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10 Best Places to view the Aurora Borealis

"The world is full of beautiful things."



The Aurora Borealis is a spectacle of the sky that many wish to add to their travel bucket list. I love the idea of staring into the sky and seeing nature's most dramatic fireworks display. This "stirring of the sky" is a dream come true to witness bringing a dramatic feeling that also stirs the soul and mesmerizes its audience.


We see the beauty of the northern lights, aka aurora borealis, when the charged particles from the sun get trapped in the magnetic field of Earth. This celestial scene is happening at altitudes from 60 to more than 250 miles high in Earth’s atmosphere. It is not a guaranteed occurrence, but some places are known more than others for these transcendental experiences.


2024 is supposed to be a fantastic year for this phenomenal sight. So, where do you go to see it? What time of year? And where do you stay? This post will answer those questions and more about the amazing places you can view this amazing extravaganza in the sky. The three things that make for excellent viewing are: location, frequency and clear skies (best to go when there is no or very little moonlight). These places are known for having the best viewing.


Tips before you go:

  • Check the aurora borealis forecast before you go. There are several websites and apps that can give you an idea of the likelihood of seeing the lights.

  • Go on a clear night with no clouds.

  • Find a dark spot away from light pollution.

  • Be patient! It can take a while for the Northern Lights to appear.

  • Please check temperatures when you plan to go, as they can be very cold in these areas (especially in winter) and you will need to pack accordingly.


Yellowknife, Canada

Yellowknife, Canada, is the undisputed Northern Lights Capital of North America, and for good reason! It boasts some of the best conditions for witnessing the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis. Here's why:

Location: Nestled at 62 degrees north latitude, Yellowknife sits right within the Auroral Oval, a belt around the Earth's magnetic poles where charged particles from the sun collide with the atmosphere, creating the luminous displays.

Clear skies: The Northwest Territories experience long, dark nights during winter, with minimal light pollution from towns or cities. This translates to vast expanses of pristine night sky, perfect for gazing upwards.

Frequency: Thanks to its prime location and clear skies, Yellowknife enjoys roughly 240 nights per year where the Northern Lights are visible!

Best time to visit: late September to mid-April is the peak season


Where to stay:

Chateau Nova Yellowknife

The Chateau Nova Yellowknife is a full-service conference hotel with great amenities from the fitness center, steam room and sauna to the Quarry Restaurant and Lounge. It is conveniently located in the Northeast area of downtown, approximately 5km from the Airport with easy access to the Ingraham Trail and Yellowknife Highways.


Explorer Hotel

Find your adventure in Yellowknife, and your “welcome home” at The Explorer Hotel. From this Yellowknife hotel, you can watch the aurora, mush your sledding dogs, fish crystal rivers and kayak with the flow. Retreat for a while by the warmth of the fire, amid expansive forest views and Aurora Borealis lights sprinkled in a dark sky. Here is where the bond with friends, family and colleagues becomes strong, and your connection with nature becomes intimate.


Things to do in Yellowknife:

  • Take a tour of the town

  • Visit Bristol Monument

  • Climb the Bush Pilot's Monument

  • Go snowmobiling or dog sledding

  • Hike the trails

  • Explore Cameron River Falls

  • Golf at midnight in Yellowknife

  • Fish on Great Slave Lake

  • Take a float plane tour

  • Visit the Snow Castle



Kirkjufell, Iceland

Kirkjufell is claimed to be the most photographed mountain in the country. Kirkjufell was one of the filming locations for "Game of Thrones". It is a popular spot for viewing and photographing the northern lights in Iceland and offers a stunning contrast between the mountain, waterfall and the sky.

Best time to visit: September to April

Where to stay:

Kirkjufell Hotel

Kirkjufell Hotel is located in Grundarfjordur. Grundarfjardar Swimming Pool and Ólafsvíkur Swimming Pool are worth checking out if an activity is on the agenda, while those looking for area attractions can visit Grundfjordur Public Pool and Maritime Museum. There is also a coffee shop/cafe/bar inside the hotel.

