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Because you can't spend all day every day journeying around IgoUgo, editors round up the highlights: members' notable trips, newest reviews, favorite destinations, contests, and more. Have a question or idea? Let us know!

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10 Great Places to See the Northern Lights

10 Great Places to See the Northern Lights Photo

Photo by MilwVon

Posted on January 5, 2010 in Trip Ideas

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.

Abisko, Sweden

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.”

Lapland, Finland

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!"

Fairbanks, Alaska

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

Kevin Chua reports that the lights here appear in an “amazing” array of shapes and with intense brightness.

Whitehorse, Canada

Josh S “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.

Narvik, Norway

Backpacker dangaroo calls Narvik “Norway’s premier alpine-skiing destination” and a northern-lights favorite.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Re Carroll advises that the northern lights are visible in the Salmon Capital “throughout the year.”

An Airplane

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.


Comment by jiggs1219 on January 13, 2010

Beautiful pics. I would love to visit Chena Hot Springs, Alaska.


Comment by Overlander on January 28, 2010

Air India's nonstop from Mumbai to Chicago is a good bet, too, for the flight crosses the Arctic Ocean as it flies almost due north until it's suddenly going south. Take that flight in the winter and there's a very good chance of a real show.

Comment by boffinboy on March 14, 2011

Wow that was the best according to my couculations e=mc2

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