The Northern lights are brilliant formations of green, yellow, and white glowing lights that move in the night sky.
Also known as the aurora borealis, the Northern lights are an impressive natural wonder to behold with your own eyes.
The best places to see the Northern lights have cloud-free night skies and little to no light pollution.
As the name implies, the Northern lights are seen from the northernmost parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Not all parts of the Northern Hemisphere bear witness to the celestial light show.
There is an invisible ring around Arctic Circle called the auroral oval. It is the epicenter for Northern lights activity and stretches over parts of:
Continue reading to learn more about the amazing places to see the Northern lights, Northern lights hotels, and the best times to see the aurora borealis.
Did you know that you can see the Northern lights without leaving the United States? Head to the Northernmost parts of America to witness the spectacular display of colors dancing in the sky with no international flights required.
The best places to check out the Northern lights in the States include:
Located directly under the auroral oval, the best place to see the Northern lights in the States is in Alaska. Head here between August 21st and April 21st for higher chances of spotting the aurora borealis. For impressive accommodations, check out the Aurora Borealis Lodge located 20-miles outside of Fairbanks.
Marquette, Michigan, offers breathtaking views of the Northern lights. Between October and April, the lights dance in the sky and reflect off the shores of Lake Superior.
The Northern lights are visible in the North of Minnesota between November and February. Head to Ely, Minnesota, and stay at the Birch Forest Lodge for views of the aurora borealis from the hotel beachfront.
Cherry Springs Park, Pennsylvania
Cherry Springs Park in Pennsylvania boasts dark skies that are ideal for viewing the Northern lights in September.
Canada boasts impressive views of the Northern lights from nearly every province. The best place to see the Northern lights in Canada is in the Northwest Territories because night skies are clear and, like Alaska, it is directly under the auroral oval.
You are likely to spot the Northern lights in the Northwest Territories no matter which city you go to. So head here between November and April for the best chances of spotting the light show in the sky. Most head to Yellowknife and go on Northern lights adventure tours or watch the skies from their hotel.
Whitehorse, Yukon, is a popular destination for views of the Northern lights in Northern Canada. The night skies come alive between November and March with dancing yellow, white, and green formations. For a comfortable stay at an affordable price, check out the Northern Lights Resort & Spa in Whitehorse.
While these northern provinces are the best choices for Northern lights viewing, clear nights as far as Prince Edward Island have sightings of the Northern lights too! You can also witness the aurora borealis from the northern parts of:
- British Columbia
The Northern lights are visible in nearly every part of Norway, including Oslo, from late September until early April. Head to the northernmost tip of Norway for a more secluded experience on the plethora of small islands off the coast.
For an impressive Norway Northern lights experience, hop on a train chugging along the Nordland Railway. This railway line is 729-kilometres and runs through the Nordland, from Trondheim to Bodø.
Some of the top northern Norway islands to visit to catch epic visuals of the Northern lights include:
- Bodo (Bodø)
- Tromso (Tromsø)
Iceland has inspiring views of the Northern lights for an astonishing eight months of the year, between August and April.
The aurora borealis is visible from nearly any spot in Iceland on a clear night, including the capital city of Reykjavík. However, the best place to spot these mesmerizing light displays is in a secluded spot. We recommend seeing the reflection of the Northern lights off a lake or the Norwegian Sea for some enviable photos.
The best places to see the Northern lights in Iceland include:
Head to the Westfjords of Iceland between September and March for the highest chances of seeing the Northern lights. Visit the Dynjandi waterfalls in the Westfjords town of Geirþjófsfjörður to witness the aurora borealis and a breathtaking waterfall.
Northern Iceland boasts less cloud coverage and longer hours of darkness than other parts of the country. These conditions make viewing the Northern lights much more likely. Head in any direction outside of the major city of Akureyri for beautiful vistas and virtually no light pollution.
Southern Iceland has ample opportunities for witnessing colors dance across the skies. The small island of Vestmannaeyjar offers a unique place to view the aurora borealis
Throughout the entire country of Sweden, yellow, white, and green colors can be seen in the sky from September until March.
On a rare occasion, you can see the Northern lights from Sweden’s southernmost city of Malmo. It is less rare to spot the aurora borealis in the capital city of Stolkholm, though light pollution does diminish its intensity.
The best places to see the Northern lights in Sweden are in the northernmost parts of the country. Tourists flock to these northern locations during aurora season, but the most well-known is Abisko.
Abisko National Park
Abisko National Park is in the heart of the Swedish Lapland. This area boasts the Aurora Sky Station and is renowned as one of the best places in the entire world to see the Northern lights. Why? Because Abisko has clear skies, virtually no light pollution, and is within the auroral oval.
Head to Kiruna, Sweden, and travel north to visit the Abisko National Park. For a unique stay near Kiruna, visit the ICEHOTEL. This Swedish hotel is made from ice, and you can watch the magical show in the sky from the property.
Scotland is one of the places to see the Northern lights from late August to early April. Head to the north of Scotland for the best chances of seeing these celestial displays.
The best places to see the Northern lights in Scotland include:
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park is in the central part of Northern Scotland, North East of the Trossachs. This National Park has a dark sky status and clear skies, making it an ideal location for getting picturesque views of the Northern lights.
North West Scotland
The beautiful isles of the United Kingdom offer panoramic ocean views that reflect the lights of the aurora borealis. Head to the Isle of Louis or the Isle of Harris for spectacular views of the Northern lights.
The Shetland Islands
The Shetland Islands are about as far north as you can get in the United Kingdom and are the perfect and secluded spot for viewing the Northern lights. Visit the Shetland islands between October and March for the best chances of seeing the natural light show.