Hotel Budir

You don’t have to get very far outside of Reykjavík to find yourself in some truly wild landscapes; Hotel Búðir finds itself on the south coast of the Snæfellesnes Peninsula, two hours from the capital, surrounded by glaciers, lava fields, mountain peaks, and the oldest church in Iceland. Its rooms are contemporary but fairly traditional in inspiration, with the exception of the modernist-inspired master suite. All are comfortable, and the latter borders on extravagance. Just about any outdoor adventure you can imagine can be mounted from here, and the restaurant and bar are focused on the finest local flavors.

Things to do in Kirkjufell:

  • Hike Kirkjufell

  • Photograph the Northern Lights

  • Watch the sunset

  • Climb Kirkjufell

  • Visit the Waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss

  • Explore Grundarfjordur Information Center

  • Wander the Liston Art Gallery and Workshop

  • Take a Boat Tour in Grundarfjordur

  • See Grundarfjordur Church & Statue “Sýn” by Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir

  • Visit Grundarfjordur Harbor and Swimming Pool (hot pod)


Fairbanks, Alaska

The "Golden Heart of Alaska" beckons with its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and unique experiences. Whether you're an adventurer seeking midnight sun hikes or a culture enthusiast eager to delve into Athabascan traditions, Fairbanks has something for everyone.

Best time to visit: August through October


Where to stay:

Hyatt Place Fairbanks

Retreat from the wilderness to Hyatt Place Fairbanks, a comfortable, modern hotel located near downtown, the university, and within walking distance of shopping, quick bites and restaurants, and the waterfront. Spacious rooms include plush amenities to help you get ready for tomorrow’s adventure.


Aurora Villa

5-Star Hotel

Elsewhere in America the word “aurora” is strictly metaphorical, but at Aurora Villa, it’s entirely literal — here, at the end of a country road a half-hour from Fairbanks, in the Alaskan interior, the Northern Lights are a regular feature of the night sky. (For better viewing, the hotel’s lights go out at ten o’clock, and there’s very little ambient light in the surrounding area.) Aurora Villa’s Nordic-style minimalism is, in some ways, incongruously stylish in a place where rustic lodges are the norm — but at this latitude, it stands under the same night sky as Iceland and northern Scandinavia.


Things to do in Fairbanks:

  • Go Dog Sledding

  • Take a Northern Lights Tour

  • Tour the Hoo Doo Brewing Company

  • Explore the Aurora Ice Museum

  • Chena River State Recreation Area

  • Visit Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

  • Explore a running Reindeer Ranch

  • Visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North

  • Visit Pioneer Park

  • Visit Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center


Tromso, Norway

This charming city, nestled amidst snow-capped peaks of the Lyngen Alps and fjords under the mesmerizing aurora borealis, promises an unforgettable adventure. The city of Tromso is also famous for having the world's most northerly planetarium, brewery, and university. Whether you're seeking breathtaking landscapes or unique cultural experiences, you can find it in Tromso.

Best time to visit: September through April


Where to stay:

Scandic Ishavshotel

Welcome to Scandic Ishavshotel, the hotel that won the award for the region's best hotel breakfast in 2023! Stay right on the quay in Tromsø, the Paris of the North, and enjoy the fantastic view from the hotel. You can get the freshest seafood at the restaurant Roast and enjoy comfortable rooms after a day filled with new experiences.

Manshausen

5-Star Hotel

Even by Norwegian standards, Manshausen Island is out there. This island in the Steigen Archipelago was once a traders’ outpost, and the hotel’s 1880s-vintage main house is a relic of this era. But the sea cabins, as is evident from the photos, are quite a bit newer. These pared-down larchwood-and-glass structures perch right at the water’s edge, affording vertiginous views through full-length windows from living rooms furnished with mid-century reproduction furniture. Activities include just about anything you can get up to in the Nordic outdoors, which depends heavily on the season, of course — but these cabins are stunning year-round. The seven Sea Cabins and two new Sea Towers with a unique design that has won 40 architectural awards! A good description is “Compact Living”, meaning the focus is on comfort, calm minimalism, and an unobstructed view that virtually brings the magnificent scenery right inside. With a restaurant, kayak shed, spa and hot tub, you can immerse yourself in relaxation and enjoy your stay.


