There’s no surefire way to see the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Some people recommend going to the darkest places on earth at the right time – and then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
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No need to get lucky anymore if you want to see the spectacular northern lights! Scientists and enthusiasts can predict auroras fairly accurately nowadays.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a website where you can discover how likely it is to see the lights this weekend or two months from now.
There’s also an app, My Aurora Forecast, with a worldwide map showing where the lights are best now and in the future.
Generally, the best time to see the northern lights is in late August through mid-April. If you visit Iceland from June to August, though, don’t be discouraged: The aurora can still be seen in midsummer.
To see it best—during the darkest hours of the night (between 10 P.M. and 2 A.M.)—head north around midnight, or wait until 2 or 3 A.M.,
when the midnight sun will have set but Iceland’s long summer days will have just barely begun to wane.
To see the northern lights, you should pick a place close to the North Pole in the Northern Hemisphere—places like Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Norway, Finland and Sweden are familiar options. But you’ll need to make sure you have clear skies without clouds, storms or a very bright full moon. We’ve picked some of our favorite spots to see the lights in the Northern Hemisphere.
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The main reason to visit Fairbanks is the aurora borealis — aka the northern lights. The city lies just below the Arctic Circle and has one of the best views in North America. That’s because it’s under the auroral oval, an area in which you’re most likely to see this spectacular solar phenomenon.
You can see the northern lights in Fairbanks, Alaska, from August through April on most clear nights. The city even has its own aurora tracker for the latest status from six prime viewing locations around the area.
Sign up for an aurora tour if you want a guided perspective: Northern Alaska Tour Company offers tours by ground or air.
Sleep in a geodesic igloo with a clear roof or a tiny cube with floor-to-ceiling windows at Borealis Basecamp, 25 miles outside of Fairbanks, where two-night packages (from $980) include whale watching and dining alongside Alaskan snowmachiners..
You can also go dog sledding or take a train to Denali National Park from Fairbanks, which is also home to several museums and art galleries.
Backcountry skiers traveling to the Lyngen Alps in winter for the legendary ski touring may be treated to a brilliant showing of the northern lights.
Guests at eight-room boutique hotel Lyngen Lodge (from $234) will have guided backcountry skiing by day and photo classes on northern lights photography at night.
To reach this destination, guests fly into Tromsø, a popular spot for viewing the northern lights, then drive 2.5 hours into the Lyngen Alps. The lodge sits on the edge of a fjord.
How to Get There: Fly into Oslo, then take a six-hour train ride north to Narvik. From there, it’s a two-hour drive to Lyngen Lodge.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota to See Northern Lights
If you’ve ever wanted to stargaze under the northern lights, head to Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.
Voyageurs National Park is a cool place to visit in Minnesota. It was designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2020.
There are 15 hike-in or boat-in backcountry campsites in the park, so you can view the night sky without light pollution. The Cantilever Hotel (from $169) has a rooftop sauna and hot tub, free yoga classes, and whiskey tastings at its distillery.
Whitehorse, Canada to See Northern Lights
The northern lights are always a showstopper, but the new glass-domed chalets at Northern Lights Resort & Spa, 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada’s capital city, make them all the more spectacular.
The resort recently added three new glass chalets with prime views of the northern lights. The chalets have floor-to-ceiling windows and a private hot tub on your deck, so you can watch the sky while enjoying a soak.
Rooms start at $1,190 per night for two people and include breakfast and dinner. The package also includes a trip to the spa to relax in the hot mineral pool or get a massage.
With winter temperatures dipping as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit (-32 Celsius), you may want to consider booking one of Northern Lights Resort’s other cabins instead of the glass chalets.
These rooms provide cozy respite from the elements as well as views of the northern lights through large picture windows.
Looking for an even more immersive view?
The new Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs in Whitehorse is slated to open this year with four outdoor soaking pools — including one with a waterfall — and three pools inside that overlook the wilderness beyond.
In addition to watching for aurora bore
Hella, Iceland to See Northern Lights
Iceland’s South Coast has become a top destination for viewing the aurora borealis, or northern lights, during the dark winter months.
From September to April, when you can see this natural light show, you’ll find that the South Coast is an easy day trip from Reykjavík.
You can spend your days exploring waterfalls and black sand beaches along the coast and then make your way back to the city for a nightlife scene that includes some of the best bars and restaurants in Iceland.
One of the most unique ways to view the northern lights?
On a plane. Travelers who fly on Icelandair can get a taste of the phenomenon before they even reach Iceland when flying on Icelandair’s Hekla Aurora plane, which is painted in the colors of an Icelandic winter landscape on the exterior.
The aircraft’s main cabin features dramatic LED-lighting that mimics the northern lights.
Hotel Rangá (from $428)
This 51-room property is located between Hella and Hvolsvöllur, about an hour’s drive into the countryside from Reykjavík. The hotel offers three geothermally heated hot tubs as well as its own rooftop observatory. It also has an aurora wake-up service, which alerts guests when the lights appear at night.
Hotel Grimsborgir (from $380)
The 41-room Hotel Grimsborgir is surrounded by farmland in southern Iceland, about 45 minutes east of Selfoss. The hotel offers
Levi, Finland to See Northern Lights
Sure, there’s a Santa Claus in every mall. But if the real guy lives anywhere, it might be Levi, a charming village fit for elves 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the heart of Finnish Lapland.
In winter, Levi is home to one of the biggest ski resorts in Finland, but many people also come here for the northern lights.
Sleep in one of 24 glass-roofed igloos at Levin Iglut (from $274), where even the on-site restaurant has entirely glass walls and ceiling.
Situated 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Levi’s charming appeal comes from its glass igloos, helpful locals and the Northern Lights.
Then explore by fat bike, husky sled or snowshoe. The resort’s cross-country skiing trails are also illuminated so you can glide under a blanket of stars and maybe catch a glimpse of Santa as he flies by on his sleigh.