Are you that person who is enthusiastic with watching “Northern Lights” or Aurora Borealis? The memories created by seeing the unearthly colors and listening to the heavenly sounds far up in the sky, above the snowy Arctic wilderness, are life-long. But again, which is the best place to grasp the memories of this phantasmagorical phenomenon? Here are some suggestions for you to consider…
The name Aurora comes from the Roman goddess of dawn. It happens once there is a collision between the materials thrown off the sun’s surface and the charged particles on the Earth’s surface. When this collision happens the ionosphere gases start to glow and this cause these unimaginably beautiful lights, Aurora Borealis to be seen. They have a period of high and low activity. These make a total 11-year cycle.
It is tough to accurately predict when the Aurora will occur but we can give advice on the places where you can get the best places where you can see the Lights and also what you can alternatively do when the show does not occur.
1. Svalbard, Norway
Svalbard is conveniently high. Its high altitude gives you a bigger chance of seeing the Lights. The Northern Lights here are experienced majorly between the months of November and February. However, most of the visitors that do come to this place are attracted by the Polar Night phenomenon. Svalbard experiences all night times between mid-November and towards end of January. These no daylight situation lets you see even the lightest Aurora. The visitors that come at a time when the daylight is back can see reindeer, walrus, and polar bears- according to Frozen Planet.
How to get there: Find flights flying to Oslo, Norway and then find a connection to Svalbard. As flights to Oslo would be a lot cheaper.
More details about how to reach there, where to stay and the status of norther lights visibility can be found here : Svalbard Islands, Norway
2. Kakslauttanen, Finland
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is located in Finnish Lapland. From here you can enjoy the view of the Lights while still relaxing in your traditional log cabin that has sauna and open fire. If it turns out that the lights do not appear, you have other fun things to engage yourself in. you may for instance decide to participate in snowy activities like rein deer safari or go ahead visit the Urho National Park.
How to get there: The best way to reach there is to find a flight to Ivalo (IVL), which is 30 minutes shuttle bus ride away from Kakslauttanen. Ivalo is currently served by Finnair and Norwegian. There are no direct flights from USA to Ivalo, You can however gat a flight from New York, Miami and Philadelphia which will stop in Helsinki (HEL) which range from USD 500 – 800 in winters. Then from Helsinki, you can fly directly to the North.
3. Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
The Jukkasjarvi village in Kiruna region of Sweden houses the first ice hotel. Jukkasjarvi is one of th emost popular tourist destination in winter months because of the Aurora (the northern lights) and also because of the Icehotel. On your way to see the Northern Lights, you will get an opportunity to tour the Esrange Space Center. In case the Aurora is not visible, you will still get to admire the starry skies of Sweden. At the same time, you can see the Lights while doing fun activities in winter like snowmobiling.
How to get there: This northern part of Sweden is quite remote. First of all you will fly to Stockholm and then get to Kiruna by using one of the following means: taking a train, driving, or flying.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik is a cost friendly place that is accessible, from where you can see the Northern Lights. This place is more polarized. 5% of GDP in Iceland comes from tourists with highest number of tourists coming from United Kingdom, followed by USA and Germany. This was due to the fact that Aurora B. Lights had a peak season. Besides watching the magical Lights, you can do many other activities in Iceland. Snowmobiling and skiing can perfectly be done in the Blue Lagoon that is hot throughout the year. There are Game of Thrones locations from where you can carry out Iceland hunting.
How to get there: The cost of accommodation in Reykjavik is quite high. You can check out sweeter deals from Skyscanner hotels. Traveling from USA – Delta Airlines, Iceland Air and Wow Air offer direct flights, flight times ranging from 5 – 7 hours from The USA and 3 – 5 hours from UK. It is possible to fly from Reykjavik to Greenland. The Aurora from here is visible from the months of late September to early April.
5. Northern Canada
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is one of the top tourist destination for view Aurora because it lies directly in the auroral oval and with flat land there are no obstructions in viewing it. The beauty of the place is that the “Aurora Oval” is visible in most parts of the country. These include the following places in the provinces: Whitehorse – Yukon, Iqaluit – Nunavut, Churchill – Manitoba, British Columbia, Northern Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northwest Territories. There are high chances of you seeing the Lights here and at the same time have lots of activities to do for the rest of the holiday. Such activities include: snowmobiling, skiing and maple syrup. The Geographic region of Canada has amazing Dark Sky Finder and map of aurora locations. You may also consider visiting Toronto, Ontario and Canadian Rockies and Lake Louise, Alberta as there are some great places to see in Canada. Visiting Canada is more costly than any of the above-mentioned places due to the high flight costs.
How to get there: Canada has 73 airports making it easier to get there.
6. Scotland, United kingdom
You do not have to travel far for you to see the Northern Lights. Scotland has quite a number of places where you can find dark sky at northerly latitudes. In case the Lights do not appear, you can do other activities such as on-spec Lights chase. The Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park is perfect for winter adventure as well. The huskies hope that there will be snow during the annual Aviemore Sleddog Rally.
How to get there: Find flights to London’s Heathrow airport (which one of the world’s busiest airport) or Gatwick Airport or to Birmingham and then drive to Edinburgh or Glasgow. It takes around 7hrs from central London to Glasgow; and around 7 hours to Edinburgh. Then take a train to Aviemore or take a flight to Inverness if you want to get far north. London is very well connected to Scotland – so if you decide to take a train i can take around 4 hours 30 mins from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh and 4 hours 20 mins to Glasgow. As you travel, you will be enjoying beautiful views.
7. Alaska, USA
Fairbanks in Alaska , which lies right above the Arctic circle has the best chances of viewing northern lights in Alaska, which one of the best places to view Aurora in the United States. The best times to visit Fairbanks is from late fall to winter through early springs. Viewing the lights from a hot spring in the cold weather will be a perfect way to enjoy the time there. In winters the days are short and with clear skies the northern lights look amazing. While during early spring time the days start getting longer with more day light time, you can get to also enjoy the beautiful snowy landscapes. Geophysical Institute researchers recommend Chena Hot Springs Resort and Manley Hot Springs, if you want to soak yourself in hot springs. Chena Resort is better connected to the Fairbank’s Airport and is better equipped.
How to get there: Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) has non-stops flights all year rounds through airlines like Alaska Air Lines, Delta Air Lines and Ravn Alaska and also offers non-stop flights to Europe.
Share your experience, viewing northern light to any of these or any other places with us. We would love to know about your journey.