The northern lights must be one of travel’s most brilliant motivators: every year they inspire legions of warm-weather fans to brave the Arctic’s dark days of winter. If you’re going to face the elements for an auroral spectacle, though, those lights had better show. So where’s the best place to go? Try one of these 10 spots recommended by IgoUgo members.
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
Photo by MilwVon
Sixty miles northeast of Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs Resort offers perfectly remote, summit-top viewing of the aurora borealis. On tours open to resort guests and non-guests alike, snow coaches transport viewers to an area equipped with a heated yurt--because “active and vivid” lights are even more enjoyable when viewed in relative comfort.
Photo by wanderluster
Home to Abisko National Park, this small Lapland town shines year-round: with the northern lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer. View the lights from the park’s network of hiking trails or from its Aurora Sky Station, where you’ll be well within the Arctic Circle and well aware of why the station advertises its lights show as “probably the best aurora on earth.”
Denali National Park, Alaska
Photo by TwoIdiots
Denali’s northern lights were so explosive that they caused TwoIdiots to end their park review with, “Oh yeah, we saw Mt. McKinley too.” It’s not easy to dwarf McKinley, but the aurora here is “pure excitement” as “light shoots up straight like a spotlight, then slowly starts running across the northern sky like a curtain drawn across the stage.”
Photo by Tim Jim
Tim Jim has viewed the northern lights from both Iceland and Finland but favors Lapland because the show is “easier to predict, brighter, and more colorful.” Though daylight is limited in winter, Tim Jim (who viewed from the stylish Hotel Kakslauttanen) says that “once you have seen the aurora shining, you will wish it were dark more often!"
Photo by MilwVon
For viewing the northern lights within sight of civilization, perhaps no city fares better than Fairbanks; the city’s visitor center even hands out certificates to anyone who’s witnessed the aurora there. One popular viewing area is Cleary Summit, where MilwVon saw a “beautiful slow-moving aurora” dancing across the sky.
IgoUgo members also recommend:
Pingvellir National Park, Iceland
reports that the lights here appear in an “amazing” array of shapes and with intense brightness.
“can think of no finer way to experience the ‘real’ Yukon” than to join one of Muktuk Kennels’ sled-dog trips beneath the northern lights.
calls Narvik “Norway’s premier alpine-skiing destination” and a northern-lights favorite.
advises that the northern lights are visible in the Salmon Capital “throughout the year.”
Flying near Arctic air? Look out! Alaska fanatic samepenny
says that if you’re leaving Anchorage at night, “you may see the northern lights for a while as you head south.” And msusman
recommends asking for a window seat on flights to and from Iceland; it’s how she saw the aurora borealis for the first time.