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Northern Lights Holidays

The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis capture the imagination of people around the globe but unless you live at the northern tip of the world, you will need a little careful planning to see this phenomenon. The Northern Lights appear as a spectral light show of green, yellow, purple and blue caused when solar particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. This collision releases gases which then react with oxygen to create the coloured light show. While sightings can never be guaranteed, we’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of Northern Lights holidays. If you’re one of the many people dreaming of catching a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, you are going to need to plan. The celestial light show is a spectacle unlike any other on Earth, and to get a good view you need solid organisation and a healthy dose of luck. The Northern Lights are viewable from late September to March and can be seen from several locations such as Iceland, Norway, Finland and even Scotland.

Top places to see the Northern Lights

Reykjavik, Iceland

Discover the truly spectacular island of Iceland.

Tromsø, Norway

One of the worlds most famous viewing points for the Northern Lights.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska’s vast wilderness and dark night sky make an ideal place to watcth the aurura.

Bergen, Norway

Surrounded by fjords and mountains offering panoramic views.

Where can you see the Northern Lights?

The further north you go, the more likely you are to be entertained by the Northern Lights and the more impressive and colourful they will be. While you may sometimes catch a glimpse of them in northern Scotland, your chances are increased if you venture to the north shores of Iceland and northern Canada or up to the Arctic Circle depths of Alaska, Norway, Sweden and Finland. While you might catch glimpses of them on any holiday to these countries, your chances are improved if you book specialised Northern Lights holidays. Alaska: An epic place where you can still visit mountains and forests barely touched by humans or soak up the awe-inspiring sight of slowly-moving icy-blue glaciers. Fairbanks or the Denali National Park are great places to view the Northern Lights. Norway: Steep-sided fjords cut impossibly deep gashes into the coastline of Norway, a country of unsurpassed beauty and wonder. From the main cities of Oslo and Bergen, travel north to chase the Aurora Borealis at places such as the Lofoten Islands and small towns like Tromso. Finland: Wild beauty and contemporary design come together in Finland. You can enjoy some of the best hiking, kayaking and canoeing in Europe or brave some winter camping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights at Kakslauttanem or Saariselka. Iceland: The Northern Lights in Iceland can be truly amazing and if you travel at the right time of year, not only will you gasp in awe at its canyons and waterfalls but you may be lucky enough to see the spectral show several nights in a row. Sweden: Sweden is known around the world for its design taste and attention to detail whether this is in architecture, furniture or textiles. It is also a country of natural beauty full of deep blue archipelagos. Sweden’s sparse population means little light pollution, increasing your chances of seeing the Northern Lights at the right time of year. Canada: Canada is a truly vast country with much of it still unspoilt by towns and light pollution. Its six time zones cover mountains, glaciers, rainforests and beaches giving holiday choices for every taste and interest. “

What are they?

The Northern Lights, also called the Aurora Borealis, is a breathtaking natural phenomenon caused by solar particles colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. This collision unleashes a powerful reaction which emits the bright lights visible from the surface. The different colours are produced by reaction with different gases – particles interacting with oxygen emit yellow or green light while nitrogen gives rise to blue and purple light. For centuries, different peoples have explained the then-enigma of the Aurora Borealis with their own myths and legends. Even now, when we understand the Northern Lights and can explain it, a sighting is a profound and moving experience.

Where to go

The further north you go on your holiday to the Northern Lights, the more likely you are to see the lights and the more impressive the show will be. Intense colours and hypnotic movements are the hallmark of the Northern Lights in the far north. It is sometimes possible to see the lights as far south as Scotland, but this is by no means guaranteed or even expected. To stand a good chance of a sighting it is best to have a Northern Lights holiday in Alaska, northern Canada, southern Greenland, Iceland, or northern Norway, Finland or Sweden. Many of these countries run tours specifically to chase the Aurora Borealis, with specialist guides who take you to the best places to view the ethereal light show. Inland locations, away from coastal fog are more likely to yield clear skies. You should also seek to avoid the glow of light pollution from towns and cities.

When to go

In the far north, summer is a bad time for a holiday to the Northern Lights, as it never gets properly dark. You should head to your country of choice between September and March for the best and blackest viewing conditions. The Aurora Borealis is at its peak at the times of the solar equinox, which is in September and March every year. As the Northern Lights are caused by solar activity, years when there is high solar activity are good times to see the show. This is correlated with an eleven-year cycle; the last solar maximum was 2013, with activity levels remaining high for several years afterwards. Solar activity also fluctuates on an almost daily basis, and there are websites that tell you what the current level is, as well as forecasting the next few days.

When can you see the Northern Lights?

