Best Location for Northern Lights Sightseeing
On more than one traveller’s list of things to do before they die is “See the northern lights”. Rightfully so一these lights are one of nature’s most jaw-dropping displays. Be mesmerized and glow with these amazing natural phenomena on cold mountains.
Aurora borealis or more commonly known as Northern Lights form when charged particles emitted from the sun during a solar flare penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield and collide with atoms and molecules in our atmosphere. These collisions result in countless little bursts of light, called photons, which make up the aurora. In this article, let’s discover the best location for Northern Lights sightseeing.
Greenland remains a final frontier for the average traveler and its interior ice remains the optimal viewing location. However, more accessible areas south and east provide equally good viewing opportunities. You can see the northern lights from most parts of the country, similar to Iceland.
Up between the 74th and 81st parallel, this island belonging to Norway is well into the Arctic circle – and generally the higher the latitude, the better your chances of seeing the Aurora. The Northern Lights season is between November and February, but the majority of visitors come to experience a different natural phenomenon: the Polar Night. Between mid-November and the end of January, Svalbard is without daylight and in the eerie blue twilight, there are often more Aurora viewing opportunities.
Scotland has a fair few places for finding a dark sky at northerly latitudes and if Aurora activity is forecast it’s not far to do an on-spec Lights chase. If you want winter adventures too, Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park is a good bet, although you may have to get up high somewhere like Glenshee for snow cover. However, as the frost melts and winter edges towards spring in the Cairngorms.
The village of Jukkasjärvi only has about 548 inhabitants. But don’t let the small population size fool you: Jukkasjärvi boast the world’s first ice hotel and is one of the best regions to view the northern lights. The ice hotel arranges northern lights flights together with Spaceport Sweden in Kiruna for the ultimate northern lights experience.
The most affordable and accessible place to see the Northern Lights, but it’s getting more popular. In January 2015, 9,003 Britons visited Iceland, probably because, Lights aside, there’s plenty to fascinate about this land of geysers, volcanoes and blue ice. The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is on the way to the capital from Keflavík International Airport, stays steamy all year round and costs €40 online for a standard day ticket.
Head to Luosto in Northern Finland to the Hotel Aurora where, upon arrival, you’ll be handed an “Aurora Alarm” that beeps whenever the northern lights appear. (In the nearby town of Sodankyla, the Northern Lights Research Center relays the signal to the hotel.) On chilly, cloudless nights, you’re also bound to catch the lights shimmer in the skies over the town of Nellim, close to Lake Inari, Finland’s third-largest lake.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to visit the Best Location for Northern Lights Sightseeing, make sure to do your research first; also try looking to book your flights using online travel agencies as they tend to, on average, reduce airfare costs by about 43%, a few good ones being Flighthub.com, Travelocity.com, JustFly.com or Expedia.com.