Where To See the Northern Lights in 2023

Do you want to know where to see the Northern Lights in 2023? Are you planning a trip and want to know your chances of seeing the Aurora? We got you covered in this article, where we suggest some of the most amazing places where to see the Northern Lights in 2023 and beyond.

Experiencing the Northern Lights is an unforgettable event that everyone should have the opportunity to witness. The phenomenon is natural and unpredictable, leaving one speechless. Our pursuit of witnessing the Northern Lights started several years ago, and we have been on the hunt for them every winter season since.

To increase our chances of seeing the Aurora, we have researched the best locations in the world, the optimal time of year, the ideal conditions for Aurora viewing, and other useful tips. Although we have been successful in most cases, we have also learned that one should never plan a trip solely to view the Northern Lights; choosing a destination you genuinely want to visit is essential.

Do you want to know where to see the Northern Lights in 2023? Given the unpredictability of Aurora, it is possible to visit a location to see it and end up not experiencing it at all, despite forecasted high activity levels.

That said, we have compiled a list of the world’s best places to view the Aurora for those hoping to glimpse it at least once in their lifetime. Furthermore, to provide even more helpful information, we have broken down the article by sharing advice on the best month for Northern Lights viewing, what Aurora is and what causes it, how to check Aurora forecasts and more.

We have seen the Northern Lights firsthand multiple times and understand how much others desire to witness it, so we are here to assist you in planning your best trip(s) yet.

Quick And Useful Resources To Plan Your Trip:

  • Book your flights with Skyscanner. Compare prices and duration and choose the most suitable flight to the destination of your choice. Start planning your trip. 
  • Book your hotel using Booking.com. Check the prices, the reviews, and the conditions, and spot the best hotels at the best price. Start looking for accommodation in your destination. Booking is our choice when it comes to hotels worldwide.
  • Buy your SIM in advance using Airalo if you travel outside of Europe. With Airalo eSIMs, you can connect immediately when you land and avoid data roaming charges. We use this when we travel, and we cannot be happier. Explore Airalo and travel smart.

What are the Northern Lights?

The Aurora is created when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. These collisions produce a display of light that can be seen in various colors, with pale green and pink being the most frequent. However, we have also been fortunate enough to witness rare shades of violet and red.

The colors of the Aurora are determined by the type of gas particles involved in the collisions. The only locations where the Aurora can be observed are above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. The Aurora in the north is known as the Aurora Borealis, while the Aurora in the south is called the Aurora Australis.

What month is best to see the Northern Lights?

Predicting the optimal month to witness the natural phenomenon of the Aurora can be challenging. Auroras can occur at any time of the year but can only be observed in dark skies.

The prime months for viewing the Northern Lights are January, February, and March through early April. From April to late August, the Aurora may only be visible using scientific equipment because the sky is too bright for the human eye to see the lights.

While September through November can be a favorable period for viewing the Northern Lights, it depends on luck. December can also be suitable for Aurora sightings, especially towards January, but it is not guaranteed.

In our own experience, we traveled to Iceland in mid-December but unfortunately did not see anything even if we were in one of the most famous places where to see the Northern Lights.

Northern Lights Alaska

What is the best time of the day to see the Northern Lights?

The primary requirement for witnessing the Northern Lights is a clear, dark sky without any clouds. The time of day is not a significant factor; as long as the sky is dark and cloudless, the Aurora can potentially be observed.

It is commonly believed that the optimal time to view the Northern Lights is between 9:30 pm and 1 am. However, we witnessed the stunning display of the lights at 5 pm and 11 pm, and even during the afternoon, which was unexpected but extraordinary.

In addition to a clear and dark sky, an essential condition for viewing the Aurora is being in a location without artificial lighting. The Merry Dancers are seldom visible in large cities or areas with significant artificial lighting. Therefore, being in a dark area is necessary to maximize the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights.

How long do the Northern Lights last?

It is difficult to determine the exact duration of the Northern Lights as it can range from 10 minutes to last throughout the entire night. The level of solar activity determines the length of time.

Is this a good year to see the Northern Lights?

The lifespan of the sun’s activity cycle is 11 years, during which it reaches its peak and minimum level of activity. When the sun is at its maximum activity level, also known as the solar maximum, there is an increased likelihood of experiencing frequent geomagnetic storms and strong Northern Lights at lower latitudes. As we approach the solar maximum of cycle number 25, which is anticipated to happen in 2023, it is regarded as an opportune time to witness the Aurora.

Northern Lights forecast

The usage of the term “unpredictable” in this article is frequent for a specific reason. The occurrence of Polar Lights is one of the most uncertain natural events. Therefore, it is feasible to plan a trip based on Aurora forecasts and ultimately find that the sky is unclear and the Northern Lights cannot be observed.

Although science can anticipate when and where the activity will transpire, weather forecasting is challenging and sometimes impossible. Sudden strong winds can bring clouds or dissipate abruptly, further complicating Aurora’s predictability.

The KP index, a numerical scale ranging from 0 to 9, is used to gauge the activity of the Aurora. The scale indicates the level of activity, where 0 indicates no activity, and 9 represents an exceedingly rare geomagnetic storm, which is likely to be seen even from Northern Spain.

