Do you have a dream to see the aurora borealis, better known as Northern Lights, in person? This stunning natural phenomenon is actually caused by charged particles that come from the sun, which collide with gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Whether or not you’re well versed on the scientific background of the Northern Lights, there’s no denying that it would be a magical experience to see them light up the sky in person.
Are you thinking of making the trip up north for some aurora viewing? Here are ten great spots to head to. You’re sure to make memories you won’t easily forget.
#10. Isle of Skye, Scotland
The beauty of the Isle of Skye doesn’t fade when nighttime falls; it’s enhanced by the glow of the Milky Way and numerous constellations above. Thanks to the lack of light pollution, the isle has some of the darkest skies in all of Europe. If you happen to visit in the winter, you’ll have a high chance of spotting the Northern Lights shimmering as well. With nine different spots on the isle to fully enjoy the night sky, you’re spoiled for choice!
#9. Jökulsárlón, Iceland
Tourism in Iceland has been gaining steam in recent years because of its stunning natural beauty. If you’re planning to visit in the winter, make sure to also factor in some time to view the lights. Many tours leave from the capital, Reykjavik, but you’ll want to choose the tour that takes you to Jökulsárlón, a stunning glacier lagoon even in the daytime. Watching the lights light up the icebergs will make for gorgeous pictures.
#8. Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
The Inuits of Greenland have had some of the best views of the lights for centuries. Their ancestors even have legends about its origins! Greenland has one of the longest periods in the year where the lights are visible, from September to about April. Since there is little light pollution in the country, you can even spot the lights from Kangerlussuaq, where the airport is located. With clear nights most of the year, you won’t leave the town disappointed.
#7. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
While technically part of Denmark, the Faroe Islands have a unique identity of their own. It’s still one of Europe’s least visited places, but the scenery will take your breath away. The capital, Tórshavn, is both a great place to base yourself and a good location to catch the lights up above, even within the city. Of course, if you’d like a quieter location, it’s easy to head out of this small city. One perk of Northern Light spotting in the Faroe Islands – it’s not going to be crowded at all.
#6. Kiruna, Sweden
This small city, located in Swedish Lapland, is a great location for trying to spot the lights because of its proximity to Abisko National Park. This park is located in the “aurora oval”, where the lights are most likely to be seen. Head over to the Aurora Sky Station and learn more about the lights from the experts stationed there. Even Lonely Planet agrees – this is a great place to get your aurora fix.
#5. Kakslauttanen, Finland
While the Northern Lights are worth braving any sort of weather for, the freezing temperatures might have you wanting to head indoors early. Now you can have the best of both worlds at Kakslauttanen Resort’s glass igloos. Get the best view of twinkling stars and the beautiful lights above you while you’re warm and toasty in bed. Talk about the best view before bed.
#4. Salekhard, Russia
While it’s no surprise that the northernmost parts of Russia will give you great views of the lights, there aren’t many travelers that venture that far east. This is a shame, as the Russian city of Salekhard is the only one located in the Arctic Circle. You’re sure to get your fair share of the Northern Lights up there, plus see the unique green glow that locals call the light of the dead. Salekhard is definitely worth a look.
#3. Tromsø, Norway
This thriving city is located in the “aurora oval” as well, which will give you a great view of the lights for a big chunk of the year. Unlike places with the same latitude as Tromsø, the climate is milder because of the Gulf Stream. If you love good music, you should time your visit to coincide with the Northern Lights Festival. You’ll be entertained by different genres of music, plus see the aurora up above. You won’t find a better combination elsewhere.
#2. Yellowknife, Canada
There are many places in Canada to spot the Northern Lights because of the country’s latitude. Taking a trip to Yellowknife, however, will let you spot this natural phenomenon at a place called Aurora Village! This aboriginal-owned facility will give you the ultimate experience when aurora hunting. They even have heated facilities to help you stay outside longer. This way, you’ll definitely appreciate the lights more.
#1. Fairbanks, Alaska
Alaska, the largest state in the US, has a lot of beautiful spectacles in the sky in the form of the Northern Lights. If you choose to see the lights in Fairbanks, locals say that staying for three days gives you an 80% chance of seeing them. Stay longer to up the odds while you enjoy the numerous ways you can see the lights, thanks to creative tour companies. Head on over to Fairbanks to ensure your success in seeing the lights!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Noelle Filoteo is a Greek-Filipina, currently based in the Philippines. She’s a psychology graduate turned teacher who’s lived and worked in three different continents. When she’s not traveling, she loves to read, watch sports, and eat her weight in cheese – plus points if it’s feta.