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The 18 Best Places to See the Northern Lights


The northern lights, known as the aurora borealis, are a spectacular natural light show visible at certain times of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. They occur when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating vibrant streaks of blue, green, pink and violet dancing across the night sky. 2024 and 2025 are an excellent time to catch the northern lights: Solar activity will be at a peak, making for a more impressive experience, if you’re in the right place.

The best places to see the aurora borealis have little light pollution, clear skies and no precipitation. The lights are only visible at northern latitudes when it’s dark outside, so the months from September to April are best for seeing the aurora. There’s also a Southern Hemisphere counterpart, the aurora australis; there are fewer easy spots from which to view this phenomenon, but if you’re lucky, it can be equally brilliant.

For more information on the northern lights, scroll down to the FAQ section at the bottom of this page. Read on to discover the top destinations where you can see the kaleidoscopic northern and southern lights.

Fairbanks, Alaska

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Fairbanks is by far one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights, as it’s located directly under the auroral oval. This ring-shaped zone sits around the Earth’s geomagnetic North Pole and is generally associated with the most vibrant aurora sightings. Visitors can expect to see the lights on an average of four out of five clear nights during aurora season, which lasts from late August to late April.

You can book a northern lights tour to see the aurora from the springs and tubs at Chena Hot Springs Resort. This excursion includes round-trip transportation to the resort from town, a soak in the hot springs, a visit to the Fairbanks Aurora Ice Museum and an aurora viewing tour; dinner and drinks centered around Alaska produce are an option extra with hot drinks supplied.

There’s more to Fairbanks than just the northern lights: If you visit in late summer, consider family-friendly activities like a ride on the Riverboat Discovery or gold panning. For a festive holiday experience in the winter, head around 15 miles out of Fairbanks to visit the Santa Claus House in the city of North Pole. Travelers can also see ice sculptures in February and March at the impressive World Ice Art Championships or take a dog-sledding or snowmobiling tour.

Where to stay: For excellent chances of aurora viewing, book a private igloo at Borealis Basecamp, a top glamping resort located on 100 remote acres of boreal forest about 25 miles from Fairbanks. With activities like dog-sledding on top of aurora viewing, past visitors regularly describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tromsø, Norway

Norther lights over landscape of Tromsø, Norway.

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Located about 220 miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is one of several top spots to view the northern lights in Norway. At the darkest point of the aurora season – which runs from September to early April – the sun doesn’t rise in this northern part of the country, although there is twilight during the day. With this level of darkness, there are more opportunities to see the aurora.

Tromsø itself is a small but lively city, so there’s plenty to see and do when you’re not looking up at the sky, including a visit to the beautiful Arctic Cathedral. In late January to early February, the city hosts the Northern Lights Festival, a 10-day music and performing arts event featuring a variety of musical genres.

Aurora chasers can view the lights on their own while in town, but to get a better view, it’s recommended to head away from the city lights. Arctic Circle Tours is one company offering guided trips, with small groups for a more personal vibe. Alternatively, adventure-seekers can embark on an exhilarating husky trekking expedition in the Arctic wilderness.

Where to stay: For accommodations with harbor views, look no further than the Scandic Ishavshotel – guests love it for its convenient central location in the city, as well as its plus-sized breakfast buffet with plenty of choices.

Luosto and Rovaniemi (Lapland), Finland

Northern lights over Pyhae Luosto National Park in northern Finland.

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Lapland is located within the Arctic Circle in the northernmost part of Finland. The northern lights are most visible here between the end of August and April – and approximately 200 times a year – so there are many opportunities for aurora spotting. Finnish Lapland is also known as home to the Sámi people (the only recognized Indigenous group in the European Union region), some 200,000 reindeer and Santa Claus – who can be visited in the town of Rovaniemi, the region’s largest city and a great base for your aurora expedition.

Consider venturing roughly 70 miles north of Rovaniemi to the resort town of Luosto, set among the picturesque and hilly landscape of Pyhä-Luosto National Park. Here, you can also spend a magical evening outdoors under star-filled skies during a reindeer-drawn sleigh ride through the snow-covered forests. Jaakkola Reindeer Farm offers a reindeer sleigh tour to spot the aurora once weekly; it includes a stop to warm up at a bonfire camp with snacks, hot beverages and local fireside stories.

