We know of many beautiful natural phenomena, but none can match the bedazzling nature of the Northern Lights whose popularity among tourists has risen dramatically in recent times. Also known as Aurora Borealis, this amazing natural occurrence happens over a number of locations from where you can have a pure encounter with this seemingly infinite spread of lights.
Northern Lights are formed due to the interaction between solar winds and charged particles found in the magnetic field of the earth, causing lights comprising of streaks of red, green, purple and yellow mixed together to a form a magical trail of light. You will find these lights hovering over the arctic skies.
If you are going to see these Lights, you will most probably end up in countries which are at high northern latitudes, somewhere around 10 to 20 degrees from the North Pole. These lights are visible from September to March, around midnight.
In this article, we have shortlisted 6 places from where you can experience these aesthetically arresting spectacles. Get your backpacks ready and head to any of the following mentioned places to experience one of the greatest wonders of Nature.
Only the name of this country sounds ‘cold’, but it is home to some of the most marvelous natural creations of all time. Here in Iceland, Northern Lights emerge in their best forms, making them a favorite to nature photographers.
Auroral activity is at a maximum level during winter months, and these lights are visible from a number of locations in the country. Two really popular locations for observing Northern Lights are the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is famous for its Snaefellsjokull glacier, and the Golden Circle, which covers the Haukadalur geothermic Valley and the Thingvellir National Park.
In case you want to stay clear from the crowd, then the northern coast situated on the Arctic Circle is the place for you where you would find the Reykajanes Peninsula and the Akureyri city.
The best place to enjoy the wintertime magic is Lapland in Finland. Not many would have heard of Lapland, which is located on the northern end region of the country and is regarded as the official European home of Santa Claus.
In Lapland, the Northern Lights are called Revontulet which means “Foxfire” which comes from a fairy tale about a fox with a tale giving out sparks. You can witness the lights nearly everywhere you go. There are many options available for the tourists to experience the lights such as staying in an igloo or a get a reindeer safari.
One thing about which you might not know is that Lapland is home to the first ever Northern Lights observatory in the world and it is situated on the top of the Haldde Mountain. If you happen to get some time off your schedule, make sure you visit the observatory.
Alaska is not just about snow-clad mountains and thick coniferous vegetation—there are Northern Lights which we all love! While there are a number of sites for sightseeing the Northern Lights, the most famous locations are the Denali and Fairbanks National Park. It is highly recommended that you hire a guide to get a more informative experience of the best Northern Lights.
Alaska has in place some peculiar ways for enjoying the Lights: an arctic cruise from Anchorage, Ketchikan or Fairbanks; flightseeing; an overnight train crossing through the snow-clad Alaska Range; or get soaked in the famed Chena Hot Springs and enjoy the Lights above. The sound of all this is so exciting!
Russia is an under-rated site in terms of Northern Lights sightseeing. These Lights hold a special relevance in the hearts of the Russian community, especially the Russian Saami tribes. The Saami Tribes is known to watch the lights from the shores of the Lake Lovozero and interpret their fortunes. Thus, if you are here in Russia for the Lights, you will encounter strong emotional association with the Lights which will make your overall experience doubly good.
The most popular area in Russia for the Northern Lights is the Kola Peninsula, but we recommend you to get a guide to traverse the terrain. Take a trip to the Peninsula in the month of December or January and you will be blessed with dark days without any hint of the Sun for weeks.
To witness the brightest lights in Russia, you should head to Severodvinsk or Salekhard, which is incidentally the only city in the world to be situated on the Arctic Circle.
5. Greenland, and the Faroe Islands
There are ample opportunities on the Danish shores from where you can witness the Northern Lights dancing across the vast sky and spreading away their magic effortlessly. Greenland witnesses some of the most numbers of Northern Light sightings.
We recommend you to head towards the Kangerlussuaq town or take a cruise to the populated east coast to experience auroral activity. Alternatively, Faroe Island, which is essentially a relatively isolated archipelago straddling between Norway and Iceland, offers great views of the Lights. You can get to these islands through fights via Copenhagen.
Every Scandinavian country is blessed with the Northern Lights, but Sweden offers many exceptional services to tourists who have come to drown themselves deep into the magic of the Lights. Here at Jukkasjarvi, you can get access to the world’s first ever ice hotel and bar which has been designed completely from cold stuff and has become an inspiration to similarly designed hotels across the globe.
Another major highlight of Sweden for sightseeing the Lights in winter is the Abisko National park where you are given clear skies, the famed Aurora Sky Station and others. There is a Northern Light exhibition from where you can observe the Lights smearing their magic across the night sky.
Other prime spots include Laponia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Lulea town. We recommend you to visit these spots during the months of November and February. And, yeah, when you are here, be quiet while auroral activity occurs—because Sami mythology says so.