10 Best Places to See the Northern Lights—That Aren't Iceland

A deal by , 13. Feb. 2019 12:13 pm

It's no secret that the northern lights are a true gift, a bucket list experience, and something we all should see. But what if we can't make it to Iceland? No worries on that, because we have ten great places where you can see this wonderful phenomenon—and some of them may be right in your backyard. So get ready people, and place this experience on those New Year's adventure lists.

10 Places To See The Northern Lights That Aren't Iceland

1. Yellowknife, Canada

Yellowknife is the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories. It lies on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, and is actually one of the best places to view the northern lights during the fall and winter months. There's even a place in the town called the Aurora Village, which offers packages to people to hunt for the lights in the sky. The village has its own website. This city has been dubbed the coolest of the North both in terms of the freezing temperatures and the hip atmosphere. However, this place will have you forgetting about the cold in no time with loads of fun activities to experience, plus amazing cuisine from sushi to Ethiopian. Not to mention it's your perfect excuse to visit Canada.


Best time to visit: Mid-August to late April for warmer temperatures. Northern lights sightings will be from September through February.

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Image Source: Emily Hon

2. Fairbanks, Alaska

This city is said to be the best place to view the aurora borealis in the United States. Heck, it even has its own Aurora forecast system so you can always check and see if you’re in luck. Something that makes Fairbanks sound even better for your northern lights adventure is that you can watch the show from the comfort of a steaming hot tub in the small village called Manley Hot Springs. Alaska even has had some discounted flights available recently and this is a great place to visit to see the lights without leaving the U.S..


Best time to visit: Late August to mid-April

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3. Michigan's Upper Peninsula

This past July, Michigan was treated to a rare northern lights display because of a geomagnetic storm from the sun. Although it doesn’t occur that often, the state is known for being a good vantage point for the celestial light display, due to its latitude and relatively low light pollution in the upper peninsula. Lake Superior provides some of the best Northern Lights views, due to its very dark night skies. Go along the South Shore, where one can see right down to the horizon and be treated to an 180-degree unobstructed view of the night sky. The best places to see lights are on the Marquette or Keweenaw Peninsulas

Best time to visit: January to late March for northern light viewings. The warmest weather will be in July and August.

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Image Source: David Lee


4. Acadia, Maine

The state of Maine has a lot of great things going for it, including abundant starry skies. The farther north you go in Maine, the darker the night becomes, giving better chances of glimpsing the aurora borealis.

Compared to other parts of the U.S., the northern lights don’t showcase themselves as often in Maine. However, some of the best opportunities to see them can be found in places like the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge or Acadia National Park, specifically along the Schoodic Peninsula. East Coasters, this is perfect for your next road trip. Just make sure the weather is clear before heading up to Vacationland.

Best time to visit: January to late March for northern light viewings. The warmest weather will be in July and August.

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Image Source: David Lee


5. Northern Minnesota

As with many of the aurora borealis states of the U.S., the farther north you travel in Minnesota, the more vibrant northern lights you can expect to see. If you hope to add a little adventure to the experience, then northern Minnesota is the perfect place. Head to Voyageurs National Park to catch the show. Cook County is at the northernmost tip of Minnesota along the shores of Lake Superior. This area is also home to Minnesota's tallest waterfall, which makes for a beautiful view against the backdrop of the night sky. Many locals will tell you to check out Oberg Mountain to catch a glimpse of those multi-colored skies. It will be a trip full of epic hiking, that's for sure.


Best time to visit: Late fall and early spring.


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6. Northern Idaho

It takes just the right combination of things to see the northern lights in Idaho, and there are certainly people who live there that might go their whole life without seeing them. Not only are clear skies and low light pollution needed, but a large solar storm is normally necessary to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis in Idaho.


But when those perfect conditions hit, get ready to head as far north as you can to places like Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The best viewing spot will be looking out over Priest Lake, where the lake will reflect the sky with silhouettes of mountains in the background.


Best time to visit: Late fall and early spring when conditions are ideal.


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7. Tromsø, Norway

This is the place to go if you want the highest chances of seeing the northern lights. Tromsø is in the heart of the Arctic wilderness. Because it is located in the "northern lights circle," you have a chance of seeing the lights even from the city center. To get there, you will need to fly to Oslo and then take a connecting flight. Bundle up, because it will be cold! Here are some of the best places you can stay in Tromsø to make your trip a memorable one.

Best time to visit: Early September to early April for northern light viewings.

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8. Muonio, Finland

Located in Finnish Lapland this town receives 24 hours of daylight for three months each year. That means, however, for the other nine months Muonio switches to dark cold nights that are perfect for northern light viewing. This is the most stylish place to watch because of all of the unique accommodations you will find there, like the Aurora Dome. Hotels are actually on the limited side here, so glamping is a popular choice.

Best time to visit: Mid-August to early April for northern light viewings.

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9. Northern Scotland

Because Northern Scotland shares the same latitude as some Scandinavian locations it means that there's a good chance you will see the lights if the conditions allow. Places like Isle of Skye, Orkney, Caithness, the Moray Coast, Aberdeenshire, Lewis, Haris, Applecross, Lochinver, and the Cairngorms all have chances of seeing the lights. The best place to stay to view them would be Orkney or Isle of Skye because of their low light pollution.

Best time to visit: September for the best weather in the North and the highest chance to see the the lights.

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10. Northern Sweden

North is the key word. In Sweden's Lapland region you will be able to see the lights, but it's important to remember you won't see them in Southern Sweden. The best part? Northern Sweden is actually warmer than both Finland and Norway. We recommend venturing to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park, a popular spot for aurora borealis enthusiasts.Taking the night visit tour is worth it because you'll be brought up to the top of a mountain on a chairlift, a gorgeous spot to see the lights.

Best time to visit: Early September to early April for northern light viewings.

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These places are good starting points for northern light viewing around the world, but they aren't the only areas. Remember that you will need a dark and relatively clear night with little light pollution. This doesn't mean that the longest night of winter will be the best time. You'll typically have the best luck around the equinoxes at the beginning of fall and spring. The best places to witness this phenomenon will be above the 55 degree latitude mark. Also, don't forget to try going during a new moon, and keep an ear out for news about incoming solar storms.

Happy northern lights hunting, everyone!