We cannot imagine a more otherworldly beautiful sight than the Northern Lights. Can you? There is something very magical and mystical about the phenomenon – also known as Aurora Borealis, aptly named after the Roman goddess of the dawn. The Northern Lights occurs only in the most northerly parts of the world. This area, known as the ‘auroral zone’ spans between 3 to 6 degrees in latitude and 10 to 20 degrees of geographical longitude.
The best places to see the Northern Lights around the world:
Let’s not get too bogged down in specific geographical terms and instead, let’s talk about the exact places where you can visit and experience the Northern Lights first-hand. Depending on the solar activity, geomagnetic storms and weather conditions, the lights can be seen from many varying locations across the northern hemisphere. Here’s our pick of the best places to see the Northern Lights, from Europe, to North America to Asia:
The auroral zone covers the northern part of the European continent, mostly Sweden, Norway, Finland, parts of Estonia, Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Abisko National Park
The best location for experiencing this natural phenomenon is the Abisko National Park in the northern part of Sweden. The park is located in a beautiful natural setting, in the heart of Lapland. There are several organizations that offer nicely organized tours for aurora observation, just bring your DSLR camera.
A place famous in equal parts for the Auroras and ice hotels, Jukkasjärvi is a village in the Kiruna region of Sweden. You can book a room in the unique ice hotel and watch the green lights that adorn the winter sky while sipping a cool cocktail served in a unique ice glass.
Finland is a beautiful country even without the Northern Lights, but if you are going to go on a trip to see them specifically, you’ll probably want to take a few pictures to remember your adventure. It’s important to realise that not just any camera can capture amazing views of these lights so you’ll want one that can stand out in the field of astrophotography (you can read more on OpticGearLab).
The village of Rovaniemi in the northern part of Finland is another great location for observing the Northern Lights. Located in the Lapland region of Scandinavia and also known as the home of Santa Claus, this place offers great views of the Northern Lights, with many special photography opportunities.
Another unique place on our list, Kakslauttanen is the famous igloo village. The Northern Lights can be seen for an impressive eight months of the year here, all the while experiencing the Arctic nature in a unique glass and ice igloo!
Svalbard is one of Norway’s most famous locations for experiencing the arctic. The Aurora Borealis is a very common occurrence here, and Svalbard is the place to be between October and March.
A city in the northern part of Norway, Tromso lies in the Arctic Circle. This place is a very popular place to experience the Northern Lights. The best time to visit Tromso and see this beautiful phenomenon is between November and January. The sun is below the horizon and is not visible during this period and the display of colorful swirls across the sky is impressive.
You can pretty much see the Northern Lights from any place in Iceland. There are many tours available from Reykjavik and other places. All you need is a warm coat and a nice camera!
Located above the Arctic Circle, Greenland is THE place to be to see the Northern Lights. They actually occur almost year-round and can be observed from any location in the country. They are best observed from September to March though when there is no interference from the midnight sun.
Image by Mads Pihl via
Although they belong to Denmark, the Faroe Islands are located north in the very heart of the auroral zone. The weather can be a bit on the rainy side during the day, but the winter nights are often clear and, paired with the flat landscapes, offer amazing, uninterrupted views of the dreamlike light swirls.
Image by Hans Juul Hansen via
Ranging from the Hudson Bay on the east to the west coast of Alaska, this area lies in the Arctic Circle and the auroral zone. Here there are many places that allow unhindered views of the northern lights but these are the best:
Canadian Auroral region
If you are located in Canada and want to see the Northern Lights, you can visit the Canadian auroral region that spreads across the northern part of this vast country.
One of the most famous locations to see the Auroras is the city of Yellowknife, a town in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Other good locations are the city of Churchill in the northern Manitoba region, and Whitehorse in the Yukon. You’ll need to pack a good camera, warm clothes, and some bear repellant, as these areas are also famous for the large polar bear population!
Other excellent locations for watching the spectacular northern lights are the Hudson Bay, especially its most southern end named James Bay, North Quebec and parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. You can find many organized tours through these regions. Most of them focus on experiencing the northern lights and astrophotography tours, but there are also many daytime nature exploration activities on offer also.
Image by Keith Williams via
Fairbanks region, Alaska
Most of Alaska’s territory is located in the Arctic Circle, so the occurrence of Northern Lights in this area is pretty common. The most famous place you can visit is Fairbanks, where auroras dance across the sky 200 nights of the year. Cross your fingers and hope for good weather conditions and you’ll be amazed.
Image by NASA via
The northern part of the Asian continent, namely a large portion of northern Russia reaches into the Arctic Circle and the auroral zone. Even though the Aurora occurs here regularly, this isn’t a common place to experience the lights because of the harsh weather, the vast uninhabited areas and lack of infrastructure.
Image by Andrey Snegirev via
Looking for more posts on winter travel? Check these out next:
- Travelling to Europe in Winter? Here’s 10 Things You Should Know
- Elf School, Mulled Wine and Reindeer: 10 Magical European Christmas Destinations
- 5 European Cities That Are Worth Visiting Year-Round
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Have you seen the Northern Lights? Tell us about your experience in the comments!