Aberdeen is a small town in Aberdeenshire. Along the northeastern coast of Scotland, there are ample opportunities for viewing the Northern lights amidst breathtaking scenery. Head to Balmedie Beach just outside of Aberdeen for ocean views and dancing green skies.
The Finnish Lapland is the best place to see the Northern lights in Finland. The Lapland spans the entirety of Northern Finland and offers impressive landscapes year-round. The Finnish Lapland is also within the auroral oval. Widen your eyes at the night skies during the Aurora season from September to March.
Stay in a comfortable yurt with big windows that face the sky at the Northern Lights Village Saariselkä in the Finnish Lapland.
Some of the best places to see the Northern lights in the Finnish Lapland include:
Inari is a town in Northern Finland that has the tourism infrastructure to showcase the best of the night skies. Inari is a short flight from Helsinki and has a network of roads that make getting around on your own easy. With a strong tourism infrastructure, Northern lights hotels and tours are easy to book.
Rovaniemi is further south in the Finnish Lapland than Inari is. Rovaniemi, Finland, is within the Arctic Circle and offers impressive views of the Northern lights between August and April.
Greenland is one of the more off-the-beaten-path destinations for viewing the aurora borealis. Greenland is harder to reach than other destinations on this list since only two airline companies operate flights to the secluded island.
Despite Greenland being hard to get to, this country is one of the best places to see the Northern lights because it is located smack-dab in the auroral oval. Greenland experiences a midnight sun during the summer months.
In Greenland, the Northern lights have year-round activity but are not visible until September to March, when darkness envelops this country. June has the least amount of daylight, with 21 hours of darkness.
The best places where you can see the Northern lights in Greenland include:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, is home to Greenland’s international airport, making this the easiest location to get to for viewing the aurora borealis.
Sisimiut is on the southwestern coast of Greenland and is one of the best places to see the Northern lights. Stay at Hotel Sisimiut for comfortable 3-star accommodations and Northern lights tour packages.
Kulusuk is on the eastern coast of Greenland and has a nearby airport for relatively easy access. Head here during the spring and join the crowds of people that gather in Kulusuk to photograph and experience the aurora borealis.
Denmark is an incredible place to visit any time of the year, but the night skies burst into colors between April and September.
Like Greenland and many other Nordic countries, Denmark experiences a midnight sun during the summer months making the aurora borealis hard to see. From April to September, the nights are longer than the days offering ideal views of the dancing colors in the sky.
The best places to see the aurora borealis in Denmark include:
Kjul Strand is a beach on the northern coast of Denmark. Kjul Strand Beach offers spectacular views of the aurora borealis mirrored by the ocean.
Grenen is as far north as you can get in Denmark and an incredible place to watch the night skies dance with spectacular colors.
Sitting in the middle of the Norweigan Sea is the Danish Faroe Islands. Located between Iceland, Norway, and the United Kingdom, these islands are some of the best places to see the Northern lights. The Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 is a luxury boutique hotel with seaside views for an idyllic stay on the Faroe Islands.
The northern parts of Germany experience views of the Northern lights between January and February. Germany’s capital Berlin experiences too much light pollution to show off the colors in the sky. Head north to areas with fewer people for better views of the clear night sky.
The best places to see the Northern lights in Germany are:
Ostrügen is the place to go in Germany for the best views of the aurora borealis. This island is on the northeastern coast of Germany that is largely composed of the Biosphärenreservat Südost-Regen Nature Preserve. This protected area keeps light pollution low and offers panoramic views of the colorful night sky mirrored by the Baltic Sea.
Kiel is a medium-sized town in Northern Germany, along the shores of the Baltic Sea. Kiel skies erupt into color during the winter months; the coast faces northward, making it easy to spot the dancing colors.
Russia is a huge country with ample opportunities to see the Northern lights, especially in the northwestern parts. Daylight hours are short between September and April, and the skies are dark enough to display the celestial show.
Big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg have too much light pollution to display the colors in the sky at their best. Head to Russia’s northwest to reach the auroral oval and look to the skies.
The best places to see the aurora borealis in Russia include:
Murmansk is the top destination in Russia for aurora borealis tourism. Murmansk is in Northern Russia near the Finland border facing the Barents Sea. Far from the bright city lights of Moscow, Murmansk offers clear skies and low light pollution.
Watch the Northern lights over the scenic Lake Onega in Petrozavodsk, northwestern Russia. This small mountain resort town borders Finland and is a top spot for winter sports and chasing the aurora borealis.
Estonia is a small eastern European country where the Northern lights dance in the sky between November and March. Estonia borders multiple water sources, including the Baltic Sea, The Gulf of Finland, and the Gulf of Riga. Estonia’s scenic location makes the aurora borealis a wonder to behold.
Witness the Northern lights in Estonia in these areas:
Lahemaa National Park
Lahemaa National Park is in northern Estonia and is one of the top destinations to see the Northern lights in Estonia. The National Park protects the area from development, ensuring the night skies are not impacted by light pollution.
Hiiu County is on Hiiumaa island, a small island off the northwestern coast of Estonia. This area boasts a low population and breathtaking vistas that are ideal for staring at the night sky. This off-the-beaten-path location for night sky viewing is quaint and beautiful.
The Pakri Peninsula is on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The best town to visit is Paldiski, Estonia, a northwestern port town with unbeatable Northern lights views. Regular tours operate to the Pakri Peninsula out of the major city of Tallinn.
There are many amazing places to see the Northern lights around the world. The best places to see the Northern lights need a perfect combination of clear skies, low light pollution, and high Northern lights activity.
Head north to the auroral oval when the skies are dark enough to show off the natural colors and see the sky in a new way.
Whether you are in North America, Europe, or the Nordic Islands, there are incredible places to see the northern lights around the globe that are worth adding to your bucket list.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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