Looking for the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world?
I have asked travel experts to spill the top destinations where you can see the northern lights, nature’s most dazzling light show.
If you are a lover of adventure and nature, and you are looking for a place with few people to travel, disconnect, and look for aurora borealis, in this post you have 23 ideas that will surprise you.
One of a lifetime experience!
Índice / Table of Contents
- 1 When Is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights?
- 2 Best places to See the Northern Lights
- 2.1 Healy, Alaska
- 2.2 Yellowknife, Canada
- 2.3 Saariselka, Lapland, Finland
- 2.4 Napapiirin Järvilomat, Lapland, Finland
- 2.5 Yllas, Finland
- 2.6 Vestrahorn, Iceland
- 2.7 Inishowen Peninsula, Donegal, Ireland
- 2.8 Tamok Valley, Norway
- 2.9 Finnmark Plateau, Arctic Norway
- 2.10 Alta, Norway
- 2.11 Kirkenes, Norway
- 2.12 Murmansk, Russia
- 2.13 Orkney Islands, Scotland
- 2.14 Abisko National Park, Sweden
- 2.15 Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, USA
- 2.16 Rovaniemi, Finland
- 2.17 Levi, Finland
- 2.18 Westfjords, Iceland
- 2.19 Bus tour from Reykjavik
- 2.20 Tromso, Norway
- 2.21 Fairbanks, Alaska
- 2.22 Yukon Territory, Canada
- 2.23 Churchill in Manitoba, Canada
When Is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights?
The best time to see the Northern Lights is between November and March, with the highest probability in the middle of winter (December, January and February).
You need to have clear skies, and look for auroras between 10 pm and 2 am.
Now, let’s dive into the best places to see the aurora borealis around the world!
Best places to See the Northern Lights
Where Can I See the Northern Lights in 2021?
These are the best Northern Lights destinations in the world.
Healy is a small town nearby the getaway to Denali National Park. This area – north of Denali National Park is one of the best places in the world to see Aurora Borealis because it’s very close to the Aurora oval.
Northern lights season in Alaska is between September and late April, peaking in March. You might see the first Auroras already in mid-August, which could be a great time to visit National Park before it closes in mid-September for the winter season.
A nice Aurora photo spot is by the lake at Black Diamond Resort, which is a cool place to stay.
Photo scenery in Healy is quite nice, you can capture several peaks and mountains like Mt. Healy, the Sugar Loaf, the Jumbo Dome, or Gravel deposit.
There aren’t many man-made buildings, but nature is breathtaking! But always remember that you are in the bear country and it’s good and recommended to carry the bear spray. If you need more information about Alaska, read this Alaska Travel Guide.
A few tips on what to do during the day:
- A bus trip to the Denali National Park
- Jeff King’s Husky Homestead
- Rafting at Nenana river
- Hiking in the wilderness
Adriana Plotzerová from Czech the World
Northern lights are one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena on earth. While it is on everyone’s travel bucket list, there is a small chance of catching these lights due to a couple of factors.
Yellowknife in Canada is probably the best place to see the lights because, statistically, the area offers a 90 percent chance during winter (from mid-November to March).
Yellowknife is the capital and the only city in Canada’s Northwest Territories; sprawling on the north bank of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife has long and cold winter with clear winter nights and zero light pollution.
Its location in high latitude also serves long darkness at night in winter – don’t be surprised when you already have a glimpse of northern lights just hanging outside your hotel window at 7 p.m.!
To have the full experience, Yellowknife is a famous northern light viewing destination with well-rounded facilities and professional travel agencies. If you are staying in Yellowknife for a few nights, join a local tour or visit an aurora village first to learn a bit more about the where what and how to see the lights in Yellowknife, with the comfort of a hot drink and cozy blanket.
Popular tour guides could be booked way in advance, so don’t forget to make a reservation before departure in the peak season.
Then, rent a car and explore the area on your own, you will most likely be able to see the lights in any open space outside the city.
Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Saariselka, Lapland, Finland
If you are looking for a place to see the northern lights, then Saariselka is the place to be.
260 km north of Rovaniemi, which has direct flight from Helsinki, Saariselkä village has a lot of good spots to see Auroras and night sky because it doesn’t have light disturbance. During the northern light season the lights can be seen almost every clear evening. They can be seen when it is dark enough and when the sky is clear.
The region has lots of fells and lakes and there are best spots if you know where to look.
The most common mistake by people for trying to see the northern lights is that they are not far from the village lights. One needs to go away from the habitat’s usual lights. This is where a local can guide you.
The Saariselka region also has Sámi communities of Finland who still preserve and practice Lapland’s Sami culture. They also know every bit of the region and are an integral part of tourism. There is also a reindeer farm and the large kota (wooden tepee) restaurant to charm you.
Best way to see the northern lights is to join a northern light tour. From a bus tour to snowmobiling, reindeer safari, husky safari are some of the ways to reach your spot. Holiday Club Resorts is a nice place to stay as it has facilities and activities for the entire family. It can also plan different tours for you.
NISHA & VASU from lemonicks.com
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Napapiirin Järvilomat, Lapland, Finland
Northern Lights can be quite tricky to see and experience if you are in an area with lights around and the last thing you want standing between you and this gorgeous phenomenon is a light bulb.
The vastness of Lapland and arctic circle in Northern Finland solves this problem. To make the experience more unique hire a chalet with a sauna and a hot tub next to a frozen lake. Seems too good to be true? It is not.
You can hire a chalet next to the gorgeous Lake Napajiri which is frozen solid up to a metre or two in winter. Most chalets come with sauna and optionally hot tubs which you heat by burning wood. After a few minutes’ jump into the soft snow and head to the hot tub to actually enjoy the beautiful lightshow nature put on that dwarves all manmade fireworks.
On the practical side of things, you should check the forecast here and head there deep in the winter season to maximize your chances of seeing Northern Lights.
Ucman from Brown Boy Travels
If you’re searching for the best places to see the Northern Lights, then Yllas in Finland has to feature on your list. I visited Lapland in winter specifically to see the Northern Lights, and after a week chasing it around Finland we were finally able to see it in Yllas.
Yllas is perfect for spotting the aurora borealis because it’s located well above the Arctic Circle line, and is very remote. The town is fairly small, so you just have to drive 15-20 minutes away from it to find yourself in total darkness, away from big sources of light pollution.
Close to Yllas you will also find many frozen lakes, which are perfect for aurora spotting as they give you a clear view of the sky, without trees in the way. Before venturing on a frozen lake at night make sure there are walking trails along it.
Visit the lake during the day if you can, or ask for your hotel reception for advice, they will usually know the closest northern lights spotting location.
Yllas is also great because it’s a very lively town, with lots of things to do. During the day you can do fun activities like skiing, fat bike tours, husky sled safaris, snowmobiles safaris and even cross country skiing.
You won’t be bored while waiting for night to fall and the Northern Lights to appear!
Greta from Greta’s Travels
Iceland is one of the best places to see the northern lights.
Although it is home to many remarkable landscapes, one location that is truly spectacular for watching the aurora dancing in the sky is Vestrahorn. Located on the Stokksnes Peninsula on the southeast, this breathtaking landscape provides the perfect scene for this extraordinary moment.
Dramatic peaks rise up out of the windswept black sand. As the ocean recedes, the wet sand creates the perfect mirror like reflection. It is the perfect place for photographing the northern lights as all these elements come together to create the most magical compositions.
The biggest challenge to viewing the northern lights in Iceland is the amount of cloud cover. While it is worth having locations in mind to see the northern lights, it is more important to chase the clear skies. It’s better to be somewhere seeing them than in a beautiful location staring at the clouds!
If you’re lucky enough to capture the northern lights swirling over the top of the mountains, it will be a night you will never forget.
Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel
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Inishowen Peninsula, Donegal, Ireland
The dark and quietly remote Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal puts on a dazzling show of Northern lights with rolling waves of blue, green, pink, yellow and lavender dancing across the clear skies.
Here on the Inishowen peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way is where the North Atlantic crashes against the rugged outcrops of the far North of Ireland conditions are perfect for star gazers and Northern Lights viewing.
