The Best Places To See The Northern Lights

where to see the aurora

As you may know from previous posts we are still in search of the Northern Lights.  I’ve previously seen the aurora whilst skiing on a dry ski slope outside Aberdeen when I was a teenager, but the kids have never seen them and I would love to see them again myself.

So whilst planning further aurora borealis searching trips, I thought I would share information I found on the best places to see the northern lights and maximise those chances of seeing the lights dancing across the sky!

Tromso, Norway

The North of Norway is known as brilliant place to see the aurora borealis, with Tromso being one of the best places to see the northern lights in the world!  The Northern Lights can be seen from September to mid April in Tromso and you can use Norway Lights website to check which days that the aurora is supposedly going to be seen, or at least whether to attempt it.

Northern lights in Tromso

from Pixabay.com

During daylight hours you can also try out various activities such as dog sledding, snowmobile rides and reindeer sleds.  My personal favourite was dog sledding when we were in Finland, I would love to try that again!  Tromso itself also has lots of great cafes and museums, including the interesting sounding Polar museum and Northern Norwegian Science Centre.

Flights out of the UK to Tromso can cost in the region of £80-£300 per person dependant on variables (if you are flexible on dates Wizz Air and Norwegian Air seem to have good prices at certain times), also bare in mind that most airlines charge extra for baggage and seat reservations.

Yellowknife, Canada

On the other side of the Atlantic there is Canada, which is perfectly positioned to view the Northern Lights.  Where you choose to visit in Canada can be decided on what else you choose to do during daylight hours and price of flights. Canada has several Aurora Watch websites, including this one for the famous Yellowknife town, which is often a go-to destination as one of the best places to see the northern lights in North America.

Flights to Yellowknife can vary upward from £480 into the thousands depending on the route and airline you choose.  If you are awarded with the northern lights then you will definitely have had a worthwhile trip!  Even if you don’t there are plenty of other activities to take on during the daylight hours.

Iceland

There’s no one place in Iceland that you are likely to see the Aurora Borealis more than another.  Just try to get out of the bright city lights and into darker sky areas for the best viewing.  You can take various tours out into the middle of nowhere to see the northern lights, however you can also hire a car and drive yourself somewhere spectacular!

iceland northern lights

from Pixabay.com

Keep an eye on the Icelandic aurora forecast on their weather website here.  It lets you know the cloud forecast as well as the chance of the northern lights being on show.  We stayed in Iceland for a week in early December 2017 but didn’t manage to see more than a green line, fairly unlucky.  The day before we arrived and the day after we left had amazing Northern Light displays!

Whilst in Iceland I recommend a visit to the Aurora museum in Reykjavik to find out how the northern lights are actually formed and see some stunning photography and videos!

You can get some great deals on flights to Iceland from the UK, we managed to get return flights as low as £50 per person on our trip.  But of course flight price can vary dependent on airline and time of year you travel.

Finnish Lapland

We spent many hours in Finnish Lapland hoping for the cloud cover to clear and to see the stunning Northern Lights.  Yet we were unlucky and missed them (previous weeks display was amazing as proven by other tourists pictures who were leaving as we arrived!).  Lapland is a gorgeous area of the world with stunning landscapes and plenty of activities including sledging, skiing, dog sled rides and reindeer rides with the local Sami experts.

To check whether you are likely to see the Northern Lights whilst in Lapland, check this aurora forecast website here.  As with all places the weather clearly makes a difference as to whether you will be able to see the Northern Lights or not.  So if you can wait until last minute to book flights when you know good weather is predicted you will have more chance of seeing the aurora.

aurora iceland, finland

from Pixabay.com

Flights to Finnish Lapland from London can cost anywhere around the £170 mark up to the £2000’s.  Keep an eye out for deals and you can get the trip for a great price!

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland is not in the Arctic Circle, yet it’s also a place that commonly sees the Northern Lights.  As I mentioned them earlier they can be seen in Aberdeenshire and I know many people who have seen them near our home town of Stirling.  But for the better displays it’s best to be further North and you can’t get further North in Scotland than Shetland.  Plus there is a lot of dark sky areas for viewing.

AuroraWatch UK has a special page to plot the likelihood of seeing the light display in Shetland.  Clearly it can vary a bit more from the rest of the UK!  The best time to see the northern lights in Scotland will obviously be autumn and winter, but the cloud cover can be an issue.

You can fly to Shetland from London, via mainland Scotland, for upwards of £320 return.  Direct flights can be taken from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen.  Alternatively you can take the car ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick.

Best Places To See The Northern Lights?

These 5 places are great places to see the aurora, although they are not the only places to see the northern lights.  You will find plenty of destinations around the arctic circle, from Sweden, Greenland and Russia.  Clearly the best places are those that are remote (away from city lights) and at a high latitude.  If you are looking for great photos of the aurora then you will probably want somewhere that has beautiful mountains and still water reflecting the lights.

If you do manage to see the Northern Lights then please do let me know where you saw them!

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Northern lights destinations

1 Comment

  1. January 9, 2019 / 11:57 am

    Those photos are just incredible aren’t they? I would love to see the Northern Lights, they are firmly on my bucket list! We hope to do a little more travelling over the next few years so fingers crossed we’ll manage to see them at some point. Thanks for all the recommendations of where to see the Northern Lights, many of them are places I’d like to visit anyway so definitely a case of killing two birds with one stone!
    Nat.x

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