Seeing the Northern Lights is magical, it’s unforgettable! But… as the name suggests, this natural phenomenon can only be seen in the far North. Especially in areas around and north of the Arctic Circle, during dark, clear nights with ample solar activity. But… what are the best places on the European mainland to see the Northern Lights?
Our top 3 Northern Lights destinations on the European mainland
Fortunately, the night sky in Northern Europe regularly treats visitors to a unique light show every winter. Finnish and Swedish Lapland and Northern Norway lie above the Arctic Circle and are therefore ideal destinations for a Northern Lights holiday. Cities such as Tromsø, Alta, Abisko, Saariselkä and Kiruna are real places of pilgrimage for Northern Lights spotters. And besides the beautiful light shows, nature in the north of Scandinavia has much more in store. In addition to the well-known winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, the high North is mainly about spectacular winter activities through the beautiful landscape. Take a husky safari, snowmobile ride, snowshoe hike and go ice fishing.
#1 Fins Lapland
In winter everything is covered with a thick layer of snow and Finnish Lapland turns into a fairytale winter paradise where there is plenty to do. The trees are heavily loaded and the branches are bent under the weight of the thick pack of snow. Sleep under the starry sky in a glass igloo or opt for a cozy wooden kota with a glass roof. Would you rather actively spot the Northern Lights? Then book a snowshoe hike or a snowmobile safari in the dark. Or go hunting for the Northern Lights by e-fatbike!
To spot the Northern Lights you can go anywhere in Finnish Lapland. In theory, the further north you travel in Finland, the more likely you are to see the Northern Lights. From the cozy Finnish ski villages of Levi and Saariselkä to snow adventures on the tundra and taiga, not far from the Russian border. Here you will stay among the thousands of frozen lakes in eastern Lapland. You can make your trip extra special by staying overnight in the SnowVillage ice hotel, a glass igloo, an Aurora Kota, wilderness hotel or the Arctic Skylight Lodge.
For the real northern lights enthusiast, special northern lights trips have been put together with extra northern lights excursions; to Inari in the north and Ylläsjärvi near Äkäslompolo. Spot the Northern Lights from your accommodation or during one of the Northern Lights excursions. By sled, on snowshoes through the white fairytale landscape. The guide will lead you to the best spots to admire the Northern Lights.
#2 Northern Norway
Northern Norway is also one of the most pleasant and interesting places to admire the Northern Lights. Azure water, beaches white with snow or sand, little artificial light: this is the place to be to admire the northern lights at their best. Because if you’re lucky and the natural light show appears in the starry sky, it can reflect very nicely in the water.
Norway is one of the best countries for Northern Lights travel. Due to its location in the middle of the Aurora Zone, the Northern Lights in Norwegian Lapland can be seen almost every evening and you have a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights almost anywhere. The most famous place is Tromsø , the proud ‘capital of the Northern Lights’. Alta, ‘city of the Northern Lights’, is also known as a good base to see the Aurora Borealis. It is not without reason that you will find the Northern Lights Cathedral and the first Northern Lights observatory here, which gave the city its nickname.
Another popular Northern Lights location is the Lofoten, an archipelago in the Norwegian Sea. These islands are not only known for the Northern Lights, but also for the impressive nature with deep fjords, the many seabird colonies and the high, rugged mountains. Here you can visit the Polar Light Center for a northern lights lecture by the Dutchmen Rob Stammes and Threes van Nieuwenhoven. Or opt for a Northern Lights adventure on horseback! Unique in Norway is the possibility to travel with the original Hurtigruten postal boat. This way you combine the best of the far North in one trip: Tromsø, the Lofoten, a stage with the Hurtigruten, the North Cape and an unforgettable overnight stay in the Kirkenes snow hotel. Whichever Northern Lights trip in Norway you choose: it will be a special experience.
#3 Swedish Lapland
Swedish Lapland is ideal if you want to enjoy the Northern Lights completely ‘in the middle of nowhere’ . You will stay in a cozy hotel in the middle of nature and enjoy delicious meals made with fresh, local ingredients. Especially for all holidaymakers who visit Sweden to see the Northern Lights, the Aurora Sky Station has been built in Abisko, in the north. Here you can eat while enjoying the Northern Lights.
In Sweden it is almost always clear, and that makes the chance that you can actually see the northern lights. For the best chance it is best to go to Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna. The village is the proud owner of the country’s very first ice hotel. Here you will sleep in spectacular ice rooms and toast in the trendy ice bar. Or try your luck from the Brandö forests and wilderness of Sörbyn near Luleå. The archipelago is in fact one large, pure wilderness bordering the often completely frozen Gulf of Bothnia in Swedish Lapland. From the modern, bustling port city of Luleå, Sweden’s largest transhipment port, there are plenty of opportunities to see the Aurora Borealis in all its purity.
Which Northern Lights destination will it be?
Go to Finnish Lapland if you would like to experience a unique winter holiday for a competitive price. You can go here from 649 euros for a week. You can also go for a short break of five days, for which you go to Norway or Sweden. Would you like to try and spot the magical northern lights without too many other people? Then go to Sweden! You can also taste the most delicious local dishes here. And for the most beautiful surroundings you go to Norway: white beaches of snow or sand with azure blue water… wow you don’t have to spot those northern lights anymore. Enjoy here!