Which Countries Can You See the Northern Lights

In Which Countries Can You See the Northern Lights?

aurora borealis on an Alaskan hillsideIn which countries can you see the northern lights? The northern lights can be seen from many countries in the northern hemisphere, some with more success than others. Depending on weather, darkness, cloud cover, and solar wind activity (among other natural factors) the northern lights can be seen in some surprising places.

The Auroral Oval

Perhaps the most interesting factor depends on the country’s location from the auroral oval. The auroral oval refers to the ring where the lights appear, which circle the north magnetic pole. The ring covers several continents, with the most frequent lights being seen around the center. Though the oval fluctuates daily, there are forecasting resources, like the Ovation map, that predict where the lights will be most visible. Here, they show the chance by percentage of the northern lights being seen in each country. Beyond statistics, certain countries typically have the best luck for catching the aurora.

Countries located closer to the center of the auroral oval tend to have higher chances of witnessing the mesmerizing northern lights phenomenon. Specifically, regions like Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland have become popular destinations for travelers seeking the aurora borealis due to their proximity to the most active parts of the oval. Tourists flock to these countries in hopes of experiencing the stunning dance of colors that light up the night sky. Not only do these nations offer ideal viewing conditions, but they also provide a range of activities and accommodations tailored for aurora hunting enthusiasts.

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What Are The Countries Where You Can See the Northern Lights?

Countries where you can witness the Northern Lights include Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada (particularly Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut), Alaska (USA), Russia (especially in Murmansk and Siberia), Greenland, and Scotland (especially in the northern regions). These destinations offer prime viewing opportunities due to their proximity to the Arctic Circle and minimal light pollution, providing breathtaking displays of the aurora borealis dancing across the night sky. Below are a few of our favorite Northern Lights destinations.

For avid aurora chasers, planning a trip to one of these countries guarantees an unforgettable experience under the dazzling glow of the Northern Lights. Imagine cozying up in a glass igloo in Finland, immersing yourself in the mystical atmosphere of Iceland’s volcanic landscapes, or embarking on a husky sled ride under the swirling green hues in Alaska. Each location not only offers a chance to witness nature’s spectacular light show but also provides a unique cultural experience that enhances the magic of the moment. From traditional Sami culture in Sweden to hot springs in Iceland, these Northern Lights destinations promise a memorable journey filled with wonder and awe.

North America

1933 ss nenana in alaskaAmerica & Canada: Since the auroral oval is situated above northern Canada, this ensures prime visibility during the winter months in regions like the Northern Territories. Stateside, Fairbanks, Alaska is the most popular spot in the U.S. to see the northern lights, due to low cloud cover and light pollution. However, the aurora has been occasionally spotted as far south as Idaho, Maine and northern Michigan when the weather is right. Ultimately, the further north you go, the more likely it is that you’ll catch the aurora.

While Canada and Alaska are among the most reliable locations for northern lights viewing in North America, enthusiasts seeking a less conventional experience might consider exploring areas outside these typical spots. For instance, the Yukon Territory offers unique opportunities for aurora sightings with its vast wilderness and minimal light pollution, providing an expansive backdrop for the colorful displays. Similarly, Nunavut’s remote landscapes offer pristine environments for observing the aurora borealis, often far from the hustle and bustle of more populated regions.

In the U.S., places like northern Minnesota and Wisconsin occasionally get a glimpse of the northern lights, especially during periods of intense solar activity. These sightings, while rarer than in Alaska, can be just as awe-inspiring. Even in lower-latitude states, dramatic geomagnetic storms can lead to unexpected aurora displays.


Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland & Sweden: Head to Scandinavia for a stunning landscape, snowy winters and a culture fascinated with the northern lights. Outside of the cities, much of these countries are sparsely populated with pristine wildlife, making perfect conditions for seeing the northern lights. Though seeing the aurora is never guaranteed, the most likely destination is the Finnish Lapland, where the lights can be seen 200 nights out of the year. However, keep in mind that prices for tours, hotels and living expenses can be expensive in these countries.

Despite the cost, the Scandinavian experience for northern lights enthusiasts is truly unique. In Norway, the city of Tromsø is renowned for its high aurora activity and offers a variety of tours, from coastal cruises to reindeer sleigh rides. Sweden’s Abisko National Park is another top destination, with its unique microclimate that leads to clear skies, enhancing the chances of catching a vibrant aurora display. Iceland, with its dramatic landscapes of glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes, presents a one-of-a-kind backdrop for viewing the aurora, with popular spots like the Golden Circle or Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Denmark, though further south, can still experience occasional aurora events, especially during periods of high solar activity. Across all these destinations, visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture, enjoying traditional foods, crafts, and activities like husky sledding or snowmobiling, while waiting for the skies to light up.

Elsewhere in Europe

Russia & Scotland: Though not as widely marketed, the northern lights have been seen in areas of Europe outside Scandinavia as well. Russia’s extreme north, marked by a rugged arctic wilderness, is very close to the magnetic north pole. Specifically, the Kola Peninsula and Severodvinsk are well known destinations for seeing the aurora. Further south, northern Scotland has been known to catch some stellar displays as well. Though the lights may appear hazy under the typically cloudy skies, there are many sightings during the winter months, especially in remote areas and islands away from city lights.

Russia’s Kola Peninsula, with its vast tundra and snowy landscapes, offers excellent opportunities to see the northern lights. The small towns of Murmansk and Kirovsk, both nestled in this northern region, have become popular spots for aurora tourism, with guided tours and accommodations catering to visitors. The remoteness of these areas allows for minimal light pollution, creating ideal conditions for aurora sightings. Despite the extreme cold and challenging weather, the aurora’s vivid colors can be breathtaking against the stark Russian landscape.


Which Countries Can You See the Aurora Borealis?

Brilliant Colors in the Aurora

See the Northern Lights in Alaska

On Gondwana’s Northern Lights Ecotour, we have created an economical, fun and environmentally friendly way to see the aurora near Fairbanks, Alaska. By taking the work out of planning your vacation, you’ll be able to relax while enjoying cultural wonders during the day, and natural wonders at night. Learn more about the inclusions on the Northern Lights Ecotour.

Learn more about the tales of the Northern Lights and how they echo through generations, carrying with them the magic and mystery of the Arctic skies. Passed down through folklore and legend, these stories weave intricate narratives of celestial beings and cosmic wonders. With each retelling, the allure of the Aurora Borealis grows, captivating hearts and imaginations alike.

Download Our Northern Lights Brochure Here.

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