Amazing Places

5 Top Destinations to See the Northern Lights

Maybe it's at the top of your bucket list. Or maybe you've been lucky enough to actually experience it. Either way, you've most likely heard of the Northern Lights — the neon-colored light show in the star-studded skies of the Arctic. Known scientifically as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon caused by the sun's electrically charged particles colliding with and becoming trapped in the Earth's atmosphere. Because this is most likely to happen where our planet's magnetic field lines dip toward its surface — the magnetic poles — it's easiest to catch this beautiful light show the closer you are to the North and South Poles. Experts recommend looking for it in places with a magnetic latitude above 55 degrees. But for now, let's leave the science behind and refer to this handy list of locations where you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from the best seats in the house.

Related Video: Northern Lights Over Finland

Abisko, Sweden

Due to its unique microclimate, this specific area in Swedish Lapland is scientifically proven as an ideal place to see the Aurora Borealis. Its 43-mile (70-kilometer) long lake helps create a weather phenomenon called the "blue hole of Abisko," which is a patch of sky that remains mostly clear regardless of surrounding weather.

Lapland, Finland

Here, the best seats in the house are inside an igloo! Plan a trip to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland, the northern region of the country where you can watch the green and purple lights dance across the sky from the hotel's very own glass dome. Or head north to the small town of Nellim and enjoy the auroras over Lake Inari: Finland's third-largest lake.

Tromso, Norway

Tromso is the largest northern city of Norway, with one of the highest probabilities of seeing the Northern Lights. At a location of 70 degrees north, located between fjords, islands, and mountain peaks, Tromso is an ideal starting point for a guided or self-guided trip to view the aurora. Twelve miles outside Tromso, the town of Ersfjordbotn is a popular viewing spot, as well as the Loften Islands and the villages of Alta, Nordkapp, and Kirkenes much further north.

Alaska, USA

Located within the Aurora Zone, Alaska is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of Earth's natural light show. It's important to get away from the lights of cities like Fairbanks and instead venture to nearby Denali National Park, or the vast wilderness areas of Yukon Territory. The University of Alaska even has its own forecast system to tell you when and where the lights are most visible.


With visibility eight months out of the year, from September to April, Iceland is quite possibly the most popular place among travelers to see the Northern Lights, and for good reason. The country is known for notoriously fickle weather, however, so plan accordingly. Driving the Ring Road, which wraps around the coastline of Iceland, is a great way to chase down ideal weather and see the magic of the lights in an unpolluted sky. If you're not looking to venture far outside the main city of Reykjavik, it's also possible to catch the lights from the suburbs during high activity.

Get stories like this one in your inbox each morning. Sign up for our daily email here.

For more tips on how to find this celestial light show, check out the Bradt guide "Northern Lights: A Practical Travel Guide" by Polly Evans. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Gabriel May 7, 2018

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.