If we only looked up in the sky more frequently, we would cherish our lives and lives of other beings much more. The sky is a marvelous canvas where we can see clouds, stars, space bodies and sometimes northern lights. All of these phenomena remind us of how fragile and fleeting our lives are in the face of eternal cosmos. Looking at the night skies we can ask ourselves, if there's any sense in spending our precious lives on endless quarrels, doing what we don't like and hurting others. The answer arising from a cleared mind would certainly be a conclusive "no".

The natural wonders which the sky is offering us are always there and we can choose to look up at any given moment to remind ourselves about the value of our existence. And if clouds, stars or cosmic bodies aren't enough you can set a goal to see the northern lights.

This is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomena which you can observe only in certain locations, during specific periods of time. We see the otherworldly northern lights, aka aurora borealis, when the charged particles from the sun get trapped in the magnetic field of Earth. This transcendental celestial scene is happening at altitudes from 60 to more than 250 miles high in Earth’s atmosphere. Once seen, it cannot be forgotten.

The recipe for the northern lights is the following: take a place with a magnetic latitude above 55° add a low light pollution, mix it with a cold, dark winter night and spice it up with clear skies. However, even having mixed all these ingredients, there is no guarantee that you will see northern lights because they don't appear every night even in the most high-frequency locations.

Generally, the best places to see Northern lights are Norway, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Iceland, and Greenland, but in this article, we will take a look at a broader list of locations where you can spot this breathtaking phenomenon.

20 Kirkjufell or Threngsli (Iceland)

Iceland is the land of many wonders. I have a friend, who has visited more than 70 countries and she says that Iceland is one of the countries that impressed her the most. In addition to northern lights, Iceland has waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers and sometimes it feels like you're on a completely different planet. Northern lights only magnify this feeling. It is remarkable that in this country you can watch northern lights from hot spring lagoons, outdoor hot tubs and even inside the Buubble lodges.

The photo of a phoenix shape aurora borealis that you see on the photo above, was taken by Hallgrimur P Helgason over Iceland in 2016.

Best time to see: Late August to early April

Other viewing locations to consider: Akureyri, Þingvellir National Park, Thingvellir near Reykjavik, Grotta Lighthouse

19 Fairbanks (Alaska, USA)

Although the United States of America isn't often listed among the best places to see the northern lights, there's a location that can easily rival with Norway or Finland. An unquestionable leader among the places to see the northern lights in the USA is Fairbanks, Alaska. It is located close to international airport, which makes it easy to get there, and not far away from beautiful Denali National Park, which can become one of the reasons to spend more time in Alaska. Fairbanks not only offers various tours to help you see the northern lights, but they also have their own forecast system.

Best time to see: Late August to mid-April

18 Yellowknife (Canada)

Canada is a real paradise for watching northern lights due to low light pollution and thankfully to its northern latitude. There are so many places where you can go to see the aurora borealis in Canada.

For instance, to help you experience the magical light dance of the northern lights in Yellowknife, Canada, they built a special place called Aurora Village. On the photo above, you can see people sitting near teepees in this village and watching the green celestial show in the sky. With a facility like this, joining them is only a matter of having enough finances.

Best time to see: Mid-August to late April

Other viewing locations to consider: Manitoba, Calgary, Ontario, Yukon Territory

17 Tromsø (Norway)

Just like Iceland, Norway has many natural marvels in addition to northern lights. Being famous for its magnificent fjords, beautiful scenery and Lyngen Alps it has been attracting tourists from all over the world for decades.

Coming to Norway to see the northern lights, tourists will have a multitude of options to choose from. Two of them, namely Tromsø and Lofoten, will be discussed more thoroughly in this article. As you see from the picture the northern lights are spread all over the city, but to get the best view on these shimmering green lights you need to go to the nearby village where light pollution is much lower.

The city of Tromsø is also famous for having the world's most northerly planetarium, brewery, and university.

Best time to see: October to March

Other viewing locations to consider: Svalbard, Finnmark, Alta, Ersfjordbotn,  Unstad, Nordkapp, Kirkenes

16 Kiruna or Abisko (Sweden)

If you want to see northern lights in Sweden, then you definitely need to visit the city of Kiruna or Abisko, which is a little more than an hour drive from Kiruna. Surprisingly, the weather here is colder than on the Norwegian coast, but it is also more stable. Spectacular things in this region include Abisko National Park, famous ICEHOTEL and Sami culture (people who walk with reindeers). You can watch aurora in Abisko or after a short drive from Kiruna city. It is interesting that Abisko is scientifically proven to be a great place to view aurora due to a unique micro-climate and there's also a 70km lake that creates an outstanding view combined with the northern lights.

