10 Stunning Places To See An Aurora
Seeing the Northern Lights are on many people's bucket lists while others are happy to see any aurora and may even head South to see one. The otherworldly aurora borealis, or northern lights, begin high in the Earth’s atmosphere—at altitudes from 60 to more than 250 miles—when charged particles from the sun become trapped in the Earth's magnetic field. The result is a colorful, dancing light show. Stunning natural phenomena like nothing else on Earth, here we look at a few places that are amazing in themselves, where you can catch sight of these auroras.
Iceland is an other-worldly place in itself, even if you don't catch sight of the Northern Lights, so much so that astronauts have come here to train for moon landings. Known as the land of fire and ice, it has geysers, thermal pools, glaciers, volcanoes and a gorgeous coastline all packed into a tight space.
Rock up between late August and early July, and you may catch sight of one of these auroras. The best places are the remote wilderness like the Kirkjufell mountain on the west coast but there are 'Sky Lodges' and hot pools where you can see them too, and it has been known for the capital, Reykjavik, to order the turning out of all the lights so that the sky can be seen clearly.
2. Fairbanks, Alaska - USA
The best place in the United States to see the Northern Lights, Fairbanks is just two degrees below the arctic and is near an international airport so is actually pretty easy to get too as well. The stunning Denali national park has unique and wonderful wildlife and scenery but if that's not enough for you book a tour to take you far away from the city lights.
With its own forecast system, its easier than ever to go at a time when you can see an aurora which will usually be late August to mid-April.
3. Yellowknife - Canada
Canada is actually a great place to view the Northern lights due to its northern latitude and low light pollution with places like Wood Buffalo and Jasper National Park being great places to go to catch a glimpse of them.
However, head to the capital of the s Northwest Territories and you can skirt the perimeter of Slave Lake which boasts its own Aurora Village and special activities for northern lights tourism as well as offering up a gorgeous reflection of what is happening in the sky in the waters right below it. Head there for mid-August to late April. For Churchill and Wood Buffalo, early August to early May.
4. Tromsø - Norway
Despite being 217 miles North of the Arctic circle, a gulf stream provides surprisingly mild temperatures here in amongst the jaw-dropping fjords and Lyngen Alps mountain range. The village of Ersfjordbotn, 12 miles from Tromsø, offers less light pollution for aurora spotting whilst other popular locations in the country are the Lofoten Islands and the far northern towns of Alta, Nordkapp, and Kirkenes.
Head out between mid-September to late March for the best views. Best to head there mid-September to late March.
5. Northern Sweden
Sweden’s northernmost town is Kiruna, and it acts as a great starting point to head out into many attractions including the nearby ICEHOTEL, the stunning Abisko National Park which includes mountain sights, and experience the local Sami culture. You can also spot the abundance of wild reindeer in the region.
More stable weather than the Norwegian coast makes for better predictability for seeing the light shows, but it is also a darn sight colder. Like neighboring Sweden, get there from mid-September to late March.
6. Northern Finland
The Lapland region of Finland has some glorious national parks which often have frozen snow-covered trees called Tykky sculptures during the winter seasons.
Rovaniemi serves as a gateway town to all of this beauty but don't forget to look up when you're there.
It is actually quite possible to be too far North to see the Northern lights, and Northern Greenland is part of that region, but if you head South to the territory of Denmark, you can see them alongside other natural wonders like Qaleraliq Glacier, which has small floating icebergs even in summer.
Go there in Mid-August to late April in the south and late August to mid-April in Nuuk.
8. Tasmania - Australia
You don't hear about the Southern lights as much as you do of their Northern counterparts and that's predominantly because there are fewer locations to see auroras from the Southern Hemisphere, but they are no less beautiful.
The small island state of Tasmania at the bottom of Australia is rugged and wild, and so has some beautiful sights to see in its national park but if you get to the Southern tip, you may be treated to a fiery, bright sky at night all year round but your best chances are during or near the equinoxes.
9. New Zealand
Like nearby Tasmania, New Zealand has year-round auroras at the Southern tip with equinoxes being the best time to head there. These are the closest accessible places to the south magnetic pole, outside of Antarctica and the dark skies of the sparsely populated land make it easier to see.
New Zealand has so much beauty and wonders to it any way that you may as well head there regardless.
10. Ushuaia - Argentina
The Southernmost city in the world belongs to Argentina, and here you can see the Southern lights sometimes when the stunning mountains do not block your view. The Antarctic winter, between March and September, is the best time for it but you have to be a hardy soul to brave it.