To see the Northern Lights at their awesome best it has to be truly dark with the night sky as free from light pollution as possible. This means you are not going to spot them on summer holidays! The best viewing conditions in the countries we’ve mentioned occur between September and March. Solar activity fluctuates both on an eleven-year cycle and on a daily basis which is why using local guides increases your chances of catching a good light show. September to March is, of course, winter in these northern regions so packing and preparing sensibly is important for your relaxed enjoyment. Thermal layers topped with windproof and waterproof coats and finished with hats and gloves will keep you warm and comfortable whatever the weather.

How to get to the Northern Lights

Most major UK airports, especially the London ones of Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead will have regular flights throughout the year to the capital cities and main airports of Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada and Sweden. Onward journeys can then be made by train or internal flights or even on a specialised 4×4 tour. Taking Icelandic, Norwegian, Canadian and Alaskan cruises are another good way of enjoying the landscape and culture of these countries while catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.

Get a chance to view the awe-inspiring Northern Lights with our holidays to Finland, Norway, Iceland or Sweden. Book now!

Northern Lights Tours & Trips

From late August to mid-April, travellers from all over the world search for the Northern Lights. Over the last few years, Iceland has become the most popular choice to see the Aurora Borealis and we can understand why. However, if you’d like to avoid the crowds, Alaska is a great option. If you’d like to stay within the European continent, Norway (Tromso) or Finland are your best bets.

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The best places to see northern lights

The northern lights can be seen in numerous destinations located near the Arctic! If you’re wondering where to see the northern lights without dealing with the crowds, check out Alaska or Lapland. And if crowds don’t bother you, Iceland is a popular choice, as the country provides ample opportunities for rugged exploration without losing the usual creature comforts. Travellers can expect great views of the lights as well as plenty of opportunities for hiking, museum hopping, and relaxation!

Iceland

It’s easy to see why Iceland is such a popular destination for a northern lights tours. The Land of Fire and Ice is perfect for travellers who want to spot the northern lights while exploring a truly unique country. Explore Reykjavik’s art and culture scene, hike across glaciers and through ice caves, or relax in an otherworldly lagoon.

Canada

Your Canada northern lights vacation could be closer than you think! Canada’s size means there are lots of places perfect for spotting the northern lights. In Ontario, the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve near Muskoka is known for fantastic views of the dazzling lights. Travelling further north? Stop by the Yukon! The seemingly-endless dark skies consistently provide amazing displays of the northern lights.

Finland

Looking for northern lights holidays in Finland? There are several great places to check out the northern lights in this beautiful country. Lapland is known as one of the best places in the world to see the lights – they appear roughly 200 nights out of the year! Rovaniemi, the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus,” is also known for its stunning northern lights display.

Norway

Norway is known for its friendly locals, beautiful landscapes, and, of course, the northern lights! There are plenty of opportunities for northern lights holidays in Norway! Many tours begin in Oslo, a lively city which occasionally sees glimpses of the lights, and continue to Tromso, where gorgeous northern lights displays are common.

Alaska

America’s last truly wild state, Alaska is a fantastic place for outdoor adventures of all kinds! Visit Fairbanks, often ranked as one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, for a totally authentic North Pole experience.

Popular northern lights holiday packages

Northern Lights Of Scandinavia – Classic Group, 2021 2022 (10 Days)

10 days from €3,123 €2,811

Northern Lights Of Scandinavia – Winter 2020 2021

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Norway Winter & Northern Lights

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Best Value Aurora Viewing | Basic

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The Northern Lights of Finland (3 destinations)

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Andean Triangle – Argentina, Bolivia and Chile

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Northern Lights Escape

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Northern Lights Of Scandinavia – Small Group, 2021 2022 (10 Days)

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The Northern Lights of Finland (5 destinations)

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Aurora Borealis & Glass Igloo

5 days from €900

Northern Lights & Lapland (2021)

8 days from €4,653

Northern Lights of Scandinavia

10 days from €3,159

In Search of the Northern Lights (2021)

8 days from €5,146

Northern Lights at Aurora Village (2020)

4 days from €1,106

Land of the Northern Lights – 5 days

5 days from €890 €801

Nordic Adventure

20 days from €4,450 €4,005

Northern Lights: A Lapland Winter

8 days from €4,964

Legends Of Northern Vietnam – 9 Days

9 days from €606

Best time to see northern lights

Mid-August to early March

The best time to travel to see the northern lights is between September to March. The lights are most clearly visible when there is little to no external light, so cold, dark winters are perfect. Chances of seeing the lights are slightly slimmer in September and November, but for travellers who don’t deal well with extreme cold, it may be the best option. In general, while you can never predict when you’ll see the northern lights with 100% accuracy, visiting in December, January, and February gives travellers the best chance – just be sure to dress warmly!

Northern lights tours for every budget

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Northern lights facts: All you need to know

When you’re preparing to head out on an adventure in search of the northern lights, it’s important to do your research! The lights are famously fickle, and travellers can have wildly different experiences depending on weather conditions, destination, and time of year. If you’ve ever had any questions about the northern lights, you can find all the answers below.

