How to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights have quickly become one of the most sought after travel experiences. This natural phenomenon occurs as a result of disturbances in the magnetosphere which is caused by solar wind. Here is how to see the Northern Lights and the best places to view the Northern Lights.


The Best Locations to see the Northern Lights

The most common countries to view the Northern Lights are Norway, Sweden and Finland. Though you can also see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland, Southern Greenland, Northern Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada.

Why is the Aurora Borealis viewed in this area?

The Auroral zone corresponds with the Arctic Circle – meaning the lights are best viewed in these countries inside this area. So when someone poses the question Where is the best place to view the Northern Lights?, perhaps the most accurate answer would be to visit somewhere within this zone and consider the following:

Under what conditions?

Many travellers venture to Scandinavia in the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights during their stay. While the possibilities are likely, it can never be guaranteed – but why? The biggest influencing factors on whether or not you will view the Aurora Borealis during your stay are: light; cloud cover; and time concerns.

How to See the Northern Lights


In order for you to view the Northern Lights, you need to have dark skies. Because the regions where you can view the Northern Lights are likely to be sparsely populated, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If you are in an area where there are many artificial lights in the evening (i.e. street lights), you will need to go to a darker area in order to see the light show.

Cloud Cover

You will also need clear skies with very little to no clouds, in order to view the Northern lights. Unfortunately this cannot be predicted in advance, so it really is luck of the draw when you arrive.


Sometimes the Northern lights will be on show for 15 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours… you just never know. A great way to check the possibility of the Northern lights appearing each evening is online – with websites like Auroras Now (Finland) providing predictions for that evening.

Another consideration to make is the time of year you are visiting. This is one of the most popular questions – When is the best month to visit the Northern Lights? While there is a possibility to view them throughout winter and autumn, the highest possibilities are especially January and February.


More About the Northern Lights

 Still want to know more?

You might be interested to know that the most common colour of the Northern lights is green. Less common are shades of red, purple, pink and blue.

Wondering how long they will last? Nobody ever knows. The most common viewing time is from 8pm through til 4am – so be sure to set aside some time to stay awake!

Heard about the Auroras Australis? Yes! There is also a similar light show in the South, which is known as the Auroras Australis.

How to See the Northern Lights

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments