When it comes to the Northern Lights, photos just don’t do them justice.
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this celestial spectacle constantly makes its way onto every traveler’s Bucket List. This natural phenomenon occurs when gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles from the sun. The result? Grand aural displays of rippling curtains, shooting rays, and scattered clouds in all sorts of brilliant colors.
Why you should see them now
Scientists and explorers have been enchanted by the northern lights for centuries. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t disappearing. But scientists have discovered that auroral activity comes in cycles, peaking roughly every 11 years. And with every passing year until 2025, we’ll be seeing less lights and more dark, empty skies.
As the name implies, the Northern Lights are best seen close to the north pole in the Arctic Circle. And the best season to catch them is between the months of September and March, where the skies are dark and cloudless. Of course, the light show can vary from day to day, even within this season so it’s best to check out the auroral forecast.
If you’re ready to tick this experience off your lifetime bucket list, here are the best places to see the lights.
The main draw of Alaska is its accessibility. This is especially true if you’re already coming from the West Coast. But compared to the other places on our list, Fairbanks suffers from more light pollution—not ideal for catching the lights.
Fortunately, clearer skies are just a short drive away. Book a hotel or Airbnb in Fairbanks, and drive out to the Chena Hot Springs, a world renowned resort that’s also great viewing spot for the northern lights.
If you’re worried about the frigid cold, then head to Iceland. Yes, it sounds oxymoronic, but the warm waters of the Gulf Stream make for pleasantly mild climate.
If you’re looking for a festival experience, then head to Tromsø, Norway: Aurora Borealis, Norway. Thanks to the tourist boom of the Aurora Borealis, this small city has developed a lively nightlife and is a friendly place for tourists.
Just outside the city are the majestic arctic fjords, which make for a truly great Aurora Lights experience. Enjoy a traditional Norwegian dinner on the deck of a historic ship as you see the colorful lights shoot from the glassy-ice cliffs.
Last but not least, there’s the small and secluded Abisko town in Sweden. With its unique micro-climate and low urbanization, Abisko is the best place to see the Northern Lights in all their celestial grandeur.
There are a number of ways to see the lights here. You can rent a private car and go Aurora chasing on your own, or take ride a snowmobile. But for a truly intimate viewing experience, head to the Aurora Sky take a chairlift up to mountaintop. Up this high, you’ll feel like you can catch the light with your bare hands.
There’s so much to see and do when you head up north. Be sure to check out our website for more Aurora Borealis Tours, and keep reading our blog for more exciting guides!