Chasing The Northern Lights: Where To See The Aurora Borealis This Year

The world is home to incredible feats of nature. From the most southern point of the globe right up past the northern star, the earth puts on an impressive show everyday, revealing to each of us in every corner just what it’s made of. When it comes to natural feats, however, there are few things quite as impressive as the Aurora Borealis. Caused by collisions of electrically charged particles that enter the earth’s atmosphere from the sun, the northern lights put on an impressive show of color and form. While, as their name might suggest, the northern lights can best be seen in the higher areas of the hemisphere, there are a number of accessible places around the world in which you can see them for yourself. These Aurora Borealis hot spots will change the way you make your travel plans this winter.

If you’re heading to Europe, Norway should be within your sights for the northern lights. While there are plenty of places far north that will serve you well, Svalbard is always a good idea. One of the most northerly places in the world, the island is plotted well above the Arctic Circle. The northern lights season lasts from November until February, giving you plenty of time to catch the natural phenomenon. If you’re there during this time, you might also get to experience the Polar Nights, one of the most famous phenomena in the area. During this time, Svalbard is completely without light, breaking only into a blue twilight at midday. Remember to pack warm attire; the island gets bitterly cold and it pays to take care.

Of course, there are plenty of other places in Europe that are touched by the Aurora Borealis. If you are going to be in Finland during the winter season, taking a quick trip to Kakslauttanen is always a good idea. An arctic resort, Kakslauttanen is home to a whole range of traditional winter activities, from ski walking to reindeer sledging. When nighttime comes around, you can choose from any number of spots to take in the natural light show. While you can brave the weather, taking in the view from your own glass igloo is always a cozy way to go.

While technically a part of Europe, Iceland lies in an isolated stretch of sea with little to see on the horizon. Positioned way up north, the island offers a good vantage point for the Aurora Borealis and is a must-see spot if you’re planning on taking it in this year. The capital city, Reykjavik, is one of the best places to take in the lights while offering plenty of options for exploring during the daytime. As well as being touched by the Aurora Borealis, the country is dotted with mountains, geysers, and blue ice. Much more than a dot in the ocean, Iceland offers some truly spectacular landscapes.

Of course, it’s not all about Europe. In northern Canada, there is a goldmine of places from which to see the northern lights. The northernmost areas in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Labrador, and the Yukon offer access to one of the world’s most incredible phenomena. And for those with more southern travel plans this winter, it doesn’t hurt to stay on the lookout; the northern lights can occasionally be viewed from the shores of Lake Superior and Manitoulin Island in Ontario.

If you’re not sure where to start your adventure in Canada, try taking a few tips from Canadian Geographic. The website is host to scores of beautiful photographs of the northern lights and information about where the shots were taken. A comprehensive map also offers plenty of inspiration, making it easy for anyone to follow the northern trail.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.