5 Best Places to See Northern Lights

Northern Lights over silhouetted tree line
Northern Lights (www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/)

One of the most spectacular phenomenon that you can see when you look up at the sky is the northern lights, also called aurora borealis.

The northern lights occur when solar activity from the sun ejects a cloud of gas that travels to the Earth’s atmosphere and collides with the Earth’s magnetic field, creating the beautiful dancing streams of light known as aurora borealis.

So, where can you see the northern lights? The northern lights can be viewed in some areas, such as Alaska and Greenland, almost any night of the year, but they look most spectacular when there has been a high amount of solar sun activity. This top 5 list will show you the best places to see northern lights, and we will give you extra info to make sure your trip to see the aurora borealis is successful.

Top 5 List of Where to See Northern Lights
5. Abisko, SwedenVisit Abisko, Sweden to see the northern lights and you are in for a treat. This town has clear nights, dry weather and practically no light pollution, ensuring you will get a great view of the colorful lights in the sky. For an even more memorable time, view the aurora borealis from the viewing deck at the Aurora Sky Station, which is reachable by cable car. The view during the cable car ride is reason enough to visit Abisko.

4. Siberia, RussiaSiberia is the perfect place to see the northern lights for several reasons. It has low levels of light pollution, long dark nights and the auroal belt (where the solar gas collides with the Earth’s magnetic field) passes over the area. Yes, Siberia is cold, but that watching that amazing display in the sky will make you tingle with warmth.

3. Whitehorse, CanadaThe wilderness areas in Canada provide unforgettable views of the northern lights. We recommend visiting Whitehorse, Canada on your trip. From there, you can book a room and catch a view of the lights at night. If you’re more adventurous go on a wilderness tour to get the northern lights view of a lifetime.

2. Fairbanks, AlaskaAlaska is famous for its views of the northern lights, and for good reason. You have a higher chance of catching the dancing color display in sky in this state than most any other, especially if you visit Fairbanks, Alaska. Fairbanks has long winter nights with light snow that make the perfect conditions to view the aurora borealis.

1. Hotel Aurora in FinlandHotel Aurora in Finland is our top pick for a place to view the northern lights. The hotel is located at a high altitude in Luosto, where the dark nights and low pollution levels give you an excellent view of the northern lights. Your chancers of getting a good view of the beauty are high, because the auroras are viewable to the naked eye no less than 200 nights a year.

What really makes the Hotel Aurora a winner is the awesome Auroras Now system. When you get to the Aurora Chalet, you will be handed an Aurora Alarm that beeps when northern lights appear in the sky. Since you have the alarm, you can go about your night dining, drinking, relaxing or whatever else you want to do, without fear of missing the aurora borealis. How cool is that!

The best times to see the northern lights are during the dark, cold seasons when the sky is its clearest. Between September and March is usually best. Contact the hotel you plan on staying at before booking your trip for advice on the best viewing times in that area. Another good way to find the best viewing times is to contact the nearest geological association or educational facility in the area.

Viewing TipsThere is never a guarantee that you will see the northern lights, but your chances are pretty good if you follow these 10 tips:

  1. 1. Remember: north, north, north. You want to go north, inside the Artic Circle to get the best chance of seeing the northern lights.
  2. 2. The middle of the night is the best time to see the northern lights, so get plenty of rest during the day so you are nice and alert for the show in the sky at night.
  3. 3. Altitude is your friend when it comes to seeing the aurora borealis, so get to the top of a mountain if you can.
  4. 4. Darkness is your best friend when it comes to seeing the northern lights. Get out of the city because the street lights will ruin your view. Instead, head out to the back country or wilderness.
  5. 5. Check the weather forecasts before you go on your trip. If the weather is cloudy, you won’t get to see the northern lights. You need nice, clear skies.
  6. 6. Go on a tour. Most areas that are famous for their view of the northern lights have tours that will lead you to the best viewing area.
  7. 7. Don’t try to snap a picture of the aurora borealis, unless you have purchased or rented special camera equipment. Pictures from your regular camera will not be able to capture the lights properly and will leave you sorely disappointed.
  8. 8. Dress warm because you will be outside a long time in a very cold area.
  9. 9. Be patient because it might take a while for the lights to appear.
  10. 10. Book your trip to see the northern lights with the idea in mind that you might not actually see them. Have other fun activities planned so that your trip will be fun, whether the northern lights make an appearance or not.