The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Northern Lights

Observing the Aurora Borealis has been on the bucket list of dedicated travelers. It deserves its reputation as one of the world’s seven natural wonders because it is an unforgettable sight that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. However, traveling without the right guide and planning can cause problems for you. Therefore, we have compiled a travel guide to help you explore Northern Lights in a fun way!

What Are The Northern Lights?

The northern lights are an astronomical happening which is a pattern of lights usually in green or aqua blue color appearing occasionally in the night sky. The northern lights do not appear everywhere, rather they appear close to the north pole which is why they are seen from certain countries only. The spectacular and aesthetic display of natural lights is a phenomenon that attracts many people to see them. There is no certainty of seeing the aurora borealis, but some applications, such as the My Aurora Forecast app, can assist narrow down the best viewing windows.

When Do The Northern Lights Occur, And Why?

When solar particles with electric charges collide with Earth’s magnetic field, the resulting display is known as the Northern Lights. This “solar wind” is drawn to the poles of a magnet of the northern and southern hemispheres, colliding with particles to produce the aurora we observe. The speed at which these particles accelerate determines how bright the lights will be.

High levels of solar activity or solar flares allow charged particles from the solar wind to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere near the poles, where they produce the dazzling display known as the Northern Lights. Particles are ionized and ‘stimulated’ as a result of this process. The ionized particles cause the lights to spin and flash across the sky in various colors, including the signature green.

Where Can You See The Northern Lights?

Known as the auroral oval, it is an elliptical shape around the earth’s magnetic poles where the Northern Lights can be seen circling the globe. Maximum visibility of the lights is expected within the oval. Due to this reason, the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively, are good choices. Northern areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Canada, as well as Svalbard and the rest of the Arctic and Antarctic, are included.

When Do The Northern Lights appear?

Technically, auroras occur throughout the year which is why all you need is some darkness to see them. In the Arctic and other places where the sun stays up year-round, summers are spent with no sunsets. This renders it impossible to observe them at that time. Therefore, March to September are the optimal months.

Statistics show that the strongest geomagnetic storms, and thus the most vivid auroras, occur around the autumnal (September 22) and vernal (March 20) equinoxes. At these times, you can enjoy both daytime and nighttime, as well as mild temperatures. We recommend the last week of September because it’s warm enough to spend the night outside. You should plan for temperatures of -10 C or below during the peak of winter. Yet another common misunderstanding is that perceiving them must be quite chilly. Cold weather has nothing to do with it as all you need is clear, black skies.

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5 Best Places to See the Northern Lights

The following are 5 of the best places to see the northern lights. Follow this guide to explore more about the area and residing options.

Tromso, Norway

northern lights norway
Tromso, Norway. Creator: Svein-Magne Tunli

For a truly amazing and spectacular display of the Northern Lights in Europe, there is no better spot than Tromso. There is a broad range of inexpensive flights, tours, and places to stay in the area. Tromso, in northern Norway, has ideal conditions for viewing the Green Light on any clear night of the year.

The most magnificent show you’ll ever see is put on by the Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway, making it one of the top recommendations for seeing the phenomenon. This place has the highest probability of visible aurora. There are different types of tours as well such as the Amazing Aurora Tour which you can book for a guided tour of the northern lights.

You can stay warm and cozy in one of several hotels, from budget to five-star, in the center of Tromso, many of which have large windows facing north. The Svart Hotel is the world’s first energy-positive hotel, and we highly recommend it. This hotel, located in the heart of Tromso, offers guests a stylish and distinctive place to stay. Hotel guests will appreciate the hotel’s proximity to some of the city’s most popular attractions and contemporary aesthetics. Guests of the Svart hotel have access to a wide variety of delicious and well-made drinks and snacks. A bar offers drinks and bar snacks, and a restaurant serves international cuisine. The Svart Hotel has a starting nightly cost of 999 Norwegian Krone (NOK).

