BEST PLACES TO CATCH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The Northern Lights are a unique and wondrous sight. There (almost) isn’t anything else quite like them in the whole world.
Also known as the Aurora Borealis or the polar lights, there is actually another Aurora in the South known as the Aurora Australis (or the Southern Lights). Of course, the southern light show can be equally as impressive as its northern counterpart, yet it has also been harder to predict.
Because of this, the Northern Lights have become more well-known, and the options most travelers invest in. Also, there aren’t any Polar bears at the South Pole.
Unfortunately, just heading to the north doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to see the lights. To help maximize your chance of seeing the northern light show, Cez and Agness have put together a list of the best and most reliable places to see the Northern Lights from. Be warned. They can get cold, so you’ll need to make sure to wrap up warm.
Greenland is a fantastic place to check out the Northern lights. The country is located in a place that makes the Aurora Borealis as clear as possible between the months of August and April.
Moreover, Greenland itself is an incredible country packed with tons to see and places to explore. Greenland’s light show is called ‘Arsarnerit,’ which translates roughly to ‘those playing ball.’
Where’s the best place to see the polar lights in Greenland?
Arguably the best location in Greenland for catching the Northern lights is Kangerlussuaq. Tucked inland off of the Western coast, this locale offers around 300 days of clear skies, with perfect viewing angles of the lights above.
Of course, to catch the Aurora Borealis properly, you must ensure you’re as far away as possible from any artificial light in the area. One of the best ways to ensure this might be to head out on one of many Greenland cruises.
These almost always aim to pass through the best locations for catching the Northern lights at their best. Be careful to warm up because Greenland can get awfully cold, especially when at sea!
2 | Iceland
Icelanders regard themselves as a fortunate bunch. Why? Well, they’re lucky enough to be able to catch the Northern Lights for more than eight months a year.
This is the same as Greenland, but Icelanders believe the view is even better from their country. That being said, if you want to get in on the show, you have to make it to the party between late August and the end of April.
Whilst August and April make seeing the Aurora Borealis possible; the most popular months are actually November and December. This is because December is the (surprise) darkest month of the year, meaning the lights are as bright as they’re ever going to be.
If you want to avoid crowds (they’re really not that bad), then January is probably a better time to go, even with the added chance of rain.
Where’s the best place to see the polar lights in Iceland?
Whilst some might think that heading to the northernmost area of Iceland is a good idea, you don’t actually have to venture that far up to catch the lights. The important thing is how cloudy the sky is, not how long the night is.
Obviously, staying in Reykjavik or another city will be useless even on a clear night because the artificial light pollution is too much. However, head a little out of the city, and there’s a good chance you’ll see something.
If you’re still insistent on heading north (and it’s definitely recommended anyway), Landmannalaugar is a great destination for light hunting. Be careful, though, it’s not open all year, and you’ll need a good vehicle to get you there.
Even so, driving into what seems like nothingness at night, with no lights or people around you, can make seeing this natural wonder all the more amazing.
With the help of this useful guide, go to places in Iceland with the best northern lights view. You’ll be able to explore each place more when it’s daylight and settle into a warm spot, like inside your camper, to await the appearance of the lights at night. It’s all about chasing the northern lights and making the most of your stay in Iceland.
3 | Svalbard
Svalbard isn’t the most well-known destination for viewing the Northern Lights, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. The reason for its relative lack of fame might be that it is sparsely populated or that it can be harder to reach.
However, the area offers more than just the Northern Lights, as there’s also the chance of seeing polar bears wander through the town you’re staying in.
Where’s the best place to see the polar lights in Svalbard?
Heading to Spitsbergen, the largest of the Svalbard islands. You’ll find that there’s something special about this place during the winter: if you head to Svalbard, you’ll be able to experience the Aurora Borealis during the daytime. That’s right, whilst the sun’s out shining, a green band will also be hovering where clouds should be (sometimes).
4 | Alaska
Alaska is a great place to visit if you want to catch the Northern Lights. Being located so close to the North pole and with fairly well-established transport in the south, Alaska can be the easiest option – depending on where you’re coming from. Don’t let its Northerly position scare you. Alaska is a great place for anyone looking to catch a glimpse of the nighttime wonder.
There is also another amazing option to check out the northern lights: Just book one of the Alaska cruises available and you’ll have an experience like no other!
Where’s the best place to see the polar lights in Alaska?
