Are you looking for the best place to see Aurora Borealis?
For many people, finding the best place to see Aurora Borealis (or the Northern Lights) is a firm item on their bucket-list. And why wouldn’t it be? Aurora Borealis (or The Northern Lights) is one of the most beautiful things you can witness, and it’s one of the best shows Mother Nature puts on for us.
So if you’re planning to seek out The Northern Lights this year, and you’re looking to find the best place to see Aurora Borealis, hopefully this list will help you plan the perfect getaway! Below I’ve found towns, cities, national parks and even hotels – all of which are considered to be the best place to see Aurora Borealis. As you may or may not know, The Northern Lights can move and are often spotted in different places at different times of the year. This list is focussed on 2020 and 2021 – to gives you the most up to date sightings and information.
But first, there are a few things to know.
I’ve split the list into 3 sections, so you can jump to the section that will be most useful for you (or just read everything!).
- The first section is general locations where you might see the Northern Lights – these are villages, towns and regions that you might want too base your trip around.
- The second section is a list of recommended tours and trips with third-parties, who will help you chase down the Northern Lights. For example, if you chose to stay in one of the towns or villages in section 1, you might then want to book a tour from section 2 – to increase your chances of seeing Aurora Borealis further.
- The third section of this article is specific hotels that offer ‘Northern Lights’ packages, or that specialise in helping their guests view the Northern Lights (through their location, or unique positioning).
The best places in the world are usually closer to the Arctic Circle, including Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland – so most of the suggestion in this article will be located in and around those areas.
Tromso in Norway is well-known for being one of the best place to see Aurora Borealis. It’s based in the middle of the aurora zone , and in the heart of the Norwegian Arctic. Tromso is highly regarded as one of of the best place to see Aurora Borealis, so you’ll find lots of tours and guides in the city aimed at people wanting to chase down The Northern Lights. It’s pretty easy to get to by plane (the direct flight from London take between 3-4 hours). In terms of the best times to visit to see the Northern Lights, you stand a good chance of seeing them from September through to April (which is a big window of time!).
Kiruna, Swedish Lapland
Next on my list of the best place to see the Northern Lights, it’s Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. For people who want a slightly less touristy experience of the Northern Lights, stopping in Kiruna in Sweden definitely provides that. The town itself has a tiny population of just 18,000 people, so it’s a small place and it feels a bit like heading into the unknown, in the middle of nowhere. Usually you can see the Aurora Borealis between October and March in Swedish Lapland.
Iceland’s capital is my next location listed as one of the best places to see Aurora Borealis. It’s a popular choice because the city is easy to reach from lots of locations (from the US and UK / Europe), and has plenty to see and do besides the Northern Lights – making it a really nice vacation destination (there are the famous geothermal pools, volcanos, hiking, and loads of nightlife!). If you plan on visiting to see the Northern Lights, you’ll want to head there between September to April, and I’d recommend booking yourself onto one of the tours in section 2 – there are so many brilliant options in Reykjavik.
Canada is a beautiful place to see the Northern Lights, so it had to make my list of the best places to see Aurora Borealis. Yukon feels like one of the far flung corners of the world, it’s remote, peaceful and perfect. It’s located on the west side of Canada, near to Alaska. The landscapes are wild in Yukon, and if you want to feel like you’re having a bucket list adventure, this is where you should head to. Usually the Northern Lights are visible from around late-August, and they continue all through winter up to early spring.
Ilulissat is on the western coast of Greenland, and it’s a hub for nature and undisturbed landscapes. As well as being a great place to watch the Northern Lights, Ilulissat is known for the Ilulissat Icefjord and for the incredibly beautiful icebergs in Disko Bay. Greenland is a good place to plan on watching the Aurora Borealis because the conditions tend to make being outdoors really easy and accessible. If you’re feeling like Greenland might be the right for you, then you’ll want to head there between the months of September and April.
Canada (if you didn’t know) if one of the places where you see the most frequent displays of the Northern Lights. Yellowknife has the nickname of “Aurora Capital of North America” – so you know you’re bound to get good visibilities and viewing conditions. One of the best places within Yellowknife to see the Aurora Borealis is actually the Great Slave Lake. If you decide to stop on the shores of the lake, you have a 95% chance of spotting the Northern Lights, which is why it’s definitely class ed one of the best place see Aurora Borealis.
