A natural wonder that has fascinated mankind for millennia, the Northern Lights (also called the Aurora Borealis) are nature’s very own lighting performance. The time is right to get a glimpse of the aurora borealis.
Autumn and winter seasons, with their long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights, are probably the best time of the year to experience the auroral displays. December through March is usually the best time to observe this elusive natural phenomenon (though you can sometimes see the northern lights starting as early as August). Nights need to be cold and the sky clear of clouds, with limited light pollution and increased solar activity. To support any future plans you may have, we have compiled a list of recommended location over the next few months to get the best views:
1. ALASKA, Denali National Park and Preserve
Image Credit: ParkAdvocate.org
With nearly 2.5 million hectares of untouched wilderness, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, located about 383 kilometres north of Anchorage, is a favourite destination for campers and hikers because of its wide-open spaces, beautiful mountain vistas and abundant wildlife. The park is also one of the best places in the U.S. to see the northern lights, thanks to the lack of light pollution. Fall is the best season to get the clearest view of the dancing auroras. Fairbanks, which is located less than 200 kilometres northeast of the park, also sees some incredible light shows, thanks to its location in the auroral oval, an area around the North Pole where auroras frequently occur.
2. TROMSO, Norway
Image Credit: Northern Lights Tromso Walking Tour
Based in the heart of the aurora zone in the Norwegian Arctic, the city is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to see the Northern Lights. Easily accessed from the UK – with a direct flight from London taking just 3.5 hours – Tromso serves as a popular destination year after year and offers excellent aurora views from September all the way until April. The city itself is a lively affair, with more pubs and bars per capita than anywhere else in Norway.
3. SCOTLAND, Isle of Skye
Image Credit: Mirror
While the northern reaches of Scotland offer better chances of spotting the ‘Mirrie Dancers’, the aurora can be seen anywhere in Scotland when the right conditions are met and where the light pollution is at a minimum. On Skye's Trotternish peninsula, the quirky Shulista Croft Wigwams are a cosy base for exploring the northern tip of the island. Skye is home to no less than nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites making it one of the best places in Scotland for stargazing, as well as hunting for the northern lights.
4. REYKJAVIK, Iceland
Image Credit: Helka.com
Iceland’s capital remains a favourable choice for many travellers. Brimming with geothermal pools, volcano tours and quality culture, you could be forgiven for forgetting about the Northern Lights altogether. We recommend you don’t, however, as the display is astonishingly recurrent. Like Tromso, the best months to see the Aurora Borealis are between September to April. For an uninterrupted viewing experience, journey to Hofdabrekka, near Vik in southern Iceland, and enjoy the show in mesmerising isolation. Direct flights to Reykjavik are competitively priced and the capital is very walkable, making it great for a quick getaway.
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