Where to see the Northern Lights: The ultimate guide
Traveling to see the Northern Lights is worth every mile, every hour on the road or in the air. Imagine standing under the dark sky, surrounded by silence, when suddenly the black canvas above you erupts in waves of green, red, and purple lights. They dance and twist, casting an ethereal glow on the landscape below. It's a breathtaking sight and a humbling experience that reminds us of the beauty nature holds, something you remember for the rest of your life.
What is the science behind these dancing lights? They are created by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth's atmosphere. These particles hit the Earth in bursts that are affected by Sun's activity which means that Northern lights are not affected by weather. The best time to see Aurora is in winter months, when the pitch-black nights are long and the skies free of clouds. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains, or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
But did you know the Northern Lights are not exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere? Southern lights, known as the Aurora Australis graces the skies of the Southern Hemisphere.
Identifying the best places to witness this phenomenon involves a little bit of geography and consideration. Proximity to the Earth's magnetic poles, minimal light pollution, and stable weather conditions influence your chances of seeing the lights the most. Places that meet these criteria offer the most dramatic and consistent displays of the Northern and Southern Lights. Let's explore a list of such places where you can witness the night sky performance that feels like magic.
Abisko National Park
Abisko in Sweden offers a prime location for witnessing Northern Lights. Its geographical position makes it a very suitable spot, as it sits beneath the aurora oval, a belt where the display is most intense. It's a small village with a national park, which means light pollution is minimal, providing clear, dark skies ideal for spotting the lights.
The weather in Abisko tends to be clearer compared to other areas, thanks to the "blue hole" - a patch of sky above Lake Torneträsk that usually remains clear regardless of weather around it.
And there's more to Abisko than just Northern Lights. You can take a chairlift to the Aurora Sky Station, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and the lights themselves. Don't forget to try the local delicacy, reindeer meat, which is commonly served in local restaurants.
Getting to Abisko takes some planning - it is relatively remote location and transportation is limited. Trains do run from Swedish cities, but irregularly. Also, the Northern Lights are not guaranteed. They depend on solar activity and clear skies, which can be unpredictable. For the best chance, visit between November and March, when the nights are longest.
If you're prepared to brave the cold and venture into the Arctic Circle, Abisko might be your best bet to catch the celestial dance of the Northern Lights.