Even while stargazing is a popular pastime in Troms, the city offers much more, including the breathtaking Arctic Cathedral. Between the last week of January and the first week of February, the capital city hosts the Northern Lights Festival, a 10-day music, and performance art festival. Those interested in the Northern Lights have a few options: they may go alone, sign up for a guided Northern Lights Safari, or take an exciting husky trekking experience through the Arctic.

Yellowknife, Canada

Yellowknife Northern Lights. Courtesy: Picasa 2.7

Yellowknife is often regarded as the best place in North America to witness the Northern Lights. Because of its location in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the city has excellent views of the Arctic Circle. Many opportunities exist in Yellowknife for viewing the Aurora Borealis. Though taking a guided tour to see the Northern Lights is a fantastic option, independent travel is also possible. On time, you can get a magnificent view of the Lights from any of the city’s frozen lakes. Wear warm clothing and have a way to get around like a snowmobile before stepping out.

In the winter, Yellowknife is a great destination for ice fishing on Great Slave Lake and cross-country skiing trails. Yellowknife has a festival called the Long John Jamboree on Yellowknife Bay at the end of March to welcome the arrival of spring. Sugar shack tours, ice carving, and dog sled races are just some exciting activities you may enjoy.

Once you arrive, we recommend getting suitable lodging at a priority such as the Aurora Hotel. It is located in the heart of the city and offers its guests a wide variety of services and amenities. The hotel boasts a total of 212 rooms, all equipped with modern amenities. There is also a nightclub, a heated pool, a spa, an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, and a casino on-site. The menu offers standard American fare and more unusual dishes, such as Gulf of Mexico lobster. While menu items vary in price, an entrée-sized glass of wine or beer is included with every order. The hotel is home to a wide variety of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world and traditional Norwegian dishes. You can usually find a place to stay for the night for under NOK 1,000.

Lapland, Finland

Northern Lights in Lapland, Finland.
Northern Lights in Lapland, Finland. Creator: Simo Rasanen

Norwegian auroras are more usually referred to as Finnish auroras. You can visit them at Rovaniemi or anywhere in Lapland. Lapland is the northernmost region of Europe, situated above the Arctic Circle. Finnish skies are clear enough for viewing the northern lights on roughly 20% of evenings. Visitors worldwide come to see the city’s various wintertime attractions, such as its many Northern Lights viewing spots, each year.

Statistically, the southern half of Finland was the best bet for viewing the Northern Lights, but now the northern half is far more likely. The more north you go, you will likely see the green aurora lights.

You can see the lights between September and March when the nights are long and dark. Moreover, you can observe them whenever the weather permits. Exciting activities such as husky mushing are offered for your enjoyment. Try this if the thought of enduring the nighttime cold to view the aurora leaves you with cold feet.

You can enjoy the Northern Lights from the comfort of your duvet thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the end of each bed at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel. Relax with a beverage from the hotel’s café, take a nap in one of the comfortable guest rooms, or take advantage of the spa, fitness center, and sauna. The Arctic TeaHouse Hotel is perfect if you want to unwind during your visit. There are 12 rooms available for guests, including a spa and a restaurant providing both Nordic and international cuisine. At the very least, a night at the Arctic Tea House will set you back 1,099 Euros.

Fairbanks, Alaska

northern lights fairbanks alaska
Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Kodachron

Fairbanks, Alaska, is home to some of the greatest views of the Northern Lights in the continental United States. The city, located in the state’s northern region, provides an excellent vantage point from which to observe the Aurora Borealis. March in Fairbanks often has pleasant temperatures and little precipitation, making it a great month for a trip.

Remember, though, that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and may cause you to shift your schedule. It is not unusual for them to be visible as far south as the Matanuska-Susitna Valley or even in Anchorage during very impressive outbursts. Visitors may count on seeing the lights every five clear nights during the aurora season (21 August – 21 April). Dark pink, green, or yellow sparkles characterize the Northern Lights on a clear night in Fairbanks.

In most cases, auroras are too dim to read, but at their most impressive displays, they can be bright enough to read a newspaper. Stop by Santa and the elves in the North Pole on your way out of Fairbanks.

The Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks is a wonderful place to stay while you are in Fairbanks. It provides all the amenities you might want for a relaxing evening after a busy day. The Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks is situated in a prime location, close to the city’s main attractions, including restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. The hotel’s convenient location is one of its strongest selling points, but its big suites’ high-speed Internet access, LED TVs with cable channels, and private bathrooms with showers and bathtubs are what truly set them apart. Each day starts with a complimentary breakfast, and a fitness center is also available.

It doesn’t matter if you’re here on business or vacation; you’ll have a fantastic experience at this hotel. There is a minimum nightly charge of $141 making it a much more budget-friendly option compared to others.

Abisko, Sweden

Northern Lights in Abisko
Northern Lights in Abisko. Photo by US Embassy Sweden.

Abisko, a small village in Lapland, is often regarded as an excellent location from which to observe the Northern Lights. The lack of artificial light and proximity to the Arctic Circle makes the town a great spot to see the Northern Lights.

The optimum time to visit Abisko is in late September or early April when you can take advantage of the longer daylight hours. However, you might catch a peek at them in August or May. In Abisko, seeing the Aurora Borealis by going on a husky safari and Northern Lights excursion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On a safari that lasts between three and four hours, you’ll get to experience the excitement of dog sledding while traversing the stunning landscape of Sweden.

Some of Sweden’s most luxurious hotels are located within the stunning Abisko National Park. Visitors visiting Abisko can choose from a wide range of hotels, from rustic ski lodges to luxurious five-star establishments. Abisko’s most popular hotels and their accompanying rates are mentioned below. The average cost of a night at the historic Kvikkjokk Hotel is around SEK 280. Scandic Resort Kiruna is another five-star hotel in the vicinity, with standard rooms available for about SEK 420 (about $42) per night.

The resort’s 165 standard rooms and 10 suites mean it can accommodate large groups as well as couples looking for a quiet retreat. For around SEK 160, the Radisson Blu Hotel Kumlinge provides similarly equipped ordinary rooms. There are 164 rooms and 5 suites available at this hotel, making it perfect for vacationing families, romantic getaways, and business trips.

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How to Have The Best Experience of Viewing The Northern Lights?

Now that we’ve narrowed down the potential destinations and determined when we’d have the highest chance of seeing the Northern Lights, we can focus on learning more about the best places to go and other helpful hints for making the most of your trip.

Keeping An Eye On The Weather

Weather is the primary determinant of your experience; it can truly be your angel or devil.
As the Northern Lights are caused by the collision of solar particles with Earth’s atmosphere, they can only be seen during times of high solar activity. For a naked-eye view, you’ll need a sky that’s as cloudless as possible, given the lights themselves are high above the atmosphere. Even if solar activity is high, clouds will obscure your view.


Countries located within the Arctic Circle are known for their high prices. Seeing the lights will require a longer and more costly trip. In any case, the following tips will help you plan your perfect vacation without breaking the bank. Get where you’re going safely by picking a good starting point where you can travel without hassle. With this in mind, it is essential that you meticulously plan your trip to make the most of your opportunities within the constraints of your budget. For Example; Even in the winter, Norway, Sweden, and Finland are all very accessible due to their well-developed public transportation systems.

Get Your Bags Ready

When preparing for a northern winter, there are a few items that may not be obvious to those who aren’t used to enduring -20 degree weather. Many things that seem essential at first glance are, in reality, superfluous. Selecting a suitable set of luggage is the first step. If you plan on exploring the mountains, you should bring as much warm clothing as possible, starting with thermal underlayers, and working your way up to winter boots and snow trousers.

Additional Essentials

You will use your gadgets outside, therefore a power bank is necessary, as batteries have a terrible technical aspect of quickly losing all their charge in the cold. However, a tripod is also needed if you want to shoot images of the Northern lights. Northern winters are long and gloomy. Also, if you’re going to be out in the countryside, don’t forget to pack a headlamp.

Download the Aurora Prediction Application

Keep calm and download the Aurora app which brings you all the weather information in one spot. We recommend downloading the My Aurora Forecast app. You will see a simple user interface where you can enter your location, and the app will tell you about the sun’s and clouds’ positions and activities in that area. The Kp value, cloudiness, and visibility are all displayed.

