10 Best Places To See The Northern Lights in 2021
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis is an amazing natural phenomenon. thousands of visitors head north every year to try and get the best view of this awesome sight. From Alaska to Russia and eveyrthing in between, Here's our top destinations to maximise your chances of getting the best experience. Be sure to check out our Northern Lights Top Tips to help you plan your trip.
Located right on the border with Alaska, the Yukon is the best place in Canada to see the lights. Book with a specialist operator and they’ll provide all the cold weather clothing you’ll need, so you don’t need to splash out for the gear. There’s plenty of accommodation providers, you can choose from cosy lodges or luxurious hotels. Dog sledding is a good daytime activity, while you wait for the sun to go down and the lights to appear
Tromsø is one of the largest cities in the arctic circle, so offers plenty to do when the lights aren’t out. Between November and January, Tromso experiences Polar Nights, where the sun never rises above the horizon, although you do get some light during the day, the very (very) long nights provide optimal conditions for viewing the lights. From Tromso, you can join a number of northern lights tours which will give you the best chance of seeing the lights. The tour guides are experts at finding the best locations base on the weather conditions. They’ll even drive over to Finland or Sweden if it gives you a better chance. You can opt for a small group tour or a private excursion. Most will leave around 7pm and have you back to your hotel in the early hours of the morning. You can also do a dog sledding tour or combine it with reindeer feeding or sledding. Some other activities to consider while you’re in Tromso are heading out on a snowmobile, sailing the fjords.
At the very north of Canada, Fairbanks is considered the best place in North America to view the lights. Fairbanks sits right under the ‘Aurora Oval’, which gives you the best chance of catching the light show. If you don’t want to stay so far north, you can stay in Anchorage and head north for the day. For an even better chance of seeing something special, head further north, the Iniakuk Wilderness Lodge is 300km north of Fairbanks and only 100km above the Arctic Circle. This all-inclusive lodge is a luxurious ‘fly-in’ resort. You’ll fly from Fairbanks on a private charter flight, with some great ‘flight-seeing’ along the way. The lodge provides intimate hospitality, with daily baked bread, fresh fish, as well as home grown salad and vegetables. You can enjoy fishing, hiking, canoeing and a whole host of other outdoor activities. The sightseeing is truly unique, with opportunities to see Grizzly bears, Moose, Caribou and even the odd wolverine. There’s so much to do that you may even forget about seeing the lights altogether!
This Arctic resort in Finland is a more luxurious way to experience the lights. There’s plenty more to do at this resort including reindeer safari’s, sledding, snowmobiles, ice fishing and a snow tank safari. The accommodation ranges from snow igloo’s to suites inside the hotel. You could also try a glass igloo (great for watching the lights from the comfort of you own bed).
Probably the cheapest place to visit to see the northern lights, Murmansk is on the Kola peninsula in the north of the arctic circle. To get to Murmansk you’ll need to fly to Moscow before connecting on. There are multiple flights every day so you should have no problem finding a connection. You can also visit the world’s first atomic powered icebreaker in the port and stop by the Northern Naval Museum. Head to the Alyosha museum for great views of the city. You can also enjoy great skiing and snowboarding, or head out on a snowmobile.
Abisko is a small village north of the arctic circle. The local area is known for having clearer skies than other places in Sweden and Norway, giving a better chance of seeing the lights. Visit the Aurora Sky Station. By day you can take the 2km chairlift up Mount Nuolja to take in the scenery, or head up in the evening and enjoy a scenic 4 course dinner with stunning views down to Abisko. The chairlift for dinner leaves at 6pm, with the last lift coming down the mountain at 1am, giving ample opportunity to see the lights.
Kirkenes is in the north east of Norway, close to the border with Russia. This is a real out of the way place, so ideal for catching a glimpse of the northern lights. The big benefit of visiting Kirkenes is you get to stay in the Snow Hotel. Built entirely of snow and ice this hotel is rebuilt every December. While at the hotel you can also go on a king crab safari, where you will be taken out on the water from Hurtigruten harbour by a professional fisherman to catch some of the largest crab you’ll ever see! You can also take a Sami immersion tour to learn about the indigenous people of Arctic Scandinavia and meet some of the local reindeer. Or why not try some snow yoga!
Scoresby Sund is the largest Fjord in the world at 250 miles long and 600 metres deep. Named after William Scorsesby mapped the network of fjords in 1822. The remoteness of the area combined with the vast fjords give travellers the magic combination of low light pollution, clearer skies, and long dark nights. The best way to see the lights from this area is by ship. Polar Expeditions offer voyages departing from Akureri, sailing past huge icebergs, before landing at Ittoqqortoormiit, the largest town in Scoresby Sund with a population of 500. From here you cruise the fjord, spotting whales by day and the magical Aurora Borealis by night.
Moray Coast, Scotland
Called the ‘mirrie dancers’ in Scotland, the northern lights are rarer, but they do put in an appearance. The Moray coast is a secluded and beautiful part of the world, the reason this makes the list is the flat horizon of the Moray Firth stretches for miles, giving great viewing conditions on clear nights. Lhanbryde is also and home to Sigma Astronomy club who are experts in all things Aurora on the Moray coast.
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