The best places to see the Northern Lights in 2023 are scattered on the most extreme latitudes of our planet: Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Norway, Finland… The list of good places to see the Aurora Borealis is long and diverse, so it’s usually difficult to choose which is the best Northern Lights destination, especially with a global pandemic going on.
But don’t worry. I’ve spent many years photographing the Northern Lights around the globe, and, in this article, I’ll break down the best countries to see the Aurora Borealis so you can plan where to see the Northern Lights and you can cross this dream off your bucket list!
In a nutshell, these are the 10 best places to see the Northern Lights in 2023:
- Southern Iceland
- Whitehorse, Canada’s Yukon
- Tromso, Norway
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Rovaniemi, Finland
- Kiruna, Sweden
- Murmansk, Russia
- Ilulissat, Greenland
- Dunedin, New Zealand
- Tasmania, Australia
Apart from these, there are other great locations to see the Aurora Borealis around the world. At the end of the article, we’ll discuss:
- Where are the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world?
- Where can I see the Northern Lights tonight?
If you want to take a multi-day tour but you are not sure about where to go, check out the best trips to see the Northern Lights in 2023.
1. Southern Iceland
Iceland is one of the most popular destinations for seeing the Northern Lights for many reasons:
- You can get cheap flights from the US and Europe.
- The country is accessible, with good roads, so you can just rent a car and do your own Aurora chasing trip.
- Even though Iceland is not above the Arctic Circle, there are very high chances of seeing the Aurora.
- It’s one of the countries with fewer entry restrictions during the pandemic, which makes it an ideal destination regardless of where you’re traveling from.
In terms of locations, anywhere on the island away from light pollution is a good place for seeing the Aurora. However, I’ve been traveling there for many years to photograph the Northern Lights and, to me, the best places to see the Aurora Borealis are in the South:
- Skógafoss (South): A huge waterfall from which you can see the Aurora.
- Jökulsárlón (Southeast): The renowned glacier lagoon is also an otherworldly place to see the Aurora.
- Stokksnes (SouthEast): This black sand beach is my favorite location to photograph the Aurora.
- Reykjanesviti (SouthWest): The best place to see the Northern Lights near Reykjavik.
Some other areas outside Southern Iceland that you can easily access are:
- Kirkjufell (West): The most iconic mountain in Iceland is also an excellent place to see the lights on the Snæfellness peninsula.
- Hvítserkur (NorthWest): Also known as “The Rhino,” this rock formation is the best place to see the Aurora in northern Iceland.
If you’re a photographer and your goal is to capture the Aurora, you can join us on our Capture the Atlas Iceland Photo Tour that takes place every September.
- Vedur: Icelandic clouds forecast.
- Road.is: Icelandic official roads information.
- NOAA Aurora forecast: Space administration Northern Lights forecast.
If you’re interested in traveling there, I suggest checking our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Iceland.
2. Whitehorse, Canada’s Yukon
Canada is the best place to see the Northern Lights in America.
Northern Canada is a vast territory, with a majority of remote and difficult to reach locations, but there are some accessible places to see the Northern Lights in Canada:
- Yukon: Whitehorse is the official capital of the Northern Lights in Canada, with a very high percentage of Northern Lights nights per year. Most people who travel to Canada with this goal in mind, decide Whitehorse as their Northern Lights destination for good reason; plenty of lodging options, easy transportation, Aurora Tours from the city, etc.
- Northwest Territories: The best area in the NWT is Yellowknife. Along with Whitehorse, it is probably the most accessible place to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada.
- Manitoba: Churchill offers a great opportunity for seeing Northern Lights shows and polar bears if you plan your trip during October-November.
- Canadian Rockies: The Rockies are located at a lower latitude, and Northern Lights displays are rare, but you can see the Lights during strong shows. This was the place where I saw the Northern Lights for the first time.
If you visit Whitehorse, you can take this Northern Lights evening viewing tour.
There are many hotels in the best areas to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada.
If Canada is your Northern Lights destination, I suggest checking our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Canada.
3. Tromso, Norway
Tromso is, without a doubt, one of the top places to see the Northern Lights on the European continent. There’s also a wide option of cheap flights, tours, and hotels to enjoy this natural phenomenon.
Besides Tromso, there are many accessible areas in Norway located at a perfect latitude to see the “Green Lady” almost every clear night. Some of the strongest displays I’ve seen in my life have been under the Norwegian sky, making it one of my favorite countries to see the Northern Lights.
The best places to see the Northern Lights in Norway are:
- Tromso: The most renowned location to see the Northern Lights in Norway. Aurora tourism is everywhere, and there’s a great offer of Northern Lights tours in Tromso.
- Lofoten Islands: The best place to see the Northern Lights in Norway if you’re a photographer.
- Senja: Not far from Lofoten, you’ll find the magical island of Senja, famous for its rugged peaks and fjords.
- Alta: If you travel to northern Norway, Alta is also a very good option to consider for seeing the Northern Lights.
- Svalbard: Apart from polar bear watching, the northernmost city of Norway offers an excellent opportunity for Aurora shows.
