Last Updated on November 1, 2019
The northern lights are Mother Nature’s most fascinating light show that we all want to witness at least once in a lifetime.
When you’re booking a trip to see northern lights, chances are you have Iceland, Norway, or Alaska in mind. What most people don’t know is that the road less traveled is usually the one worth traveling! So, here are 12 unforeseen places you can visit to watch the stunning Aurora Borealis.
#12 – Inishowen Peninsula, Ireland
Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries to visit, but surprisingly, it’s not known as a Northern light destination. Inishowen Peninsula is a charming and quiet place you can visit to see northern lights, even though it’s actually an astonishing destination to explore with or without a light show.
What’s more, this Irish gem boasts a beautiful landscape with ancient sites and castle ruins you’d love to discover.
When it comes to the Aurora Borealis, this place has the clear, dark sky which allows you a better vision of the lights, and you might even witness a beautiful light dance reflection on the waters.
The best time to see northern lights here is in early spring.
#11 – Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Jasper National Park offers a magnificent stargazing experience in the heart of a majestic landscape. With beautiful, shiny ice fields, lakes, and wildlife, this park is the perfect destination for travelers who love the vast outdoors.
In fact, being one of the best places to see the northern lights is the only dessert after a fat, delicious meal of raw beauty and mind-blowing adventures.
The best time to catch a great light show in this Canadian park is between autumn and spring. You may also be interested in attending October’s Jasper Dark Sky Festival; it’s totally worth the last minute travel (or even a year-long of waiting.)
#10 – Nuuk, Greenland
While travel apps or your travel agency are likely to suggest visiting Iceland to see the northern lights, Greenland can offer the same amount of pure beauty in addition to empty landscapes and extra virgin skies. Greenland is the perfect destination for travelers who truly enjoy the wilderness.
Nuuk, as lovely as it sounds, boasts plenty of magical sights that will take your breath away. You can either choose to see the northern lights from the town itself or while discovering the surrounding landscape, the skies remain splendid everywhere.
Winter is the best time to visit this brutally cold place, so make sure to pack the warmest outfits and don’t forget your travel pillow.
#9 – North West Highlands, Scotland, UK
©North West Highlands Geopark
When you think of Scotland, northern lights are the last thing that comes to your mind. But believe it or not, Scotland has the same latitude you can find in Alaska or Norway.
If you want to catch the best light exhibition, you should visit this place between autumn and winter while traveling as north as you can. While there, don’t forget to take time to absorb the soaring natural beauty of the North West Highlands.
#8 – Naryan-Mar, Russia
This Russian town offers a rich culture and traditional folklore which embody legend, mystery, and visible magic, so visitors can experience the puzzling beauty of both the Aurora Borealis and the local beliefs. For example, it’s a common belief that noise can scare the northern lights away.
Autumn is the best season to travel for those who want to catch the northern lights in Naryan-Mar. This may call for last-minute travel if you want to make it this year, and even though the journey is quite long, it’s definitely worth it.
#7 – Inari, Finland
Finland is where arctic magic happens! From the mysterious glow of midnight sun and raw landscape to the breathtaking color spectacle of the northern lights. No traveler can ever resist the dazzling beauty of this frozen wonderland.
Inari is a little beautiful village situated on the edge of Lapland’s vastest lakes, making for a perfect site to see the Aurora Borealis. While there, you can also enjoy exploring the surrounding landscapes and learning about the interesting local culture.
#6 – Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK
Another Scottish unheard-of hot spot for the northern lights, the Outer Hebrides are one hundred and thirty miles of wild, gorgeous islands located northwest off the coast of the country.
The Outer Hebrides include about two-hundred islands, but before you get overwhelmed, the best place to spot the northern lights is an island called Lewis and Harris.
On the Lewis part, visitors can also witness the magnificent Callanish Standing Stones and with enough luck, they might see a fascinating light show of the Aurora Borealis over the stones.
It’s best to travel during autumn or winter for better chances of spotting the northern lights in Lewis or Harris.
#5 – Murmansk, Russia
The best thing about Murmansk is that it comes at an affordable price. So instead of booking pricey flights to Norway or Iceland to see the Northern Lights, you can come to Russia and get the same once-in-a-lifetime experience without wrecking your budget. Plus, both accommodation and tours are also cheap here!
What’s more, this marvelous place is actually the largest arctic city in the world with a yearly forty days of continuous darkness allowing the perfect skies to witness the dazzling colors of the lights.
The best time to see northern lights in Murmansk is either late November or the middle of January.
#4 – Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada
Tuktoyaktuk is the perfect destination for those who want to experience the real meaning of adventure. This little village is located on the Arctic Ocean’s shores about 100 miles northeast of Inuvik.
To reach this place, you should activate your adventurous spirit and get ready to fly in a tiny airplane. Although not easy, once you’re there, the rich culture and icy wilderness will make you forget all about it.
Not to mention the breathtaking display of the northern lights’ sparkling colors once you go far north in the middle of winter.
#3 – Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
©Where Would You Go
Yet another Canadian hidden gem, the beautifully wild Yukon consists of vast miles of gorgeous landscapes and is hardly populated.
But to see the northern lights, you need to head to its capital, Whitehorse, and it’s best if you do so between September and April to boost your chances of witnessing the most gorgeous light shows.
If you want to take your travel experience to the next level and watch the starry skies from the warmth of your bed, you can book a stay at the Northern Lights Resort & Spa.
#2 – Tasmania, Australia
©St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Changing direction to the south, the electrically charged light show of the southern hemisphere can be a dazzling as the Northern Lights. More surprisingly, the Southern Lights can be seen at any time of the year, yet the best show happens from June to August when the sky is darkest.
Tasmania is an unexpectedly great destination for witnessing the Aurora Australis, especially with the perfect dark skies and decreased light pollution.
For an even better light show, you might want to climb the 4,100-ft Mount Wellington.
#1 – Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
This International Dark Sky Reserve offers a top view of the Southern Lights’ sparkling colors. The skies above Lake Tekapo are intensely dark and amazingly free of any light pollution, allowing a wonderfully glowing experience.
Head to the soaring Mount John Observatory for the best viewpoint, and try to make it to the area between April and September to increase your chances of witnessing the full beauty of the Southern Lights.
Lesser-known places can actually provide the best travel experiences, don’t you agree? Have you ever caught the Northern (or Southern) Lights while visiting one of these unexpected destinations? If yes, tell us all about it, and if no, tell us which one you found most interesting.
Wishing you safe travels