If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting under the stars, wrapped in a cup of hot chocolate, watching the northern lights dance in the sky, next year may be your best chance to make that dream come true.
The Northern Lights turn on an 11-year cycle, and after 2016, they go dim (but will not disappear) for the next 10 years. So you know what it means: the time to book your flight to Iceland, Finland, Greenland or Norway to see the natural wonder as soon as possible.
First, secure your observation
Statistically, the most active months for the Northern Lights are between September and March, and your best chance of seeing the lights is in the Arctic Circle in places like Iceland, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Alaska or the Canadian Yukon. It is the further away from the lights of big cities, the better.
There are many cruises, tours and excursions that you can book to help you see the lights better, but if you want to travel independently, here is an overview of where to stay.
Look at it: Iceland
Travelling to Iceland in winter has its own problems – the weather is unpredictable – but in this beautiful country, there are many things to see and do, even if the northern lights don’t appear.
Maximize your chances of seeing them by staying at the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, away from the lights of nearby cities. The glass bar offers a perfect view of the night sky.
Another excellent option is the Frost and Fire Hotel in Hveragerdi, which has an outdoor whirlpool bath, you can soak up the lights as they flicker on you.
Viewing in: Norway
The Northern Lights are more common in the northern part of the country, so plan to visit Tromso, Trondelag or the Lofoten Islands, all active viewing areas. If you are heading north from Oslo, stop in Trondheim and spend the night at the Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim. If the lights go a little south that night, you will see the show through the property’s glass atrium.
Display to: Greenland
A well-known legend in Greenland says that when the northern lights are in the sky, it means that the dead play football with a walrus skull. See the show for yourself while staying at the Arctic Hotel in Greenland, located at the mouth of an ice fjord.
Look at it: Finland
No wonder Finland is one of the happiest countries in the world – its geographical location makes it one of the best places to see the Northern Lights!
Settle in the front row of the Kakslauttanen Hotel, which consists of 20 thermal glass igloos.
Just keep in mind
The dawn has the reputation of being a bit of a diva, and there is no guarantee that you will see the lights even if you are in the perfect place in perfect conditions. Never be afraid! If they don’t come out during your next winter vacation, try these other great winter activities.