Where to stay: For a bucket list experience, watch the impressive light show from a glass igloo at Santa’s Hotel Aurora & Igloos in Luosto. Past visitors love the cozy atmosphere here, boosted by amenities like saunas and log fireplaces. If you’re sticking to Rovaniemi, the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel is a stunning choice, with designer cabins perched among the snow-covered taiga forest.

Orkney, Scotland

Northern lights over a lake in the Scottish Highlands.

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This group of captivating (and mostly uninhabited) islands, located about 10 miles off Scotland’s remote northern coast, is one of the best places to see the northern nights in the U.K. Fall and winter are the best seasons to witness the aurora, also known in local Shetland dialect as the “Mirrie Dancers,” with fall bringing the highest proportion of clear nights. A few places to see the spectacular light show include along the coast at Birsay or the Broch of Gurness, an archaeological ruin on a sweeping and dramatic coastline.

In addition to the aurora, Orkney is home to breathtaking coastal landscapes and more sheep than you can count (try some local lamb, if you can). Travelers can also visit the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several monuments dating back 5,000 years.

Where to stay: During your visit, plan to stay in the historic town of Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands: The no-fuss Ayre Hotel offers harbor views, and past visitors compliment the hearty meals in the hotel restaurant. Spot the aurora close to town at Inganess Bay and Wideford Hill.

Yellowknife, Canada

Northern lights over trees and lights in Yellowknife, Canada.

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Yellowknife, the capital of Canada‘s Northwest Territories, dubs itself the “Aurora Capital of the World.” Thanks to its position in the middle of the auroral oval, the city puts on one of the world’s most awe-inspiring light shows. The period from mid-November to the beginning of April is the recommended time to spot the aurora, but it’s also possible to see the aurora during more hospitable weather from late summer to early fall as the lights are visible up to 240 days a year.

Located on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife boasts winter sports such as ice fishing and cross-country skiing. If you visit in March, plan to attend the monthlong Snowkings’ Winter Festival, which features events and activities like a snow-carving competition, a snow castle, live music and more.

For a unique experience, book a tour through Aurora Village to view the lights. The property will pick you up from your hotel and take you to its site, where you can stay warm in a tent while sipping hot beverages. The Aboriginal-owned Aurora Village also offers activities such as dog-sledding or snowshoeing excursions.

Where to stay: Warm up in the fireside lounge at The Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife. Previous visitors note the warm and helpful staff as a strength here.

Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Two people sitting on a the ice of a lake and watching the northern lights in the north of Sweden.

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The optimal time for seeing the illuminated skies in the northern part of Sweden, known as Swedish Lapland, is between early September and late March. The small Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi sits around 125 miles above the Arctic Circle on the Torne River and is an ideal locale for aurora viewing. You’ll fly to the nearby Kiruna Airport to get here. With the village’s origins dating back to the 17th century, you can still find some of the original homesteads, including an old timber cottage. Today the village boasts 800 residents – and more than 1,000 dogs.

Where to stay: If you’re up for a chilly overnight adventure, reserve accommodations at the world’s first permanent ice hotel, the aptly named Icehotel 365. Each of its artist-designed suites is sculpted from ice with a unique theme and maintains temperatures around minus 5 degrees Celsius (about 23 degrees Fahrenheit). The rooms also feature beds with reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags so you can bundle up during the night. While you’re at the property, take advantage of the guided “Northern Lights Safari on Snowmobile” or embark on the “Moose Safari on Horseback” atop an Icelandic horse.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Northern lights above Hallgrimskirkja Church in central Reykjavik, Iceland.

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October through March is the best time to chase the aurora borealis in Iceland. There are numerous natural parks and attractions throughout the country where you can view the show during the long and dark winter, but the capital city of Reykjavik also offers many options for accommodations, restaurants, tours and other activities for your visit. For optimum aurora viewing in the city away from the light pollution, head to Öskjuhlið. This wooded and hilly area in Reykjavik sits at 200 feet above sea level and has walkways and paths where you can see the nighttime show.

