When sun, atmosphere, and magnetism collide with perfect conditions, the aptly named Auroral Zone in the northern hemisphere lights up the sky and creates what we call the Northern Lights. Streaks of electric green and hot pink highlight the dark skies and viewers get a chance to see the lights in action. Although the lights are active year around, the best time to see them is between late August and early April when the nights are longest and darkest. But where are some of the greatest places to catch a glimpse? Here are the 9 best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.
Go To These 9 Places To See The Northern Lights!
Located north of the Arctic Circle, and thus closer to the North Pole, Tromso has been a popular destination for tourists seeking to see the Northern Lights in person. With the city cloaked in darkness for around 9 months, Tromso provides visitors a truly unique experience of seeing the lights during the day. Around mid-November to mid-January, the Polar Night period occurs and provides many hours of darkness, perfect for Northern Light viewing.
Situated in the northern portion of Lapland, Finland, this wilderness area can give visitors some of the best views of the Northern Lights. Some companies here offer weekend packages that provide lodging, food, nighttime snowmobile rides, reindeer-petting, husky sled rides, and, of course, the opportunity to witness an unobstructed view of the lights. Of course, renting a vacation home in this area is an even better way to see the lights! Visit between September and March, when the lights are said to shine almost every other clear night during this time.
Its near lack of light pollution (and people) helps make Kangerlussuaq one great place to see the Northern Lights. Its vast land with little residential or industrial development contribute to its ideal conditions. In fact, Kangerlussuaq, also north of the Arctic Circle, boasts an annual 300 days and nights of clear skies, which means there’s a good chance you’ll see the lights on your visit. As an added bonus, walk down the only gravel road in Greenland, leading directly to the Ice Sheet, one of only 2 polar ice caps left in the world, for the best view of the lights.
If the cold, arctic weather just isn’t your thing, but you still want to experience the Northern Lights’ beauty, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is the place for you. From your dome-shaped, glass-ceilinged igloo, you don’t even have to step outside, let alone walk anywhere, to see the Northern Lights ignite the sky. Your options aren’t limited to indoors, though, because this resort also offers nighttime ski trips, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sleigh rides, and husky safaris, to name a few. Come home to your igloo and you can get out of the cold without missing any potential aurora sightings. There are also plenty of stunning vacation rentals nearby where you can watch the Northern Lights from your window!
In the sub-Arctic region of Manitoba, Canada lies Churchill. Churchill Wild specializes in arctic walking tours, giving visitors an up-close look at polar bears, grizzly bears, caribou, and native birds. It also happens to be a great place to view the Northern Lights. With the adventure company’s remote lodges, you might even be able to see the lights from the comfort of indoors! The Northern Lights are at their brightest from January to March, so try to plan your visit around then.
If you stay in Fairbanks for 3 nights, you have an 80% chance of seeing the Northern Lights. That’s a pretty impressive percentage for the Alaskan town. The town itself is situated within a ring-shaped region around the North Pole called an auroral oval, which provides a good balance of occurrence, frequency, and activity for the lights. Fairbanks’ continental climate also provides more clear nights than a town along a coast can, giving visitors plenty of dark, unblemished skies with views of the lights. It is best to view the lights in the late evening or very early hours of the morning.
The westernmost part of Iceland, the Westfjords are a mountainous peninsula region made of many fishing villages. Seeing the Northern Lights here is a real experience, as locals and visitors can be seen sitting on a fishing dock patiently waiting for the lights to appear. The highlands offer visitors another place to view the Northern Lights, and camping or hiking through the mountains can be a unique way to see the spectacle. Nights are longer in the here than in the southern region of Iceland, and visiting here will provide you with some long, dark night skies, the perfect condition for Northern Lights sightings.
Located in the highlands of south Iceland, this town is so much more than a place to view the Northern Lights. With attractions like thermal hot baths, the most popular hiking trail in Iceland, volcanoes, and waterfalls, the Northern Lights are the cherry on top of a perfect Icelandic adventure vacation. Stay at Hotel Highland for easy access to all the natural surroundings of Landmannalaugar and experience the beauty of this destination, or
One of the most important factors that contributes to Northern Lights visibility is darkness. In Denali National Park, the millions of preserved wilderness acres guarantee that city lights won’t outshine the lights in the sky. By late August, the skies are dark enough to provide potential views of the lights. The amount of darkness increases each night through April, though, so the winter months offer the best chance of catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis from your beautiful and cozy cabin.
This article was written by Julianne Aiello.