The Northern Lights are one of the most famous and magical natural phenomena on the planet. Most travellers have aspirations of seeing them one day, and I think this year is a great time to stop daydreaming about it and take the plunge.
In this post, I’ll be talking about exactly why that is, and where the best places to see the Northern Lights are.
The Northern Lights – when and why
Above I mentioned that this year is a great time to see the Northern Lights – or Aurora Borealis, as they’re often called. You see, scientists have discovered that auroral activity is actually cyclical, which means you can expect it to peak approximately every 11 years – and the next peak just happens to fall in 2013.
So, strike while the iron is hot and organise your trip now. There are loads of ways to discover the Northern Lights, whether you want to head off on an independent adventure or go for something more luxurious by finding yourself a deal on Celebrity Cruises.
Generally, the best time to see the Aurora Borealis is from late November to early March, though this can vary depending on where exactly you are. But what are the Northern Lights? Well, they are caused by gas particles from the Earth’s atmosphere colliding with charged particles of the sun’s. The colours that appear in the sky shift depending on the types of particles colliding.
Norway is one of the most popular places to see the Northern Lights, so I thought it made sense to begin here. Generally speaking, the further north you can get the better, with the town of Tromso being the top destination to head to.
This is because it’s located in the Arctic Circle and what’s known as the ‘Northern Lights zone’, which sits between latitudes 65 to 72 degrees (in case you’re interested in exact facts and figures!). The added bonus of basing yourself in Tromso is that there are a lot of Northern Lights-based attractions here too.
For instance, it’s home to the country’s largest planetarium, where you can watch recreations of the lights. Considering you can’t guarantee you’ll see the Aurora Borealis during your trip, it’s nice to know there’s a decent substitute.
There are several good destinations for viewing the Northern Lights in Finland. In fact, in Finnish Lapland you can actually enjoy the spectacle on up to 200 nights of the year, so always aim to get as far north as you can.
Close to Lake Inari (which, by the way, is the country’s third largest lake) is the town of Nellim – one of the top spots for observing the Aurora Borealis. Luosto is another safe bet, and there’s even a hotel here that has ‘Aurora Alarms’, which bleep when they receive confirmation from the Northern Lights Research Center that the phenomenon can be viewed.
My final suggestion is Sweden, which has several great options for a Northern Lights adventure. For instance, in the Abisko National Park you can visit the Aurora Sky Station, which you can reach via a chairlift. As well as offering great views, this place serves up food while you enjoy the spectacle!
Alternatively, head to the area around Tornetrask Lake – just outside Abisko National Park – to discover the ‘blue hole of Abisko’. Remarkably, this patch of night sky stays clear no matter what the weather around it is doing, making it a reliable place for Aurora Borealis viewing.
*Disclaimer – This post is sponsored and has been paid for. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more details.