Atop this hill sits Perlan, which houses the only planetarium in the country and a museum featuring exhibits about Iceland. Perlan is also home to the world’s first indoor ice cave and glacier exploratorium. During your visit, don’t miss the panoramic views of the city from the building’s fourth-floor observation deck. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see the Snæfellsjökull glacier; Keilir, a volcanic mountain; and Esja, the mountain of Reykjavik.

Where to stay: While in Reykjavik, splurge on an overnight tour with Buubble Tours. This experience includes breathtaking sightseeing spots and a night spent under the magical northern skies in a transparent bubble at the 5 Million Star Hotel. For longer stays, consider the eco-friendly Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel, with sweeping views of the city – guests love it for its cozy yet chic Scandinavian design.

Southern Iceland

Northern lights over Reynisfjara black sand beach in Iceland.

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While Reykjavik is a great aurora-viewing spot if you like having amenities close by, consider getting out into Iceland’s stunning, otherworldly countryside for a unique backdrop for the northern lights. One unique place to see them is the black sand beach at Reynisfjara (but watch out for the dangerous waves here). Alternatively, head to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon and seal habitat, where the aurora’s reflections in the icy water are truly beautiful.

There’s no shortage of tours that will stop by these locations and more for possible aurora sightings. Consider a 10- or 13-day tour around the country with Fun Travel, or a four-day option from Arctic Adventures. If you want to do things at your own place, it’s also possible to self-drive – just know that road conditions can be icy, particularly in the depths of winter (although Icelandic roads are generally well-maintained).

Where to stay: Hotel Rangá is a formidable option for aurora-spotting. It offers a variety of special amenities, such as aurora wake-up calls, a lookout deck and snowsuits to keep you warm if you’re outside viewing the lights. Past visitors praise Rangá for being a comfortable yet luxurious place to relax, be it in the outdoor hot tubs or the cozy and sociable bar.

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Northern lights reflected in water with mountains in eastern Greenland.

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Greenland may not be the most accessible place to travel for viewing the northern lights, with limited flight options (mostly via Iceland), but those who make it here will be thrilled they did. The tundra of Kalaallit Nunaat – the Greenlandic name for the country – is one of the best places on the globe to see the aurora from September to early April.

For the more adventurous aurora seekers, head to the top of the Greenland Ice Cap for spectacular views of the lights. This impressive glacier covers 80% of the country and is accessible via the tiny town of Kangerlussuaq. Located on a fjord right along the Arctic Circle, the town, often described as a gateway to Greenland, was a former U.S. Air Force base and is now home to Greenland’s main airport. The town is known for having clear skies on some 300 nights per year, so chances of a sighting are particularly good here.

Tour company Guide to Greenland offers various tours, from two-hour aurora-viewing trips to a tough but rewarding multi-night dog-sledding expedition across the ice. For a less strenuous experience, companies like Nordic Saga Tours offer cruises through the Arctic landscapes around Kangerlussuaq.

Viking cruise along Norway’s coast

A pool by windows overlooking the ocean on a Viking cruise ship.

Courtesy of Viking

Embrace the winter and set sail for the Arctic Circle to experience the aurora in northern Norway. The 13-day “In Search of the Northern Lights” cruise itinerary with Viking departs from London for the North Sea with stops in ports of call that are top aurora-viewing locales, including Tromsø, Alta and Narvik, plus a stop in Amsterdam en route. The cruise ends in Bergen, Norway.

While on land, take in the natural beauty of the snow-blanketed landscapes and book bucket list excursions like a night spent in an igloo or a reindeer sledding adventure. You can also chase the lights into the wilderness by snowmobile, take a dog sled ride under the stars or view them from a Sámi tent atop the mountain Pæska in Alta. This Viking Ocean Cruises itinerary is offered with departure dates from mid-January to mid-March.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Michigan

Northern Lights shine through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Forest.

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Regarded as one of the top spots in the U.S. to see the aurora outside Alaska, Headlands International Dark Sky Park sits at the top of Michigan‘s lower peninsula, less than 5 miles from Mackinaw City. While the northern lights are less common here due to the relatively southern location, the best time to catch a glimpse of this phenomenon is typically during the spring and fall – and appearances can usually be predicted a couple of days in advance. The park even maintains an online Clear Sky Chart so you can check the weather forecast before you go.

There are also other stargazing opportunities throughout the year at Headlands. During the summer months the Milky Way is visible across the sky, and late summer evenings entertain visitors with meteor showers.

