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Best places to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is a magical natural phenomenon in shades of green, blue and sometimes red, that only occurs in the northern hemisphere.

What causes the Northern Lights?

Many studies have been devoted to it, but simply put, what you see is the reaction of electricity-charged particles from the sun sent to earth by the solar wind, which collide with parts of the outer atmosphere, with oxygen and nitrogen. The amount of charged particles shot into space along with the speed of the solar wind determine how likely it is to see this natural phenomenon and in what strength.

Collisions with oxygen at more than about 300 kilometers altitude produces beautiful red auras, nitrogen at lower altitudes makes you see blue light, and when particles collide with this gas at even higher altitudes, brilliant purple and violet hues are created. When these colors are mixed in the air, there is also a chance of seeing the colors pink and white.

A fairytale experience

To experience this colorful spectacle in person was always high on my wish list. In April 2023, my dream finally came true. I was lucky enough to admire the bright dancing lights of the aurora twice(!) during my adventures in Swedish Lapland. Above the frozen Lule River in Luleå, I enjoyed swarming green streaks that finally broke up like a falling curtain in the night sky. A fairy-tale experience that will stay with me forever!

Can’t wait to experience this extraordinary light show for yourself? Then you’re in luck! We have entered a new solar cycle that researchers predict will become one of the most powerful ever with spectacular auroras that we can enjoy until about 2027. This means chances of seeing this unique phenomenon are high in the coming years, so book your trip shortly and start looking forward to this unforgettable experience! To get you started, we’ve listed the eight best places in the world to observe Aurora Borealis:


Rugged Alaska is sparsely populated and therefore has little light pollution, making the far north, the Arctic, a perfect location to witness the Aurora Borealis. Fairbanks, located about 240 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle and the pristine Denali National Park offer the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights when the sky is clear.

Other activities: visit the cities of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, relax in hot springs, go cross-country skiing and explore the landscape of the fjords.

Best travel time: from mid-August to the end of April.


The aurora borealis is regularly spotted in much of northern Canada, but the best spots for it can be found in the very remote Northwest Territories. One of my colleagues was traveling in Yukon last March and he was lucky enough to witness the sky lit up in every color imaginable. Reportedly it was the most spectacular aurora in years.

Other activities: visit capital city Whitehorse, traverse mysterious gold mining towns, hike in Kluane National Park and Miles Canyon nature preserve, visit Takhini Hot Springs and marvel at the striking Sign Post Forest with road signs from around the world.

Best travel time: from late August to mid-April.

Finnish Lapland

Due to minimal light pollution, the northern lights are visible as many as 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland, the area bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. You can witness it from your luxurious tent at Aurora Glamping or in a glass Aurora Cabin at Northern Lights Village Saariselka or Lev.

Other activities: visit Santa Claus in Rovaniemie with your children or take a husky safari or snowmobile ride.

Best travel time: from early September to late March.


Travel from Reykjavik through Iceland’s diverse landscapes. Good places to admire the northern lights are the Snæfelsness Peninsula, Thingvellir National Park, the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara.

Other activities: go snowkiting and ice fishing, hike through the lava-covered Landmannalaugar valley on the edge of the Hekla volcano and drive the panoramic route the ‘Golden Circle’.

Best travel time: from early September to late April.


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Greenland is largely within the Arctic Circle, hence it is a prime location to witness Aurora Borealis. The best place for this is in the small town of Kangerlussuaq.

Other activities: meet the Inuit and visit the Russel Glacier in Kangerlussuaq.

Best travel time: from September to early April.

Swedish Lapland

I saw the northern lights in Luleå, the place where the Luler River meets the Bothnia Sea. Other famous places to spot this light spectacle include Kiruna and Abisko National Park where the Aurora Sky Station is stationed. Jokkmokk, Jukkasjärvi and Porjus are also great places to see the northern lights.

Other activities: go ice skating and ice stepping on the frozen Bothnia Sea in Luleå, try ice fishing and ice bathing, take a tour by snowmobile or husky and meet the Sami.

Best travel time: from early December to early April.


With a location right under the Northern Lights oval and a stable continental climate with clear skies, the northern lights are visible most nights in Alta. Tromsø, located above the Arctic Circle in the center of the aurora zone and the remote Svalbard archipelago off the coast of Norway are also great places to see the northern lights. Preferably from your bed in an “aurora dome” or during a night in an igloo hotel.

