5 Best Destinations To See The Spectacular Northern Lights

Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are the breathtaking nature phenomena when the myriad colorful lights of nature dance in the horizon in a stunning motion. It's a natural wonder visible in certain period of the year.

Northern Lights sighting in Lapland, Finland

Chasing the Northern Lights is on everyone's bucket-list. An experience that many people wait years—or even a lifetime—to fulfill. Others say, it is very elusive and need a good timing to catch one.

Weather conditions, atmosphere, season, all of these need to be in good timing for Norther Lights to show up in the sky. Usually, it takes place during longer hours of darkness and clear night skies.

So why Northern Lights form?

As we know, Northern Lights are natural phenomena and no state-of-the-art technologies can even produce or summon Northern Lights to show up. It is a natural celestial occurrence.

So how it is formed? "When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth's atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon light. This process creates the beautiful aurora borealis or norther lights" - www.earthsky.org

Northern Lights sighting in Norway

It was Italian astronomer, Galileo Galili, considered as the father of Astronomy, who coined the words "Aurora Borealis" in 1619. Aurora from the Roman goddess of Dawn, Aurora, and Borealis from the Greek god of the north wind, Boreas.

In the Northern Hemisphere it is called "Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis", in Southern Hemisphere, it is called "Southern Lights or Aurora Australis". More detailed explanation about Northern or Southern Lights HERE

Though it occurs from late September to early April, it frequently occurs and can be best seen during winter when nights are longer and sky is clearer. The best places in the world to catch Northern Lights are usually closer to the Arctic Circle: Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

1. Tromso, Norway
Located above the Arctic circle in the heart of the aurora zone, the city is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to see the Northern Lights. Tromso is located in the Northern part of Norway and usually dark between the afternoon and morning from late September to early April, thus, offers stunning aurora views.

2. Finnish Lapland - Located in the Arctic region in Northern Europe, Finnish Lapland is one of the most popular Northern Lights viewing destinations. Aurora Borealis can be visible in this part of Finland almost 200 nights a year on a clear sky, sometimes between September and March. And it can be best experienced at a glass igloo in Santa's Igloos Arctic Circle in Luosto. This resort town is about 72 miles north of the town of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland's northernmost province, Lapland. Rovaniemi is also known as the hometown of Santa Claus. Small glass igloo costs about $512 dollars per night.

3. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
The optimal place for viewing the aurora borealis in Sweden is in the northern part of the country, in Swedish Lapland. Visitors to this region can see the illuminated skies during the darkest months, from September to March. The small Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi sits about 124 miles above the Arctic Circle on the Torne River and is an ideal locale for aurora viewing in Swedish Lapland.

4. Reykjavik, Iceland
For optimum viewing away from the light pollution, head to Öskjuhlið. This densely wooded area in Reykjavik has walkways and paths where you can see the nighttime show. Atop of this forest sits Perlan, which features the only planetarium in the country as well as a museum with exhibits about Iceland's nature and geography. Another location in Iceland where aurora borealis can be best viewed is at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

5. Fairbanks, Alaska
One of the most popular destinations of Northern Lights viewing in the US is Fairbanks, Alaska. Its Aurora Season kicks in between late August and late April. Fairbanks is under the “Auroral Oval,” a ring-shaped zone over the far north where aurora activity is concentrated. Additionally, Fairbanks’ low precipitation and distance from coastal areas contribute to consistently clear nights. All combined these variables make the Fairbanks region an outstanding destination for possible aurora borealis viewing.

Meanwhile, the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis, can be best viewed in New Zealand and Australia from May to August and during spring equinox in September when night is longer.

How much it cost to see Northern Lights?

Two of the world's most popular destinations to see the Northern Lights are Lapland, Finland, and Iceland. These locations near the Arctic region have longer nights during winter season.

Igloo houses in Rovaniemi

According to Tour Radar, their Arctic Finnish Lapland Winter Tour Package for eight (8 days) is approximately US$2,780.00 each person or Php139,000.00 The itinerary will begin in Finland's capital, Helsinki, and will end in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland. The price includes: hotel accommodation, tour guide, meals, transport

Best period to travel to Finland to witness Northern Lights is between September to March. Rovaniemi is famous for the Santa Claus Village and glass igloo houses. To check availability of igloo accommodation in Rovaniemi, go to this LINK

Most of the tour packages we have seen online about Iceland trip to see Northern Lights only offer a package tour within its capital, Reykjavik. But since the city is not an ideal place to catch the Northern Lights, travelers need to look for a tour package that bring them to the countryside where environment is not overly populated and pollution is rear.

Camping in Iceland to catch Northern Lights

The best place to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. It lies by the Vatnajokull glacier. As with most places in the world, even within the Arctic region, "luck" is a factor when chasing aurora borealis in Iceland.

Northern Lights Exploration Tour in Iceland usually starts at (8 days) US$1,678 or Php83,900.00. The price includes hotel accommodation, transportation, meals, tour guide, sightseeing around the capital and other destinations. Best period to travel to Iceland to witness Northern Lights is between September to March.

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