10 Best Places to View the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

The Aurora Borealis is among nature’s most spectacular displays– an awe-inspiring, picturesque celestial sight in which the night sky is suddenly illuminated with a wondrous glow that whirls like a lava lamp. Ethereal and unique, this magnificent shifting of nocturnal rainbows can only be seen in a few places in the world. Whether you are a stargazer, a photography enthusiast who is yearning for that perfect shot, or just a common traveler who wants to satiate his wanderlust, here are the world’s ten best places to view the northern lights.

1) Hammerfest, Norway

hammerfest northern lights

Photo Credit: www.aaroads.com

For the best chances of witnessing such a mystical display of northern lights, head out to Hammerfest, Norway. Located in the Finnmark County near the Arctic Circle, the town teems with Aurora Borealis activity at the end of the extended summer days. The best time to go for a clear sky would be the snowless months of September, October, and November.  Because of its relatively low population, the town lights are even insignificant to interfere with the majestic, multi-colored shimmer of the night sky.

 2) Abisko, Sweden

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Photo Credit: www.letsbewild.com

The Abisko National Park is one of the few places in the world that has more tourists than residents– with a population of only 85 people, Abisko offers an unspoiled landscape that complements the dark winter night sky. Strategically located in this 77 km2 Swedish lapland is the Aurora Sky Station that brings the ultimate viewing experience to northern lights fanatics. If you want to see the heavenly illumination over Abisko at its best, book your trip between mid-November and early March.

3) Luosto, Finland

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 Photo Credit: www.thewhitecircle.com

Located in the heart of the Pyhä-Luosto National Park, this lapland is considered the best destination to see the northern lights in their full glory, as evergreen and spectacular mountain ranges enrich the dark, clear sky. On average, the town witnesses approximately 200 appearances of the northern lights within a year. The “Aurora Alarm” being sent to hotels around the park offers a perfect chance for tourists to catch a glimpse of this spectacular phenomenon. Be sure to have your high definition camera ready – it’s a sight worth catching.

4) Reykjavik, Iceland

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Photo Credit: i1.trekearth.com

The Icelandic sky also hosts the most dramatic, eye-catching shows in the celestial expanse. You can readily see the northern lights just in the wide outskirts of the capital city of Reykjavik. On average, the northern lights only last for 12 to 15 minutes, but seeing it puts time to a standstill as it encapsulates the city’s beautiful night lights. The best months to experience this dazzling phenomenon are October through April, with peak visibility from December through February.


5) Denali National Park, Alaska  


Photo credit: http://trip2blog.com

Move further away from the flickering city lights of Fairbanks and head out to the vast Denali wilderness to see one of the most amazing displays of Aurora Borealis. According to the Fairbanks Visitors Bureau, the occurrence of northern lights start as early as late August, at the end of summer in the northern latitudes, and there’s 80 percent probability of catching it if you stay there for three nights. If you want to double your chances, the Northern Lights forecast by the University of Alaska can surely help you schedule your viewing trip.

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Marv Perez