The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a phenomenon that can be seen with the naked eye from late-August to mid-April when the sky turns dark around 6 PM to 6 AM. The colorful light display is highly visible in the Auroral Zone, which is between latitude 65 degrees and latitude 72 degrees.
Parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Russia are the best places to experience the Aurora Borealis.
Best Northern Lights View
In this post, we will provide you with the list of 15 best places from where you can experience one of the most sought-after bucket list worthy destinations to view the Northern Lights. Auroral displays can appear in many colors although as you’ll notice, pale green and light pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, blue, and violet can also be in the mix.
As the largest city in the interior region of Alaska, the city lights may distract you so you may want to go farther into the northeast to Chena Resort from where you can view the Aurora while relaxing in a hot spring. You do not need to be observant at all times because they provide an Aurora alarm service which alerts guests when the light show starts.
Located above the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia, be prepared because temperatures can drop to as low as -40 degrees Celsius in the Russian winter. This season also brings polar nights where the sun is constantly below the horizon. During this period, the sky will be completely dark, increasing your chances of viewing the Northern Lights.
Located in the northwest of Canada, Yellowknife is just 250 miles from the Arctic Circle. A half-hour drive will bring you to Aurora Village, a teepee campground where you can view the Northern Lights from the comfort of warm and cozy viewing chairs.
Found in the eastern part of Canada, the forbidding terrain and extreme climate keep the region pristine. The top of the ski trail at the Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club, located near central Labrador, will provide you with a view of the Northern Lights reflecting on vast snow-covered trails.
You do not need to be on land to be able to view the Northern Lights. The partnership between Tourism Yukon, Air North, and the Yukon Astronomical Society now offers flights from Whitehorse, Yukon that specifically flies over the Auroral zone to allow viewers to see the Aurora from the air. You can now enjoy the beautiful northern lights from 36,000 feet above the Yukon.
Abisko National Park, Sweden
Surrounding mountains and prevailing winds create an atmospheric effect that clears the sky over this region found on the center of the Swedish Lapland. The cloudless winter night creates an excellent viewing condition of the sky along with the view of the mountains and alpine meadows.
Located above the Arctic Circle, this city in northern Norway is a famous site for viewing the Northern Lights. You can make the viewing more special by boarding the Hurtigruten, the Norwegian coastal steamer, so you can view the Aurora in a fjord. Don’t worry if you fall asleep, the ship provides wake up calls when the Aurora is visible.
A remote archipelago located north of Norway known for glaciers and frozen tundra, the islands here have long, dark, cloudless nights with dry weather – ideal conditions for viewing the Northern Lights. Although you will find more polar bears than people, there will be no shortage of attractions, from dog-sledding to backcountry skiing.
Santa’s Hotel Aurora glass igloos provide visitors with a different experience as they view not just the Northern Lights, but the whole arctic scenery from inside a Lapland hut-styled room with glass roof and walls. Here you can view the Aurora from the comfort of a fully equipped hotel room just a few steps from the reception and other services.
Oulanka National Park, Finland
Located in the Lapland regions of Finland, Oulanka National Park is one of the best places to go to see beautiful scenery backdropped by the Northern Lights. Comprised of pine forests and river valleys, you can find various camping areas from where you can view the Aurora.
A region close to the Arctic Circle, this town in western Greenland is the main air transport hub so getting here will be easier than the other locations. Having clear skies 300 days a year also makes this a prime location for viewing the Northern Lights.
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
The Northern Lights are visible from the whole of Iceland but you can improve the experience by viewing it from Thingvellir National Park, located in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is a popular tourist destination because of its history and geology.
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
The largest national park in Britain, located in the Scottish Highlands, where you can perform daytime activities like skiing and hiking. Once night falls, one of the best places to view the Northern Lights is in Glenlivet Estate. Awarded a Dark Sky status, this location ensures that there are no artificial lights that prevent you from seeing the Aurora.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
The British Isles frequently have cloudy skies, but when the cloud cover breaks during the winter, the low light pollution paired with the breathtaking view of jagged mountain ranges, sea cliffs, pools, and moors makes for a beautiful scene backdropped by the Northern Lights.
On an Alaskan Crusie Ship
When you book a cruise ship going to Alaska during September, you would probably think that the highlight of the trip would be on one of the cruise shore excursions in the rugged outdoors, but you may be pleasantly surprised when the Northern Lights suddenly presents itself at sea.
That’s it! These top 15 places offer unique perspective and view of the Northern Lights.
One tip in general: for those planning a visit to these areas, don’t make it a trip just for the Aurora Borealis because this phenomenon is elusive and you might be disappointed when you don’t see it. Clouds, weather, light pollution, time in hand, things that are not in your control can affect your viewing experience.
Having other activities planned will ensure that you will enjoy your trip whether you see the dancing Aurora Borealis or not.
Also, these aren’t the only places where you can view the Northern Lights. Sometimes, the Aurora presents itself in unexpected locations. So if you find yourself in the auroral zone in the evening, just face north, look up, and you just might get lucky.
Let us know in the comments below if you have experienced the mystical dance of the northern lights. What do you think? Please do share if you have any special moment or thought that came to you while viewing and experiencing the Aurora Borealis.