Best time to see: Mid-September to late March

Other viewing locations to consider: Jukkasjärvi, Tärendö

15 Kakslauttanen or Luosto (Finland)

Your chances to spot northern lights in Finland are as good as in Norway, so there's no reason not to give this country a try. There are plenty of places to stargaze here, so for those of you who are indecisive, it will be difficult to choose something. If that's your problem I advise you to go to Kakslauttanen, Luosto or Muonio.

The cool thing about many hotels in Finland (like Aurora Chalet in Luosto) is that there are aurora alarms, which notify you when northern lights will appear in the sky.

Best time to see: September to March

Other viewing locations to consider: Utsjoki, Ivalo, Nellim, Rovaniemi, Saariselka

14 Kulusuk and Ammassalik (Greenland)

Did you know that Greenland is considered the largest island in the world? You may ask, what about Antarctica and Australia? They are considered to be continental landmasses, that is why the title of the largest island was given to Greenland.

Similar to Iceland, you can see aurora borealis from most parts of the country. I would advise going to the southern part of the island because in addition to northern lights you will also get the opportunity to see the Qaleraliq Glacier that has little floating icebergs even during the summer.

It's an interesting fact that northern lights are active in Greenland during the whole year. However, they can't be seen during summer's midnight sun.

Best time to see: Late August to mid-April in Nuuk and mid-August to late April in the south.

Other viewing locations to consider: Nuuk

13 Stewart Island and Dark Sky Reserve (New Zealand)

Sometimes it seems unfair to me that some countries have so many naturals marvels and sights while others so few. It's the case with New Zealand which is pretty much like Iceland in terms of the volume of beauty that you can see there. In addition to pristine beaches, alpine terrains, national parks, crystal clear lakes and stunning waterfalls, epic mountains and Hobbiton, they also have the northern lights! So if you plan to go to New Zealand in autumn or winter, you should definitely include seeing the aurora borealis in your must-see list.

Best time to see: September to March

Other viewing locations to consider: The Catlins

12 Tasmania (Australia)

We all know about the northern lights, but is there such a thing as 'southern lights'? The answer is a definitive "yes", and Australian Tasmania is probably the best spot in the world to take a look at it. Since it was spotted in 2002 by Margaret Sonnemann, Tasmania slowly started attracting the attention of ethereal night show lowers.

The best places to spot 'southern lights' over Tasmania are South Arm Peninsula, Dodges Ferry, and Cockle Creek.

The stunning photo that you see above is a Boeing 747 landing on the background of northern lights at Launceston Airport in Evandale, Tasmania.

Best time to see: September and Winter months

11 Cairngorms National Park (Scotland)

Scotland is an unusual location to see northern lights, but I'm sure that for some people it makes it even more alluring. Probability to see the ethereal dance is a little bit lower than in most popular aurora borealis destinations, but you can still take your chances. Here is some advice to increase the chances of seeing this wonder:

  • Select the right location: The Cairngorm Mountain car park, Feith Musach, north of Tomintou, Glenlivet Estate, and Dava Moor are the best spots
  • Head closer to the coast
  • Download AuroraWatch UK app (by the way you can check the availability of similar apps for other countries)

And may Zeus (or whoever is responsible for these ethereal lights) help you!

Best time to see: autumn and winter months

Other viewing locations to consider: Galloway Forest Park

10  Siberia (Russia)

Cold, cold, cold! But very beautiful and a great place to see northern lights, due to:

  • long dark nights
  • low levels of light pollution
  • auroal belt passes over this area

Just like in Sweden, you will also get the opportunity to encounter the semi-nomadic, indigenous Sami people who are busy with herding reindeer. So, if you're intending to see the northern lights in Siberia, buy the warmest suit you can get and watch an unforgettable color display at night until it makes you tingle with warmth.

Best time to see: end of September to end of March

Other viewing locations to consider: Arkhangelsk, Naryan-Mar, Novaya Zemlya, Taimyr Peninsula, Salekhard, Petrozavodsk, Vorkuta

9 The Faroe Island Archipelagos (Denmark)

If you can't stand cold, but still want to see northern lights, then the Faroe Islands may be the location you're looking for. Winters are mild here and temperatures rarely drop below freezing. Nevertheless, this spot is north enough to see aurora borealis. Best spots to do this include Klaksvík, Borðoy, and villages of Gjógv.

This group of 18 volcanic islands also has many other incredible phenomena and places to see. I would even call it an Instagrammer's dream because one can take shots and post them all day long.

Oh, and they also have a puffin paradise there!

Best time to see: September to March

8 Lofoten (Norway)

I included Lofoten islands in Norway not just because it's another great location to view northern lights in Norway, but to tell you the story of the photo that you see above. It's Dale Sharp proposing to Karlie Russell in front of aurora borealis in Lofoten islands.

