The Aurora Borealis is spectacular. Standing under the magical phenomenon, as it dances across the sky, is a moment everyone should experience at least once in their life. But seeing it can be difficult.
You need determination to travel to far-flung destinations, miles from human habitation, and endure freezing cold nights. And even then, conditions are not always right.
But is it worth all this effort? Definitely. And here we’ll share with you the best places to travel to for the best chance of witnessing one of the world’s great wonders.
Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn
Iceland is one of the most popular European destinations for seeing the Northern Lights. Perched high up in the North Atlantic, it’s blessed with long nights in winter, and the lowest population density in Europe means that light pollution is kept to a minimum. Key ingredients for great views of the Aurora.
How to get there: Fly to Reykjavik, where it’s easy to pick up a rental car. Direct flights to available from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
Other things to do: Head off on a boat whale watching, go on a spectacular volcano tour, or warm up in a geothermal spa.
Photo credit: Claudia Regina CC
Norway is a great place to get away from it all. The north of the country is sparsely populated and stunningly beautiful, with high mountains fringing deep fjords.
How to get there: Fly to Tromso, where you’ll be able to rent a car, via Oslo.
Other things to do: Driving around the fjords and beautiful villages, go cross country skiing. Or why not go on a husky sled tour and see the Aurora from a remote log cabin.
Photo credit: Editor Northern Lights
Much of northern Canada is within the Aurora zone, and with wide open country there are no problems with light pollution away from the main cities. Just be prepared for some seriously cold temperatures if travelling in the middle of winter.
How to get there: There are options near many of the big Canadian cities, but Calgary has direct flights from London for a reasonable cost and you can sometimes even see the Northern Lights from the city.
Other things to do: Snowshoe through the pristine wild forests or take in an ice hockey game.
Photo credit: geograph
Although Scotland is outside of the ‘Aurora Oval’, it’s possible to see the lights if you’re lucky, especially in the far north of the country.
How to get there: If you live in Northern England, then driving up is not too far, but from Wales or the southern half of England, it will be more convenient to fly and hire a car. Glasgow and Edinburgh have good connections, but Inverness gives you a head start, as it’s further north.
Other things to do: Explore the stunning forests and lochs of this magical landscape, and savour some of its finest produce in a tour of one of its famous distilleries.