Where Are The Best Places To See The Northern Lights? Top 5 Aurora Borealis Spots Recommended By Travel Experts

Nature’s light show. A kaleidoscope phenomenon. We’re talking about the northern lights, of course. Also known as the aurora borealis, you have probably heard of the vibrant, glittering phenomenon that graces the Arctic skies. Every year, people flock to the Northern Hemisphere for their chance to see the lights first-hand. But which are the consensus best places to see the northern lights around the world, according to these experts? 

Of course, making the journey to see this fantastic sight can leave tourists with more than just the experience of spectacular show. According to research, taking vacations actually makes the average person feel 65 percent happier. And when it comes to traveling around the world and scratching off those “bucket list” destinations, one survey reports the northern lights are a must-have on the list.

If you want to tick seeing the majestic aurelius borealis off your bucket list, or you’re just looking for a way to feel happier, the best time to schedule your trip is in the very beginning or at the end of the year. That’s because the northern lights are most visible in January and February, then again in November and December, although certain locations have a longer viewing window.

What causes the Northern Lights?

Understanding the science behind this breathtaking phenomenon adds an extra layer of appreciation to the experience. But what actually causes this natural light show?

  • Solar Wind and Earth’s Magnetosphere: The northern lights result from the interaction between charged particles from the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. When the sun releases a stream of charged particles, known as the solar wind, it collides with the Earth’s magnetosphere—a region surrounding the planet influenced by its magnetic field.
  • Excitation of Atmospheric Gases: As the solar wind collides with the Earth’s magnetosphere, it transfers energy to charged particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. These charged particles, predominantly electrons and protons, become excited and move to higher energy states.
  • Emission of Light: When the excited particles return to their normal energy state, they release the excess energy in the form of light. This emission of light is what creates the stunning colors of the northern lights. Oxygen molecules at higher altitudes produce red and green hues, while nitrogen molecules contribute to purple, pink, and blue colors.
  • Geomagnetic Storms and Solar Activity: The intensity and visibility of the northern lights are influenced by geomagnetic storms, which occur when there is an increased influx of charged particles from the sun. Solar activity, particularly during the solar maximum, enhances the likelihood of experiencing vibrant and widespread displays of the Aurora Borealis.

Wondering where to go? We’ve searched for the best places to see the northern lights, favoring locations with little to no light pollution, clear skies and no precipitation. Check out the top spots to see the northern lights, as recommended by travel websites. 

The List: Best Places To See The Northern Lights, Per Travel Experts

1. Tromsø, Norway 

“Based in the heart of the aurora zone in the Norwegian Arctic, the city is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to see the northern lights. Tromsø serves as a popular destination year after year and offers excellent aurora views from September all the way until April,” writes Best Served.

Amazing light display from Mother Nature, very humbled and in awe to capture a multi-hued color Aurora at Tromso, Norway.
Northern Lights captured in Tromsø, Norway. (Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash)

According to Time Out, “The northern reaches of Norway are nicely nestled within the Arctic circle, and the mega-long nights in winter make perfect aurora viewing conditions. Tromsø is a popular place for northern light hunters to base themselves. You can sometimes even spot the lights from the town itself.” 

Adds The Travel: “One should visit Tromso, Norway, to see one of the most magnificent natural wonders on the planet. The breathtaking grandeur of the Northern Lights may be seen there, just south of the Arctic Circle.”

2. Fairbanks, Alaska

The last American frontier is highly rated for its view of the northern lights. “Fairbanks is by far one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights, as it’s located directly under the auroral oval. This ring-shaped zone sits over the Earth’s geomagnetic North Pole, where aurora activity is concentrated. Visitors can expect to see the lights on an average of four out of five clear nights during aurora season, which lasts from August 21, to April 21,” says U.S. News.

Northern lights (aurora borealis) in Fairbanks, Alaska (Photo by Nandita Damaraju on Unsplash)

If you want to feel inspired, but not so cold, Travel and Leisure recommends a way to do just that: “The bitter cold that often comes with witnessing the northern lights can be a real deterrent. Enter Chena Hot Springs Resort, with its warm, mineral-rich healing waters. The resort’s adults-only Rock Lake offers the opportunity to enjoy a light show along with a soak.”

3. Southern Iceland

Capture The Atlas recommends The Land of Fire and Ice, saying, “Iceland is one of the most popular destinations for seeing the northern lights for many reasons: You can get cheap flights from the U.S. and Europe. The country is accessible, with good roads, so you can just rent a car and do your own aurora chasing trip. Even though Iceland is not above the Arctic Circle, there are very high chances of seeing the aurora.” 

Green aurora over Iceland mountains.
Green aurora over Iceland mountains (Photo by Benjamin Suter on Unsplash)

Theres also a lot of other things to see in Iceland. “Ancient volcanoes, shining glaciers, and tumbling waterfalls. Iceland is a land of mystery and magic. But nothing says ‘Icelandic winter’ more than chasing the northern lights. Iceland’s dark winter skies make for more frequent sightings and brighter aurora displays, with stunning natural landscapes as a backdrop,” according to Tripadviser

4. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Sweden offers a unique way to view the aurora! “If you’re thinking about traveling to see the Northern Lights in person, here [is one] of the most unusual ways you can enjoy the experience first-hand. Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a hotel that’s been carved out of the ice of a local river? This Ice Hotel is recreated every year because once the Spring season comes along, it melts and turns back into a flowing river,” mentions Via Travelers.

The Travel highly recommends this area as well, saying: “Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, is one of the best places in the world to witness the northern lights … it is located within the Arctic Circle, which means that it has long winter nights with very little sunlight. This makes it much easier to see the lights as they are more visible in darker conditions.”

5. Abisko, Sweden

Sweden boasts two spots in our top five. Holidify has a rave review, stating, “Scientifically proven to be an ideal place to witness the northern lights, Abisko, Sweden, tops the list … because of the 43-mile long Torneträsk Lake. The Lake helps create the famous ‘Blue Hole of Abisko’ – an area which stays clear of clouds no matter how the surrounding weather conditions are.”

The northern lights at Abisko National Park in Sweden
The northern lights at Abisko National Park in Sweden (Photo by David Becker on Unsplash)

“The town of Abisko, Sweden, is one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights. Besides its prime location on the northern reaches of the earth, the viewing window is longer, giving you more travel options … from October through March, you can catch them almost every night,” adds PlanetWare.

Have you seen the northern lights or do you want to? Let us know in the comments! 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


  1. We were lucky enough to see northern lights at Abisko at 530pm just outside our accommodation..it’s a truly magnificent site as we had all the colours and were told the Sami culture believe it’s the recently deceased going to heaven having just lost my Father it certainly resonated with me 😍

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