His first attempt failed during the couple's trip to Iceland. It's not that Karlie said no. The fact is that she accidentally threw a $4,000 ring away. Dale secretly put the ring inside a bottle of a hand cream, but after getting to the airport and finding out that their luggage was overweight, Karlie threw away that bottle with the ring to lighten the load. Can you imagine Dale's confusion?

Luckily, the second attempt was successful, making it a happy-end story. Whether you want to go on a romantic trip, see majestic snowy mountains or look at the northern lights, Lofoten islands is a great place to be.

Best time to see: October to March

7 The Kola Peninsula (Russia)

The Kola Peninsula in Russia is sometimes called the "European Siberia". Its key area is the city of Murmansk and if you can handle the freezing cold of Siberian winter then you're welcome to visit one of the world's best locations to see northern lights. I'm saying this because in Murmansk they have 40 days of uninterrupted darkness, which, on one hand, may sound spooky, but on the other hand greatly increases your chances of seeing northern lights.

Murmansk is a cosmopolitan city with over 300,000 residents, so it's a rare case where you see the Arctic cold mixed with the comforts of civilization.

Best time to see: end September to end of March

6 Muonio (Finland)

Lapland is calling! Muonio, which is a municipality in Finland located within the area of former Lappi, is situated right under the aurora oval that circulates magnetic poles. You may ask "what's so cool about that?" It's not just cool, it's epic because they see northern lights every second night and you don't have to hunt them. The general rule with Muonio is very simple - the more to the south you go, the stronger auroral activity you will see. If you're in Muonio, you're going south and you can see the stars, most probably you will also see the northern lights.

Best time to see: September to March

5 Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada)

Another place in Canada where you can see northern lights is Jasper National Park, which is located a little more than 600 miles south of Wood Buffalo National Park where you can also see aurora borealis. Established in 1907, the area of this park is 10,878 square kilometers of mountain wilderness and it is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Being a beautiful place by itself, filled with lakes, mountains, forests, glaciers and huge territory filled with marvelous wilderness, it is also a great place to see aurora borealis. The color of the aurora which you will see will most probably be green.

Best time to see: August to April

Other viewing locations to consider: Wood Buffalo National Park

4 Northern Highlands or Isle of Skye (Scotland)

Other places in Scotland that are worth including in the list are Northern Highlands and the Isle of Skye. As you can see from the picture above, if you get lucky enough to catch the northern lights here, it will be a sight that you won't forget. Some people say that they were watching aurora borealis for only 15 minutes but it felt like a couple of hours, such a magnetic experience it was.

The biggest problem of visiting Scotland to see northern lights is that these are still British isles and weather will most likely be cloudy, foggy and stormy.

Best time to see: October to March

Other viewing locations to consider: Dunnet Head, Moray Coast

3 Donegal, Malin Head (Ireland)

Ireland is known for vibrant landscapes, magnetic cities, and beautiful nature. Not many people know that it's also a hidden spot for seeing northern lights show. Being an unusual place to see the light dance in the night sky, it is, however, a picturesque one. If you come to Donegal or Inishowen you will have a chance to see the shimmering northern lights above the ocean. In contrast to other aurora borealis locations, where you need to go when it's cold, Ireland will please you with milder weather.

Best time to see: Spring

Other viewing locations to consider: Inishowen

2 Cherry Springs State Park (Pennsylvania, USA)

The first place that comes to mind when you hear about northern lights in the United States of America is Alaska. However, it's not the only one, where you can see this beautiful phenomenon. Go to Cherry Springs State Park and Dark Sky Park in Pennsylvania to witness the charming game of light in the sky. Visitors say that visibility is so clear that Milky Way can cast shadows on the ground.

As you may have noticed from reading the article, northern lights have different colors in different parts of the world. In Cherry Springs State Park you have a chance to see the red color.

Best time to see: Autumn (best month is September)

Other viewing locations to consider: Panhandle National Forests (Idaho), Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge (Maine), Headlands International Dark Sky Park (Michigan)

1 Mohe (China)

The last location on the list is quite unexpected, isn't it? Although the chance of seeing northern lights in China is lower than in Iceland, Finland, Norway or Canada, it is still possible to spot this colorful phenomenon here.

The province Heilongjiang in the most northern part of China that borders with Russia is known as the coldest area in China. There's a country-level city called Mohe in this province and a North Pole Village (Beijicun) nestled in the north part of it. There you will be able to experience both polar day and northern lights.

This is the only place in Asia where you can get the chance to see the northern lights.

Best time to see: winter (especially during the winter solstice)

Next time you point your eyes to the stars, recollect how valuable your life is.

References: Australian PhotographyNational Geographic, Thrifty Nomads, Huffington PostTelegraph, Daily Mail