The Northern Lights is one of the most enduring and memorable tourist attractions in Alaska and other northern parts of the world. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to Norway, Iceland, and other countries in and around the Arctic Circle to see the sky light up in an array of greens, blues, and reds. If you’re planning a Northern Lights trip, you might be asking yourself: what is the best way to view the Northern Lights?
Aurora viewing is generally simple and uncomplicated, but there are a number of factors you should take into consideration. Here’s how to maximize your Northern Lights viewing experience.
The Best Way to View the Northern Lights
The ideal way to see the Northern Lights is by selecting a location that is known for low cloud cover. Certain aurora viewing spots, such as Tromsø, Norway, have significant amounts of cloud cover during certain months. You don’t want to spend tons of money on your Northern Lights getaway only to have your trip ruined by unsightly storm clouds. Research weather data on your chosen destination before you plan your trip.
Another consideration is that you will want to be in a rural area, away from city lights. Light pollution from cities drowns out stars and planets, and it also makes auroras less visible. Traveling to a more secluded area will allow you to experience the Northern Lights in all of their splendor. Many tour operators offer buses to allow for remote viewing of auroras, and there are also many rural hostels and hotels that are specifically aimed at Northern Lights tourists.
When traveling out to view the Northern Lights, you will want to prepare adequately. Most Arctic locales are extremely cold at night, so you will need to pack coats and other clothing that will keep you warm. Depending on the amenities where you are going, you may also want to bring food and drink. Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate or a fresh cup of coffee while enjoying the show.
Another, more exotic option for viewing the Northern Lights is to take a cruise. Cruise ship lines in Europe offer viewing tours that take you along the coast of Norway, away from the blaring lights of the city. You’ll also have meals and other expenses included in your cruise ticket. This is a good option if you enjoy the open sea and want to get away from civilization with a minimum of hassle.
More adventurous tourists can partake in the Northern Lights by snowmobiling into the frozen depths of Canada. Several tour companies offer snowmobile tours of the Northwest Territories, starting from the territorial capital of Yellowknife and taking you deep into the heart of northern Canada, allowing you to view the Northern Lights with a minimum of human development. You can also enjoy snowshoeing and ice fishing while exploring the great white north.
Even more daring individuals will bark at the chance to see auroras via dogsled tours in Greenland. A tour from the city of Kulusuk will take you across one of the most exotic places on Earth, viewing glaciers, mountains, and more as you journey between remote mountain huts. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to see the Northern Lights on your trip, and you’ll also get to experience life like a native Greenlander.
A final, particularly adventurous option is to take a Northern Lights flight. While some visitors to Alaska, Iceland, and other locales have the good fortune to witness an aurora on their flight in, some tour companies operate flights specifically to witness the Northern Lights. Enjoy comfort and convenience as you experience an aurora from 40,000 feet in the air, a sight that few people will ever witness.
Seeing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many due to the distance and expense necessary in order to most to do so. A Northern Lights trip involves flying, sailing, or driving to a remote corner of the world and dealing with extremely cold temperatures as well as perpetually dark days. The last thing you want is to plan a seemingly-perfect trip only for it to be ruined by a snowstorm or another unforeseen problem.
When planning your Northern Lights journey, make sure you pick a destination that will be able to serve your needs. Whether you’re journeying out to a remote cabin, gazing out from the windows of an airplane, or enjoying first-class service on a cruise liner, your Northern Lights experience should be as painless and memorable as possible. Explore your options today and learn the best way for you to experience the Northern Lights. While it may involve some effort, the memory of witnessing the sky light up in an unreal mosaic of color is one that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.