The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most majestic artistic displays. The neon glow of the aurora dancing in the dark sky has captured the curiosity of humans around the globe. The Northern Lights occur when charged particles from the sun become trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The colours of the northern lights are most times pink, green, yellow, blue, violet, and occasionally orange and white. This happens when the particles interact with different gasses such as when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced and with nitrogen red, violet, and occasionally blue colours are produced.
You can see Northern lights anywhere with a magnetic latitude above 55° and very low light pollution. The best time is winter due to the extended hours of darkness and dark clear sky. Many places have Northern Lights forecasts so you can plan your trip. Are you planning on booking a holiday online to see the phenomenon that is Northan Lights? If you are you will want to check out these ten places…
Home to glaciers, geysers, massive waterfalls, and volcanoes, Iceland is a great place to visit and there are many places to see the auroras from here. Including Seltjarnarnes in Reykjavik, Vik, Látrabjarg/Westfjords, Eldborgahraun, Djúpavík. Pingvellir National Park. The Kirkjufell mountain is a great place to observe the northern lights. You can appreciate the auroras from hot tubs, inside Bubble lodges and hot spring lagoons. And if you observe them from a beach, the reflection on the water creates a great photo opportunity.
Norway is a naturally blessed country with its numerous fjords, beautiful scenery and the Lyngen Alps. There are many hotspots to watch northern lights in Norway, from Svalbard to Tromsø to the Lofoten Islands, Harstad, Bodo, Alta, Andoya, and Lakselv. The Norwegian Coast also offers a great view of the auroras but it can be hard to reach. The best places would be Svalbard and Tromsø. The village Ersfjordbotn, 12 miles from Tromsø, is also a great option. In Norway, you can enjoy colourful auroras from the comfort of your cabin.
3. Northern Canada
The Northern region of Canada is an aurora-viewing paradise from Yellowknife, to Yukon, to Northwest Territories, Northern Hudson Bay and Nunavut. Though Yellowknife, Yukon and Churchill are considered the best places to see northern lights in Canada. The lights are visible 300 nights a year in Churchill, Manitoba and you can also catch a glimpse or two of polar bears. Wood Buffalo and Jasper National Park also have low light pollution, resulting in magnificent views of auroras in the dark sky.
4. Alaska, USA
With cold weather, clear skies, dark nights, Alaska is located just two degrees below the Arctic making it an ideal place to see the auroras. Fairbanks located close to the Denali National Park, in the aurora oval is the best place to observe the natural phenomenon. Other places include Frederick Sound and Southeast Alaska. Alaska even has its own forecast system and offers tours to take visitors far from city lights.
5. Sweden & Finland
Once you have gotten away from the city lights, most of Sweden is optimal. Northern Sweden is the best bet though, generally from the Northern border with Norway to Jokkmokk. Kiruna is the northernmost town of Sweden, and you can observe the auroras from the ice hotel, Abisko, Tärendö, Jukkasjärvi, and Farnebofjarden National Park. Jukkasjärvi is the most considered place when it comes to observing the auroras in Sweden.
In Finland, you can see the auroras from just about anywhere away from the lights. Northern lights are visible nearly 200 days of the year in Finland. Kakslauttanen, Luosto, Lapland and Rovaniemi are considered the best places in Finland to see the dancing auroras.
A large part of Russia lies within the Arctic Circle which makes it another place ideal to watch the auroras. The town of Murmansk in the Kola Peninsula is a great place to see the northern lights and it is also easy to access. Siberia is another great location but you have to bear with the freezing cold. Other regions include Arkhangelsk and Petrozavodsk.
Although Scotland is not particularly close to the Arctic Circle it does have more than a few locations where you can see the magical auroras. In particular, Caithness (in the north), Aberdeen, Galloway Forest Park and Moray Coast are the best places to see the northern lights in Scotland, UK.
While in other countries the more northern the better, in Greenland if you go too north you will exit the aurora zone, so Southern Greenland is the ideal region. Ilulissat, Kulusuk and Nuuk are the best places to see the auroras in Greenland. Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut are the other places where you can also spot the auroras.
9. Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand
In places like Australia and New Zealand, the colourful lights dancing in the night sky are called Southern Lights (aurora australis). These lights can be seen closer to the horizon instead of high in the skies like the Northern Lights. There are a few locations to see auroras from the Southern Hemisphere and apart from Antartica, Tasmania and the Southern tip of New Zealand are the best places.
10. The Faroe Islands, Denmark
If you want to see the colourful auroras blending with some of the most dramatic scenarios, The Faroe Islands are the perfect place. With gigantic lakes set atop mountains, waterfalls, rugged mountains cliff and really friendly people, this group of 18 islands are best known for Puffins. And with low light pollution and population, The Faroe Islands are a great place to watch the auroras.
Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? If you have why not tell us where you were in the comments below.