If you’re a photography enthusiast, we also run a Capture the Atlas Lofoten Photo tour every winter, which is aimed at shooting landscapes and the Aurora on the Lofoten Islands.
Norway probably has the largest offer of Northern Lights hotels in the world.
The options are endless depending on your location, budget, and preferences. My favorite lodging option is the Eliassen Rorbuer cabins on the Lofoten Islands; it’s impossible to forget the night we spent watching the Aurora from our fisherman-hotel cabin.
You can find more in-depth information in our article on the best Northern Lights hotels in Norway.
For more information, check out our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Norway.
4. Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks, Alaska, is the best place to see the Northern Lights in the United States. That doesn’t mean that you can’t see the Northern Lights in other US states or areas in Alaska, but this is the accessible city with the highest chances of seeing the Aurora.
If you’re flexible with your dates, plan your trip to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks in March since it’s the best time to enjoy clear skies and big Northern Lights shows in the Aurora capital of Alaska.
During strong displays, the Northern Lights can occasionally be seen further south in the northern states, such as Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, or Maine. If you want to photograph the Aurora in the lower 48, I recommend checking our article on seeing the Northern Lights in Michigan.
However, since Alaska is the “ go-to” option, here are the best places to see the Northern Lights there:
- Fairbanks: It’s the largest inland city and the northernmost most accessible place for seeing the Aurora in Alaska. If you’re there during the winter and there are clear skies, go outside, since you’ll be very likely to see the Lights dancing.
- Anchorage: It’s the largest city in Alaska in terms of population and one of the locations that offers the most options for seeing the Aurora in the USA. There are many commercial flights, and it’s the easiest place to plan your Northern Lights trip to Alaska.
- Denali: The most famous national park in Alaska is one of the best places for seeing the Aurora away from the light pollution of the cities. You’ll also have plenty of activities to do during the day, depending on the time of the year.
Alaska is also a very popular destination for Northern Lights Tours, like this Northern Lights and arctic circle tour in Fairbanks or this 6-hour dinner and Northern Lights tour.
For more information, check out our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Alaska.
5. Rovaniemi, Finland
Finland is, along with Norway, the most popular destination for seeing the Northern Lights in Europe. One of the best places to see the lights here is in the Finnish Lapland, especially in Rovaniemi.
This city offers a wide range of Northern Lights and winter activities and some of the best Northern Lights hotels in the world.
The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Finland change drastically from the south to the north of the country. To increase your chances, the further north you go, the more likely you’ll be to see the green Lights.
These would be the best places to see the Northern Lights in Finland:
- Rovaniemi: The capital of Finnish Lapland is famous for being the official residence of Santa Claus but also for its frequent displays of Northern Lights.
- Kakslauttanen: Further north and away from light pollution, Kakslauttanen is the best bet for those who want to enjoy the magic of the Northern Lights from a transparent Igloo hotel.
- Ivalo: In the northernmost Finnish region of Inari, the small village of Ivalo offers the opportunity to see the Aurora almost every single night as long as there are clear skies. It’s colder than the other places to see the Aurora in Finland, but your chances will be higher.
- Saariselkä: Further north, you can immerse yourself in the Finnish wilderness in this mountain village, where it’s rare not to see the Aurora if there are clear skies.
The most famous Aurora igloo-hotel in the world is located in Finland, and it’s called Kakslauttanen arctic resort.
The Northern Lights Village, in Saariselkä, is also one of the best Northern Lights hotels in Finland. It’s a resort specifically aimed at seeing the Northern Lights and it also offers other winter activities.
For more information, check out our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Finland.
6. Kiruna, Sweden
The Swedish Arctic region is also a very accessible and relatively easy place to see the Northern Lights. Kiruna is the most popular place to see the Aurora in Sweden since it’s very accessible and offers plenty of accommodations and tours.
A good thing about the Swedish Lapland is that it’s affected by the Gulf Stream climate, and temperatures aren’t as cold as in Alaska or Canada.
The northern territory of the country offers the best places for seeing the Northern Lights:
- Kiruna: It’s the biggest northernmost city in Swedish Lapland, and there are plenty of services and lodging options. From there, you can take a tour into the wilderness to enjoy the Lights.
- Jokkmokk: This area with a small population is one of the most renowned places for chasing the Aurora. There are many lakes nearby, which are great to see the Northern Lights reflected in the water or the snow.
- Abisko: This small village right at the entrance of Abisko National Park is one of the best places to see the Aurora surrounded by nature in Sweden.
This Northern Lights tour is probably your best bet for seeing the Lights in Sweeden. They’ll take you to the best areas near Kiruna and show you how to take the best pictures of the Aurora.
For more information, check out our article on the best time and places to see Northern Lights in Sweden.
7. Murmansk, Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, and a great portion of its territory is located above the Arctic Circle.
Most Russian land is indeed remote and extremely cold, but some areas like Murmansk, in the Kola peninsula, are more accessible and offer high chances for seeing the Aurora in Russia.