What are northern lights?

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon found in the Northern Hemisphere, especially the closer one gets to the North Pole. The light effect happens when the sun drives solar wind away from itself, causing high-energy particles to strike the Earth’s magnetic field. When these particles collide with oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, they produce red or green lights; when they collide with nitrogen, the light produced is green and purple.

Where to see Aurora Borealis?

The closer you get to the North Pole, the more likely the chance of seeing the northern lights! Of course, it’s not always possible to visit the North Pole directly, but fear not – there are many areas close to or within the Arctic Circle, such as Alaska, parts of Canada, Finland, Iceland, and Scandinavian countries such as Norway (especially up north in places like Svalbard), where the northern lights are often visible! If you’re looking for the aurora australis, however, you’ll have to head south – the southern lights are, of course, located in the southern hemisphere!

When can you see the northern lights?

While there are never any guarantees about whether or not you’ll see the northern lights, the general rule of thumb is that the darker the sky and the closer you are to the North Pole, the better your chances. This means that visiting during the northern hemisphere’s winter (about October-February) is the best time to view the northern lights! Try and stay away from larger cities, as the light pollution may decrease visibility, and check the northern lights forecast to avoid disappointment. Visit NOAA’s Aurora forecast to check the location and intensity of the aurora.

Useful links

  • How to photograph the northern lights
  • Northern lights vs southern lights: what’s the difference
  • What are the southern lights
  • 3 day tours
  • 7 day tours
  • 10 day tours
  • 2 week tours
  • 3 week tours

Things to try on your northern lights tour

Reindeer safari

A reindeer safari is a unique way of getting to know the Arctic’s local culture. Most common in Finland, travellers will have the opportunity to learn about these magical animals while viewing them in their natural habitat. If that sounds enchanting, wait until you hear this: travellers can also embark on a reindeer safari in Rovaniemi, Finland – the “Official Home of Santa Claus!”

Sleeping in an igloo

What could be more authentically Arctic than spending a night in an igloo? Whether you opt to sleep in a traditional snow structure (they’re surprisingly cozy!) in Canada or a specialty glass dome in Finland or Iceland to enjoy the Northern Lights in style, a night spent in an igloo is a night you won’t soon forget!

Snowmobiling

Whether it’s across a vast frozen lake or through a peaceful forest, snowmobiling is one of the most fun and exciting winter activities travellers can enjoy on a northern lights holiday. Try it in Alaska, where you could come across an incredible array of wildlife, or Iceland, as a way to see as much jaw-dropping scenery as possible.

Cross-country skiing & snowshoeing

A centuries-old pastime in wintry countries, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is a laid back approach to exploration. Imagine forging a trail through fresh snow in places like Finland or Canada; spotting wildlife, taking in the scenery, and feeling utterly relaxed.

Husky safari

Dog lovers, rejoice! Embark on a husky safari to learn all about the ancient sport of dog sledding – used as transportation, in races, and as part of the culture of the Arctic. The practice is fascinating, and as an added bonus, you’ll get to hang out with dogs – seems pretty great to us.

Fat biking

A fat bike, or a bike with oversized tires used for cycling on uneven or unpredictable surfaces, is the perfect way to speed through snow! Cycle along black-sand beaches in Iceland, glaciers in Finland, and through dense forests in Alaska.

Start your northern lights holiday from.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is an ever-popular destination for adventurous travellers! There are many northern lights tours starting from Reykjavik and a quick drive outside of the city centre takes travellers to open expanses of amazing natural beauty and unique landscapes. The only thing that makes it better? A chance to see the northern lights, of course!

Helsinki

Helsinki, the southern capital of Finland, is a beautiful coastal city known for its expansive nature, clean architecture, and friendly locals. Finland is a fantastic place to view the northern lights, but your chances of seeing them increase the further north you travel – once you’ve explored Helsinki, travel up to Lapland, where you’ll be treated to stunning displays of this natural wonder.

Whitehorse

The Canadian city of Whitehorse is a haven for nature lovers thanks to it’s mostly untouched landscape.If you’re looking for an all-natural escape, you’ll find it in Whitehorse! The city is also one of the best places in Canada to see the northern lights, thanks to its proximity to the Arctic Circle.

Akureyri

Akureyri, a city in northern Iceland, sits at the base of the Eyjafjorour Fjord. Here, you’ll find a beautiful botanic garden, views of unique architecture and stunning mountains, and countless perfect spots to see the northern lights! Venturing a little outside the city centre will lead to the best views, especially on clear nights from September through April.

Chase the elusive Aurora Borealis on one of your Northern lights tours! Head to Iceland, Canada or Alaska and witness colours dancing in the sky.