The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora borealis, light up the sky with fascinating colours of nature, and are a true travel inspiration even for those who love staying at home! Aurora is a collision of particles sent to our planet by solar winds. Green and pink are the most common colours, but depending on the types of gases in the atmosphere of the location from which you are viewing them, they can turn the sky into a veritable kaleidoscope of red, yellow, pink, green, and purple. You can see the Northern Lights from many different locations near or beyond the Arctic Circle, but these are five places where you will get an excellent view.
1) U.S.A, Alaska
Alaska is a popular destination for outdoor adventures, but Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city, is one of the most underrated urban hangouts in the United States. If you visit Anchorage, you will meet lots of people who share your passion for travel. Inspiration in the form of brilliantly coloured Northern Lights is just part of what makes Anchorage an appealing place to visit. To see them, however, it is suggested to go to the city of Fairbanks, which according to professor Neal Brown at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, receives 243 nights per year of auroral activity. For a luxurious home base during your Northern Lights-viewing trip to witness Aurora in Alaska, try the Aurora Borealis Lounge. Located 20km away from Fairbanks, it offers views of the night sky away from luminosity of towns. For a budget-friendly option, search for private accommodation, located outside the city.
2) Iceland, Reykjavik
Northern Lights can be observed from anywhere in Iceland. They are an intrinsic part of the Icelandic culture. In 2016 they dimmed the street lighting in the capital city of Reykjavik in order to let visitors and locals enjoy the amazing light show. Ranga Hotel offers an amazing accommodation for your Northern Lights hunting. It is located 100km Southeast of Reykjavik, in a rural area without any light pollution which makes it a perfect place to observe the northern lights.
There are many budget options available in Iceland, look for options away from towns.
And don’t forget to check this link for the aurora forecast in Iceland!
3) U.K, Scotland
To our surprise, it is possible to spot Northern Lights from the UK. The more north you go – the more chances you have to see the lights, so within the UK boundaries it is Shetland Islands that give the best probability of seeing Northern Lights. However, Aberdeen and Island of Skye are known for their Auroras too. It will take luck or patience to observe the Northern Lights in UK, but it is possible.
Use the following link to forecast auroral activity in the UK.
4) Canada, Yellowknife
Canada has many places famous for its Northern Lights. One of the top destinations is Yellowknife in Northwestern Territories. It’s position and lack of precipitation make it the perfect place to observe them. You can even check out the live broadcast organised by Canadian Space Agency.
Try Aurora Village, as your accommodation. They provide all the useful information and can even pick you up at the airport.
5) Finland, Luosto
Luosto, Finland is such a northerly location that it’s Northern Lights can be seen for much of the year, making the Aurora borealis a major attraction for visitors. One of the best places for their observation is in Luosto, at Santa’s Hotel, which prides itself on its proximity to the North Pole. The hotel is located in the middle of a pine forest, and it has a classic Scandinavian sauna. All visitors get a Northern Lights alarm that alerts them when they become visible, which honestly is very often. Ten of the rooms even have glass ceilings so that you can see the northern lights from the warmth of your bed. An even more budget-friendly option is the Lapland Hotel Sky Ounasvaara, which is designed to make it easy to enter and exit from the hotel on skis.
When talking about Northern Lights in Finland, it is impossible not to mention the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Located in remote village, provides an unique experience to observe the Northern Lights. Very pricey and very unique.
You can generally find the aurora forecast for most of the places. This link provides all the data for aurora forecast. To forecast the aurora activity, look at the following factors:
- Sky needs to be clear
- Kp value must be over 3
- High geo-magnetic activity.
To learn how to photograph this natural phenomena, read our post: How to Photograph Natural Phenomena at Night. Enjoy your hunting!