In this part of Ireland there’s no light pollution, the clearest skies you will ever see and the perfect solar conditions give us these spectacular nighttime illuminations.
Ireland has many areas where you can see the Northern lights and they are usually visible from 9pm to 1 am from September through to March. It is during this time that there is more frequent geomagnetic activity which is what creates the lights.
This is the remotest part of Ireland and from here the next port of call would be the Arctic Circle. Ireland is home to two internationally recognized Dark Sky Reserves in Kerry and Mayo and Donegal is working on obtaining their recognition. These Dark Sky Reserves are free from light pollution and are beautiful sanctuaries for the public to enjoy incredible views of the Milky Way, billions of stars and of course the Northern Lights.
Faith Coates from Xyuandbeyond.
Tamok Valley, Norway
If you’re looking for a unique place to see the Northern lights in Norway, head to the Tamok Valley, right by the Finnish border.
Over a hundred kilometers away from the city of Tromso, you’ll find a beautiful ice hotel, Tromso Ice Domes (Tromso is the name of the region as well as the city). It’s a great place to see the lights because there is literally no light pollution, unlike Tromso itself which is a rather large city of about 60,000 people.
While most people visit the Tromso Ice Domes as a day trip from Tromso, it’s definitely possible to stay the night there — though it comes at quite a steep price! It’s over $1,000 USD a night for a room, so you’ll be shelling out quite a bit for this bucket-list experience.
But note if you stay the night, you get quite a welcome package, including a guided tour of the ice hotel, welcome drinks, a nighttime snowshoe tour while looking for the Northern lights, as well as dinner cooked out on an open fire in the middle of the wild Northern Norwegian landscape, still hunting for Northern lights!
Since it’s hard to guarantee you will see the Northern lights on any given evening, it’s great to find a place or event where you can make an activity out of the night regardless, so you don’t feel let down if the “Green Lady” doesn’t deign to make an appearance!
The Tromso Ice Domes hotel in Tamok Valley is just the place to ensure that no matter what, you’re going to have an epic trip, aurora sighting or otherwise.
Allison Green from Eternal Arrival
Finnmark Plateau, Arctic Norway
You would be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the Finnmarksvida, or Finnmark Plateau, as this desolate part of Arctic Norway is not a part of the usual tourist trail. But the secluded location means there is a darkness that lends itself perfectly to spotting the northern lights.
If you want a really unique experience, and a chance to soak up the Aurora borealis night after night, consider a cross-country ski expedition where you’ll be camping out in the snow each night, in temperatures as low as -40°C.
You can book an expedition with Turgleder amongst other companies, who will take care of your fundamental needs like food and shelter. And because you’re living and sleeping outdoors, your chance of spotting the lights is high. When you haven’t got a hotel to run back inside, you’ll feel so much more connected to nature’s beautiful light show.
You’re most likely to see the Northern lights on the Finnmark Plateau between September and March, but if you want the full expedition experience, the best time to visit in February or March when there is still plenty of snow, but daylight hours are longer. The nearest airport is in the Town of Alta.
Seanna from Seanna’s World.
High above the Arctic Circle lies the small Norwegian town of Alta, also known as ‘the town of the Northern Lights’. Home to only 20,000 people it is still the most populated spot in the Finnmark County and is situated at 70 degrees’ north latitude.
Alta is a wonderful place to see the northern lights as from late November to mid January the town experiences the Polar night, this is when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon. In reality it means the town is pitch black for 20-22 hours a day, with a twilight blue glow for a few hours in the afternoon. This takes some getting used to but provides excellent conditions to view the northern lights.
The best way to do this is by joining a tour, many include tripods and photographers and will check the weather to ensure they drive you to the best place for a chance of seeing the lights that night.
Tours run from 10pm-2am, and we drove out to a large cherry red cabin and were able to wait patiently inside with hot chocolate and homemade ginger cake whilst our guides braved the cold. It was two hours until they ran in to tell us the clouds had parted, and we were blessed with a 45-minute Aurora show, and understood why Alta is nicknamed ‘the town of the Northern Lights’.
Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
This tiny little village in the country of Norway comprises a complete combination of culture, history, and the possibility of witnessing the Northern Lights.
The charming village, the most north easterly in the country along the border with Russia, is perfectly placed to do so. In addition, its continental and dry climate makes this phenomenon a regular event, with expeditions that take you far away from the artificial light of the town and into the adjoining backwoods. Just outside the town’s borders are a number of activities, making the most of the neighboring fjords, lakes, and mountains.
While here, don’t miss the chance to visit the Border Area Museum which showcases the role that it played during WWII as one of the most heavily bombed in Europe. If all this exploration leaves you hungry, the freshly caught salmon is a popular delicacy and a must try. Kirkenes sure offers a whole lot and witnessing the Northern Lights is guaranteed to leave you smiling long after the event has passed.
Rai from A Rai of Light
Murmansk in Russia is one of the best places to see the northern lights on a budget. Russia has a large area that is well above the arctic circle, but for the most part it is sparsely populated and difficult to get to. The Kola peninsula is the exception though, with good train connections to St Petersburg and Russia.
Murmansk is one of the largest cities on the Kola peninsula and a great hub for arctic adventures including northern lights tours in winter. It is easy to escape the city’s light pollution as beyond Murmansk the Kola peninsula is mostly forests and lakes.
Visit Murmansk organizes tours at night to bring you out of the city where according to the latest weather and aurora predictions you have the highest chance of seeing them. You can also opt to stay outside of Murmansk at one of the igloo’s at Aurora village. In any case make sure you dress warm as it can get really cold out there.
Staying in Murmansk is cheaper though and the city also has some interesting things to see such as a nuclear icebreaker, the impressive world war 2 memorial and the beautiful lake Semyonovskoe. Other arctic activities include dog sledding or visiting a reindeer farm.
Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Orkney Islands, Scotland
The Orkney Islands are located in the north of Scotland, 8 miles offshore from John O’Groats. Along with Shetland, the Western Isles and much of the Highlands this is great location to see the northern lights.
The best places to see the lights are in the north of the main island towards the Brough of Birsay, a small tidal island or around the Ring of Brodgar. Both areas have dark skies and a clear horizon to the north which makes them ideal for seeing the northern lights.
As Orkney is a little further south than traditional northern light viewing areas the activity does need to be slightly more than normal. The position of the islands does however mean that the lights are a little less intense but can be viewed for more of the year. Dark skies occur between August and May, making the aurora season much longer than elsewhere.
Finding a north facing cottage in Birsay is not difficult and this means you can view the lights in comfort. Orkney is known for its winds and this should be remembered when planning your aurora hunt. Keep safety in mind on cliff tops in the dark with high winds and always visit the area in daylight to orientate yourself before nightfall.
Suzanne from Suzanne Meandering Wild
Abisko National Park, Sweden
Located in Sweden near the Norweigan border, Abisko National Park is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. The enormous park encompasses nearly 8000 hectares surrounded by mountains and is home to Sweden’s largest alpine lakes, Lake Torneträsk.
Several key factors increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights here. First, the park is located within the Auroral Oval, a region around the North Pole where solar activity is at its highest. In addition, the combination of the surrounding mountains and prevailing winds keep the skies above Abisko clear of cloud cover. These conditions, coupled with the park’s remote location, create the perfect setting for witnessing the Northern Lights in action.
For the best time to visit, head to Abisko between September and March. You’ll want to go out between 9 pm and 2 am when solar activity is the strongest. Though it is possible to see Northern Lights from virtually anywhere in the park, we recommend checking out the Aurora Sky Station, situated 900-meters above sea-level with very few light disturbances. To get there, you can take a shuttle from the STF Abisko Tourist Station. There are several accommodation options in the nearby village of Abisko, including the Abisko Mountain Lodge and Abisko Hostel.
Natasha from the Great Ocean Road Collective
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, USA
Seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) is definitely high on many traveler’s bucket lists as the mysterious green and red lights are so breathtaking to encounter. One of the best places to see the Northern Lights is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as the light pollution is less and magnetic energy is high.
