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Top 6 places to see the Northern Lights

TIME : 2016/2/23 12:13:13
Northern lights in Alaska (Beverly & Pack)

Top 6 places to see the Northern Lights

Take a look at six top spots to catch a glimpse of the aurora

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are best seen in the months between September and April when nights are longest and skies are darkest. Avoid planning a trip around a new or full moon as the skies are lightest and viewing less likely.

Expect to mostly see skies of green if you're lucky enough to catch the aurora, as this is the most common colour to light up the skies.

1. Abisko, Arctic Sweden

A good hundred miles into the Arctic circle lies Abisko Mountain Station, the best place in Sweden to catch more than a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Abisko is the country's driest spot, so has the best cloud-free conditions for northern light viewing – some consider it to be the best place in the world to see this incredible, natural phenomenon.

The crystal-clear skies mean the northern lights can be seen clearly from Abisko's viewing platform at the top of the mountain. Abisko is not too far from the famous Ice Hotel which reappears every winter from a frozen river – grab your sleeping bag and get a good night's sleep at -5C.

There's more to do in Abisko than attempt sleep in arctic temperatures and sit under glorious skies; there are a few kilometres of groomed cross country trails in Abisko as well a large off piste area. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is also good here, if limited.

Try your hand at running your own team of huskies, or sit back and let the musher guide you through the white wilderness under the aurora borealis.

Abisko is easily reached from the city of Kiruna by road and train, and by flights from Stockholm.

Snoozing in the original Ice Hotel | Destinations...More

2. Tromsø, north Norway

Tromsø, known as the 'Gateway to the Arctic' is at the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia. Norway's northern capital sits right in the middle of the Northern Lights zone and is therefore a perfect place to see the aurora.

Tromsø experiences limited daylight hours in the winter - with 24 hours of darkness from the end of November to mid January.

If you happen to be in Tromsø on the first Sunday of February, make sure you join the locals at the sides of the main street to watch the Reindeer Racing Championship - the event consists of people attempting to stay upright on skis whilst being pulled by a reindeer at speeds up to 60km/hr. Good fun indeed.

While you're not northern light hunting at night, spend your days ice-fishing, cross country skiing or dog sledding.

Tromsø can be reached by a four-day ferry from Bergen with Hurtigruten or daily flights from Oslo and Gatwick.

3. Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory, Canada

Lake Laberge is an area of pristine beauty and wilderness in north-west Canada. Log cabins at the edge of the icy water can be hired for uninterrupted views of the lights and their mirrored reflections in the lake.

The city of Whitehorse, which is only a 40-minute drive away, has a year-round, mineral-rich hot springs complex open from 8am every day. There are also plenty of museums where you can spend your afternoons before sitting around a camp fire at night waiting for the grand display of the skies.

The Lake's nearest airport is Whitehorse, which is only a 40-minute drive away.

4. Rovaniemi, Finland

Finland's northern capital and gateway to Lapland, Rovaniemi, boasts some 200 nights of the most famous light show on earth.

Locals say the aurora appears every one in three clear nights in Lapland meaning that viewing is likely.

If you head east from Rovaniemi, you'll find yourself at Salla Reindeer Park where visitors can obtain a reindeer driver's licence for €10. If you're heading to Rovaniemi with children - or you're just a big kid - it would be rude not to visit Santa at the SantaPark during the day.

There are trains and buses to Rovaniemi from Oulu and Helsinki which take between 10-12 hours. The airport, which is Finland's most northerly, is also known as Santa's Airport, where he is said to park his sleigh...

5. South Iceland

Get away from the lights of Reykjavik, and Iceland is one of the planet's best places for the aurora. Hotel Ranga, found in the island's rural south, is run by northern lights experts. Staff will wake you in the middle of the night if the displays are good.

During the limited daylight hours, take a soak in Iceland's Blue Lagoon - the water is so hot that even if it’s freezing outside, you’ll still remain toasty warm (except for the run from the locker room to the pool).

Horse riding is another Icelandic pastime during the short winter days and the Icelandic horses are very sure-footed and adept at making their way over snow and ice. If you book with a reputable company, they’ll even provide outdoor gear like insulated snow-suits so you’ll stay warm and dry no matter what the weather brings

Fly to Reykjavik, rent a car and go in search of no light pollution for the perfect sight of the dancing lights.

6. Fairbanks, Alaska

The northern lights in Alaska are at their most dazzling between December and March when nights are longest and skies are darker. Try standing at the top of Ester Dome which gives a view of the sky from horizon to horizon.

The aurora borealis can also be seen in the summer in Fairbanks, but this is quite an unlikely and rare event.

There's plenty to do in Fairbanks during daylight hours when the aurora cannot be seen. Try some winter cycling or learn to sculpt ice before giving your skin a treat by soaking in the hot springs. There are also a good selection of art galleries and the locals love to Tango the night away if the lights haven't made an appearance.

To enjoy a drive-free trip, arrive in Fairbanks by either train or flight. Don't forget to do as the Alaskans do and lie on your back in the snow for a full view of the sky.