Northern Lights, otherwise known as Auroras, are one of the most mesmerizing natural occurrences ever, so it is no surprise if you wish to see them for yourself! However, as nature is at often times unexpected and quite stubborn, seeing them requires a lot of research, even if it is just basic knowledge on the matter. So, if Auroras are next on your holiday agenda, check out our guide on how to catch them!
The absolute number one thing you should find out on this quest is where you can find the Auroras. There are many places, really, most of them quite close to the Arctic Circle, as it heavily influences their appearance. So, let’s check it out.
- Fairbanks, Alaska. Alaska is the first place you should consider for your Northern Lights tours. The city of Fairbanks is actually most known for the Mightnight Sun, everlasting sunsets and sunrises, pure wilderness, and, of course, the Northern Lights. While trying to catch the Auroras, you can enjoy all we have listed above or simply explore the neighboring cities!
- Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard is a string of Arctic Islands midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. Geographically, the place is perfect for seeing the lights. All you need to know is how often they appear. A bit more on that later on!
- Finland. Somehow the country often stays overlooked by travelers looking for the Northern Lights. On the contrary, Finland is an ideal place to catch them; your chances of seeing them are actually way higher in Finland than anywhere else!
- Tromso, Norway. While the predictions of when and where the Auroras will appear, differ every year, Tromso is a sure thing every time Auroras are about to show up. The city is situated right under the Auroras Oval; in other words, a very convenient place, geographically speaking.
- Greenland. Of course, Greeland is on this list! Seeing as it is one of the cleanest inhabited countries in the world, it makes for the perfect surroundings for Auroras to appear. With minimal light pollution allowing clear visibility, there are many remote areas in Greenland, ideal for observing the night sky in complete serenity.
- Yukon, Canada. Yukon is famous amongst Aurora hunters not only for being suitable position-wise, but they are one of the few who bother to actually educate the people! The Canadians set up the Northern Light Center here in Yukon, where you can learn about its formation, folklore, and history. So, do not miss the chance to find out more.
- Scotland. If you live anywhere near Central Europe, Scotland is the best choice to go Aurora-catching. If it surprises you, well, that is only natural! Scotland is a bit of an odd place to see the Northern Lights, but they do occur there! You just have to be very precise with the timing and places. Speaking of special places, the best ones to see Auroras in Scotland are the Scottish Highlands or the Shetland Islands.
Pick the place nearest to where you live if seeing the Northern Lights is your main goal of the trip. However, if you are open to a longer holiday and land exploration as well, choose a country yet unseen! Now, let’s talk about when!
Aside from the perfect place, timing is the other necessary part of the plan. In some places, the months concur; however, sometimes, the time slots to catch the Northern Lights are quite far apart. And if you believe that you can only see the Auroras during wintertime, you are very wrong, and it can cost you your whole trip!
Both Tromso in Norway, Fairbanks in Alaska, and Yukon in Canada are most suitable for visitation during the months of August to April. While the specific time is only known closer to these months, you can easily plan around that time!
Finland is entirely unique. The Northern Lights must really like it here, as they frequent the Finnish sky 200 days of the year! You will still need to check the approximate time they are due to show up, but your chances of seeing them are higher here than anywhere else.
Svalbard is best for visitation between mid-November and February, and Greenland is quite close to it – September to April.
As mentioned, Scotland is a very unique case, and while it is known that the Northern Lights can be seen during autumn and summer, there are no specific predictions until you check the scientists’ prognosis in spring or even summer. However, the Scottish are very excited when the sky lights up in all colors; they even go by their own British name, the Mirrie Dancers!
You have all the basic information now, but there are still several things to know!
First of all, prepare warm clothing and snacks! The Northern Lights is something that usually goes on for an entire night, so you will probably not want to leave until you get enough of the experience – which could take hours. Snacks are to keep you happy and full, and warm clothing is needed to protect yourself from the inevitable frost.
Bring a good camera, if you can. Naturally, you will want to capture the moment, and since the Auroras are colorful and vibrant yet appear during the night, your phone simply might not do it justice. So, if possible, pack the good lenses!
Lastly, do not be discouraged if you do not see them. While with thorough research, it is most likely that you will, try not to make it your whole holiday purpose. Nature is unpredictable sometimes!
Follow our tips to plan the catching of the year! Make sure you prepare detailed research before you go anywhere, and hope for the best. Happy Aurora Hunting!