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Top 10 Holidays to see the Northern Lights

Witnessing the Northern Lights is on many people’s ‘wish list’, and rightly so – the aurora borealis is one of Nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles.
It’s an elusive phenomenon – making its appearance all the more magical – but here are our top ten holidays for the best chance to see the Northern Lights...
  • It’s hard to imagine anywhere more otherworldly than our guesthouse in Sollia, located tantalisingly close to the Russian border, way above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. The family-run Sollia Gjestegård is run with great enthusiasm and pride and the highlight comes when you are taken through dense forests and past frozen lakes to their aurora borealis camp tucked away in the borderland. Whether you see the Lights or not (you have every chance of doing so), this will be an experience never to be forgotten.
  • Way above the Arctic Circle, the island city of Tromsø – ‘gateway to the Arctic’ – affords some of the best opportunities to see the Northern Lights anywhere in mainland Europe. You stay on the historic waterfront, which offers easy access to the city’s Arctic Cathedral, Polar Museum and the Northern Lights Exhibition Centre. To hopefully see the real thing, you venture beyond the city with an experienced guide on a night-time excursion to a point where the prevailing conditions for the aurora are most promising.
  • Surrounded by some of Europe’s most dramatic scenery, Reykjavík is a wonderful city, and the family-owned Hotel Odinsvé makes the perfect base for a few exciting days away. Iceland is a great place to seek out the Northern Lights, and we include a hugely memorable excursion so that you can do just that. This entails a full-day tour along part of Iceland’s spectacular southern coast to the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano, near which lies the Sólheimajökull glacier, which – in turn – extends down from the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. Awe inspiring.
  • Above the Arctic Circle, the magical winter landscapes of Lapland, across which herds of reindeer freely roam, are bathed in a surreal and beautiful twilight. Consisting of two villages surrounded by seven fells, snow-sure Ylläs is not only a paradise for skiers, but also a perfect base from which to seek out the Northern Lights. After a day on the trails, you can take a dip in the relaxing open-air hot tub at the Ylläshumina Hotel – a wonderfully romantic and atmospheric way to unwind, and a great way to search the night sky for this spectacular natural phenomenon.
  • Comprising pine forests, precipitous cliffs and jagged mountain peaks, the richly diverse island of Senja on the northern Norwegian coast is a veritable ‘Norway in miniature’. Staying in beautiful accommodation with large picture windows overlooking the harbour of Hamn i Senja, by day you can explore on snowshoes, try ocean body rafting or join a boat safari in search of white-tailed sea eagles, dolphins and whales. Come nightfall, seek out the Northern Lights either out in the open air or from a cosy restored lighthouse.
  • The islands of Austvågøya, Senja and Tromsøya reveal different aspects of Arctic Norway. Austvågøya is dominated by the highest mountain in the Lofoten archipelago, small but varied Senja encapsulates the essence of Norway, while Tromsøya is the setting of Tromsø, a captivating city on the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia. You travel between them on the iconic Hurtigruten coastal steamer, and while on dry land there are opportunities for snowshoeing, wildlife-watching and sightseeing, making for a thrilling holiday. A sighting of the Northern Lights would be the icing on the cake…
  • In Northern Finland, winter is a truly unique experience – so make the most of your time by opting for our activity week at the Ylläshumina Hotel. Snow-based activities include dog-sledding through the snow-clad forest; snowmobiling; snowshoeing; and an introduction to cross-country skiing. In your free time, you can try your hand at ice-fishing or borrow one of the hotel’s kick-sleds. Be sure to reserve some energy for the evenings, though, so that you can keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.
  • Southern Norway may not be the first port of call for those hunting the aurora, but this spectacular region of magnificent fjords and far-flung mountain wildernesses is somewhere everyone should visit at least once. Beginning in the country’s cosmopolitan capital, our memorable journey leads you past frozen lakes and snow-covered fjells to Bergen, and includes trips on the iconic Flåm Railway and along UNESCO-protected Nӕrøyfjord. On the way, you spend two nights in Finse, a remote mountain village whose clear night skies often play host to the Northern Lights.
  • Northern Norway is famous as the ‘land of the midnight sun’, where daylight prevails 24 hours a day and the ‘night’ sky is bathed in a glorious golden glow that attracts visitors from far and wide. Yet as August progresses and summer draws to a close, darkness finally returns to Arctic islands such as Senja, where it is once again possible to spy the Northern Lights. There is, of course, a greater chance of seeing the Lights in winter, but if you are lucky enough to catch them in late summer, viewing temperatures are much friendlier!
  • Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki are three of northern Europe’s most exciting cities, and are particularly rewarding places to visit over the winter months. December is all about bustling Christmas markets and twinkling lights, while January, February and March are much quieter, bringing a pleasantly relaxed and unhurried atmosphere. As you journey between them by train and boat, you’ll become familiar with the unique character of each city, and may even glimpse the celestial firework display that is the Northern Lights.

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