The Northern Lights are a must-see on every global traveller's bucket list – they are one of the world's fascinating natural phenomena, flooding the night sky with bright flashes and swirling colourful ribbons caused by collisions between particles and gases in the Earth's atmosphere.
However, many visitors are left disappointed, having found that they aren't in a great place to catch a glimpse of this rare sight or are staying in a hotel or lodge too close to light pollution to get the full impact.
The Baltic Travel Company specialises in unique, tailored and exciting arctic holidays, with varied packages from Northern Lights holidays and tours and glass igloo adventures, to action-packed snow trips with sledge rides, huskies and whale watching. We explain the best places to go if you'd love to see the natural beauty of the Aurora Borealis – and tick off another destination on your go-to list.
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
Iceland is the number one destination for Northern Lights holidays, and the further north you can travel, the clearer and better the view will be, with crisp night air and beautiful pristine scenery. Countryside hotels and expeditions among the glaciers offer an unparalleled panorama.
The optimal conditions to see the Aurora in northern Iceland are during the autumn and winter months, and travellers can combine a Northern Lights tour with a stay in the busy, vibrant city of Reykjavik or explore Thingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss Waterfall while waiting for the lights to appear during the evening.
While metropolitan areas have excess light pollution that makes the Aurora more difficult to see, organised tours, hikes and overnight visits to more rural resorts are ideal, with the northern regions and Westfjords experiencing longer night-time hours and less cloud cover.
Tours are normally ideal as overnight visits to avoid missing out, and travellers can book a jeep, snowmobile or boat trip. Some of the hotels and lodges provide continual Aurora alerts to ensure guests never miss the light show.
Northern Lights Trips in Norway
Svalbard, the Arctic islands that sit in between Norway and the North Pole, are a fantastic option, with polar night meaning the days are dark continually from around mid-November until February. The islands are uninhabited, but a snowcat safari or snowmobile tour are excellent options to see the Northern Lights.
However, the remote nature of Svalbard means travellers should never attempt to venture into the wilderness without an experienced tour guide. There are native polar bears, and getting lost is much easier than you might imagine with blanket snow cover and no sunlight for several months.
Tromsø is another amazing Northern Lights holiday destination and the largest city in northern Norway, in the centre of the aurora oval. The city is surrounded by fjords and mountains, with plenty of activities to make the most of your time while enjoying the stunning display of the dancing lights.
As in Iceland, the northernmost areas provide the clearest viewing conditions for the Northern Lights, and many visitors base themselves in the city and travel outward with a local guide or as part of an organised tour to watch the Aurora when the night sky is unobscured by cloud.
Catching the Aurora Borealis in Sweden
Our next stop is Sweden, and away from the more densely populated areas further south, northern Sweden is incredibly quiet, sparsely inhabited and has next to no artificial light, making it a superb spot to watch the Aurora.
Just north of the Arctic Circle, there is a small town called Abisko which is popular with Northern Lights visitors, with a surrounding mountain range that helps keep cloud cover to a minimum.
The local Aurora Sky Station is a good option for an evening trip, with little noise or light, and positioned 900 metres above sea level for uninterrupted views, while the Northern Lights are active from October onward.
Travellers to Sweden can also stay in ice hotels built from ice harvested from the Torne River, which flows between Sweden and Norway. An ice hotel is an experience for those new to this type of accommodation, ranging from cold to warm rooms with varied amenities.
Visiting Canada to See the Northern Lights
Canada sits within the Aurora zone, although it differs slightly since there are two Northern Lights seasons each year, with the first from the end of August until October and the second from around mid-November until the start of April.
The Yukon Territory is often considered the ideal place to watch the Aurora in Canada, with a Northern Lights Centre based at Watson Lake and several resorts, spas and hotels designed specifically to help guests get a clear look at the Northern lights.
This Canadian region is vast and wild, with very few small villages and towns, bears, caribou and miles of snowy mountains creating an astonishing backdrop.
Northern Lights tours also stop in Churchill, Manitoba, famous for its polar bears, but also a wonderful place to watch the Northern Lights, where although the intensity of the light show changes, there are often colours in the sky for around 300 days of the year.
Viewing the Aurora Borealis in Alaska
As a final destination, Alaska is famous for its extremely cold weather, but towns such as Fairbanks experience Aurora activity from August until around the end of April, where the night sky is illuminated by shades of yellow, purple and green.
The most likely time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is between 10 pm and 3 am. However, hotels that sit underneath the Aurora band usually provide wake-up services or Aurora alerts for those keen to view the lights in an uninterrupted setting.
With a nearby international airport, travellers can reach Alaska from around the world or book a ticket on a bush plane to Coldfoot, an isolated Alaskan community in the Brooks Range foothills, north of the Arctic Circle, without any light pollution for miles around.
Read more about Baltic Travel Company - Baltic Travel Company, Expert Nordic Region Travel Specialist, Launches New Northern Lights Packages for 2023.
About Baltic Travel Company:
We specialise in crafting unique, tailor-made travel experiences that showcase the diverse wonders of the Europe and the Baltic region. With over 15 years of experience, our dedicated travel experts are committed to providing exceptional service and unparalleled expertise to ensure your Baltic adventure exceeds your expectations. From cultural city breaks to the inspiring northern lights and breathtaking natural landscapes, our carefully curated itineraries highlight the very best of the Nordic Region, Scandinavia, The Baltic Region, Poland, Slovakia and more. Whether you're a solo traveler, couple, or group, embark on a journey of discovery with Baltic Travel Company – your ultimate travel partner in exploring the hidden gems of the Baltics.
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