Some people like the idea of a cruise, visiting different places on the way and being able to see the lights from the deck of the ship. There are then those who would prefer to stay on land in a hotel and take a trip out to appreciate the lights instead.
However, the question for the uninitiated is: where are the best places to visit to really appreciate the aurora borealis and get some truly breathtaking views?
The very name of this country is in fact misleading, and indeed there is the well-known joke that Greenland and Iceland should swap names as Iceland can be very green, with the snow and ice focusing on the Glaciers. Having said that Iceland is full of volcanoes and lava fields. This gives it a rugged, harsh look and makes it a very dramatic back drop for seeing the Northern Lights.
Out in the countryside in the South of Iceland, you’ll have an unreserved view of the sky, giving you some fantastic chances to take pictures of the very reason you came to visit; the Northern Lights. The area around Hella is particularly good as it has little artificial light to interfere with the Northern Lights, and has a great incidence of sightings of the Aurora Borealis. There is a great 4 star Hotel option in this area with a superb restaurant, as well as a wilderness cabin for those looking to enjoy the peace and serenity on their own. In the North of Iceland you get away from the crowds and have the opportunity to enjoy the Aurora in isolation over waterfalls and a quiet estuary.
It’s not all about looking up at the sky in Iceland though. The snowy, mountainous areas are perfect for enjoying various adventurous activities like ice climbing with crampons, snowmobiling on the Glaciers and amazing off road Super Jeep tours with an experienced local guide right in the heart of the wilderness, and away from others.
Iceland is also famous for its Gullfoss Waterfall and the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts about every 5 minutes, as well as its black volcanic beaches and extraordinary volcanic landscape in the north. Whilst the best time to see whales is in the summer with an incidence of sightings at 90%, winter sightings are also high with an average of 70-75% and non summer Whale Watching is now increasing in popularity with the best sightings in the Aurora Season at either end near the equinoxes in March and October. You’ll get spectacular views of the Icelandic nature whatever time of the year you visit, so be sure to pack a good camera.
One of the most popular places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. This thermal spa is situated near the capital city of Reykjavik and simply cannot be missed. The water temperature is around 37 to 39 degrees Celsius, making it a stark contrast to the fresh, crisp air temperature. A most pleasurable way to spend the afternoon is having an in water massage followed by a steam bath or sauna.
To see all our Iceland Northern Lights Breaks
Sweden and Lapland
This is one of the most popular places to visit; with various cities and villages giving great views of the Northern Lights.
Abisko is found in the north of Sweden, 300 kms above the Arctic Circle, and is a tourist attraction ideal for Northern Lights hunters. Due to its unique climate it has the highest incidence of seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden, if not in the whole of the region.You can take a snowmobile or a pack of huskies on a sled out over the frozen rivers and lakes, away from the light-pollution caused in the cities and towns. This wilderness will give you the perfect open space to chase the Aurora and get the best possible views.
Professional photographers often frequent the region so you may be able to pick up some tips on how best to capture the Northern Lights. Alternatively an evening in the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko is a wonderful way to see the northern lights. The IceHotel near Kiruna is worth including on your trip to Sweden. Made entirely of ice and snow, this hotel was the first of its kind to exist.
Visit the IceBar for a relaxing drink as a completely alternative setting to what you’re used to, and if you go at the right time of year, you may glimpse the Northern Lights here as well.
For the ultimate Northern Lights hunter -do the coast to coast adventure. Start off in Lulea in Swedish Lapland and take a snowmobile over the frozen Archipelago. There are some great opportunities to go ice fishing here, while the vast open plains are fantastic for spotting the northern lights. You can then move on to Sorbyn further inland and spot wild reindeer.
There’s also a chance to stay in the special aurora camp located in the Rane River valley; a truly unique experience for the more adventurous holidaymaker. Then make your way across the Arctic Circle to Abisko where you not only have the Northern Lights but you can try your hand at ice climbing in this vast National Park or ice fishing on Lake Tornetrask. When you finally reach the Norwegian Fjords, another train ride away, you’ll get some breathtaking views of the mountains and have the chance to ask the locals about the Northern Lights.
To see our Northern Lights Trips to Sweden
This emerging destination is a very special place. Can you imagine anything more spectacular than watching the Northern Lights over gigantic Icebergs in the north west of Greenland in Ilulissat?
With numbers limited by very small flight capacity this destination remains a spectacular foray into true wilderness, though equally boasts the most northerly 4 star hotel in the world!
Take a Husky Safari with a Innuit to a remote hunting settlement during the day or go on a snowmobile safari or ice shoe walk in the wilderness as you wait for the evening and the display of Auroras!
To see our Aurora Adventures in Greenland
Norwegian Lapland was put on the map by Joanna Lumley. The scenery is truly some of the most spectacular with dramatic mountains, fjords and the Northern Lights reflected in the sea. Whale watching has also become a popular pastime in the Fjords with autumn being the prime time for viewings of both whales and northern lights.
To see our Norwegian Lapland Aurora Breaks
The Northern Lights can be viewed in a number of different places around the northern hemisphere and the location you choose will largely depend on the type of holiday you want. If you’re after an action-packed, white-knuckle adventure, you’ll have a different idea of what you expect than if you want a relaxing, chilled-out hotel stay with some spectacular views.
Whatever you’re seeking, you’re sure to find it in one of these places. Just be sure to wrap up warm and take your camera; these are some sights you’ll never want to forget.