The Polar Lights are a spectacular display of colorful illumination in the night sky. The Polar Lights are actually a product of solar wind and solar flare ups. They create different colors based on different particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. The absolute best time to view the aurora borealis, is no doubt in the wintertime, when the nights are longer. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when on an aurora hunt. For one thing, you need to steer clear of city lights. The light pollution from the city really affects visibility of the stars and aurora. Generally speaking, every aurora region has real time alerts to let people know about aurora sightings! You should also be aware that taking photos of the Northern Lights can be a bit tricky. We recommend doing some separate research beforehand. Now let’s get ready and start Packing your bags
1. United states
One of the best places to view the Polar Lights in the United States, is actually in Alaska. Because parts of Alaska are a part of the Arctic Circle, you have a high chance of being able to view the Polar Lights. Although most of Alaska is great for Aurora viewing, we recommend heading to Fairbanks. Fairbanks offers fantastic cultural heritage tours, outdoor activities, and all the amenities of a larger city. Even though the best time to view the Polar Lights is during the wintertime, Fairbanks thankfully has a ton of indoor museums, cute cafes, and is in close proximity to Chena Hot Springs.
Iceland is another great option to view the aurora. Most of Iceland, outside of the city, is great for viewing the Polar Lights. There’s also tons to do; beautiful waterfalls, hot springs, native culture, and volcanos all within one island. We suggest first heading to Reykjavik-the capital city and then going on day trips outside of the city, we also strongly suggest heading up north for some amazing outdoor activities. Reykjavik boasts some of the most wonderful, unique cafes in Iceland. Try some vegan food at hip Kaffi Vinyl, or try Reykjavík Roasters for some fantastic coffee.
Anywhere in the Arctic Circle that is remote is typically a good spot to view the aurora and Norway is no acception. Norway is full of cute, small, quaint little Norwegian towns that have easy access for prime aurora viewing locations. Head to Tromsø, Alta, The Lofoten Islands, Harstad, or even Svalbard for amazing displays of the Polar Lights. Norway is a very comfortable country, with scenic mountains, valleys, and coastal fjords. Visit Bergen, a super adorable unique town with colorful wooden houses, or head to Oslo, the capital city to view ships built by the Vikings themselves.
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In Finland, there are loads of colorful little fishing villages, nature galore, fjords, and super easy transportation. This magical country is a hotspot for interesting hotels. For instance, you could book an igloo made from glass or dream away in a cozy traditional log cabin at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort East Village. You will be able to see the aurora in a glamping fashion- you don’t even need to get out of bed. Making this a perfect romantic getaway with your favorite person. The arctic resort offers so much to do, without even leaving your hotel!
To view the Polar Lights in Russia, head to the Kola Peninsula and specifically the town of Murmansk. This quaint town makes a great home base for aurora spotting. Since Murmansk is already sort of remote, it makes it really easy to get away from city light pollution for optimal aurora viewing. If you’re looking for a bit of a larger town, we recommend St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is simply wonderful; the magnificent decorative cathedral, better known as the “Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood” is beautiful location for sightseeing. The church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded; and his son Alexander III funded its construction just a few years later. The church was completed in 1907, and remains a popular tourist destination. Another great tourist spot for when you aren’t aurora hunting is the Winter Palace of the former Czars, and Peterhof Palace by the sea. This incredible architecture sits right on the edge of the Gulf of Finland; and is surrounded by a beautiful park.The palace grounds also boast incredible ornate fountains. A fantastic place to take a stroll during the daytime.
Sweden is also a very popular destination for viewing the aurora. It is a prime location for its accessible flights from the rest of Europe, and the effects of the Gulf Stream allowing for milder temperatures in comparison to other Polar Lights viewing countries. To increase your chances of seeing the aurora, we suggest traveling north towards the Norwegian border. Some towns include Abisko, Tärendö, Jukkasjärvi, and Farnebofjarden National Park, and Jokkmokk. You must try some of the traditional Swedish treats; such as black licorice ice cream.
Greenland is a neighboring country of Iceland; except it doesn’t have nearly as many tourists! You’ll basically have the beautiful countryside and expansive Polar Lights views all to yourself. Although, there are no roads in this country, so the primary source of transportation is by boat or plane.
8. Northern Canada
You can see the Polar Lights best in the northernmost parts of Canada. Canada is a great option for those searching for remote wilderness. This is also a great option if traveling to Europe to view the Polar Lights is not possible for you right now. We suggest heading to Yukon or the Northwest Territories, but Vancouver is also a terrific option. You can camp out in the wild Canadian Forests, or you opt for Yellowknife. You’ll have a guide to help you out that knows the right conditions and spots to view the aurora.
Feeling like you might be able to catch a glimpse of the incredible Polar Lights?
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