Travelling to see the Northern Lights
The majestic Northern Lights are a sight not to be missed. Otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis, meaning ‘The Northern Dawn’, the night sky is lit up with a mesmerising view of celestial bands of blues, greens, pinks and purples.
Sightings of the Aurora are a unique and rare experience. To see them, you will have to pack extra layers for the frosty weather, and hike up to the northern tips of Europe. With stunning landscapes, including sublime glaciers, waterfalls and thermal lagoons, you will have plenty to explore by day. At night, the lights come out. Escape the city bustle into the beautiful wilderness for the best viewings. Then, at the dead of night the glowing lights will slowly appear, darting and dancing around the sky for hours. It is a natural light like no other, and an experience every traveller must witness first hand. Interested? Here’s everything you need to know:
Where can you see the Northern Lights?
You’ll need to head to the Northern Hemisphere. Here are our top and most accessible spots in Europe:
- Iceland: A short visit to Reykjavik, the most northern capital in the world, is the perfect destination to observe the Aurora. In the evening, let the experts take you off the beaten track on a jeep across frozen landscapes to hunt down the lights. By day, visit a thermal blue lagoon carved out of a lava field, watch whales leaping into the air in the Arctic ocean and admire the breathtaking scenery.
- Norway: The most northern country in Europe, it is inevitably the ultimate place to catch the Aurora. Indeed, Alta in Northern Norway is known as the ‘Northern Lights City’. Start off trekking from this city and look out for the Aurora on the way! Explore natural parks, lakes, glaciers, forests and stunning fjords. Our local expert, Rogier, also offers a traditional Sami meal followed by a unique stay in an ice hotel!
- Greenland: Walk along the Greenland Icecap, spotting the wildlife that calls this destination home; majestic reindeer, powerful musk-ox, darting rabbits, cautious foxes, and many more. The Northern Lights await you in this natural winter wonderland; see them from the comfort of a hot spring or Northern Lights tour.
When can you see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are best seen from autumn through winter, from September to March, when there are long, dark nights. The further north you travel, the hours of darkness increase, so it is possible to see the lights from 6pm, although 9pm-2am is considered prime viewing time. The ideal weather conditions are dry and cloudless with no falling snow so that there is a crystal clear sky.
How long should you go for?
The Aurora tends to be brightest for 2-3 nights and then low for 3-4 nights, so it is advised to visit for a minimum of 5 nights. With luck you will see the display of lights in the sky, but don’t forget that it cannot be guaranteed and there are plenty of other exciting winter activities to discover in the Arctic. Our local travel experts would be happy to tell you all about them while including as many opportune moments to see the Aurora as you wish!