Where to stay: If you’re visiting between late April and the end of October, splurge on a stay at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island, where the aurora should also be visible. Guests describe this iconic property situated along the shoreline of Lake Huron as positively charming, thanks to its historic nature and manicured grounds. The resort also offers a host of outdoor activities from bike rentals to swimming.

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Northern lights above trees and lake of Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota.

Martha Shuff|Courtesy of Voyageurs National Park

Located on the international border between Minnesota and Ontario, Voyageurs National Park is an approximately 218,000-acre labyrinth of boreal forests, lakes and streams. Voyageurs is Minnesota’s only national park; it’s also unique in that the park’s interior is accessible only by boat, unless you visit by snowmobile in winter. As a certified International Dark Sky Park, Voyageurs provides opportunities to view the Milky Way on clear evenings, especially in the summer. Year-round aurora viewing is also possible on evenings with clear dark skies, but chances are better during the winter, when it’s dark for longer.

For a guided stargazing tour – including the Milky Way, the constellations and (if you’re lucky) the northern lights – book with Voyageurs Outfitters. If you’re on your own, park officials note that almost any campsite is a good spot for northern lights viewing and stargazing. You can also check out the boat launch areas around Ash River, Kabetogama Lake and the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for top-notch views.

Where to stay: Those who prefer to sleep in a warm, cozy bed instead of camping under the stars can make reservations at the Cantilever Distillery + Hotel, a boutique Trademark Collection by Wyndham property in the nearby town of Ranier, Minnesota. Visitors report that there’s a lot to like here, from the industrial-chic rooms to friendly staff to top-notch cocktails in the active distillery on the premises.

Abisko National Park, Sweden

Northern lights seen from Abisko Mountain Station in Abisko, Sweden.

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Given its Arctic location, Sweden is one of the prime spots for aurora viewing in the Northern Hemisphere, with Swedish Lapland at the top of the list. The fall and winter months (from September to March) offer the best opportunities to witness the spectacle, as there is more darkness than light during the days.

If you’re up for the Arctic adventure, December is an ideal month to visit Abisko National Park, which some regard as one of the best places on Earth to see the lights dance across the sky. The park’s mountainous terrain and clear dark skies offer dramatic front-row seats for viewing the northern lights. The Aurora Sky Station is one of the best vantage points to see the aurora in the park. Join one of the expert presentations to learn about the science behind this fascinating phenomenon.

If you’d prefer to chase the lights with a curated tour, professional photographers and aurora-chasing guides at Visit Abisko lead three- to four-hour tours throughout the fall and winter. If you can, try to join the tours in fall, as this time of year offers a unique opportunity to view the lights both in the sky and reflected in the lakes and rivers, which you won’t see in the winter months.

Where to stay: For cozy Nordic vibes, stay at Abisko Mountain Lodge, which also offers activities like ice climbing and snowmobile tours in winter. Guests love the excellent restaurant here, which offers Swedish specialties ranging from salmon to moose.

Nellim, Finland

Northern lights above The Nellim Wilderness Hotel in Nellim, Finland.

Courtesy of Wilderness Hotels

Located a stone’s throw from the Russian border in Finnish Lapland, this remote Arctic destination is a top-rated locale to view the northern lights due to the lack of light pollution. You’ll be seriously out of the way of any built-up areas, as there’s not even a paved road into Nellim. The best time to visit is between December and early April. This village is a great place to hunker down in a lodge and relax while enjoying a slice of life in the Finnish wilderness.

Where to stay: The Nellim Wilderness Hotel offers a perfect base with year-round activities, including aurora-chasing tours by car, snowmobile or on snowshoes. You can even take a sleigh ride through the snow to a campsite on Lake Inari to spot the aurora in pristine nature.

Beyond standard rooms, the Wilderness Hotel also offers glass-roofed cabins, as well as classic log cabins and bubble-shaped accommodations for two where guests can watch the dancing lights through the glass roof above your warm, cozy bed. When you’re not chasing the lights, enjoy other Arctic activities like a husky safari, ice fishing, snowmobiling or a day in the snow meeting the local reindeer.

Saariselkä and Kakslauttanen, Finland

Northern lights above a snowy track through trees in the Arctic.

