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Which Countries Can You See The Northern Lights From? Complete List

Updated on September 3, 2012

In this article we are going to have a look at which countries you can see the Northern Lights from. As well as the more common countries that you will often see the Aurora Borealis from we will also take a look at some of the countries where you can see the Northern Lights when they are at their brightest. If you are hoping to see this incredible wonder of nature, then this page will help you work out exactly where your best chances of doing so will be.

The Northern Lights are the spectacular light show that plays out high in the Northern Hemisphere. This is something that many people travel great distances to see. Most people assume you have to travel a long way north to see the phenomenon, but this is not always the case. In fact some locations that are a long way north may not actually be any good for viewing the Aurora. Often the lights can be seen a lot further south than people may expect. So if you are considering a trip to see the Northern Lights, which countries should you be thinking about visiting?

Aurora Over Canada

The Best Countries For Seeing The Northern Lights

The fact is that for your best possible chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis then you do indeed need to head north. However, the lights form an arc around the North Pole so some areas are better suited than others, places like north-east Siberia although very far north do not sit under this arc so don’t often see the displays that other northern areas do. So when the lights do come out to play where should you be looking to head.

Well when it comes to Europe there are lots of great countries you can head for. Iceland is a very popular destination and gets some spectacular displays. All across northern Scandinavia you can see the lights, so Norway, Sweden and Lapland in Finland are all prime spots for viewing. These countries offer some excellent package holidays for people in search of the lights, in Norway they even offer cruises where they take you out on the Fjords to see the Aurora.

If Europe is not for you then head for Canada, Alaska or even Greenland. There are some wonderful spots in Canada, try the Yukon or the North-West Territories if you want to be in the prime location. There are lots of great spots in Alaska for viewing and the lights are often visible over the city of Fairbanks. A spot where fewer people visit is the south of Greenland, this is sparsely populated but if you want somewhere a little bit different then this is an ideal location.

There are a few other spots dotted around the globe that offer good viewing but these we have mentioned are the best without a doubt. The reality is though that you can view the Northern Lights from lots of other countries. When the lights are at their brightest they extend a good distance south. So where can you see them from?

Northern Lights From North Scotland

When The Aurora Is Very Active

Every so often you can view the Northern Lights from a lot further south that you might expect. When there has been a solar storm the light displays become far more intense and reach a much larger area. You can check an Aurora forecast to see when this might actually happen. So when the Northern Lights are in a heighten state of activity which countries can you hope to see them from? Well if Europe is your planned destination you can often see something glowing on the horizon from Scotland, when the lights are really bright you can even see them from Northern England or Ireland. There are lots of countries that sometimes see displays on mainland Europe such as Northern France, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. Obviously the further north you are located in any of these countries the higher your chances of seeing something.

If you head over the Atlantic you can sometimes see the lights in the south of Canada, areas such as British Columbia, Winnipeg and Ottawa can see the lights when they are very bright. On rare occasions you can even see something from the northern US states such as Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Maine, Vermont or Minnesota. Every once in a while the lights will even extend further than that, but this is a rare event.

Looking out over Russia there are a few spots when you can view the lights from. The further east you head the less chance you have of seeing something due to the way the arc of the lights forms. But in the far corner of North-West Russia the lights often make an appearance and when they are bright you can even see them in places such as St. Petersburg.

Stunning Displays

When You Should Be Looking For The Lights

So now you know some of the location for viewing the Aurora, when exactly should you be looking. Well the best time tends to be in the winter months, so usually between October and March. This is due to the fact that there are more hours of darkness hence more chances of seeing something in the nighttime sky. Experts are predicting that 2012 and 2013 are going to be the best years for the Northern Lights for along time. This is due to the solar cycle which repeats itself every eleven years. The level of activity is expected to be at it’s greatest over these two years and even reaching into 2014. So this is the perfect time to get your exploring hats on and go looking.

Although you can see displays in any of these countries we have mentioned, if you really want to stand a good chance then you should be heading to places such as Norway, Sweden, Lapland, Canada or Alaska. This is where you stand the best chance of witnessing these wonderful displays. But if you do find yourself in one of the other countries we have mentioned and the conditions are just perfect, then you may still get an unexpected view of the magical Northern Lights.

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would love to see this. I am in Canada and it is not difficult to do so.

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