Chasing the Northern Lights is a magnificent experience you should definitely try at some point in your life. The verb “chasing” designates the action of following something persistently, and this actually reveals what seeing the Northern Lights is all about. In fact, there’s a whole science behind the apparition of the Aurora Borealis and seeing it.
Planning your trip without knowing the basics on how to see the Northern Lights may mean you miss it altogether. Knowing some of the best places to see the Northern Lights is a step forward in this process.
If you plan a short trip to see them, you must choose places that are very far north.
Among different places where you can enjoy the Aurora show (if the conditions are right), I have chosen spots located in Kp=2 regions (closer to the earth’s poles). These places get much Aurora activity and there are high chances to enjoy the lights here even when the Auroras are weak and the solar activity is low.
More on this you can find in the article I have written about everything you need to know about chasing the Northern Lights.
In addition, keep in mind that the best time of the year to see the Northern Lights in the Kp=2 region is between September and April. (In summer, the midnight sun prevents the Aurora even if there’s solar activity).
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is a paradise for Aurora hunters. The country is located in the Kp=2 zone and this means there are high chances to see the lights even if the solar activity is not so strong. As a traveler, it may be best for you to go to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. You have plenty of activities to do there during the day and you can then plan to chase the lights away from the city (and light pollution) at night.
From Reykjavik, you can easily get to other parts of Iceland, especially if you rent a car.
The small country is sparsely populated and is ideal for viewing Aurora shows away from light pollution. Snæfelsness Peninsula, Jökulsárlón, or Reynisfjara black sand beach are very good spots for admiring the green Aurora-filled skies.
However, if you don’t want to venture to these places and are on a short-term Aurora chasing mission, then reaching out to a local tour company is the best choice.
2. Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Very similar to Iceland, Greenland is even less populated and sees very few tourists. The immensity of frozen scenery, glaciers, waterfalls, and scattered villages define this land.
In western Greenland, Kangerlussuaq area has a good microclimate for seeing the Northern Lights as it is tucked away at the end of a deep fjord. The town’s airport is also the main flights’ hub for Greenland.
A stylish arctic metropolis, in Kangerlussuaq you can enjoy museums, ice-calving events, or walks in nature while waiting for the evenings’ light shows. But no matter how well you might plan to see the lights show, nothing can be compared to watching the Aurora from a plane, while you are flying over Greenland, for example from the U.S. to Europe.
3. Murmansk, Russia
This town is ideally located above the Arctic Circle and is easily accessible by plane. However, due to light pollution, you will need to get out of town and venture into nature to enjoy the dazzling displays.
Of course, you don’t have to do that on your own and can book a tour with an agency. They definitely know their way around and you can find amazing places such as the coastline of Teriberka or the remote surroundings of Kirovsk.
In addition, before deciding to head to Russia, check if you need a visa to go there as it may be much easier to fly to any of the other Northern Lights spots mentioned in this article.
4. Tromsø, Norway
Northern Scandinavia is another favorite spot for Aurora hunters.
Tromsø is among the most accessible places for light shows in the northern part of Norway, located around the Auroral Oval (approximately 70° North latitude). The small town has an airport with good connections to Oslo and so is easy to get there without driving hundreds of kilometers along the snaky fjords of Norway.
Also, besides chasing the Northern Lights, museums and other winter activities (dog sledding, reindeer farms) can be enjoyed there while you are waiting for the best time to see the Aurora.
5. Rovaniemi, Finland
The capital of the Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi is one of the best places to see the dancing displays in the northern part of Finland. Also known as the hometown of Santa Claus, the town is located right on the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi has its own airport with good connections to the big capital of Helsinki, or even to London.
In addition to hunting the Northern Lights in the evenings, you can experience the magical atmosphere of Christmas in places such as Santa’s Village or Santa’s Park. Many reindeer and husky farms are run in the area and so this, alongside experiencing the Sami culture and tasting a traditional meal in one of their tents, makes for a truly authentic experience.
6. Abisko, Sweden
Located in the Sweedish Lapland, Abisko is the most northern place that you can get in Sweden. For this reason, it is the preferred outpost for Aurora spotters who often enjoy its practically permanently cloud-free skies full of green light shows.
In the nearby surroundings, Abisko National Park’s “Aurora Sky Station” is the best spot to experience the lights. A chairlift whisks curious visitors up to the mountaintop. There, you will find an exhibition dedicated to the Northern Lights and a café to enjoy the greatest light show on Earth.
In addition, Abisko has many other winter activities in the area, such as skiing, dog sledding, snowmobile, or Nordic walking tours.
You can try any of these activities as well as sleeping in one of the world’s most famous Ice Hotel. Everything is made of ice and snow there (even the plates and glasses). This could be the ideal complementary experience for you to enjoy while watching the Northern Lights!
Suggested next reading: Chasing The Northern Lights: Everything You Need To Know