Your best chance to see Michigan’s Northern Lights is in October, November and April. Be sure to watch the forecast for a clear evening and find a location free of light pollution.
Visit Houghton, Copper Harbor’s Brockway Mountain, Whitefish Point, Pictured Rocks or Bete Grise Beach near Lac La Belle, Michigan for a better chance to catch the beauty of the Northern Lights as these regions are less populated and offer less light pollution from big cities.
On a very dark clear night, visiting the International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City is another great place to catch the Northern Lights. This park limits light pollution by the use of dim red lights leading the way to concrete benches offering a fabulous view of the night sky. One of the the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world!
Sherry Trautman from Traveling Michigan
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Rovaniemi is one of the main hubs in Lapland, it is in the middle of nature and at the same time the town has a good size for normal shopping, going to a restaurants and so on. Because it is north enough, Rovaniemi is also one of the best places to watch northern lights.
The season here starts as soon as it gets dark in this part of world, so probably in the middle of August to the beginning of September. Perhaps the best is to come here in winter, when you can see the northern lights around 4 or 5 when it gets dark.
Rovaniemi is not big enough to create any light pollution so you can still see the lights from the town it self. Additionally, there is a lot of nature around, you can watch it on frozen river that flows around the town, or from the forest near by. Some companies even organize husky safari with the northern lights and that way you would see it in the middle of nature.
Rovaniemi is also pretty good regarding of hotels. There are all kinds of hotels both for backpackers or for luxury seekers too. The best thing about them is that all of them have sauna. So you can both either get in cozy hostel for 14 euros per night or in very fancy igloo hut, where you can stay in your comfortable bedroom and watch the lights from there.
Albi from Ginger around the globe
Levi is a town in northern Finland popular with visitors for its ski resort, (the biggest in all of Finland), winter sports activities, and the chance to see the Northern Lights.
Due to its high location in Finland, when the weather conditions are correct, your chances of seeing the Northern Lights are quite high.
A stay at the Northern Lights Ranch presents the chance to view the Northern Lights from your very own hot tub, and the rooms offer glass ceilings so you can actually view them from your bed too.
Remember when it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, you’ll need some patience, good weather, and sometimes just some good luck! But placing yourself in a northern location will give you the best chance, and Levi presents that opportunity!
The prime time for seeing the Northern Lights in Finland is from October to March, but your highest chances will be at the beginning and end of the season. In October/November time you can expect to see the lights from 5-6 o’clock onwards. So wrap up warm and don’t forget your camera!
Cazzy Magennis from Dream Big, Travel Far
The Westfjords in Iceland is the oldest region in the country. The mountainous peninsula sits to the Northwest of the country, its coastline stretching into the freezing waters of the Denmark Strait. This is the place to come to really get off the beaten path in Iceland; to witness spellbinding scenery, to experience the midnight sun and to see the northern lights.
Although there are plenty of places where you may be lucky enough to spy the dancing slivers of light of the aurora borealis in Iceland, the Westfjords is truly one of the best destinations. This area enjoys longer hours of darkness and, apparently, less cloud cover – two conditions that dramatically increase your chances of seeing the northern lights.
For the best chances of spotting this magical natural phenomenon, travel to the Westfjords from the end of August. We visited at this time and were lucky enough to catch the ethereal green lights above us while staying in the town of Patreksfjordur. However, the lights can be seen from almost anywhere in the region.
Make sure you download an aurora app or forecast, stay as far away from artificial light as possible and cross your fingers and toes that you get lucky!
Katja Gaskell from Globetotting
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Bus tour from Reykjavik
If you’re only in Iceland for a short time and won’t have a chance to explore far from Reykjavik, then your best chance to see the Northern Lights is by taking a bus tour from the capital itself.
There are several companies that will pick you up in the evening from the city center and drive you out into the countryside, away from the light pollution of built-up areas, to see the magical spectacle of the Aurora.
They’ll check the forecast for you, provide you with an expert English-speaking guide, and even give you tips on how to photograph the Northern Lights.
