Northern Lights season is right around the corner. This natural phenomenon only occurs in certain parts of the world when solar particles collide with one another as they enter the earth’s atmosphere.
The mysterious light show isn’t easy to spot – weather conditions and the sun’s position have to be just right. But with enough research, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse. To makes things easier, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 destinations for seeing the Northern Lights, according to data from global travelers.
Canada has some of the world’s lowest levels of light pollution
With millions of miles of remote, uninhabited wilderness, Canada has some of the world’s lowest levels of light pollution – perfect for spotting the Northern Lights. The Northwest Territories, closest to the Arctic Circle, is the best place to catch that famous green glow. Head to the city of Yellowknife from mid-August to late April, and check out Chateau Nova Yellowknife to warm up in the sauna after a night of stargazing.
The Northern Lights are hard to miss in Fairbanks
Alaska is as close as you can get for guaranteed views of the Northern Lights. Thanks to its northern latitude, the city of Fairbanks sits right under a band of aurora activity and has its own forecast system. Plus, local hot springs help keep visitors warm in the bitter cold. From August to May, take a tour through Denali National Park and the Yukon Territory to get the best views . The swirling neon lights are most visible between 10 pm and 3 am. Rest up at Fairbanks Moose Manor B&B, the highest-rated accommodations in Fairbanks.
Watch the Aurora Borealis light up the sky from the tiny hamlet of Kálfafell
The tiny hamlet of Kálfafell is located on the outskirts of the Vatnajökull National Park near a glacier with the same name. The sky in this area is jet black, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to spot the green lights as they dance across the Icelandic sky.
Fosshotel Nupar offers views of Vatnajökull’s lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, plus the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights over Tromsø
The mountains and fjords surrounding Tromsø create the perfect backdrop for the Northern Lights. The town is also relatively accessible, has its own planetarium, and holds an annual Northern Lights Festival during the winter that features musical events taking place under a fiery green sky. The best time to see the lights is between October and mid-March.
Bed & Waffles is a highly-rated guest house in the heart of Tromsø.
Abisko's geography makes it great for spotting the Northern Lights
Almost 150 miles inside the Arctic Circle, the Aurora Borealis appears with incredible clarity over the small Swedish village of Abisko. Thanks to its location on the edge of Torneträsk, a 43-mile-long lake, the sky above stays clear regardless of weather patterns that affect the surrounding area.
Be sure to check out Abisko Turiststation STF, a guest house on the shores of Lake Torneträsk.
Take a driving tour through the snow in Ivalo
The Northern Lights appear over Finland almost every night during the season, so your chances of catching the celestial display of green and purple are pretty high. Ivalo is a village on the Ivalo River in Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland, where there’s barely any traffic and zero light pollution. To improve your chances, chase the lights on a driving tour through forests and snowy wilderness, making the whole experience even more of an adventure.
This family-run guest house offers traditional Finnish home cooking and dog-sledding excursions.
See reindeer in Inari, Finland
On the shores of Lake Inari—the third largest lake in Finland—lies the remote village of Inari. If you go in the middle of winter, take a dog-sledding tour through thick snow and forests filled with reindeer, all while looking out for glowing green ribbons dancing in the sky. Inarin Kalakenttä has its own private beach for watching the Northern Lights.
The town of Alta is deep in the Arctic Circle
The town of Alta, deep in the Arctic Circle, was the site of the world’s first Northern Lights observatory built on the top of Mt. Haldde in 1899. It also has great weather conditions for watching the lights, with mostly clear skies during winter. Trasti & Trine’s Lodge, located on the banks of the Alta River and surrounded by forest, are the highest-rated accommodations in Alta.
The Northern Lights above the fishing village of Sandgerdi, Iceland
Sandgerdi was once a fishing village on the Southern Peninsula and is now a popular place for Northern Lights chasers. Despite the increase in tourism and its proximity to Reykjavik, Sandgerdi is still peaceful, with the Northern Lights reflecting off the surrounding sea. The peak months for aurora spotting are December, January, and February. Sandgerdi Cottages offer individual wooden cabins with private hot tubs, not far from Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.
Kirkenes is a remote spot for viewing the Aurora Borealis
This quiet Arctic town on the border with Russia is right in the middle of the Northern Lights zone. It’s a destination for the bravest of travelers, since there’s barely anything here, except a few excursions for exploring the Arctic Circle. This hotel is on the shores of Bøkfjorden, and offers snowmobile excursions, dog-sledding trips, and bear tracking.
**The data scientists at Booking.com used internal data to uncover the top destinations for “Northern Lights” according to Booking.com customers.