"I've stood outside my house in Montana looking at the northern lights crackling against the night sky. To me, that's magic." – Christopher Paolini.
Among nature's most beautiful phenomena, the aurora borealis or Northern Lights are the ones that leave you wondering how special our planet is. Having a glimpse of these stunning displays used to be a chance occasion, a rare coincidence for those lucky people who were in the right place at the right time.
To be honest, it is a lifetime experience. But where to find them? How to spot them, and where to go to find the right view?
Hold on, first, let us explain what's happening in the science world.
What Are These Northern Lights?
These lights are basically produced by the charged particles from the sun colliding with atoms in the earth's atmosphere. When they strike each other, it makes a dazzling natural display in the sky which can be experienced in a variety of locations across the globe.
According to the great space scientists, it is said that the sun goes through a roughly 11-year cycle, in which it has three to four years of solar maximum. This cycle creates the appearance of Northern lights, followed by a couple of years of transition, then again, it comes to the three to four years of solar minimum.
When is the Best Time to Watch the Northern Lights?
To be specific, these lights can be seen at best in winters. Winters are dark, so the chances increase up to 40%. Generally, the best time of year is from late August to mid-April. Sometimes, tourists happen to catch the aurora lights in the mid-summers as well, when the sky is clear. Also, during the night, the time between 10 PM to 2 AM is the ideal one.
Where to Go To Watch The Northern Lights
Next comes the location.
So, picking the right geographic location which is close to the North Pole will help boost your chances of seeing the northern lights. There are countries in the northern latitude, including Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. These are often sure bets. But the other factors count as well. You need to ensure that you're far from any light pollution and have a clear night sky without clouds or storms and have the moon in its initial days.
With these conditions, travel to the places we've picked for you from the Northern Hemisphere to catch the lights.
For the adventurers who are truly dedicated to getting the experience, there's an off-the-beaten path in the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. According to the tourists, it is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. You can get there either by plane or train, as there is no other mode of transportation available.
It makes the place farther from the city life, and there is the least hustle and bustle. Along with enjoying the Northern lights, there is quite the rustic charm. In the Churchill, the peak season for catching the lights is from January to March.
However, if you visit in late November, the place will give you a chance to spot some polar bears. During the summer months, you'd catch sight of beluga whales as well. Churchill boasts northern lights visibility up to 300 days of the year, so you've got plenty of time to think, plan and go!
"It's official. Nature wins the award for Best Glow-Up."
Norway is another popular destination for viewing the Northern lights. Located in the heart of the aurora zone in the Norwegian Arctic, the city of Tromso is frequently visited for the Northern Lights. Also, Norway is one easily accessible spot as there is a direct flight from London taking just 3.5 hours and reaching Tromso.
The city offers excellent aurora views from September all the way until April. Other than the Northern lights, the city itself is a lively place to be in, with more pubs and bars per capita than anywhere else in Norway.
Greenland is one of the purest places on earth, with just 5,000 people. As predicted by the population, you can imagine just how sparse the region really is. Found on the western coast, the little town of Ilulissat provides the opportunity to sit in peace, relax and enjoy the unadulterated nature.
Watching the Northern Lights in Greenland is very easy as compared to other locations. Special thanks to the lack of rain and low levels of wind. There are usually very stable weather conditions and a normal climate. Ilulissat is based in the heart of Greenland's aurora belt, which adds add further to the experience. The months of September to April are the best time for you to visit this region. You'd be surprised to see these beautiful lights covering the sky. It is a feast to the eyes.
This location is right under the Auroral Oval, which makes Fairbank an ideal place to witness Northern lights. It is a ring-shaped area around the North Pole from where the sky is clearer, and the stars are most visible.
A good time for adventurers who plan to visit this spectacular phenomenon come to Alaska from September to March. They have specially designed cabins and hotels like the famous Moose Walk Cabin, a waterfront rental home in Fairbanks, to get the best view of amazing auroras in Alaska. With all the luxuries and the best views of the night sky, no wonders why it is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. Also, if you wish to travel for a peaceful time, come here. This place offers exciting hiking, snowmobile, and four-wheeler trails.
Orkney is located on the northern coast of Scotland. It is a remote location having a group of captivating islands. The local people there call the Northern lights 'Merry Dancers.'
Visitors can catch a sight at best in the fall and winter seasons. The ideal conditions for viewing the northern lights are clear, dark skies with least to zero light pollution. Don't forget to take your camera and the tripod stand with you. You'd be amazed once the nature's light show starts happening.
One unique thing about Hella is that it has a very helpful hotel named Rangá. It is a 51-room hotel in southern Iceland, and here, if you select the aurora wake-up service, the hotel will buzz your in-room phone whenever the lights appear at night. They ensure none of their guests miss the spectacle.
What's better than spending your honeymoon there and witnessing the stunning sky from the geothermally heated hot tubs? Don't miss a chance to experience the best time of your life!
The northern lights fill the sky over Finland for about 200 nights per year. Have a calming sleep watching the dancing display from within a glass igloo at romantic Kakslauttanen Resort. It is located in the north of the Arctic Circle.
Other than the wooden and glass igloos, you can also plan your stay at nearly a century-old traditional log house with its own thermal bath. Other exciting options for accommodation in Finland are enjoying the natural display in Finland abound, from seaside glass villas and domes set right on a lake to a northern lights ranch complete with sky cabins hosting glass windows and roofs.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
You don't necessarily have to travel for long and spend a hefty amount going to a new place just to witness the aurora light. If you are in Pennsylvania, Cherry Springs State Park is committed to preserving its exceptionally dark sky. The area has been given the designation of Gold Level International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. It deserves the status because the park uses special light fixtures that don't inhibit visibility and have strict rules about flashlights and car headlights.
Swedish Lapland is another aurora light hunting playground, with a number of exciting outdoorsy activities to keep you occupied while you're staying there. To stay out of the crowd, head to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park. There's the country's northmost city called Kiruna, which is also an ideal base, as is the nearby village of Jukkasjärvi. Additionally, to enjoy serenity and isolation, visit the tiny village of Porjus.
FAYVO gives you the options for everything. Hotels, stays, eating spots, and everything you need during your travel. So, for Sweden, The Ice Hotel is one of the most iconic. It is a famous hotel, freshly constructed, and is also family-friendly.
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All these options are there for you to choose from and decide which option suits you the best. The Faroe Islands are also one of those beautiful locations where you can witness the spectacular Northern Lights displays. The Faroe Islands are usually dark due to their archipelago, but the months from November to February give you the best chances to see the lights.
If you wish to have a luxury stay, book a hotel somewhere near to the market, and then go to the dark location, as there are many dark-sky sites on the islands, which makes for ideal stargazing conditions. Some of the best places are Tindholmur, Vestmanna Bird Cliffs, and Sørvágsvatn Lake