Itching to see the natural spectacle that is the Northern Lights? Not to worry – there are plenty of places that play host to travellers wanting to see this marvel of colours. In fact, it’s not just the popular hotspots (coldspots?!) of Iceland and Norway that provide the best view; Northern Canada and even Scotland also put on a brilliant show. Here are our top picks for where to see the Northern Lights.

northern lights

Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard today is primarily home to a handful of people, polar bears, whales and a plethora of other arctic creatures. A tiny archipelago swimming in an icy sea between the North Pole and Norway, as you can imagine, Svalbard is pretty hard to reach. Home to the northernmost airport in the world, most people fly in from Oslo via Tromso. There are no Holiday Inns, flocks of tourists or tacky souvenir shops - Svalbard is one of the few gateways to true wilderness. The Aurora Borealis is visible from November through to February, but you would be missing out if you didn’t go in the middle months when Svalbard shows off the Polar Night, where the frosty landscape doesn’t see the sun and instead is lit by an eerie blue twilight for weeks on end. When the twinkling lights aren’t showing, we hear that Svalbard dishes up a mean Reindeer stew - Perfect for warming up cold bellies.

northern lights in iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Geysers, hot springs, and hot dogs, Reykjavik is probably one of the most popular spots for people chasing the Northern Lights. Set up for tourists of all sorts - from people seeking a luxe experience to budget backpackers - the lights make a regular appearance but are best seen from the darker outskirts of town. Try Grótta lighthouse on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, Öskjuhlíð or Miklatún or Hljómskálagarður parks - All of these places offer the kind of darkness and clear skies needed to see the glittering green. The official season to see the lights is from October through to April, but there is Aurora activity all throughout the year. When the light hunting gets tiring, or your fingers and toes feel like they’re about to fall off, pop into the Blue Lagoon for a hot soak or wrap your hands around a world famous hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. These hot dog purveyors are so sure that their dogs are the best that the name of the shop roughly translates to “Best hot dogs in town”.

Scotland, United Kingdom

On the same latitude as popular aurora spots in Alaska and Norway, Scotland is a lesser-known spot to watch the green roll in, which makes it the perfect place to avoid the crowds and have a unique experience. Of course, you’re not going to see the lights in bustling light-polluted Edinburgh, but travel far up North, and you’re in for a good chance. Caithness, the North West Highlands, the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, Orkney, the Moray Coast and the Isle of Skye are the places you will want to head to. If you’re not lucky with the cosmic show, the stargazing might just make up for it - Northern Scotland has some of the clearest skies for spending the night with your neck craned upwards towards the galaxies.

northern lights

Northern Canada

You can even travel across the seas to have the Northern Lights experience of your dreams, with Canada offering a similar viewing experience.  The most interesting of which is Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, where visitors in the winter months have a 90% chance of experiencing the aurora. For something so elusive, those odds are pretty good. The enormous Great Slave Lake provides an impressive backdrop for the action too; preferably, from one of the lodges or restaurants that overlook the icy expanse, the temperature drops to record lows. If you’re looking for a more provincial, picturesque experience, the northern tips of British Columbia often show the aurora in full glory. If you’ve ever wanted to go dogsledding, British Columbia is also your chance to take to the sleds too.

There is nothing quite like seeing the Northern Lights for the first time. Some say it’s the closest thing to magic they have ever seen - We can’t help but agree!