The Northern Lights are shrouded in legends: the Vikings believed that it was the brilliance of Valhalla’s swords, and the Icelanders believed that elves danced this way. Even today, this beautiful phenomenon is unpredictable and depends on many conditions. We will tell you about the countries and places in which it can be seen.
Norway is one of the best places on earth to see the Northern Lights. The so-called “Northern Lights Belt” runs from the Lofoten Islands to the North Cape. The largest cities in this territory are Tromsø and Alta. The most comfortable way to admire the glow is in the settlement of Longyearn, in the Svalbard archipelago, where rooms with a glass roof are rented. The most extreme way is to go to the Norwegian part of Lapland and stay in an igloo hotel and, at the same time, watchdog sled races.
When to go: from the end of September to March
The areas of the villages of Sodankylä, Ivalo, and the town of Rovaniemi can boast that the northern lights are visible every second night. In Rovaniemi, the brightest glow is in February. On this occasion, the city hosts the festival of the northern lights (Revontuli Festivaali). And in the vicinity of the village of Kilpisjärvi, the glow appears every three nights out of four and is reflected in the frozen lake.
In Finland, special hotels have been built to observe the northern lights: Aurora Bubble – round houses with a glass bubble roof, from where panoramic views open, or the forest village of Kakslauttanen, 40 kilometers from the village of Ivalo, consisting of hundreds of igloos with a transparent ceiling.
When to go: from October to March
In Russia, the Arctic Circle crosses the whole country, and the northern lights in winter can be seen in many northern regions. From Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is most convenient to go for the northern lights in the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions.
In the Murmansk region, the aurora is best seen in the villages of Vidyaevo, Teriberka, Polyarny, and Pechenga. Also, pay attention to the Khibiny Mountains in the Kirov region, where the northern lights are visible at the recreation center “Kuelporr,” wherefrom Kirovsk there is a snowmobile transfer with a sleigh, as well as in the urban village of Kukisvumchorr.
The northern lights are visible in Arkhangelsk from time to time, but it is better to go to the region’s north, where light pollution is less.
When to go: from the end of September to the end of March
The Arctic region of Sweden, which covers the entire North-West of the country, is famous for its magnificent northern lights. The best observation deck is the Aurora Sky
Station in the Abisko National Park at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level, where 200 northern lights occur per year.
When to go: from the beginning of September to the end of March
Iceland is a great place for those who want to admire the glow without experiencing discomfort from the frost: thanks to the warm current of the Gulf Stream, the temperature on the island rarely drops below zero. 60 kilometers from Reykjavik, in the town of Stokkseiri, is the Center of Icelandic Wonders, dedicated to trolls, elves, and the northern lights. More chances to see the aurora in the city of Akureyri, in the north, where the weather is dryest on the island, or in the glacial lagoon of Jökulsaurloun in the southeast.
When to go: from October to March
The greatest chances are to see the glow in dry, cold, and clear weather, away from the city, from 21.00 to 01.00. And it depends on solar activity (the higher the activity – the brighter the glow). You can see the forecast of the probability of the northern lights on this site.