Northern lights are one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the World. Not surprisingly the glimpses of the Northern Lights are one of nature’s most majestic artistic displays that overwhelm everybody’s heart. The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, have captured the curiosity of humans across the globe. They occur when solar particles collide with atmospheric gases and produce a neon light show that lasts for minutes or even days at a time.
These aurora can be seen in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Aurora zone is an area of 2,000-3,000 km from the magnetic pole, at a latitude of 66 to 69 degrees north. These Northern lights can be best viewed during cold, dark nights with clear skies.
It is worth to note that the northern lights appear on an 11-year solar cycle. So, the chances to see northern lights are getting slimmer by each passing year till 2025. So, you shouldn’t wait and make a trip.
Best places to see Northern lights
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
Alaska is one of the best places for aurora spotting on Earth. The perfect combination of the cold weather, clear skies, and dark nights make it an ideal location for viewing Northern lights. Also, it encompasses an abundance of epic wildlife species including grizzly bears, moose, eagles. Apart from this, Alaska’s pristine rivers, lakes, and majestic mountains also make it a charming place to visit. Thousands of people travel to Alaska every winter to see and photograph Northern lights
Best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska?
The Aurora season starts from late September to early April
2. Yukon, Canada
Famed for its pristine wilderness, Northern Canada is a treat for those who want to witness the Aurora Borealis regularly. The Northernmost territories and Yukon are some of the world’s greatest hotspot to venture up for seeing the glittering lights. Here, the ‘aurora oval’ sweeps across the country, including the vast province of Yukon, which is larger than an area of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands combined. Also, visitors can enjoy glimpses of Northern light in the season of autumn to avoid the harsh deep winter.
3. Lapland Finland
Finland is an optimal aurora choice as it boasts northern lights nearly every other night from September to March. Also, Finland is famed all over the world for its nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis, which can be best viewed in a range of purpose-built spaces from glass igloos to luxury suites. The Northern Lights are visible on roughly 200 nights a year – or every other clear night – in Finnish Lapland. In northern Lapland, the lights shine about every other clear night between September and March. However, in southern Finland, they are visible on about 10-20 nights a year.
4. Kola Peninsula, Russia
Russia is a majestic continent often termed as the gold mine for aurora spotting. As a large part of Russia lies within the Arctic Circle, the Kola Peninsula is a prime location where visitors can enjoy the fantastic glimpses of Northern lights. However, visitors can access this location from the town of Murmansk. Furthermore, the Arctic Circle crosses a large part of the country, and the nighttime light show can be seen from Karelia to Chukotka. Sometimes, even St. Petersburg residents can see the magic Northern Lights.
5. Svalbard, Norway
Svalbard, a string of Arctic islands, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole is the only inhabited place in the world where visitors can experience the glittering phenomenon of the neon show during the day. Also, this destination offers a perfect experience of Northern Lighting between mid-November and February. During this time visitors can have the opportunity to see the lights and join a three-hour snowcat safari or brave the cold on a snowmobile tour complete with a stop for warm drinks and biscuits.
6. Churchill, Canada
The majestic Churchill is believed to be the easiest place for Neon show lightings. Scientists from around the world have come to Churchill to study the northern lights in the active night sky. In fact, Churchill is one of the top 3 places on the planet to experience the glittering lovely Northern lights. Under clear winter skies, visitors can enjoy the colorful artistry of the aurora borealis light up the pitch-black nights. Also, you can grab a front row seat in the comfort of the plexiglass-covered Aurora Domes to watch this spectacular natural light show. But it is also a dangerous spot for viewing the Northern Lights because it experiences aurora activity more than 300 nights per year.
7. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Isolated from the large cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Cherry Springs State Park is classified as a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park for its commitment to preserving its exceptionally dark sky. It is a perfect place for those who don’t want to miss the aurora borealis and want to have an exceptional view of the stars.
8. Southern Greenland
Poised perfectly within the aurora zone, Greenland is a country far less trampled with tourists than its northern neighbor, Iceland. Southern Greenland is an ideal spot that offers unique aurora tours. With its perfect visibility in some places, it also provides an exceptional opportunity for viewing milky-green lights. However, the months of September to the beginning of April are considered as the best time for a sighting. You can have a three to four nights stay into the Hotel Arctic’s igloos on the edge of the Ilulissat Ice fjord, accompanied double rooms, electric heating, TVs, and a small bathroom.