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These two towns are around 150 miles above the Arctic Circle, with a prime location under the auroral oval, allowing as many as 200 opportunities per year to see the northern lights (weather permitting, of course). This area in Finnish Lapland is known for its stunning scenery, Sámi culture, cross-country and downhill skiing, and Urho Kekkonen National Park – one of Finland’s largest.

Ski enthusiasts can roll two trips into one by hitting the slopes by day in Saariselkä and aurora spotting by night at Finland’s northernmost ski resort. March into early April is the best time to view the aurora, as the Finnish Meteorological Institute notes that the weather is usually clearer at this time of year. But it’s possible to see the northern lights at any time during the season from late August to early or mid-April.

Where to stay: Seven miles south of Saariselkä sits the village of Kakslauttanen, where you can book two- or four-person Glass Igloos at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. The new Kelo-Glass Igloos, which sleep up to six, mix the comforts of a log chalet with the visibility of the glass roof; enjoy a private sauna, a fireplace and more. There’s also an impressive selection of year-round tours and activities at this resort, including northern lights excursions on snowmobiles or by horse-drawn carriage.

Stewart Island, New Zealand

Sign for Stewart Island lodge on Stewart Island, New Zealand.

Courtesy of RealNZ

Although they may be isolated, some far-south destinations offer the chance to see the aurora australis – or southern lights. While you might be able to see them year-round in some locations (just as with the northern lights), certain months are better for aurora viewing in the Southern Hemisphere. Stewart Island is regarded as one of the top spots to see the brilliant display in New Zealand, with 85% of the island encompassed by Rakiura National Park, so there are few people and virtually no light pollution. You can reach Stewart Island by flying in from Invercargill or taking a ferry from Bluff.

New Zealand’s winter months – June to August – are the best time to see the southern lights; spring and fall are also not bad times to spot them. The brighter summer months, between December and February, make it more difficult to spot the aurora, but there’s still a chance you’ll catch a glimpse between midnight and 4 a.m.

Where to stay: Consider reserving a room with at Stewart Island Lodge, an intimate bed-and-breakfast. This beautiful property is just minutes by foot from the village of Oban, and the property will pick you up at the ferry terminal for your stay. Past visitors rave about the spectacular views of Halfmoon Bay and the Foveaux Strait from both the rooms and lodge terrace.

Tasmania

Southern Aurora Australis in Tasmania.

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Tasmania sits approximately 150 miles south of mainland Australia. This mountainous island is one of relatively few places on the planet where it’s theoretically possible to see the aurora 365 days a year due to its latitude, which allows for full darkness even on summer nights. The capital city of Hobart is the easiest point of entry: It’s home to Tasmania’s largest airport and serves as a convenient base. The city’s burgeoning food and cultural scenes will also give you plenty to see and do.

From here you’ll be able to reach several great viewing locations with unobstructed and open views of the sea along the southern and southeast coastlines, like Goat Bluff and Tinderbox Bay. When you’re not staring at the night sky, splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter flight with Tasmanian Air Tours. Depending on your whims, your private pilot can whisk you away to soar over the sea cliffs; stop at a local winery to sample local vintages; or head south to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Port Arthur, Tasmania‘s historic and most notorious prison.

Where to stay: Reserve accommodations at The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Hobart. The historic luxury property is situated along the lively waterfront area with harbor views. Past guests admired the historic building housing the hotel and loved the heritage rooms featuring gas fireplaces for those cold Tasmanian nights.

Expedition cruise to Antarctica

The aurora australis as seen over the South Pole during austral winter.

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If you’re one of the lucky few people on the planet to travel to the southernmost continent on Earth, it may be pricey, but you’ll have an adventure of a lifetime in Antarctica, especially if the aurora illuminates the sky. The southern lights are most visible in the winter months (between March and October), but due to weather conditions, only researchers brave the Antarctic winter – and they mostly stay indoors.

However, all hope is not lost if you seek to view the aurora australis in Antarctica. Late-season expedition cruises to this continent offered in March also bring the opportunity to view the southern lights and enjoy the end of Antarctica’s fleeting summer. As the days shorten in length, you may encounter light snow across the extreme landscape and ice starting to form on the water’s surface.

