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The Five Best Places For Seeing The Northern Lights

Updated on May 5, 2013

On this page we are going to take a look at the five best places to see the Northern Lights. We will give you some simply stunning locations for viewing the Aurora Borealis and tell you a little about each one. If you have always wanted to see the Northern Lights then this list of locations should give you some ideas as to exactly where to head.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as they are also known are natures greatest light show. This beautiful displays light up the skies in the Northern Hemisphere all year round. The Aurora really is the stuff of legend and people travel vast distances to search out the glowing lights. The fact is though that seeing this phenomenon is not always easy, you need to be in the right place at the right time. Simply heading north is not enough as some areas see far more displays than others. So we have put together a list of the five best places to see the Northern Lights. We take into consideration the likelihood of seeing something in the sky and also the other benefits of the area. So let’s talk you though these locations.

Looking Out Over Lake Labarge

The Yukon, Canada

Often seen as the best place on earth to see the Northern Lights, the Yukon really is a wonderful location. Situated in North-West Canada the Yukon covers a vast area much of which is untamed wilderness. Possibly the best viewing spot is located around Lake Labarge. In the winter months the temperature plummets and the lake is frozen solid. The area tends to get plenty of crisp clear nights and when there is an active Aurora there are few better spots to view the lights from.

To get here you can fly into the city of Whitehorse which has a small but well used airport. From here it’s around 50km to Lake Labarge and there are various cabins you can rent out for private use. You really are in wilderness territory here so there is practically no light pollution. For the best views head out onto the lake itself and look skywards. Remember to wrap up warm though as in the winter months the temperature really does get very low.

There are other great places all over the Yukon that are ideal for viewing. If you head to Whitehorse and then try and get away from the light pollution you can get some wonderful views of the Northern Lights. Although the winter months are the best for viewing you can see Auroras all year round when the conditions are right.

Aurora Near Tromso

Tromso, Norway

If you want somewhere in Europe then possibly the best spot Tromso which is in northern Norway. This large city sits 300km inside the Arctic Circle but due to it’s location near the ocean it tends to benefit from slightly less bitter temperatures. Other places at this latitude have temperatures that plummet to -30 degrees C on a regular basis but Tromso has an average winter temperature of closer to -5 degrees C. The city has a large international airport and is pretty easy to get to.

For the best viewing you need to head away from the light pollution of the city. There are various places that offer cabin rentals in the surrounding area and many of these are located in some beautiful scenery. One of the best ways to see the lights is to hop on a cruise ship. From Tromso you can sail round the fjords which is a wonderful way to see the local scenery and of course you are a long way from any light pollution. Tromso and the surrounding area is a great destination as it is easy to get to, has plenty going on during the day and of course benefits from some of the best Aurora displays any where in the world.

Northern Lights In Lapland

Lapland, Finland

Another wonderful place to visit in Europe is Lapland. This is an area located in the north of Finland and is considered on of the best spots in the world when it comes to the Aurora Borealis. For the best spots you can fly to Kittila international airport and then head east to some wonderful locations. There are various national parks and some excellent accommodation ranging from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. There are various tour operators that offer package deals which include transfers to resorts designed for Northern Lights viewing. In these resorts there are various activities such as Husky dog sledding, reindeer safari, snowmobile rides, skiing and ice fishing. Some of the hotels even offer Northern Light alarms, so when the activity level increase an alarm sounds to let guests know so you can go outside and view the spectacle.

One of the benefits of this area is that it tends to get long clear spells for weather and of course a clear sky is vital if you want to see the Aurora. The temperature does drop quite low in Lapland so again make sure you wrap up warm. This is a great place to visit as there is plenty to do during the day and then you can take guided tours out into the wilderness when the sun goes down. For a really unique experience try the guided snowmobile tours at night to see the lights. This is a wonderful way to visit some really remote locations with out any kind of light pollution. Plus while you visit Lapland you have the option of going to see Santa, something that goes down very well with the younger generation, this is actually an option that is available all year round and not just in December as you might expect.

If you want something a little bit special then visit the nearby Lainio Snow Village also known as the Ice Hotel. This is a structure build of snow and ice that is rebuilt every year. You stay in a room made of ice decorated with stunning snow sculptures. Although this is obviously a chilly experience it is one that you will no doubt remember for the rest of your life. Plus, what better way to see the Aurora when you are visiting Lapland, the Ice Hotel comes highly recommended.

Display Over Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska

Heading back to North America there are some wonderful location around Alaska that are perfect for seeing the Northern Lights. The city of Fairbanks has an international airport and so is easy to get to. Obviously for the best viewing spot you want to head away from the city lights and into the wilds. There are companies that offer Aurora tours from Fairbanks or you can rent private accommodation away from the city. Alaska is in a perfect spot as it falls directly under the arc of the Aurora and so when the lights comes out to play this area gets some stunning displays.

Fairbanks is a busy city so there is usually plenty to keep you occupied during the day. There are hotels you can stay in and good quality accommodation all around the area. The weather is often very cold in this area so again as is often the case you need to wrap up warm. For the best times to see displays you should be looking to visit between October and March although you can sometimes see displays at other times of year. As is always the case, you do still need a little bit of good luck and timing when visiting any of these areas.

One Of Iceland's Many Hot Springs


One country that people sometimes forget about when talking about the Northern Lights is Iceland. Iceland is situated north-west of the UK and gets plenty of Aurora displays throughout the year. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik and this is the easiest place to fly to. From here there are various places you can head to in search of the lights. As is always the case look for somewhere away from the city lights to get some great views. Iceland is a volcanic island so for a really unique way to view the lights head for one of the many hot springs. Hear you can bathe in the hot water while the air temperature plummets way below freezing. It’s basically like being in a giant hot tub. Some places open late into the night so you can relax in the water while gazing up at the Aurora.

The only slight down side to Iceland is that the weather can sometimes hamper viewing. Although the area probably gets just as many nights of Aurora’s as the other locations we have looked at, sometimes the clouds can block the sky. Other than this issue though Iceland really is an excellent destination.

As you can see from our list of the five best places to see the Northern Lights there really are some stunning locations that all have their own unique charm and appeal. There are other places you can see the Aurora from such as Sweden, Greenland, Russia and even Scotland. But we believe that the ones we have highlighted are the best without a doubt. If you get the chance to visit one of these areas then you should stand an excellent chance of seeing one of nature’s greatest wonders.

As we have already mentioned in the article, you do often need luck on your side when viewing the Aurora. The lights do tend to have more active periods and then quiet periods, if you plan a trip somewhere when the activity level is very low, then you may still not see anything. All you can really do is put yourself in one of the areas where you are most likely to see displays and then hope for good weather and some good Aurora activity. Find yourself in one of these five locations and you really will enhance your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.


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    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      I love seeing the Northern Lights. I grew up in a small Canadian town where we were lucky enough to see them every once in a while and have vivid memories of my mother waking my brothers and I up in the middle of the night to see them. Your hub makes me want to go to all of these places to enjoy them all over again.