9. Abisko, Sweden
Sweden is yet another famous destination for experiencing the glimpses of aurora zone. It is home to the famous Ice Hotel in the village of Jukkas Jarvi in the Kiruna region, which is a prime Northern lights territory and a must-see attraction in Sweden. Also, is Sweden. The Gulf Stream is a fantastic location because the temperatures here are milder compared to other popular aurora regions like Canada and Russia. Furthermore, with its perfect location in the middle of the Skanderna mountain range, it is a beautiful destination that creates perfect conditions for light viewing. Also, it is one of the best places in the world to see the great spectacle and attracts visitors from each and every corner of the world.
10. Tromso, Norway
Tromso, the largest city in northern Norway is a fantastic spot for seeing the Northern lights. With its vibrantly colored fishing villages, gaping fjords, and expansive nature, mountains, islands, it is a perfect aurora hotspot to enjoy with your loved ones. It is worth mentioning that in order to see the Northern light at its brightest level you should escape the glow of the city and take a light hunting tour – hitch a ride on a polar-night dog sled or take a snowmobile adventure. Also, it has diverse aurora watching options making it one of the most comfortable places to chase the Northern Lights.
11. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is a country of volcanic landscapes, geothermal hot springs, and majestic waterfalls. It is an alluring aurora zone where visitors can spot northern lights from the comforts of thermal hot springs. Here, Reykjavik is one of the cheapest and most accessible places to see the Northern lights. However, it does not house plenty of other natural wonders to discover but its all-time famous snowy winters, volcanoes and its famous Blue Lagoon makes it an eye-catching spot for visitors. Also, you can enjoy an array of Northern Light tours from Reykjavik to have the perfect glimpses of the sweeping colors.
12. Moray Coast, Scotland
Moray Coast is the majestic Scottish Coast that offers plenty of viewing opportunities. Stretching from the east of the Highlands’ capital Inverness, it is a perfect choice to see Northern lights at the heart of this mainland. Here, visitors can also enjoy rugged coast and try to spot the Firth’s famous dolphins or grab a traditional Scottish lunch in Inverness before perusing the stalls at the Victorian Market.
13. Scandinavia, Denmark
Denmark is also a fantastic location where can have perfect glimpses of the aurora borealis viewing. The cold, clear winter nights in Scandinavia, Denmark is considered as one of the most beautiful destinations to experience the Northern lights. But, unfortunately, they can only be seen a few times per year and are often rather weak and elusive. However, northern lights in Denmark are visible year round but, between months of October and March, they are just spenders. Also, Denmark’s Faroe Islands archipelago located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic is the best place to see some of the most impressive aurora borealis.
14. Donegal, Ireland
Ireland is also another destination to spot glimpses of northern lights. According to Astronomy Ireland, the northern lights can be seen from pretty much every county in Ireland, however, in reality, that’s not true. Ireland also boasts many places to experience the impressive views of Northern lights but, the region known as Donegal is the most popular spot for sightings due to its location and the lack of light pollution along the most northern headlands.
15. Tallinn, Estonia
Known as “virmalised” in Estonian, it is yet another destination where people can catch a glimpse of dancing lights when they illuminate the sky. Estonia offers some astonishing moments to chill and enjoy with your buddies. But, It is worth mentioning that visitors can have very rare views of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Estonia but if you are lucky and find yourself in the right place at the right time, then you might just witness this truly beautiful spectacle.
Fairbanks, Alaska is the best place to see the Northern lights in cold weather and clear skies.
There are several countries to see Northern Lights. This article has 15 such places.
Northern lights can be seen from late September to the very beginning of April. Time also depends on location to location. So, you need to check it for a specific location you are planning to visit.
Northern lights occur so high in the atmosphere. So, there is no threat to people watching them from the ground. The aura contains electrically charged particles that could have a negative impact on infrastructure and technology but not much harmful to humans.
Yes, Northern Lights are real.
Yes, Northern Lights are also called by their scientific name, Aurora Borealis.
Northern Lights don’t exhibit for long. They may appear only for a few minutes. At most, no longer than 30 minutes and sometimes for just a few minutes. It mostly appears between 5:00 pm and 2:00 am.