When it comes to wildlife viewing, humpback whale sightings are abundant, and you’ll still see penguin colonies – including king and gentoo penguins. You can also keep your eyes peeled for elephant seals, leopard seals, wandering albatross and other species of birds. When night falls on clear evenings, look for the light show in the southern sky. Companies that offer March voyages include Swoop Antarctica, Atlas Ocean Voyages, Silversea Cruises, Aurora Expeditions and Hurtigruten Expeditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s no one location that’s widely accepted as the best place to see the northern lights. However, the strongest light displays are within what’s called the “auroral oval”: a rough circle around the Earth’s magnetic northern pole that tends to occur around 60 to 70 degrees of latitude. The oval’s exact size expands and contracts (some more southerly destinations can fall under it when the aurora is particularly strong), but there are certain locations that generally fall within the oval most of the time.

  • Central and northern Alaska
  • Large areas of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and northern Quebec in Canada
  • Southern Greenland
  • Iceland
  • Far northern Norway, Sweden and Finland

Within these areas, it could be argued that Iceland is the best place to see the aurora as it experiences much milder temperatures than some other areas within the oval. But this is subjective, and some travelers may prefer a location like Yellowknife in Canada for a full-on, very cold Arctic experience.

The northern lights are only visible when it’s dark out. Since many of the best places to see them are so far north that they experience near-constant daylight in the summer, you’ll generally want to schedule a trip between late August and early April. However, within this time period, there’s some debate about the best time to catch the lights. For example, the aurora tends to be more active around the September and March equinoxes due to stronger solar winds – but on the other hand, your chances of seeing them may be higher in the depths of winter, since there’s longer nights and therefore a longer window in which they might appear.

In more southern locations like Minnesota, it may be possible to see the light show in the summer months, but it’s still advisable to go at a time when the nights are longer. It can also be worth trying to schedule your northern lights trip when there’s a new moon: While the aurora can shine through moonlight, it may be harder to see if there’s a full moon.

Of course, cloudy weather can block the aurora even if you go at the right time of year. So, it may be wise to research the local weather patterns at your chosen destination to find out if there’s a month where you can expect clearer skies. In many cases, though, there’s a little luck involved.

These two countries can offer excellent views of the northern lights, since both are directly under the typical auroral oval. Yet there are some differences to be aware of.

In Norway, you’ll need to head to the north of the country to catch the aurora: While they have been sighted in Oslo, the capital and largest city, it’s too far south to be a reliable vantage point. Cities like Tromsø are popular spots, but direct flights there are only possible from some European cities, so North Americans will have to take connecting flights. On the other hand, Iceland is generally easier to reach, with direct flights to its capital, Reykjavik, from a large number of U.S. destinations (particularly from the East Coast) with no further connection required.

Since clear skies are key for seeing the northern lights, weather is another factor to consider. In November, December and March, Reykjavik has statistically slightly more frequent clear skies, while in January and February, Tromsø is a little better, but the difference isn’t big: Both places have clear skies only around 25 to 30% of the time in these months. Reykjavik has slightly warmer weather, though, so between that and the ease of access, it has a slight edge over Norway for seeing the northern lights.

Alaska and Iceland are known for stellar aurora light shows, so deciding between them may depend on which destination you find more convenient and more to your tastes. In Alaska, the city of Fairbanks is considered a great spot to catch the northern lights. (They can still be seen elsewhere in the state – for example, in Anchorage, although they’re not so common in more southern locations like Juneau). The advantage of Fairbanks is that you won’t need a passport, yet there aren’t many direct flights from the lower 48 states. Despite being an international destination, Iceland may be more accessible (particularly from the eastern U.S.), thanks to fairly regular flights to Reykjavik from numerous American cities.

Fairbanks does offer statistically better weather for aurora viewing: It has clear skies more often than Reykjavik, particularly in March when the Alaska city experiences them around 45% of the time (compared to about 25% for Reykjavik). But you’ll have to be able to tolerate the cold. While temperatures in Reykjavik hover around freezing in midwinter, Fairbanks is a veritable deep freeze, with average highs around 5 degrees Fahrenheit down to lows colder than minus 5 in December.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Timothy Forster, as a Canadian who has traveled from coast to coast in that sprawling country, knows all about travel in the cold northern reaches of the world. Forster used his extensive traveling background along with research expertise to curate this article.

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