Other activities: spot polar bears, arctic foxes and reindeer in the Svalbard archipelago, conquer the snow by fatbike, meet the Sami, go ice fishing and join the unique twelve-day ‘Huritgruten’ cruise along the characteristic Norwegian fjord coast.

Best travel time: from mid-August to the end of April.


There are nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites on Skye, making it one of the best places in Scotland for stargazing and seeing the Northern Lights. Further north, you can also see the northern lights in Shetland, Orkney and Caithness.

Other activities: visit the mystical stone circle of Stone of Stennes and the ancient settlement of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands, monumental rock formations and unique cultural heritage in the Shetland Islands.

Best travel time: from early October to late March.

Jozef Verbruggen is Director and Owner of Untamed Travelling. Untamed Travelling is a travel designer that specializes in high-end bespoke travel experiences around the globe.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Jozef Verbruggen

After a career in the music industry, Jozef Verbruggen started traveling and guiding in Africa. As a traveler in heart and soul, it was there where the desire to share the authentic experience of a destination arose. The result is Untamed Travelling, a private travel designer specialized in high-end bespoke travel experiences around the globe. Whether you want to go on safari to spot unique wildlife, look forward to meeting indigenous tribes, long for a honeymoon off the beaten path or want to experience a self-drive through unexplored territory… the passionate travel experts of Untamed Travelling design customized journeys to optimally cater to the individual needs of each traveler. They stand for high quality, extensive knowledge, personal service, small-scale accommodations, professional guidance and unique travel experiences. Where the world can’t find you…

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  1. Is there any travel experience with so much mystique and folklore?

    I’ve known people who’ve planned detailed trips to track down the Northern Lights and seen nothing. Meanwhile their friends in Birmingham UK have seen the lights whilst putting their bins out.

  2. I’ve always seen a search for the Northern Lights as a big gamble. I could use up a lot of days from my annual leave and also spend a lot of money and still not see the lights.

    This is a great post as it gives a lot of useful info and improves the odds of a sighting.

    1. There is a danger that you can
      become too fixated on one goal on your travels. You could have a great time at all of the places listed without ever seeing the Northern Lights. My advice would be to enjoy the journey and if you see the Northern Lights then count yourself as blessed.

    1. Hi Leo, you can observe Aurora Australis in more places, such as the southern tips of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Antarctica. Although the most comfortable way to admire the Southern Lights is on the Australian island of Tasmania, like Ellen did.

  3. Are the any stats on the Northern Lights? It would be valuable to have a quantitative approach. How many hours a year are you likely to see the Northern Lights in different locations? Are there any Northern Lights league tables??

    1. Hi Gerald, unfortunately not, because the factors that causes the Northern Lights vary. Predicting an Auroral display is only possible a few hours before it occurs since the interaction of solar wind with the Earth’s magnetic field is crucial.

  4. Wow, witnessing the spectacular aurora borealis in the remote Northwest Territories must have be an incredible experience! But I can’t help but wonder, are there any otherworldly phenomena or natural wonders in the Yukon that could rival the awe-inspiring display of the northern lights?

    1. Hi William, I was in Yukon this winter and besides the northern lights, there are so many natural wonders to experience, for example flying above the frozen Kuane glaciers, on the way seeing packs of wolves roaming the area. Or driving on frozen lakes on a snowscooter or hysky-sled. Or heliskiing on some mountains nobody has skied before. There’s also amazing wildlife and lots of national parks. Of course in winter (during the northern lights) these parks are less accessibele, but that’s why i would love to comeback to the Yukon during summer and experience towns like Whitehorse, Klondik and Dawson and hike in the national parks.

  5. Recently two couples we know have travelled in search of the Northern Lights and returned disappointed.

    The Northern Lights are top of our Travel Bucket Lists but as we’re retired and on pensions we don’t have a huge travel bucket so we are going our research to maximise our chances of getting a sighting.

    Consequently we found this post really very helpful.

  6. It makes a big difference with the new blog site that you can get to read about the author and get a little acquainted with them.

    I really like the sound of Untamed Travelling. It sort of ties in with the way that I like to do things. Interesting that Jozef started out in music and was drawn to travel.

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