Dark Sky Preserves, Alberta, Canada
A Dark Sky Preserve is an area of land that had little to no artificial light once the sun goes down. Why is this important for seeing the Northern Lights? Well it means there is no light pollution to obscure the view of the skies. This is what you’ll find in the Kark Skies Preserve, and it’s why it’s one of the best places to view Aurora Borealis in the world. The dark sky preserves include Wood Buffalo, Elk Island and Jasper National Parks, all of which have good visitor programs and tours. Actually, if you decide to take a visit in mid-October, you’ll arrive for the Jasper Dark Sky festival, where lots of amazing events and science demonstrations take place.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Minnesota is a little more southern than most of the places on this list, but it’s still a good destination for viewing the Northern Lights, especially if you’re based in the USA and you’re not up for international travel.Voyageurs National Park sits between the Minnesota-Canada border, and it’s a huge winter-wonderland of 218,000-acres. The skies are beautifully clear, which makes your chances of seeing the Northern Lights even greater.
There are lots of amazing tours from all the locations above for ensuring you get a glimpse of Northern Lights during your vacation. I always find with tours like this, looking into the reviews of the tours is really important – as it shows they have experience of getting their customers in the right place at the right time.
Northern Lights tours from Reykjavik
Northern Lights tours from Tromso
Northern Lights tours from Canada
Special mention: Aurora 360 Experience
The Aurora 360 Experience is a relatively new experience (it only launched in February 2019) and it’s a private-chartered 737 jet that takes it’s special guests into the night sky to be eye-level with the incredible North Lights. If you love flying, and you want a totally unique experience then this will be the best place to see Aurora Borealis for you. During your flight you’ll learn loads about the Aurora Borealis, from hosts, guest speakers and experts in the field. It’s expensive (yes!) but it’s the only flight in the world to take off within the Aurora Oval, so it’s pretty special.
First on my list of hotels that are the best places to see the Northern Lights, it’s the Treehotel in Sweden. Of all the hotels on this list, the Treehotel is probably the one you’ve heard of already, or seen on TV. This hotel is basically what i sounds like – a tree house style hotel, with private rooms and suites suspended in the woodland giving you a birds eye view of the surrounding nature and skies. There are 7 modern suites to choose from inside the Treehotel and they’re each themed differently… UFO treehouse, a mirror cube treehouse, a bird’s nest, a blue cone treehouse, a cabin treehouse and the Snøhetta treehouse. The Snøhetta room is a perfect choice for seeing the Northern Lights as it has huge window looking out to the sky.
Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa, Sweden
This incredibly anticipated hotel finally opened in January 2020, and so far it’s living up to the high expectations everyone had for it. The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa is essentially a floating hotel, set in one of the most remote parts of Sweden and promising the ultimate in escape, peace and quiet. Because of where the hotel is, and how remote it is, it’s bound to be an ideal location to see Aurora Borealis. This place is unique, modern and memorable, which is why it makes my list of best places to see the Northern Lights.
North Pole Igloos Hotel
This hotel is one of the most unique and unforgettable hotels on this list (and actually it’s not even permanent, it’s only open for 1 month a year). And it’s pretty much what it sounds like, igloo style hotel rooms in the North Pole, in a winter wonderland setting. Why is this one of the best places to see Aurora Borealis? Because of the location and because of the style of accommodation, you’re almost guaranteed to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. The North Pole Igloos Hotel, is about as north as you can go, and travellers who have the privilege of visiting get to experience the most secluded and beautiful views of Aurora Borealis. But just as a warning… It doesn’t come cheap!
Arctic Hideaway, Norway
Next on my list of best places to see the Northern Lights, it’s Fordypningsrommet (don’t ask me to pronounce it – I don’t think I could!) is also know as The Artic Hideaway. It’s a small group of traditional cabins located on a tiny island, close to the artic circle. It’s near Bodø, in Norway – if that helps give you some kind of bearing! There are crazy-good views from the premises, and the chances of seeing the Northern Lights during your stay there is really high. It definitely has be classed as one of the most remote and one of the best place to see Aurora Borealis.
H0tel Ranga, Iceland
Hotel Rangá is another luxurious option on this list, and isn’t too far from Reykjavík (about a 90 minute drive in good weather). These guys specialise in helping their guests experience the Northern Lights, and they’ll even come and wake you during the night – if the lights appear during sleeping hours. Another thing we love about this property, is that there’s an observatory on-site which even a retractable roof. Making it truly one of the most luxurious and best places to see the Northern Lights. This is quite affordable compared to other hotels on this list, which is why I think it’s one of the best place to see Aurora Borealis.
I hope this list of suggestions for finding the best place to see Aurora Borealis has been useful! If you have any other suggestions of ideas that you’d like added to the list- please get in touch! I always love to hear about other ideas for the best place to see Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are truly incredible, and usually (for most of us) a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it’s super important to make sure you’ve found the best place to see Aurora Borealis – and make the most of the amazing opportunity.