The aurora borealis is beautiful, but seeing it isn’t easy. Seeing the ghostly northern lights shining in the night sky is a unique experience worth living at least once in your life. It’s an elusive phenomenon, so we can’t guarantee that you’ll see it, but we can guide you to the places where you’ll have the most possibilities.
Where can I see the amazing Northern Lights? Here are the 8+1 best places to see the Northern Lights this winter, plus a special recommendation for the more adventurous in the near future.
1.- Fairbanks, Alaska
There is no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights, even at the North Pole on a clear night in January, but Alaska is a pretty good place to try. All you have to do is go to Anchorage. If you want more than just a glimpse of the night sky, you can take a private tour that includes other activities such as dogsled safaris, skiing and snowmobiling or a trip on the “Alaska Winter Snow Train” through the mountains from Anchorage to Fairbanks. If you are traveling to Alaska and are thinking of renting a car, you may be interested in reading our article on the Best Car Rental Companies in Alaska.
2.- Yellowknife, Canada
You could save money by doing the tour yourself and simply go to a place where you can probably see the lights with your car rental, but you also go to the city of Yellowknife, known as the “Northern Lights Capital of the World” and located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. You will be in the right place, all you need is a warm coat and a starry night and before that, you should have sought some inspiration with some beautiful photos of the Aurora and a lot of information in the “Astronomy North” centre. And while you’re waiting for the lights to come on you can go shopping,
Yellowknife is also known as the “diamond capital of North America”. Princes William and Kate were presented with a pin and cufflinks in the shape of a polar bear, containing 690 locally mined diamonds, when they visited the city last year. If you are traveling to Canada and are thinking of renting a car, you may be interested in reading our article on the Best Car Rental Companies in Canada.
3.- Reykjavik, Iceland
Possibly, one of the most accessible places where you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights is Iceland, located on the edge of the Arctic Circle. Besides the lights, there you can see the famous volcano Eyjafjajokull, which hopefully is quiet, or its recently opened museum, and also take a bath in the Geothermal Spa “Blue Lagoon”, only one hour from the capital with your car rental. If you are traveling to Iceland and are thinking of renting a car, you may be interested in reading our article on the Best Car Rental Companies in Iceland.
4.- Ivalo, Finland
The frozen north of Lapland is a spectacular place to see the lights of the north. To have the best chance of success we recommend you to go to Ivalo in Northern Finland. During the day, the landscape in this part of the world is also quite amazing, so when you are not hunting you could go hiking in the desert of Urho Kekkonen National Park. If you are traveling to Finland and are thinking of renting a car, you may be interested in reading our article on the Best Car Rental Companies in Finland.
5.- Explore the capital of Norway’s Arctic region
Despite being situated 300 km north of the Arctic Circle, the Gulf Stream makes Tromsø a relatively warm place to see the Northern Lights. Embark on a one-day boat trip through the polar fjords. At night, get out of town, get on a husky sled and pet these beautiful animals while you wait to see the Northern Lights.
6.- Swedish Lapland
Low cloudiness and low humidity mean that people living near Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland have an average of approximately 200 days per year with northern lights. The Aurora Sky Station is located in a special enclave, away from artificial light sources and at 910 meters above sea level, where you can comfortably watch this spectacle of Mother Nature.
You can go up to the station in a chairlift in just 20 minutes and enjoy a snack at the Aurora Porch (with blankets included). Inside the station, you can hear explanations of how the auroras are generated and also listen to them through sound amplifiers.
7.- Get to remote Greenland
There are few places more remote than Greenland, and the lack of light pollution means that the aurora can be seen dramatically there. Visit Ilulissat, where you can admire a UNESCO World Heritage fjord and enjoy the colours of the Northern Lights like nowhere else in the world. Even in Nuuk, the small capital of Greenland, you can see the dawn in the centre of the city. Streetlights won’t overshadow the magic in this town.
8.- From a window in Scotland
At the height of Aurora’s activity, you may be lucky enough to see the lights of the North from your hotel window. It will help you if this hotel is far from the polluting light of the city and in the far north of Scotland. Although the northern parts of Scotland offer the best chance of seeing this phenomenon, the Northern Lights can be seen anywhere in the country if the conditions are right and if light pollution is kept to a minimum. Here is a list of some of the best places to see this wonder:
- Shetland, Orkney and Caithness (e.g. Noss Head, Wick)
- Aberdeenshire and the Moray Coast (e.g. Nairn, Portknockie, Cairn O’ Mount)
- Lewis, Harris and the northernmost tip of Skye
- The most north-western part of Scotland (e.g. Applecross, Lochinver, north of Ullapool)
If you are thinking to ride Scotland and need to rent a car, you may be interested in reading our article on the Best Car Rental Companies in Scotland.
9.- Amazing!: from Space
If you can somehow get an elevator to the International Space Station, you should have a good (and unique) view, if not, you can also try the Virgin Galactic company that sells flights into space for 160,000 euros, in addition to seeing the Aurora Borealis, you will probably also get to see the Aurora Australis, “the ‘lights of the South'”. Flights into space (not at the moment).