northern lights destination

10 Really Awesome Destinations to See the Northern Lights

When planning for your Northern Lights trip, there are three main things you need to consider. The rest are just plus factors or bonuses.

  • The destination is located somewhere north. Up north. Close to Santa’s place.
  • Long winter nights
  • No light pollution. Go where there is little light or no light at all.

Many may not be familiar how the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis happens. It is a magical phenomenon, well not magic really, more of a scientific all year round event. The bright dancing lights are actually collisions between the electronically charged particles from the sun that enters our earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Hence, to experience this magical dance, you have to go up north, really up north.

I was able to experience this entrancing event in the quiet town of Abisko, in Kiruna, the most northern part of Sweden. It was my very first travel to the North Pole and was lucky to see the Northern Light dance across the dark cloudless sky for 2 nights out of the five nights that I stayed in the town. Lucky me!

 


Here are the 10 awesome destinations that you can include in your travel plans. Good luck!

In Sweden

northern lights destination

The area around Abisko in Swedish Lapland is scientifically proven to be an ideal viewing spot due to a unique micro-climate. Close to Abisko National Park, the dark winter night is perfect for sky watching. The northern lights always appear from the north, so its best to look up Mount Noulja when doing your winter wonderland walk around the park.

Read: Hunting for the Aurora Borealis? Here’s How Not to be Disappointed

In Norway

northern lights
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/claudiaregina_cc

One hour drive from Abisko, Kiruna is the town of Tromsø, Norway, another perfect spot to view the lights. Its location above the Arctic Circle, and within the Northern Lights zone, makes it one of the top places to view shimmering green lights.

I have read many travel stories where the travellers suddenly see the lights during their road trip between Norway and Sweden so they had to make an sudden, unplanned stop to experience it! Hope it happens to you too!

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Tromso, Norway

In Russia

northern lights destination
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajithdauk/

If you’re eyeing to travel to Russia during winter to see the northern lights, your best bet would be the towns of Murmansk, Siberia, Kola Peninsula in the norther part. Murmansk is popular too with travellers who want to experience Siberian winter.

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Murmansk, Russia

In Finland

northern lights destination
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timo_w2s/

In Finland, the best bet would be the towns of Nellim, Utsjoki, Ivalo, Kakslauttanen and Luosto. On cloudless nights, you’re bound to catch the lights shimmer in the skies over the town of Nellim, close to Lake Inari, Finland’s third largest lake.

Read: Recommended Places to Stay in Nellim, Finland

In Greenland

northern lights destination
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickrussill/

Although Greenland is the final frontier for those just beginning their hunt for the aurora, it is a good location because you can practically view the lights from anywhere in the country. But the best viewing locations in Greenland would be in Kulusuk and in Ammassalik.

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Kulusuk, Greenland

In Alaska, USA

northern lights destination
Photo credit: Zheng Xu | Flickr

Good news for those who are already in the US for their winter travel, you can squeeze in Alaska in your itinerary easily. Your best spot would be in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Denali. But be sure to look further away from the city lights.

Another great tip is to check northern lights forecasting alerts at University of Alaska. They are pretty serious when it comes to making your northern lights experience complete.

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Anchorage, Alaska USA

In Iceland

northern lights destination
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn | Flickr

When in Iceland head out into the wide open plains of Þingvellir National Park—a UNESCO Heritage Site where the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet to cause a rift valley. Actually, the northern lights can be visible across the entire country, but just go further away from the city lights to view it.


 

In Scotland

northern lights destination
Photo credit: Phillip Sidek | Flickr

Scotland and the entire British Isles may be popular for its stormy and cloudy weather and the chances of viewing the aurora maybe low. But give this country a chance and go further up north to wait for a weather break and you just might get lucky.

Your best options and higher chances of seeing it would be in Aberdeen, Isle of Skye and Northern Highlands.