There are primarily three places in Alaska which are great for catching the heavenly green glow of the Aurora Borealis: Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the Brooks Range. The easiest and most accessible of these is probably Anchorage, which is easily accessible by flying into the country.
Slightly more difficult, but a more reliable location from which to see the Northern Lights is Fairbanks.
Fairbanks is under the “Aurora oval,” meaning that as long as it’s a clear night, you’re fairly lucky, and there isn’t too much light pollution, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see it.
The final place is the Brooks Range. This ‘out of the way location is over 200 miles north of Fairbanks, which means that you’re going to be far away from artificial lights and anything which can ruin your view of the night sky.
Staying this far north, you’ll have to survive in the wilderness (usually as part of a tour group) and can move from place to place by dog-sledding. A great experience.
5 | Scotland
Scotland is a brilliant place to visit and should be seen by everyone regardless of your interests or budget. Oh, and the country is one of the best destinations for budget travelers to see the Northern Lights.
You may not know it, but Scotland actually reaches the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska.
This means that you can get a great view of this natural wonder whilst still being close to (relatively simple) transport options.
Where’s the best place to see the polar lights in Scotland?
Like the other destinations above, winter is the best time to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in Scotland. There are, of course, several dazzling locations in the highlands to stay at. Or camp overnight for a great view.
One of the best of these is Shetland. This area comprises more than 100 islands and is closer to the North pole than elsewhere in Scotland.
If you would rather stay somewhere a little more populated, you can see the northern lights from Edinburgh. Head to the Nation’s capital and climb Blackford Hill when conditions are right. You’ll be able to see the city’s lights, with a backdrop of the polar lights.
I am determined to see them one day!
Norway is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, particularly in the Tromsø and Svalbard regions.
Great article. Just keep on posting!!
Thank you 🙂
Northern lights looks amazing and it’s my dream to watch it with my own eyes and feel it.
I found your blog to be extremely helpful. This is a genuine and informative blog. Congratulations on your blog.
No Canada? I have seen 100x better Northern Lights from Yellowknife than I have seen from Iceland. It depends on the solar weather and CME, I get that. But in Jan/Feb, it is almost guaranteed you will see them if you can brave the cold.
Really? Thanks for this addition Kalyan! I love Canada but I honestly didn’t know about this particular that makes me love it even more!
We saw the Northern Lights in Hafjell and Lillehammer, Norway in December. Also lovely to visit for the holidays!
Hey Kim, that’s so cool to know! Norway is a fantastic place to see the northern lights, glad you could witness one of the most amazing phenomena of nature!
Kind of disappointed you didn’t mention the north of Sweden in your post 😉 It’s a actually a great place to get an amazing view of the Northern lights. Easily accessible by train and flight, and with many places to stay. Why not at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi?
There is also the Abisko Mountain Station, and from there you can go to the Aurora Sky Station, on the mountain Nuolja. No lights or sounds will disturb your experience of the Aurora Borealis.
Hey Katrin! Uppsss sorry I’ve missed north Sweden! From your description, it looks fabulous, but it probably got unnoticed by my “radar” because of the popularity of the other destinations? Anyway, Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Whenever I have a moment I will add it to the list!
What an amazing post! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and great information. The Northern Lights are indeed amazing!
The Unstoppable Family.
Thanks Rhonda! 🙂
especially, I loved the Scotland pic!! no words to speak about the northern lights!!
Indeed! The northern lights are something else!!
I agree with Iceland, but be careful about Greenland! That is a HUGE country. I was so far north (in a place called Thule) that we only got to see the Northern Lights once the whole year….just the way the solar flares don’t generally “hit” that part of the atmosphere.
Still, great recommendations and ALL places that are worth going to (Still gotta do Svalbard and Scotland myself!).
Thanks Lexi! Oh yeah, Greenland is massive! Thanks for the extra tip on Thule!
This was so informative! I thought the Northern Lights were only visible from Iceland and Greenland.
Definitely possible to see them in other countries as well 🙂
Ahh we saw the lights in Iceland just outside of Reykjavik ❤️ Such a magical experience
Ahhh I envy you! I still have to make it to Iceland, it must have been quite the experience!
Stunning Photographs, Love to Visit These Places. Keep sharing information blogs
Such a beautiful places shared by you. I would love to visit these places.
Thanks Nitin! I hope you will fulfill your dream!
Plenty of amazing places to see the Northern Lights in Canada … the Yukon springs to mind!
Canada? Wow, an additional reason to go there! It’s always been very high on my bucket list 🙂
Very good website. I liked it very much!