Things to do in Tromso:

  • Visit the Arctic Cathedral

  • View the Northern Lights

  • Take a whale watching tour

  • Goto Polaria Acquarium

  • Ride the Fjellheisen Cable Car

  • Go dog sledding or reindeer sledding

  • Wander the Polar Museum

  • Try snowshoeing

  • Visit the Tromso Ice Domes

  • Visit Torget

  • See Tromso Harbor


Kiruna, Sweden

Kiruna is the northernmost city in Sweden (90 miles north of the arctic circle), situated in the province of Lapland. It is known for its iron ore mine and its natural wonders such as the northern lights and the midnight sun. The nights are long and dark during the winter months making it an ideal spot to see the Northern Lights.

Best time to visit: September to March

Where to stay:

Ice Hotel

Each winter since the first and the original Icehotel was built, passionate artists gather in the modest town of Jukkasjäarvi to build a new rendition of this Arctic wonder. When the spring comes, the hotel is then left to melt and find its way back to nature. Each coming winter brings a one-of-a-kind version of the Icehotel, promising a new set of treasured memories just waiting to unfold in this stunning Swedish destination. Have you ever imagined yourself sleeping in a room built out of ice? The art suites, are individually designed and sculpted thematic suites. The artists have been invited to make the suite you’ll be sleeping in. Each suite is unique and has never been created before. Among the exciting attractions and activities that await are an art exhibit featuring hand-carved ice sculptures, a five-course menu highlighting Scandinavian delicacies, and the famous Ice Bar, which serves drinks in unique ice-carved glasses.


Niehku Mountain Villa

Niehku Mountain Villa has 14 guest rooms with the highest comfort and service, rooms to retreat to after a day of adventure and an evening of togetherness, good food and drink. Enjoy a 5-course dinner of Arctic delicacies. Discover the wilderness on a guided snowmobile adventure with campfire lunch. And hunt for the enchanting Northern Lights after dinner.

Explore the snow-covered wonderland at your own pace with complimentary snowshoeing.

Relax in the gym, sauna and relaxation area and find peace in the Arctic atmosphere.


Things to do in Kiruna:

  • Visit the Solar Egg Sauna

  • Explore the deep mines at LKAB

  • Experience a dog sled tour

  • See the Northern Lights

  • Go skiing

  • Visit the Sami Village - Nutti Sámi Siida

  • Go for a ride in a reindeer sleigh

  • Enjoy great winter hikes

  • Take a snowmobile for a spin


Kakslauttanen, Finland

Kakslauttanen is a village in northern Finland, located in the municipality of Inari, Lapland. It is known for its Arctic Resort, which offers glass igloos and log cabins for visitors to stay in. The resort is one of the world’s best places for watching the northern lights, and it is also a popular destination for winter sports such as skiing and snowmobiling. The resort is located above the Arctic Circle, and it is surrounded by pristine natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes.

Best time to visit: Autumn or Spring

Where to stay:

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Imagine sleeping under the shimmering stars or the dancing Northern Lights while comfortably nestled in a cozy glass igloo! Kakslauttanen is famous for these unique accommodations, where you can connect with the breathtaking arctic landscape even from your bed.


Wilderness Hotel Muotka

Muotka Wilderness Hotel offers practically endless possibilities to quench your thirst for many kinds of outdoor activities both in winter and summer. This destination is perfect for those looking for an active holiday in a cozy and relaxing atmosphere or for a romantic getaway. The location close to Urho Kekkonen National Park gives access to marked hiking and skiing trails. Muotka provides a great variety of accommodation in unique Arctic environment with wilderness rooms, log cabins, superior suites with sauna and Aurora cabin accommodation.