Trips are usually by minibus for between 15-30 people, last about 4 hours, and cost around EUR 50-70 per person. Some provide blankets, hot chocolate, or entry to the Aurora Museum in Reykjavik.
Trips won’t run if the weather is bad or the lights aren’t active, but if the trip is cancelled you get a refund and if the trip goes ahead but you don’t see any Aurora, you can come back for free another time.
For beginners, or for anyone pushed for time, these trips are a great way to tick this magical experience off your bucket list!
Bella from Passport & Pixels
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There are so many fantastic places to see the northern lights in the world but one of the most popular and renowned places to see them is in Tromsø, Norway. Tromsø has gained popularity over the last few years as Europe’s premier aurora destination and if you flock there in winter, you will easily know why.
Seeing the northern lights in Tromsø is fairly easy if you book a tour. The expert guides will know how to track them down and will help dodge bad weather in order to do so. You can usually see the lights in Tromsø from September until around April.
One of the best reasons to travel to Norway and Tromsø for the northern light is the number of activities that include aurora hunting in the process. In Tromsø, you can go whale watching and see the lights, to a Sami and reindeer ranch and see them, and more. There are opportunities to view them in the city center if they are powerful enough, too! Tromsø is definitely one of the top spots in the world to view the northern lights.
Megan & Aram from meganstarr.com
One of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is the city of Fairbanks.
If you want to see the Northern Lights, your best bet is to visit during the winter months, between November through March, when the nights are longer and darker.
But before you go out to search for the Aurora Borealis, get settled in at the Bridgewater Hotel, an affordable locally owned boutique hotel. From there, you will have easy access to all the best things to do in Fairbanks in Winter!
Fairbanks is full of amazing cultural museums, delicious food, and opportunities to interact with sled dogs and reindeers. But when you’re ready to go exploring, the best dark sky locations near Fairbanks are Cleary Summit and Creamer’s Field, only a short drive outside of the city and clearly marked on Google.
While the roads are kept clear of snow and ice during the winter, if you are uncomfortable driving or renting a car, there are also night tours that can take you for sightings.
Kay from The Awkward Traveller
Yukon Territory, Canada
The remoteness of Canada’s Yukon Territory in northwest Canada makes it a perfect place to see the Northern Lights.
The Yukon is located to the north of British Columbia, east of Alaska and the territory’s northern border reaches the Arctic Ocean. The skies of the Yukon put on a good show between mid-August and mid-April but the optimal time to see the Northern Lights here is at the start of winter on a moonless night between 10 pm and 3 am.
Most of the year, you’ll need to stay away from the city lights and a few nights in a wilderness lodge is an excellent way to increase your chances of viewing the Aurora Borealis.
If you’re visiting the capital, Whitehorse, drive towards Fish Lake and look up into the sky or join an organized tour run by a company specializing in taking visitors to see the Yukon Northern Lights. Most tour companies have Aurora-viewing sites with heated tents out of the city away from the lights.
Christina from Travel2next.com
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Churchill in Manitoba, Canada
The small Canadian town of Churchill is nicknamed ‘the polar bear capital of the world’.
Located approximately 1,250 miles northwards of Winnipeg, the provincial capital of Manitoba, Churchill is well and truly remote. For viewing the northern lights that’s advantageous as there’s little light pollution in the night sky above Churchill. That makes it a great place for northern lights photography.
The northerly location of the town means that packing cold weather gear is essential if you want to make the most out of a visit. The autumn period, from the beginning of October into mid-November is a popular time of year to visit Churchill. At that time of year polar bears are waiting by the coastline for the Hudson Bay to freeze over. That means it’s possible to view polar bears during the daytime and, providing the sky remains clear and there’s solar activity, the northern lights by night.
It’s possible to view the aurora borealis from the comfort of Plexiglas pods known as Aurora Domes, operated by the Churchill Hotel. The Aurora Pod and Aurora Lounge also count among ways to view the northern lights in Churchill. The Churchill Northern Studies Centre, a 30-minute drive from the town, has a heated dome on its observation deck.
Stuart Forster from Go Eat Do