The most accessible and best destinations for seeing the Northern Lights in Russia are spread towards the northwest of the country, specifically around the Kola Peninsula.
These are the best areas to see the Northern Lights in Russia:
- Murmansk: It’s the biggest port city in the Russian Arctic and the best place for seeing the Aurora in Russia. Nearby, you’ll have the perfect landscape, with ice forests and the impressive coast across the Barent Sea.
- Teriberka: Not far from Murmansk but away from the light pollution of the city, Teriberka is a small fishing village renowned for its great chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
- Arkhangelsk: Taking a 2-hour flight from Moscow, you can get to this northern city in Russia to enjoy the Northern Lights. It’s one of the most popular Aurora destinations in the country.
This Russian Northern Lights company offers Aurora and photography tours in the Murmansk area.
In Teriberka, the Teribersky Bereg cabins are the best option. They have a nice restaurant and offer day and Aurora activities in the area.
- Kola Travel: Kola Peninsula information
- Meteoinfo: Weather and cloud forecast in Russia and the Kola Peninsula
8. Ilulissat, Greenland
Greenland is another vast and remote area, but it lies entirely across the Auroral Oval, and there are some settlements located around spectacular landscapes to see the Aurora.
Most of the territory in Greenland is completely inaccessible, but there are some tourist-friendly areas around the coast.
These are the best places to see the Northern Lights in Greenland:
- Ilulissat: The Ilulissat ice fjord is one of the most mesmerizing places to see the Aurora in the world. The UNESCO world heritage Disko bay is there, where you can see the Aurora reflected in the big icebergs on the sea.
- Nuuk: Further south, Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, is one of the best locations to see the Aurora in Greenland. This city is surrounded by fjords, rugged peaks, and mountains, a perfect landscape to see the Northern Lights.
This Icebergs and Northern Lights tour in Ilulissat is a perfect option to enjoy the Greenland landscapes and the Aurora.
For many reasons, the Arctic hotel is the best Aurora lodging option in Ilulissat
If you decide to visit Nuuk, the Vandrehuset is a very interesting option.
9. Dunedin, New Zealand
If you are trying to chase the Southern counterpart of the Northern Lights, the Aurora Australis, the place to see it is in New Zealand.
The city of Dunedin is the best place to see the Aurora in New Zealand; it’s at a very high southern latitude, accessible, and offers some spectacular landscapes to chase the lights like Moeraki.
Bear in mind that these places require considerable solar activity to see the aurora, so don’t set high expectations and make sure that you check the Northern Lights forecast every day.
10. Tasmania, Australia
Another great place to see the Aurora Australis is the island of Tasmania, in Australia.
Tasmania is the most southern state in Australia and apart from beautiful coastlines, World Heritage rainforests, and national parks to photograph, you also have the opportunity of being able to witness the most intense auroras in the country because of the high latitude.
The same as with New Zealand, you need intense solar activity to see the lights from here, so it might be a great destination for the “solar maximum years” when the activity of the sun is higher.
where are the best places to see the Northern Lights
Apart from the best places to see the Northern Lights that we’ve discussed, there are other great places to enjoy this majestic phenomenon.
The Northern Lights are seen at latitudes near the North Pole, in what is called the “Auroral Oval”; the place with the highest chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis is the Arctic Circle and the surrounding areas.
If you understand the main cause of the Northern Lights, you will know that the solar particles that form them travel to the poles, and therefore, the places that are in high latitudes, such as Scandinavia, northern Canada, Alaska, etc. are the best places to see the Northern Lights.
Keep in mind that the Northern Lights are not the same as the Southern Lights. The Southern Lights, also known as Aurora Australis, are seen in latitudes near the South Pole, such as Antarctica or southern New Zealand.
However, if there is a strong solar storm, Auroras can be seen in latitudes farther from the poles, such as the northern states of the US or England.
To increase your chances of seeing the Aurora, my advice is to plan your trip to a Northern Lights destination, like the ones you will see below, during the best time to see Northern Lights.
Once you decide on your destination, you can also check lodging options in any of the best Northern Lights hotels in the world.
where can I see the northern lights tonight?
Once you make it to one of the best Northern Lights destinations, your most common question might be where to go to see the Northern Lights.
The best places to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights are always those with clear skies.
I suggest checking the weather and cloud forecast in your location, either using a local weather site or a general site like Windy.com.
Once you’re in a dark place with no clouds, you only need to wait and be patient; the Northern Lights are unpredictable, and they can start shining at any time!
As you can see, the best places to see the Northern Lights are located across the Auroral Oval circle.
Even though most of the areas in the Arctic Circle are very remote, there are great locations where you can go to see the Northern Lights.
Before your trip, make sure that you take warm clothes, you have an Aurora forecast app, and you’re ready to enjoy one of the most spectacular natural shows on earth!
P.S. If you are a photographer and you want to experience an exciting adventure chasing and photographing the Aurora Borealis, don’t hesitate to sign up for our Iceland Photo tour or our Lofoten Islands Photo tour!