Everyone is familiar with the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis), even if they haven’t witnessed it in person before. Ribbons of colour, caused by particles of light reacting with various gases, float across the sky, resulting in one of the most incredible sights to see.
Did you know that the Northern Lights even has its own sound? The same energetic particles which create the dazzling lights also produces a strange “clapping” noises around 70 meters from the ground – just another reason why the Aurora Borealis is so fascinating.
Many people have the Northern Lights on their bucket list, which is why we’ve put together a list of the five best places to view the phenomenon first hand.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is lucky to have visibility of the Northern Lights eight months a year, and although the Aurora Borealis is meant to be clearer in more remote locations, you can see it pretty clearly all over Reykjavik (in fact, if you’re lucky you may even be able to see it from downtown), making this a perfect opportunity to mix a city break with a Northern Lights experience.
Plus where else can you gaze at the stunning Northern Lights whilst bathing in geothermal hot springs? You can also visit Aurora Reykjavík: an information and exhibition centre dedicated just to the Northern Lights.
2. Luosto, Finland
If you don’t want to head too far north, Luosto is perfectly situated in the southern Lapland area, and is therefore still easily accessible.
Finnish Lapland is home to 200,000 reindeer and six national parks, so if you dream of the stuff that postcards are made of, you’re onto a winner here. A typical beautiful Finnish winter landscape that boasts an average of 200 nights a year when the Northern Light displays are visible.
3. Tromso, Norway
Norway’s quirky and cultural city of Tromso, the self-styled ‘capital of the Arctic’, distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses, is situated in the heart of the Aurora Zone and is well known as a hot spot for Northern Light watching.
Tromso offers a lively and energetic atmosphere. Here you can join the search for the Northern Lights in true Arctic fashion by riding your own husky sled or on a snowmobile safari.
4. Yukon, Canada
“Into the bowl of the midnight sky, violet, amber and rose…”
Famed gold rush poet, Robert Service, was inspired by northern lights in Canada.
The Yukon is a territory in northwest Canada that is wild, mountainous (it has the Rockies as a backdrop!) and sparsely populated. Kluane National Park and Reserve includes Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak, as well as glaciers, trails and the Alsek River, an idyllic place to watch the Northern Lights.
5. Murmansk, Russia
Murmansk is the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle located in the northernmost region of north west Russia, on the Kola Peninsula, which borders Finland’s Lapland to the west.
The city enjoys over 40 days of uninterrupted darkness, making it one of the world’s premier destinations for the Northern Lights, and each year Murmansk gets more and more popular, as people discover this gem of a location, often referred to at the gateway to the Arctic.