Experiencing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is a goal for many people. This beautiful light display can only be seen in the late fall and winter months, and only from the northernmost areas of the world. Sometimes, when the lights are at their fullest, you can see them farther south, but this is a very rare occasion.
If it is your dream to see the Northern Lights, you will find that the following eight places offer you the best view of the Aurora Borealis.
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks may be one of the northernmost cities in the United States, but it may not be north enough to enjoy the Northern Lights. There are, however, tours that are specifically designed to take people north past the Arctic Circle so that they can experience the Northern Lights. Visitors will need to fly into Anchorage and then find transportation to Fairbanks. One of the best methods is the Alaska Winter Snow Train. This is a wonderful ride through the wilderness and adds to the overall experience.
2. Yellowknife, Canada
Yellowknife is the capital city of the Northwest Territory and is located about 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Famous for its gold and diamond mines, this city is also referred to as the “Northern Lights Capital of the World.” Once you leave the city area, you can see the Northern Lights with such clarity that it will take your breath away. Of course, make sure that you have some extra time to explore this relatively new yet historically rich city.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland
This beautiful area is located on the very edge of the Arctic Circle. While Reykjavik offers one of the most accessible ways to see the Northern Lights, transportation to and from Iceland can be difficult, especially during the winter season when the Northern Lights are most prominent.
4. Ivalo, Finland
Located in the Arctic right near the Russian border, Ivalo is one of the finest places on earth to experience the lights. In many cases the lights are so bright here that you can see them from the city. If you are having a hard time seeing the Northern Lights, hire a tour guide to take you out into the Arctic areas to experience them in a wilderness area.
5. Kiruna, Sweden
Kiruna is the northernmost city in Sweden and is famous for being the perfect place to see the Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun. Kiruna is actually located 145 miles north of the Arctic Circle. One of the largest attractions in Kiruna besides the Northern Lights is the Ice Hotel. This area has been a favorite among Norther Lights watchers because of the many other things that they can enjoy inbetween viewings of the Lights.
6. Tromso, Norway
Tromso is located even farther north than Kiruna. Located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the city is a prime location for the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun. You can see the Aurora Borealis between 6 p.m. and midnight every night between September and March, with the best nights in December and January. Visitors must remember that the sun is not visible at all between November 21 and January 21 each year. This, of course, is also the best times to see the Northern Lights.
7. Shetland Islands, UK
The Shetland Islands are a part of Scotland and are located about 110 miles north of mainland Scotland in the Polar Regions of the Atlantic Ocean. With mild weather in comparison to other areas located this far north, Shetland is a wonderful place to experience the Aurora Borealis. Because of the wide open spaces located throughout the many islands that make up Shetland, there are innumerable places to view the Lights with pleasure.
8. Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
This area of Greenland is very desolate even though it holds the largest commercial airport in the country. The total population of Kangerlussuaq is only 512 people. Northern Light tours are offered between October and April. If you are very adventurous, Dog Sled tour packages to see the Northern Lights are offered between February and April each year. These are three day expeditions. With over 300 clear nights each year, you may also be able to see the Northern Lights from your hotel room window.