Choosing the Right Aurora Destination
This stunning volcanic island captivates visitors at any time of year, but the winter months have a special charm with the added bonus of the northern lights. Possibly the most convenient and affordable aurora destination to visit from the UK, Iceland is easily explored both independently and on a small group tours. We recommend staying away from the bright lights of Reykjavik in one of our countryside locations.
- Explore geysers, waterfalls and volcanic landscapes
- Go whale watching and in search of other wildlife
- Bathe in the Blue Lagoon or your own private hot tub
- Experience the thrill of superjeeps and snowmobiles!
Swedish Lapland offers some truly special opportunities for viewing the northern lights. We recommend combining Abisko Mountain Station with a stay at the Icehotel to optimise your chances of seeing the aurora. With a wide range of exciting activities on offer, you'll experience stunning snow-covered landscapes and the spectacular polar light of the Lapland region.
- Visit the world-famous Abisko Sky Station
- Combine with the spectacular ICEHOTEL
- Try snowmobiling, Sami experiences, a traditiona sauna ritual and more!
- Mush a team of huskies on a wilderness adventure
From the dramatic scenery of the Lofoten Islands to the cultural city of Tromso, explore the fjord indented coastline of Norway all the way up to the North Cape. Northern Norway is a land of wide open spaces and little light pollution offering superb opportunities for seekers of the northern lights.
- Board the Hurtigruten for a northern lights cruise
- Explore the picturesque Lofoten Islands
- Discover the vast open skies of the North Cape
- Experience the polar night in Spitsbergen
Log cabins set amidst the brilliant white snow and pine forests of Finnish Lapland provide the truly splendid backdrop for watching the aurora borealis. Head high above the Arctic Circle into the pristine wilds of Lapland where opportunities for viewing the northern lights can be combined with a range of exhilarating activities.
- Cosy up in a traditional log cabin or wilderness resort
- Relax in your private sauna
- Enjoy wildlife encounters at Ranua
- Go snowmobiling, join a reindeer safari and much more
With its northern provinces extending deep into the Arctic Circle, Canada offers some fantastic locations to see the northern lights in some of the world’s great wildernesses. Combined with a host of thrilling winter activities and picturesque snow-covered scenery, Canada is a northern lights holiday destination that’s hard to beat. We recommend the fascinating town of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, which can be combined with a longer tailor made holiday in Canada.
- Discover the Yukon's spectacular wilderness
- Explore the iconic Rocky Mountains
- Encounter wildlife such as caribou and moose
The Wilderness State of Alaska offers the perfect location for a winter adventure as well as the opportunity to see the northern lights. A destination offering a range of winter activities, we recommend heading into the Arctic Circle on the famed Dalton Highway to a remote camp right beneath the auroral oval.
- Go snowshoeing, ice skating, dog sledding and more
- Travel on the legendary Alaska Railroad
- Search for moose and caribou in the far north
- Enjoy naturally heated hot pools at Chena Hot Springs Resort
Though less accessible during the true winter months than our other aurora destinations, Greenland offers some exciting options during the shoulder seasons. Combine a search for the aurora borealis on an adventure cruise along Greenland's east coast and into Scoresby Sund, departing in September or enjoy a thrilling husky adventure in East Greenland during March and AprilNorthern lights holidays in Greenland
When is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights?
The northern lights are visible under dark skies between the months of September to April, preferably under a clear, cloudless sky. Usually seen between 5pm and 2am, it is important to be away from artificial light. No month guarantees better sightings than another but December to February offer the longest hours of darkness, while the months of autumn and spring are likely to offer more stable weather conditions and often see more aurora activity.
Where Can I See The Northern Lights?
Anywhere within an area known as the auroral oval that sits above the Arctic and sub-Arctic. The most easily accessible of these destinations are Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway, or travel further afield to Canada and Alaska. Our premium locations include the Aurora Sky Station at Abisko in Swedish Lapland, Hotel Ranga in Iceland's southern countryside and just outside Tromso in northern Norway.
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What Causes the Northern Lights?
Solar flares erupt from the sun’s surface all the time. If Earth lies in the firing line, streams of electrons and protons hurtle towards us at speeds of 1,000km per second. Most are deflected into deep space by our magnetic field, but enough supercharged particles sneak into the upper atmosphere (particularly at the poles where magnetic fields are weaker) and start colliding with oxygen and nitrogen molecules. The reactions cause photons – or light – to be emitted.
Sunspots are dark, cool areas of the sun's surface which erupt causing the sun to fire out its solar flares or charged particles. Sunspot activity reaches a peak - or solar maximum - typically every 11 years in accordance with the solar cycle and during this time northern lights sightings are expected to be particularly intense and more frequent.
At any time, displays vary in intensity – from a glowing curtain of greenish yellow lights, dancing in the distance to a spectacular, multi-coloured fusion stretching across the sky. As this is nature's light show, it must be remembered that sightings can never be guaranteed, even when the conditions seem just right. Boost your chances by staying somewhere away from the light pollution of built up areas. discover more about the aurora.