Plan To Stay For a Week

If possible, spend a week at one of these locations to increase your odds and exclude days with bad weather. One week is ideal, with at least three days devoted to viewing the actual lights.

Safety Precautions While Visiting Northern Lights

Follow these safety tips in order to have a safe traveling experience when visiting the Northern Lights.

  • Keep Clothes With a Thermal Base — Countries near the Arctic Circle have a temperate climate, but the weather can change quickly, so it’s important to dress in layers.
  • Be Sure to Carry Reflectors at All Times — Because of the long periods of darkness in these places (from which we benefit by being able to view the stunning northern lights), reflectors are a necessity. They allow you to remain somewhat visible in the dark, which can be useful for a number of reasons, including making it easier to keep track of you.
  • Inform Another Person About Your Plans — This safety recommendation applies to your travels everywhere in the world. We also recommend sharing your location with another person so that they are always informed.
  • Keep Yourself Up to Date For The Weather Conditions — Storms can move quickly and produce high winds. Seismic activity, avalanches, and other natural disasters are commonplace, and heavy rain is a constant worry for residents.
  • Keep Your Own Source Of Light — What you need to bring along on your trip is likely to vary greatly based on your destination and your plans while there. The most common piece of gear advice for nocturnal adventures is a torch or headlamp.

To Wrap Things Up

If you don’t happen to reside in any of the abovementioned locations, seeing the northern lights will be an unforgettable experience. Neither of these factors is within our sphere of influence, therefore all we can do is wish for good weather on the day of your visit. If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, you should plan to spend at least two nights in the vicinity. Most popular destinations also offer a selection of excursions led by professional travel companies who can give you insider tips on the best times and places to explore.

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Areas and Best Time to Explore Northern Lights

  1. Lofoten Islands
  2. Svalbard
  3. North Cape
  4. Kirkenes
  5. Tromso
  6. Geirangerfjord
  7. Longyearbyen
  8. Nordkapp (North Cape)
  9. Andalsnes
September and March when it’s dark all day and night long. 
North Sweden 
  1. Kiruna
  2. Abisko
  3. Jukkasjarvi
  4. Laponia
  5. Karesuando
  6. Pajala
December and March
North Finland
  1. Rovaniemi
  2. Ruka
  3. Levi
  4. Saariselka
  5. Ivalo
  6. Kevo, Finnish Lapland
  7. Sörnäinen, Helsinki
  8. Inari, Finnish Lapland (Enontekiö)
September to early March
Northern Canada
  1. Yellowknife
  2. Churchill
  3. Alberta
April to September
Alaska, USA
  1. Fairbanks
  2. Ester
  3. Haystack Mountain
  4. Murphy Domes
  5. Wickersham.
  6. Utqiagvik
Mid-September to late April.
Scotland, UK
  1. John O’Groats
  2. Orkney Islands
  3. Shetland
  4. Lerwick, Shetland Islands (Hollingsworth Bay)
  5. Elgol, Isle of Skye
October to March


Exploring Northern Lights - FAQs

Where can you see The Northern Lights most visibly?

You can visit Norway for a crystal clear view of the Northern Lights. Places like Lofoten Islands, Svalbard, North Cape, and Kirkenes are popular places in Norway to see the Northern Lights.

Where can you see the Northern Lights in Canada?

Yellowknife, Churchill, and Alberta are three of the most popular places to view the Northern Lights in Canada between the months of April to September.

What are the factors that determine the view of The Northern Lights?

The view of Northern Lights depends on clear skies, season, and pollution.

Umar Ali
As editor in chief, I am always on the road, searching for hidden gems, undiscovered waterfalls, enticing hikes to explore, underrated delis, and more. Crafting compelling content that captures the true essence of each place is my passion. With years of experience in travel journalism, I strive to provide unbiased and factual content based on my real-life experiences. When I'm not out exploring, you can find me delving into local markets and devouring new foods, immersing myself in the cultures and communities that make each destination unique. It might sound like a tough job, but I love it!

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