You can check the Aurora Forecast here or download one app for Android and iOs.

pictures of the Northern Lights

10 Incredible Places Where to See Northern Lights

Now that you have obtained essential information regarding the Northern Lights, we understand your enthusiasm to discover the ideal locations to witness the Aurora. Thus, we have created a list of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis.

Iceland

Northern Lights Iceland

Iceland is renowned as one of the prime locations in the world to observe the Aurora Borealis, with September through March being the peak season for Northern Lights viewing. As the lights can appear at any time, it is relatively easy to view them as there are numerous dark locations across the island.

Some of the most spectacular spots in Iceland to witness the Northern Lights include Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, Skógafoss Waterfall, Snaefellsnes, and Thingvellir National Park. Most hotels in the area have implemented an aurora alert service, ensuring you will not miss a glimpse of the Aurora.

Best hotels in Iceland:

Best Northern Lights tour in Iceland:

Norway

Northern Lights Norway

The period between November and March marks the peak season for observing the Northern Lights in Northern Norway. During this time, the days are shorter, and the sky is frequently clear, providing optimal conditions for viewing the Aurora. Popular locations to witness the Northern Lights include the city of Tromsø, Svalbard, and the Lofoten Islands. Nordkapp is also a popular destination for those who are eager to chase the Northern Lights.

It is recommended to avoid visiting the fjords in hopes of viewing the Aurora as this region is situated far away from the Arctic Circle, and the likelihood of Northern Lights activity is significantly lower.

Best hotels in Norway:

Best Northern Lights tour in Norway:

Northern Finland

Northern Lights Finland

The northern part of Finland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights: the Aurora is common and there’s a huge business around it.

Lapland is widely regarded as one of the optimal locations to observe the Northern Lights, and as a result, there is a significant industry surrounding it. Visitors can experience the Aurora in various ways, including sleeping in a glass cabin or igloo and observing the Dancing Lights from the comfort of their accommodations or by joining a tour to explore the most secluded areas the country.

The Northern Lights are typically visible in Lapland between September and March, while in southern Finland, they are visible for approximately 10-20 nights a year.

Best hotels in Finland:

Best Northern Lights tour in Finland:

Northern Canada

Northern Canada Northern Lights

Canada is considered one of the top locations in the world for Northern Lights viewing, especially in the sparsely populated Canadian territories. The optimal time to view the Aurora is between mid-November and April.

Some of the most outstanding locations where to see the the Northern Lights in Canada include Yellowknife, Whitehorse (the capital of Yukon), Churchill (where the Aurora is reportedly visible for up to 300 nights a year), and the area north of Saskatoon, as well as Jasper National Park.

Best hotels in Canada:

Alaska

Alaska Northern Lights

The Northern Lights season in Alaska occurs between mid-September and late April, with a peak in March. Fairbanks is a renowned destination for those seeking to observe the Aurora, and despite being a city located below the Arctic Circle, the Northern Lights frequently appear, making them easily accessible to a large number of visitors. Haystack Mountain, Coldfoot, and Utqiagvik are popular destinations for witnessing the Aurora.

Best hotels in Alaska:

Northern Sweden

Northern Lights Sweden

The Northern Lights can be seen in the northern region of Sweden between early September and late March. The area known as Swedish Lapland is a frequent host of the Aurora, with major spots including Kiruna, Jukkasjärvi (home of the world’s first IceHotel), and the spectacular Porjus.

Best hotels in Sweden:

Best Northern Lights tour in Sweden:

Greenland

Greenland Northern Lights

If you plan to travel to Greenland from September through the beginning of April, you will likely witness the Polar Lights. Some renowned locations for viewing the Aurora in Greenland include Kangerlussuaq, Ilulissat Icefjord (declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004), Kulusuk, and the city of Tasiilaq.

Best hotels in Greenland:

Faroe Islands

Northern Lights Faroe

The Faroe Islands can be challenging to access during winter, and the weather conditions can be harsh. However, if the Northern Lights do appear, they are truly magnificent. The Aurora can be viewed from any location on the island, and while this unique trip may require a certain level of courage, the experience is undoubtedly worth the effort.

Best hotels in the Faroe Islands:

Scotland

Aurora Borealis Scotland

Scotland may not be the initial location that comes to mind when searching for the Northern Lights as the weather conditions are often unfavorable. However, on rare occasions in northern Scotland, it is possible to observe the Aurora, and the sight is truly breathtaking. The Isle of Skye and the Northern Highlands are the ideal locations for witnessing the Northern Lights, but it should be noted that the Aurora is a rare occurrence in this region.

Best hotels in Scotland:

Is it worthwhile to plan a trip to view the Northern Lights?

Witnessing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you are wondering where to see the Northern Lights in 2023, you must also understand that witnessing the Aurora is not guaranteed. Yet, visiting the optimal destinations at the appropriate time of year can increase the chances of viewing this incredible natural phenomenon. The best locations for viewing the Northern Lights include Iceland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. Ensuring that your chosen location has a clear, dark sky and minimal light pollution is crucial. By carefully planning your trip, researching the best time to visit, and booking accommodations in advance, you can increase your chances of witnessing the Dancing Lights and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission at no cost if you purchase through a link.

Veruska
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant. She's an accredited journalist and a certified sommelier. She also won an award as World's Best Food Travel Journalist. She's the co-owner of TheFoodellers and a bunch of other websites.
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