If you’ve dreamt of seeing the incredible northern lights for your very own eyes, follow these tips for the best chance of spotting this phenomenon:
Every now and again, you hear about the northern lights dipping as far south as the British Isles. However, if you want a better chance of seeing this spectacular natural occurrence, your best bet is to go abroad. The countries that sit in or close to the Arctic Circle have more frequent nighttime displays!
Choosing the right location
First, you should do a little bit of research into the countries and regions where there’s a good chance you will be able to view the northern lights. Most people chasing the northern lights take a guided tour. Local expertise and tour bus facilities enhance your chance of finding the darkest spots for the best viewings.
Lapland, Iceland and Tromso in Norway are all reliable spots for hunting the northern lights.
In general, it is possible to see aurora borealis between October and March. The further north you travel in the Northern Hemisphere, the shorter the hours of daylight are in winter. This is another reason why your chances of seeing them may be higher if you travel to a more northerly land mass.
The other consideration is how clear the skies are. Some people travel abroad to see the northern lights only to find that the sky is overcast. For this reason, research the typical weather conditions in the location you have your eye on at the time of year you’re considering. If heavy snow is the norm for December, perhaps see if the weather conditions might be better in another month, such as October.
Planning the trip
It’s important that your holiday is structured and well-planned so that you can truly savour the sights of the lights if you see them. Make sure you book your train tickets to the airport in advance and any other transfers you might need.
Look for reputable tour companies that can take you on your Northern Lights excursion. Make sure they offer the opportunity to use your ticket for a tour on another night if they cancel due to poor visibility. It’s normal for these things to happen at the last minute, so any tour operator worth their salt will account for this!
You may even be able to secure a good package deal that includes flights, hotels and tours.
Before you embark on your trip, try to factor in the northern lights as a bonus, not a guaranteed event! Not everyone who goes to see them is successful, so it’s important you plan a few other activities that will make your holiday feel worthwhile.
Countries that sit within or close to the Arctic Circle often have a lot of other things to offer, as well. There are the geothermal springs of Iceland. In Lapland, tobogganing, ice fishing and snowmobiling are popular pursuits.
With the right planning, you can increase your odds of seeing the northern lights. And you can almost guarantee you’ll have a blast even if you don’t!