Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights?

If we had a pound for every time we have been asked this question...

Imagine if there was one best place to see the Northern Lights! Overnight it would become the Costa del Aurora with high rise Northern Lights viewing hotels and people in the street handing out leaflets offering a free drink with every Aurora chase.

Mercifully, the unpredictable nature of the Aurora means that it retains its mystical allure and it’s fair to say that you stand as much chance of seeing them from a vantage point in Norway as you do from a frozen lake in Finland.

Southern Lights, Northern Lights, Extra-Terrestrial Lights

The lights appear in both the northern and southern hemispheres and even on other planets but from an Aurora hunting point of view, only the Northern Lights are a genuinely viable option.

The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis occur most frequently over Antarctica which really only appeals to a few research scientists and penguins. When the Aurora Australis is very active then the lights may be visible from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but these occasions are few and far between and certainly don’t justify travelling to such places purely in search of the Southern Lights.

The lights also appear near the magnetic poles of other planets and if you search the internet you can find images of Auroras above the likes of Jupiter and Saturn. Unfortunately, we’re not likely to be sending people into space on Aurora hunting missions any time soon so our focus remains firmly in Earth’s northern hemisphere and Northern Scandinavia especially.

Northern Scandinavia

Essentially, the Aurora is most frequently visible in Northern Scandinavia in a band that stretches between 66°N and 69°N and it is very difficult to be any more exact than that. Yes, the band expands when geomagnetic activity is higher but most commonly, the lights are fairly localised to an area just above the Arctic Circle that we call the Aurora Zone.

So, to give yourself the best chance of witnessing a magical light show you need to find somewhere in that band that is far removed from any significant light pollution (you need to escape the confines of cities such as Tromsø or Reykjavik and the night lights of larger ski resorts such as Levi and Yllas) and be prepared to wait because when it comes to Aurora hunting, patience is very often a virtue that goes rewarded.

The best advice we can give you is to get yourself into that Auroral band and hope that there is some geomagnetic activity and limited cloud cover. This is where you will have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights.