The Northern Lights are on many people’s bucket lists (and social media feeds) and remain a breathtaking sight each time.
So, it’s perfectly reasonable that you might feel a tinge of FOMO and want to see the wondrously painted night sky in person. But where and when to see the Northern Lights?
Luckily, aurora borealis can be seen worldwide, including some of the best Christmas towns in the USA! Get your camera ready and keep reading to find out when and where to see Northern Lights.
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Best Time to See the Northern Lights
Most people assume winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights, but that’s not entirely true. In actual fact, the dancing skies are on show throughout the whole year.
The ideal time to visit the global North is when they experience their ‘Polar Nights’ when some places experience prolonged stretches of darkness. Countries near the Arctic Circle, like Norway, can even experience 24 hours of total darkness.
Because they only need darkness and a clear sky, you can see the aurora borealis dance from August to April in many places.
If you’re visiting northern Europe, though, the best time is between December and February because the winter evenings are more prolonged.
Best Places to See Northern Lights
So, where are the Northern Lights? Mother Nature is a fickle lady, and most Northern Lights predictions can only be made about two hours before the time.
But, visiting some of the following special places offers an increased chance to see the beautiful natural light show. So, without further ado, here are the best places to see aurora borealis.
Where Are the Northern Lights in Europe?
Thanks to many European countries being in the Arctic Circle, you’re kind of spoiled for choice. Here are the top European countries to see the spectacular light show.
Iceland is the most popular destination for aurora borealis trips. That’s because it sits on the edge of the Arctic Circle and has prolonged hours of total darkness.
A popular place to start is the capital city of Reykjavik. It’s a buzzing city, and you’ll have to drive just outside to see the intense colors dancing in the night sky. It’s also where most tours start.
If you want to sleep under the twinkling sky, consider a more remote town like Snaefellsnes, Höfn, or Hella.
Hot Tip: Take this Northern Lights tour with hot chocolate and cinnabuns for a cozy, stress-free trip.
Up there with Iceland as one of the most popular Northern Lights destinations, Norway is another great destination to add to your bucket list trip.
If you visit, go to Tromso, Svalbard, or Oslo from September to April for the best chance of seeing the display. Either one of these cities or towns should give you an unforgettable experience.
Hot Tip: This Northern Lights tour from Tromso ends with warm drinks around a campfire as a pleasant send-off.
Nowhere is nearly as magical in Finland as Lapland — especially around Christmas time.
This winter wonderland is covered in layers of snow, has roaming reindeer, and the best natural delight ever: crystal-clear views of the Northern Lights.
The capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi, is where all the festivities go down. Visit any time from October to March to see the brightest streaks, joyous celebrations, mounds of hot chocolate, and an overall heartwarming feeling.
Hot Tip: Try Hunting the Northern Lights with Huskies – a tour that provides a wonderful way to enjoy fun and activity under a beautiful sky.
Sweden is a fantastic place to go to to view the Northern Lights. It sits snug in the Arctic Circle with darkness almost around the clock in winter — especially in January.
You can view the Northern Lights from almost anywhere in Northern Sweden, but the best place to do so is by far Abisko. The best time to visit the country for this natural phenomenon is between September and March.
Where Are the Northern Lights in North America?
While not as abundant as in Europe, North America doesn’t limit you to where you can see the Northern Lights. And, if you’re hoping to become an adventure photographer, the varied landscapes are a great place to start.
US National Parks
While not a sure-fire way to see the Northern Lights, you’ll have a greater chance of witnessing the marvel in the States if you’re in an area devoid of much light and buildings — ergo, National Parks in the US. Here are a few places to visit:
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- North Cascades National Park, Washington
- Olympic National Park, Washington State
Alaska has the smallest population density in the US, meaning it has a lot of space for nature exploration. It also means fewer people, lights, and buildings blocking a clear view of the skies.
But where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in The Last Frontier state? That would be in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Utqiaġvik around August to April.
Anchorage is the largest city in the state, so it would make a great base and is the starting spot for many tours.
But, of course, the more remote spaces like Fairbanks and Utqiaġvik are ultimately the best.
Hot Tip: This six-hour Anchorage Aurora Quest is perfect for photographers eager to get the perfect shot.
Canada is one of North America’s best places to see the Northern Lights. So, if you find yourself in the Land of Maple (Banff in the fall is fantastic), include a short trip to some small towns for the celestial Aurora Waltz.
Fort McMurray is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Alberta. Its remote location allows minimal light pollution and a clear view of the natural light show and twinkling stars.
Other remote locations include Churchill in Manitoba, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse in Yukon. Again, these are remote pockets ideal for camping and stargazing.
Hot Tip: Are you an aspiring nature photographer? This Northern Lights night tour takes you on a five-hour hike to get to the perfect photo-op spots in the area.
Where to See the Northern Lights
If you started the post wondering, “Where can I see the Northern Lights?”, hopefully, this cleared up some burning questions. You can visit several countries in the north in Europe and North America, including some just in your backyard.
The most popular destinations are Iceland and Lapland in Finland, but Canada and Alaska are great alternatives, too! The most asked question is, of course, “What season should I visit to see the Northern Lights?”
While the lights are on display daily, it’s best to go when you’re guaranteed long hours of total darkness, which is why many choose winter. But, actually, you can go to any of these destinations anywhere from August to April.