My travel bucket-list: The best places to see the Aurora Borealis

Imagine this beautiful sky full of dancing colours, so mesmerizing, pur magic.

I always wanted to see them but where to go?

The Aurora Borealis also known as the Northern Lights, occur when excited solar particles collide with atmospheric gases. This produces a neon light show that can last for minutes or even days at a time.

One fact that is not very well known is that the aurora can be seen in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere, they’re known as “Aurora Borealis” or “Northern Lights”. In the southern hemisphere, they are “Aurora Australia” or “Southern Lights.” Same natural phenomenon only that it occurs in different regions.

After a little bit of research I’ve found out that the best places to see the Aurora Borealis are: Alaska in USA, Yukon, Northwest Territories in Northern Canada, Island, Norway, Finland, Russia, Sweden and Greenland. Based on where you live can choose the nearest location. 

The best place on earth 

Oh well, a lot of places to choose from but Alaska is one of the best places on earth all year-round for spotting aurora. The clear skies, cold weather, and dark nights are optimal conditions for aurora spotting. But don’t be scared of the chilly nights, you can even aurora-gaze from steaming hot springs. With an abundance of epic wildlife (grizzly bears, moose, eagles, and more) and infinite mountains, Alaska has plenty to offer beyond the lights.

Where: Nearly all of Alaska is great for aurora spotting, though Fairbanks is located in the aurora oval and is a good base for travel. Those pressed for time can do a condensed trip from Vancouver.

When: Year-round is possible but winter months are ideal due to longer nights. 

How: You can camp, drive, or view the aurora from the comfort of a heated cozy cabin or lodge. Another popular way to witness the magic from the air is flight-seeing. Other unique aurora sightseeing tours include dog sledding and photography focused tours.

The most comfortable place 

With its vibrantly coloured fishing villages, gaping fjords, and expansive nature, Norway is more than just an aurora hotspot, it’s pure magic. This is one of the more comfortable places to chase the Northern Lights. The country is already easy to get around, and aurora spotting options are diverse.

Where: There are many hot spots on offer here but some good ones include Svalbard, Tromso, The Lofoten Islands, Harstad, Bodo, Alta, Andoya, and Lakselv.

When: October to March.

How: Get a log cabin with world-class aurora views or try your luck camping or caravaning. Norway has spectacular aurora tours, and one wise strategy is to purchase a Northern Lights 7-day unlimited pass to increase your chances of sightings. The pass provides daily access to Northern Lights tours, which is ideal since aurora can be sporadic. Tours are abundant, ranging from reindeer-sledding and whale watching, to a night cruises and private flights but not all of these tours are included in the pass. 

The less crowded place 

A great slice of Greenland is position perfectly within the aurora zone. Because here there are no roads, making plane and boat the primary transport means, Greenland is a quiet island country, far less trampled with tourists than its northern neighbour, Iceland. The advantage? Icebergs and aurora are nearly all yours!

Where: Southern Greenland is ideal, as too far north exits the aurora zone. Ilulissat or Nuuk, both offer unique aurora tours.

When: Mid-August – late April.

How: Different AirBNB rentals with glacier & potentially aurora views are available. A private charter boat is another option for combined accommodation and sightseeing. And for more adventure you can try a guided tour in the snow either via snowmobile, snowshoe or dog sled.

Getting there: Greenland’ major airport is Kangerlussuaq and is accessible by flights from Europe and North America. 

Hmmm I really don’t know what I would choose: the best place, the less crowded or the comfort? Difficult choice. 

Lights_of_Dawn_Amy_Johnson_Photography__de7848c8-f744-4885-bed0-39d229f081f8
Photo credit: Lights_of_Dawn_Amy_Johnson_Photography
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43 thoughts on “My travel bucket-list: The best places to see the Aurora Borealis

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