12 Best Places to See the Northern Lights
Wondering where to view the magical dance of the aurora borealis? Read on to discover the best places to see the is natural phenomenon across the globe.
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Witnessing the ethereal beauty of the northern lights is the ultimate bucket-list experience. And Sortland is the perfect place to turn your fantasies into reality. In addition to celestial pursuits, there’s all kinds of frosty action. Choose between cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Or maybe whale watching is more your speed.
Whitehorse lures adventurers with its vast wilderness. But, perhaps, the biggest selling point—at least for aurora hunters—is the dazzling display of magenta, green, and turquoise that illuminates the sky each winter. Also on the docket when the thermometer dips? Walk the Millenium Trail, embark on an aerial expedition over Kluane National Park, and relish a soak at Takhini Hot Springs.
Prefer a domestic destination? Fairbanks is ranked the top spot in the U.S. to see the northern lights. You’ll find plenty to do besides chasing the prismatic spectacle. Whether you prefer dog mushing, thermal springs, or ice cream (there’s an entire museum dedicated to everyone’s favorite frozen treat), Fairbanks delivers. Traveling with the kiddos? Carve out a couple of hours for Pioneer Park. Check out these 40 stunning photos of national parks covered in snow.
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With hundreds of clear nights, the odds of spying the aurora borealis in Luleå are excellent. However, nothing is guaranteed, especially when it comes to weather. If you miss the stunning show, sipping authentic fika at cozy cafés and taking a lantern tour of Gammelstad Church Town are still epic consolation prizes.
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Rovaniemi, aka the “official home of Santa Claus,” has more to offer than reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobile tours. (Still, that sounds awesome.) Its proximity to the Arctic Circle makes this winter wonderland sublime for catching a glimpse of the northern lights. Not sure where to stay? Hedge your bets for a brilliant night by reserving a glass igloo. Find out what it’s really like to spend the night in an ice hotel.
Urbanites dreaming of the glowing aurora should consider Nuuk. Greenland’s capital pledges plenty of opportunities for peeping the celestial pageantry. Far from the only draw, this emerging city also has a flair for the creative with futuristic facades, sculptures, and street murals. And the colorful waterfront is just icing on the already photogenic cake.
Not only is Tromsø the largest city in northern Norway, but it’s also one of your best shots at seeing the elusive display. From September to March, polar nights and the promise of twirling luminaries tempt folks across the globe. Meanwhile, the days are filled with frigid fun, from dog sledding to sailing through the fjords. Check out these 12 charming snow-covered towns perfect for a winter getaway.
Borðeyri is situated in the sparsely populated Westfjords region. Tons of open space and a refreshing lack of light pollution make this small settlement one of the premier places in Iceland to admire the aurora borealis. Plus, how many people can say they’ve visited a village with just 25 residents?
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Bodø is a great locale to begin your northern lights pilgrimage, as this otherworldly sight is visible on clear evenings from September to April. The most magnificent vantage point to admire the brilliant ribbons speeding through the sky? Mount Rønvikfjellet. Bundle up for the brisk stroll to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with uninterrupted views. Here are 10 more vacation ideas for people who love cold-weather activities.
Regina entices cultural enthusiasts and stargazers alike. This regional capital is home to a variety of interesting attractions, including the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, MacKenzie Art Gallery, and Globe Theatre. Of course, those hoping to glance at the glory of the aurora borealis in all its luminous splendor won’t be disappointed either. These are the most popular vacation spots in Canada.
Jukkasjärvi is known for the original Icehotel, which features rooms and suites designed by artists from around the world, plus a Swedish fusion restaurant and cocktail bar. But this tiny village is a big name in the northern lights game too. It also boasts one of the oldest wooden churches in the area.
In Saariselkä, the aurora season lasts a whopping eight months, from late August until the end of April. (We’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor before we continue.) Beyond enjoying a front-row seat to nature’s lustrous show, travelers can go skiing in Urho Kekkonen National Park and hunker down in log chalets at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Next, don’t miss these destinations that are even better in the winter.
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