Picture this: you’re gliding over the snow close to the Arctic Circle. As you take in the snow-covered landscapes, you turn your attention to the sky. Suddenly, the sky comes alive with green lights—the colours shimmer and ripple overhead, cutting through the darkness of an Arctic night.
The northern lights are one of our world’s natural wonders, and the chance to experience them should be on everyone’s bucket list. So, if you’re ready to take in the auroras, we have your travel inspiration covered.
Here are the seven best places to see the northern lights this winter.
Situated between Norway and the North Pole, you’ll find the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. This northernmost year-round archipelago has Polar Night from November to February each year. As the Polar Night settles on Svalbard, it creates a 24-hour darkness making Svalbard the ideal place to view the northern lights. It’s possible to see the lights around the clock – even in the middle of the day.
Enjoy the magic of the auroras in Svalbard’s largest settlement. Longyearbyen is a coastal town home to all the amenities you need on a northern getaway. Outside the town, you can experience the Northern lights by dog sled and see magical lights dance across the sky. The Polar Night Dog Sledding tour gives you a hands-on experience as you learn the ropes of mushing and meet the four-legged team at Svalbard Husky.
If dog sledding isn’t your thing, embark on snowmobiles with Better Moments Tours. The Catching the Light adventure takes you through Svalbard’s frozen landscapes by snowmobile for a chance to chase after the magic of the auroras. Plus, you will enjoy a stop for a three-course dinner at the Better Moments gamme, inspired by traditional fishing and hunting cabins.
Located at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia, just 90 minutes from the article circle, is Kemi. A part of the northernmost region of Finland, Kemi is home to one-of-a-kind winter experiences and offers uninterrupted views of the Northern lights on the outskirts of town from November to March.
For the adventurers, chase the auroras through the mountains surrounding Kemi with nature and experts at Lapland Welcome. The Northern lights Aurora Tours gets you away from any lights in Kemi, giving you an unobstructed view of the star-filled sky and the best chance to see the natural light display in all their glory. You’ll also enjoy photo-worthy stops along the way, listening to knowledgeable guides explain Finnish myths about the colourful natural phenomenon.
For those looking to experience the northern lights without the near-artic temperatures, add Seaside Glass Villas to your Kemi itinerary. These villas give you the luxurious “glamping” experience with views straight out of a dream.
Churchill may be better known as the world’s polar bear capital, but it is one of the best spots in Canada to view the magic of the northern lights. You can see the northern lights in Churchill 300 nights of the year, though the best time is in February and March. Churchill boasts long nights and clear skies and is also positioned under the Aurora Oval, creating ideal conditions to view the natural phenomenon of the northern lights.
Churchill is a destination for nature lovers. See all that the polar bear capital has to offer with Frontiers North Adventures. Their Northern Lights and Winter Nights experience has a packed itinerary that gets you up close and personal with Churchill’s nature. They take you away from ambient lighting to its yurt tucked into the trees, giving you clear views of the colourful lights in the sky. By day, explore the area as you snowshoe through the boreal forest.
For the more independent travellers, Discover Churchill offers tours with a focus on small group sizes and a personal experience. In addition, discover Churchill provides everything from a seven-day photography tour, giving you the best chance to photograph the northern lights in all their glory.
Located in Southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of the Faxaflói Bay, is Iceland’s lively capital city. Reykjavik gives travellers the best of both worlds as it fuses the natural Icelandic landscapes with a vibrant downtown. And, with a long northern lights season from August to April, the chances of seeing the colourful lights on your winter trip to Iceland are high. But, for the best opportunity to see the lights, visit between October and April.
Visit Reykjavik’s Aurora Basecamp to learn about the phenomenon that fills the sky with vibrant colours. There are three domes at the Basecamp, two of which are lounges. The third is dubbed the Dark Park and is an educational centre that will teach you the science behind the northern lights. You will learn about the monitoring systems and use the aurora simulator. Then, head outside to see the magic in action. When the conditions are right, Reykjavik’s Aurora Basecamp is the perfect spot to take in the night sky and is complete with benches and a firepit to keep you warm.
Or board a sailing ship and cruise further north onboard Windstar Cruises. Dramatic scenery and curious communities coalesce as you visit Icelandic towns and remote fjords. Cross over into the Arctic Circle for the best, uninterrupted view of the colourful lights.
As Sweden’s northernmost city, Kiruna is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. Located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, you can experience Kiruna’s midnight sun and vivid northern lights. Travel to Kiruna between late September and late March to get a chance to see the sky come to life. Abisko’s Aurora Sky Station is only an hour away from Kiruna and is considered one of the best places to view the northern lights in the World.
Kiruna’s Camp Ripan offers unique tours of the Kiruna landscapes in search of the auroras. For a one-of-a-kind excursion, chase the northern lights with Camp Ripan on a reindeer sledding adventure. Above you’ll enjoy the breathtaking multi-hues lights in the sky.
The northern lights often blanket the skies over Fairbanks, Alaska, from late August to April. Plus, Fairbanks makes an excellent basecamp for adventures beyond the Arctic Circle.
From Fairbanks, hit the frozen waters for ice fishing under the northern lights. With Northern Lights Tours, you can try your hand at jigging for a big catch from the comfort of a fishing cabin, complete with heat and electricity. Plus, you can enjoy hot cocoa and a reindeer sausage while the northern lights dance overhead.
Dawson City, Yukon
Canada’s Yukon territory boasts some of Canada’s best conditions to see the northern lights. The clear dark skies create a perfect backdrop for the lights to come alive. Head to Dawson City in Yukon’s Klondike region to take in the auroras.
On a clear winter’s night in Dawson City, you can see the auroas from nearly anywhere in the city if the conditions are right. Simply walk outside your hotel and look up at the spectacular display. For a clear lookout, head to the Midnight Dome, located just outside of Dawson City, The Midnight Dome offers panoramic views of Dawson City and the surrounding terrains, plus brings you even closer to the lights.
Or head off on an aurora tour with the Klondike Experience. The Klondike Experience offers full itineraries for your trip to Dawson city and gives you the best chance to see the northern lights. For the more independent traveller, the Klondike Experience offers ‘al a carte’ tour experiences so you can customize your Yukon northern light experience.
The northern lights are calling
Take the stress out of booking your northern lights adventure with CAA. Our Travel Consultants can help you every step of the way on your vacation. Book an appointment online with our trusted CAA Travel Consultant.