The magical landscapes of taiga forest and tranquil nature will ensure your holiday is one to remember.


Things to do in Kakslauttanen:

  • Dog sledding, snowmobiling and reindeer sledding

  • Snowshoeing, skiing

  • Ice Fishing

  • Guided Hikes

  • Aurora Photo Tour

  • Sámi Village Inari

  • Siida Museum by Car tour


Tasmania

The Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is a natural light display that can be seen in the southern hemisphere. It is the lesser-known counterpart to the Northern Lights and can be viewed from Tasmania, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Much like the Aurora Borealis, The Aurora Australis is caused by the collision of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, which produces the spectacular display of lights in the sky.


Tasmania is a great place to view the Aurora Australis, and there are several spots that offer a clear view of the southern sky. Some popular viewing spots include South Arm Peninsula, Cockle Creek, Dodges Ferry, Rosny Hill, Howden, Seven Mile, and Tinderbox.

Best time to visit: September when the southern lights are most vivid

Where to Stay: Hobart, Tasmania

Movenpick Hotel

4-Star Hotel

Discover Hobart's rich culture, history and award-winning cuisine with Mövenpick Hotel Hobart. Many of the elegant rooms and suites offer sweeping views of the spectacular harbor and city, allowing you to soak in Hobart from above. With meeting and event spaces for your next function, on-site restaurant - Tesoro, and access to hotel facilities such as a fitness center and free wifi, Mövenpick Hotel Hobart encapsulates the spirit of Hobart and makes an ideal base for your next holiday or staycation.

The Tasman

5-Star Hotel

Journey to the 1800s with a stay at this architecturally stunning and historically rich hotel in the heart of Tasmania's capital. The Tasman boasts 152 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites with Frette linen, high ceilings and state-of-the-art technology. The hotel rooms also implement carefully restored features with a modern interpretation of Art Deco style expressed through an uncomplicated setting. The Tasman hotel embraces its rich heritage and the distinct character of its locale, integrating seamlessly with Hobart's breathtaking scenery and culture, offering an experience that goes beyond a hotel stay, with its signature Italian restaurant in partnership with Chef Massimo Mele and a reimagined old-world cocktail bar.

Things to do in Tasmania:

  • Explore Freycinet National Park (Coles Bay)

  • Visit Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park

  • Visit Wellington Park

  • See the Bonorong Wildlike Sanctuary

  • Watch the Southern Lights

  • See Launceston First Basin and Cataract Gorge

  • Visit Three Capes Track and Port Arthur Historic Site

  • Wander the Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens


Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a unique destination with rich culture, nature and history. They are located in the Northeast Atlantic, halfway between Scotland and Iceland, and comprise 18 small islands with a population of 55,000. Explore the dramatic landscapes, steep cliffs, tall mountains and narrow fjords that make up the islands. The best places to see the Northern Lights here are Sornfelli, Viðareiði, or the coastal areas.

Best time to visit: late September to early April

Where to stay: Torshavn

Havgrim Seaside Hotel

The Faroe Islands only boutique hotel situated on the shore, a stone´s throw from the historic fort Skansin and within easy walking distance to the town center and the old part of Tórshavn.

Hotel Djurhuus

Hotel Djurhuus has 50 rooms in different sizes and catatgories from standard to superior suite. Hotel Djurhuus is located close to the harbour and within few minutes walk from the Tórshavn city center, where you will find shops, restaurants, bars & nightclubs, or explore the historic parlament in the smallest capital in the world. Breakfast is always included with your room. Next to the breakfast buffet, you’ll find comfy chairs where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. From the lounge on 3rd floor, you can enjoy a moment with the splendid view out on the horizon and the small island of Nólsoy,

Things to do in the Faroe Islands:

  • Explore the Historic Old Town of Tinganes

  • Take a boat tour of the Harbor

  • Take a guided kayak tour

  • Find the Northern Lights

  • Eat at the Michelin starred Koks restaurant

  • Shop for a traditional Faroese woolen jumper


Jasper National Park, Canada

Jasper National Park is the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve (second to Greater Big Bend in Texas and Mexico), meaning there is minimal light pollution and optimal conditions for stargazing. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie seeking adventure or a peaceful soul craving serenity, Jasper has something for everyone. Some of its natural wonders include majestic mountains, glaciers, sparkling lakes, and lush valleys with wildflowers, waterfalls and abundant wildlife.