In Canada

northern lights destination
Photo credit: peupleloup | Flickr

I have seen a lot of social media posts of aurora borealis sightings along the Canadian-American border. But if you’re already in Canada, head to the town of Whitehorse within the Yukon Territory to best see the dancing lights.

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Whitehorse, Canada

In Faroe Islands

northern lights destination
Photo credit: EHRENBERG Kommunikation | Flickr

Located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, the Faroe Island archipelago is mostly known for its Viking folklore. The dancing lights is visible through out the island.

Read: Affordable Places to Stay in Torshavn, capital city of Faroe Islands

Lastly,

OK so you’ve ironed out where you are going for the northern lights trip. Next step would be to check if you need a visa to the country that you want to go to. So check visa requirements and what is easier for your case.

For those holding Philippine passports, for European countries Schengen visa for short stay is required for Denmark Sweden Norway Finland and Iceland. A bit tricky for those who want to visit Faroe Islands though. The Faroe Islands are not part of Schengen area and you cannot enter based on your Schengen visa.  When a visa is applied for at the Danish Embassy it must be specifically for the Faroe Islands.

For your budget considerations, packing lists and other things to plan, hope my article below helps you!

Read : The True Cost of Chasing Aurora Borealis

I still have a hangover from my northern lights experience. To be honest, it included months and months of planning, a costly airfare for me (flew from Singapore), loooong layovers, missed train stops and I miscalculated how early it gets dark during winter (my first winter travel, mind you). Not to mention I went solo!

But that short 60 seconds of seeing a pair of streak of lights across the cloudless northern sky, then it danced for a bit, seemingly showing off its trance and beauty to our tour group, I tell you it was all well worth the experience and the cost. It was the most beautiful, longest 60 seconds of my life.

A bit of a spoiler: the northern lights do make a faint metal crashing sound like keys jingling in your pocket!

Share this to your friends who might be looking for places to view this amazing phenomenon. Sharing is caring!

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  1. Reply

    We just saw our first Northern lights this week. It was certainly magical! What a cool experience! 🙂 I would recommend this experience for sure… anywhere, anytime!

  2. Reply

    I would love to see the Aurora Borealis or the Aurora Australis (southern lights). I live in New Zealand and I have been in the areas of the South Island that are good for viewing the aurora. I just wish I had looked out the window at night.

  3. Reply

    I have been close to the Northern Lights a few times but haven’t been lucky enough to see them yet. I especially hoped to see them when I was in Iceland but it was too overcast. Oh well, hopefully one day…

  4. Reply

    Tromso is about a 5 hour drive from Abisko. You could go to Narvik in Norway, which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Abisko. But Abisko and Tromso really aren’t very close.

  5. I’d love to see and photography these or the aurora australis one day, Seeing you have identified so many different places where it’s possible makes it seem much more achievable.

  6. Reply

    Once upon a time I thought Norway was THE only place you could see these. Amazing when you consider a list such as this that there are so many more. Would be awesome to be able to see them from every location and compare notes as to which is the best. Haven’t seen any of them yet but will one day. The southern lights are also visible from Tasmania, much closer to me so perhaps I should aim for that first 🙂

  7. Reply

    Never knew you could see them in Scotland. I would love to see the lights at any of these places.

  8. Reply

    WOW! Great post! I lived in Finland for 6 months but unfortunately, I didn’t see the northern lights… 🙁 I went during the good season but I was very unlucky. Good list and pictures you compiled!

    • Megan Jerrard
    • January 25, 2017
    Reply

    I’ve hit up many of these destinations … in summer lol … really enjoyed the midnight sun and 24 hours of daylight but am itching to see the Northern Lights at least once before I die!!

  9. Reply

    That’s still on my bucket list. I went to Iceland twice in the hope of seeing them, but I wasn’t lucky. Now I think I’ll try Tromso. It looks like it’s almost certain. Great post!

  10. Reply

    I saw them in Iceland but did not have a good camera at the time so I must have a redo! I’m thinking Finland or Alaska

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