The northern lights can sometimes feel like a myth with their almost ethereal quality, but these effervescent lights can indeed be seen if you know where to look for them. You can find Aurora Borealis around the magnetic Northern and Southern poles where electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the earth’s atmosphere. We’ve rounded up some of the destinations where you’re most likely to see them.
Iceland’s capital city is clad with houses bedecked in primary colours, has a dramatic seaside location and becomes cloaked in snow for much of the winter. All of which make it a popular spot with holidaymakers looking to sample Nordic culture. However, there’s another reason to visit this pretty city. From September through to the end of April you’re in with a chance of spotting the northern lights. To be in with the best chance to see this natural phenomenon, you need to get out away from the city lights. There are boat trips that take you out into the North Atlantic, and guided tours by coach which take you out into the countryside in search of this incredible sight. Those who are lucky enough to spot them can expect to see flickering green lights that dance across the sky.
The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is famed for its wildlife. This is a landscape where artic foxes, walruses and majestic polar bears roam, making it a firm favourite with animal lovers. From November to February each year, the islands are cloaked in darkness making spotting the northern lights so much easier. The town Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen is a hotspot for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive dancing lights in the sky. It is possible to see them throughout the day in the winter too, making your chances of catching sight of them much greater.
The city of Tromsø in Norway is a great spot for northern lights hunting. Situated in the midst of the Northern Lights Oval, your chances of getting a sighting are strong if you visit at the right time of year. This period extends from September to April, but for the greatest chance of seeing them head to Tromsø between November and January. Much like in Reykjavik, you will need to head away from the lights of the city but there are a whole host of tour operators who can help you to do this. When you’re not gazing up at the sky, why not go kayaking with whales or catch a film at the Tromsø International Film Festival.
You needn’t travel far to be in with a chance to see the northern lights. You can see them on our very own shores in the autumn and winter. Northern Scotland is your best bet when it comes to catching a glimpse of this incredible phenomenon. Head to Scotland’s only dark sky park at the Galloway Forest Park, where the lack of light pollution means that the skies are incredibly clear, making for an amazing stargazing location even when the Aurora Borealis isn’t visible. To be in with the best chance of seeing them, you’ll need to be prepared to stay up late.
In Lapland, the Northern Lights can be seen on over half of the nights each year. However, these nights only occur between August and April, when there is enough night time to make them visible. To be in with the best chance of seeing them, head as far north as you can. This is a country where accommodation has been designed with the northern lights in mind and there are glass igloos and tepees aplenty, depending on what your budget allows for.
Happy northern lights hunting from the dealchecker team!