7 Best Places to View the Northern Lights

You can witness this naturally occurring phenomenon from the US to Scandinavia.


Travel, Nature
Aurora borealis over Hamnoy in Norway .

(Piotr Krzeslak / Shutterstock.com)

The aurora borealis or northern lights are an awe inspiring  natural phenomenon that occurs in the northern hemisphere and are most visible from October to April. That’s because the night sky is darker and there are fewer daylight hours during the winter months, according to a blog on the Nordic Visitor travel site.

The best time to view these magical dancing lights is in the evening but winter in the North brings long nights. In fact, in some places, the sun doesn’t rise at all.

Most people think that the Nordic countries close to the Arctic Circle are the best places to see the northern lights because they are in the “aurora zone” which is located between 65-72°N. But you can view the lights in the Northern US, Canada, and Scotland too. Here are seven places to view this spectacular night show.

Reykjavík Iceland

If you visit Iceland, you can expect to experience the aurora borealis shining above spectacular scenery. There is little light pollution in Iceland so you can view the northern lights in Reykjavík but it is recommended that you take a dedicated tour outside of the city. Some of the best spots to view the lights are in the Westfjords and the beaches around Vik. A winter vacation in Iceland has so much to offer.

Reykjavik in late winter.

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Fairbanks, Alaska

The city lies directly beneath a band of auroral activity so it is a perfect spot to view the phenomenon, according to Travel + Leisure. The shimmering lights are most frequently seen between 11 pm and 2 am so don’t forget to set your alarm clock. You can enjoy a stay in a hot springs resort and enjoy the show while taking a relaxing soak.

Northern lights above Fairbanks

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Tromsø, Norway

This Nordic country gives you a spectacular view of the northern lights. If you travel to Tromsø – the “Gateway to the Arctic” – the sun doesn’t rise for weeks during the winter, according to the Nordic Visitor blog.  This polar night means more hours of darkness and much more time to view the lights. There are many places in Norway to view the aurora borealis and to experience a winter wonderland.

Northern lights over Tromsø Norway

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Ilulissa, Greenland

Greenland is an ideal place to watch the northern lights, explained a blog on the Best Served travel site. Ilulissa, Greenland’s third largest city has a population of 5,000 people and is located in the heart of the aurora belt, making it a prime location for viewing.

Greenland’s Ilulissa glaciers

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Yukon Territory, Canada

This remote area of Canada has many spots to view the aurora borealis shimmering in the night sky, suggests Travel + Leisure. One of the best places to view the lights and learn about the science as well as the folklore about this gift from Mother Nature, is the Northern Lights Space and Science Center in Watson Lake.

Northern lights in the Yukon

(Scalia Media / shutterstock.com)

Swedish & Finnish Lapland

Situated north of the arctic circle in Northern Finland and Sweden, Lapland has epic views of the lights, according to the Best Served blog. Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland is the home of Santa, making it a great place to take a family vacation. There’s an abundance of daytime activities including sledding, Ice fishing, and learning about the unique culture of the area. Jukkasjärv in Sweden offers an Ice Hotel that is a perfect spot for viewing the lights.  

A reindeer sleigh in Lapland.

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Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

You do not have to leave the mainland US to view the northern lights, reported Forbes. In fact, Voyageurs National Park, a 218,000-acre wilderness that straddles the Minnesota/Canadian border is the perfect location to stargaze, view meteor shows, and view the aurora borealis in the night sky this winter.

The Northern Lights over the skies of Voyageurs National Park.

(BlueBarronPhoto / Shutterstock.com)