For an experience that’s out of this world, a trip to see the Northern Lights is a must. Providing some of the most breathtaking natural sights you’ll see on Earth, you’ll be left dazzled and delighted. Visible from some of the world’s most beautiful destinations, you’ll also get the chance to explore some great locations – ideal for both city breaks or longer trips.
If you’re thinking of going to see the Northern Lights, then take a look at some of the best destinations to see them and start planning your trip.
What are the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights (the Aurora Borealis) is a spectacular natural occurrence in which the sky because painted with colour – an incredible sight in the night sky. It happens as a result of the meeting between the solar wind, which comes from particles that escape the sun, and the Earth’s own atmosphere and magnetic field. Photographs of the phenomenon show it to be a colourful, almost otherworldly experience.
The Northern Lights really are a must-see during your lifetime. It’s worth getting a better understanding the Northern Lights to help you discover more about them ahead of any trip you plan to take. You’ll want to plan your visit carefully, as there are time and geography conditions that you’ll want to take into account.
The best time to see the Northern Lights
It will only be possible to see the Northern Lights when the sky is dark, and as they are best seen in areas in the Northern Hemisphere, you won’t be able to see them at their most northern point between April and August, as there is no darkness at these altitudes.
The lights are visible between August and April, and are particularly active in March and September as a result of the equinox. Many people choose to travel to see them in the winter and combine them with other winter-based activities.
Where to see the Northern Lights
There are several amazing destinations where you can see the Northern Lights, allowing you to plan a wonderful trip. Many travel companies offer guided tours to help you get the best chance of seeing them, or you can venture on your own. The best places to travel to see the Northern Lights are:
Iceland is one of the most popular destinations to witness the Northern Lights. It’s a beautiful and unique country to visit, and there are plenty of areas where you can see the Northern Lights in Iceland. From Öskuhlið hill in Reykjavik, where you can see the lights at the Perlan Museum, to the Grótta lighthouse in Seltjarnarnes, you can enjoy some incredible surroundings while enjoying the Northern Lights. For a truly magical experience, the Buubble hotel allows you to sleep in a glass dome under the stars, providing perfect views of the Northern Lights on clear nights.
Don’t forget to check out the Blue Lagoon during your stay – another incredible experience for you to enjoy in Iceland.
Over the other side of the Atlantic, Alaska is another incredible destination to see the Northern Lights. Fairbanks is reputed to be one of the best, located just two degrees below the Arctic. It’s also easy to get to as it has its own international airport. You’ll find plenty of tours available as well to help you get the best views of the Northern Lights.
You won’t be short of things to do in Alaska, and the Denali National Park and Preserve, in particular, is a good place to explore, with some incredible wildlife, scenery and more. You could tie in your visit with a trip to Canada and enjoy a multi-destination break.
Witnessing the Northern Lights in Northern Canada offers a different experience to some of the other destinations on the list. The Lights are visible in some of its most remote areas, with some locations offering a quieter, less tourist-filled experience which is ideal for those who shy away from crowds. Look at Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, where you can choose from multiple types of accommodation and get to know some of Canada’s most beautiful sights.
For one of the best experiences, you can try the Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife, which is home to a special Aurora Village geared towards those visiting to see the Northern Lights.
If you want a longer break to witness the Northern Lights, then Norway is a must. There are a lot of places to explore in Norway, and its fantastic infrastructure makes it great for travelling around. Some of the top places to see the Northern lights in Norway include Svalbard, Tromsø, North Cape, Bodø and the Lofoten Islands. As a popular place for people to see the Northern Lights, the tours on offer are incredible, and there are even multi-day passes available to give you unlimited access during your stay. This can be extremely useful in case you don’t catch the Lights on your first night, or you want to witness them more than once.
While you’re in Norway, why not try some of the other amazing activities on offer, such as whale watching, cruises and reindeer sledding?
You can enjoy a spot of magic with a trip to see the Northern Lights in Finland, and you’ll find them in Lapland. Visible on around 200 days of the year, you can get outdoors and see the lights on a dogsled, a snowmobile or even cross-country skiing! However, if a bit of luxury is more for you, then you’ll enjoy the stunning suites under the stars that make for some of the most glamorous tree houses in the world.
If you take your trip in November or December, why not combine it with a trip to see Santa too?
Stunning Sweden is an exciting place to see the Northern Lights, with your best chance of seeing them between November and March. Sweden is an easy destination to get to, and often boasts a warmer climate than many of the other countries where you can spot the lights – however, warm clothing is still essential!
Some of the recommended places to see the Lights in Sweden include the Ice Hotel near Abisko, Lannavaara, Jukkasjärvi and others. Make sure you visit some of Sweden’s other fabulous locations during your stay, including the incredible Stockholm and picture-perfect Gothenburg.
If you want to experience a trip to remember, then head to Russia to get your Aurora Borealis fix. Russia’s most northern parts offer some incredible backdrops to enjoy the Lights, including Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Yakutia and Vorkuta. You might need to venture a little bit out of the towns to be able to see them, but these are top choices if you don’t want to be too far away from civilization during your stay.
Mix up your visit by heading to the west to see St Petersburg and Moscow to see some of the other wonders that Russia has to offer.
A trip to see the Northern Lights is an adventure unlike any other – a true chance to appreciate some of our natural wonders. Wherever you choose to visit, you’ll enjoy an experience you won’t forget, and you’re sure to get a taste for chasing those lights! A unique alternative to your typical beach holiday or city break, you’ll make memories to cherish forever.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Take a look at some more breathtaking places to visit in 2019.