Best time to visit: September through April

Where to stay: Jasper, Canada

Fairmont Jasper National Park

4-Star Hotel

Set on a 700-acre luxury resort in the spectacular Rocky Mountains, this remote, secluded lodge is one of the top hotels in Jasper, Canada. With a breathtaking setting between snow-capped peaks, foothills clad in pine forest, and crystal-clear Lac Beauvert, this romantic hideaway offers 442 inviting rooms, suites and log cabins, six dining choices, and a myriad of adventure activities for all. This beautiful lakeside hotel also has a heated outdoor pool, holistic treatments in the tranquil Fairmont Spa Jasper Park Lodge, and a well-equipped gym in the fitness center.


Pyramid Lake Lodge

Discover a chalet-style alpine lodge featuring 68 guest rooms — all with breathtaking Rocky Mountain views. Open year-round and located about 6 kilometers from the Jasper townsite, Pyramid Lake Lodge is a destination like no other in Jasper National Park.

Through the amenity program, stays include a host of complimentary winter activities, including ice-skating, snowshoeing and fat bike rentals, so you can explore Jasper's mountain landscape from the ice or on the trails. Additionally, in the lobby, you'll find complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate throughout the day, along with s’mores kits.


Things to do in Jasper National Park:

  • Snowshoe, bike, ice skate or experience a sleigh ride

  • Walk the boardwalk at Pyramid Island

  • Go white water rafting

  • Hike the trails

  • Canoe or Kayak

  • Ski in Marmot Basin

  • Relax at Miette Hot Springs

  • Lake Annette

  • Ride the sky tram

  • Cruise on Maligne Lake and visit the Canyon and Icewalk

  • Go during the Jasper Dark Sky Festival (in October)


Donegal, Ireland

Ireland's most northerly county, Donegal has the most darkness and least light pollution in Ireland, making it easier to see the light show in the night sky. County Donegal in Ireland is a stunning and diverse destination, offering something for everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs to foodies and relaxation seekers. It offers miles of rugged coastline, scenic loughs and waterways and many national parks to explore. You can also explore castles, museums, traditional pubs, music and festivals or enjoy a variety of adventures and activities.

Best time to visit: November to March

Where to stay:

Harvey's Point Hotel

4-Star Hotel

TripAdvisor Travellers Choice voted Harvey's Point No. 1 Hotel in Ireland 2023. Without a doubt, Harvey's Point excels, but above all, it is the people who truly define the place. Harvey's Point is an authentic hotel operated by genuine individuals, each driven by a sincere desire to ensure the happiness, relaxation, and pampering of their guests. From the moment you arrive until the moment you bid farewell, their dedicated team is devoted to providing an unforgettable "Harvey's Point Experience."


Lough Eske Castle

5-Star Hotel

Lough Eske Castle is the first and only five star hotel and spa in Donegal. It offers charming country elegance in a spectacular 17th century Castle. Set in a beautiful 43 acre forest estate by the shores of Lough Eske with the nearby Bluestack Mountains. The Castle offers you a secluded luxury getaway in stunning natural surroundings. The hotel encompasses 97 guest rooms, fine dining at Cedars Restaurant Gallery Bar and The Father Browne Bar, CARA Organic Beauty Spa with a fitness center and an indoor heated swimming pool.


Things to do in Donegal:

  • Glenveagh National Park and Castle

  • Inishowen, Fanad or Rosguil Peninsulas (best spots to view lights)

  • Portsalon Beach

  • Tory Island

  • Bundoran Beach

  • Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

  • Maghera Strand and Caves

  • Mount Errigal

  • Fanad Lighthouse


What's next on your Bucket List?


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