a gateway to adjacent attractions. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, the mountains Abisko National Park, the indigenous Sami culture, and plenty of reindeer are all available. A short drive from town will take you to a fantastic location for seeing the Northern Lights. The weather is much more steady here than on the Norwegian shore, although it is also colder.
When to visit: Mid-September to late March
Rovaniemi, in Finland’s Lapland region, acts as a gateway town to adjacent national parks, where you may see frozen snow-covered trees known as Tykky sculptures, as well as the northern lights, in winter.
While you’re there, you might want to visit Santa Clause Village, where you can experience Christmas magic throughout the year.
Fairbanks, located just two degrees below the Arctic Circle near an international airport and adjacent to the spectacular Denali National Park, is the best spot in the United States to see the northern lights. It even has its own weather forecasting system and trips that take guests away from the city lights.
When to visit: From late August through mid-April.
Greenland offers amazing possibilities for witnessing milky-green lights due to little light pollution and near-perfect visibility in some spots. A three- or four-night visit during the aurora season (August to early April) provides the highest chances of seeing the lights. Settle into one of the igloos at the Hotel Arctic on the edge of the Ilulissat Icefjord; double rooms include electric heating, TVs, and a tiny bathroom.
Plan a journey to Kangerlussuaq if roughing it is more your vibe. This old US military facility near the airport boasts 300 nights of northern lights sightings each year and hosts aurora tours that include a trip to experience the phenomenon and an overnight stay on the Greenland Ice Sheet (an experience typically reserved solely for research and expedition purposes).
When to visit: Mid-August to late April in the south, and late August to mid-April in Nuuk.
The Otago Peninsula, Lake Tekapo and the larger Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the Catlins, and Stewart Island are among the greatest places to see the Northern Lights.
Dr. Ian Griffin, director of the Otago Museum and an astronomer, advises visitors interested in seeing the Southern Lights to seek out a location away from city lights with an uninterrupted view to the south. On clear, cloudless nights, your chances of spotting them increase.
When to visit: All year, although the best time to go is near the equinoxes.
Is there anything I’ve left off the list? Is viewing the Northern Lights also on your bucket list? Have you ever seen the aurora borealis? How was your experience? Please let me know in the comments section below.