Travel

Where To See The Northern & Southern Lights – Best Places In The World For Auroras & When To Visit

Where to see the northern lights & southern lights


Ah, the northern and southern lights – a must-see item on everyone’s bucket list, and proof that Mother Nature is lit. But these iconic auroras have been known to be elusive, deterring many from chasing them. 

For those who die die want to catch the lights before you, well, kick the bucket, we’ve compiled a list of places that have proven to be ideal locations for seeing them. On top of that, we’ve included which months you should visit to maximise your chances. So start saving up on your ALs and read on to find out more: 


– Northern lights –


1. Lapland, Sweden/Finland



Image credit: @nordiska_adventure via Instagram 

Ask anyone and they’ll probably tell you that the Scandinavian countries – namely Finland – will be your best bet for catching the northern lights. And that’s absolutely right. Pack your bags and book a trip to Lapland during September to March when winter is at its peak. It’s situated between the border of Sweden and Finland, and many have caught sights of the auroras here. 


Image credit: Hotel Korpikartano via Flickr

For those visiting the Finland side, plan a stop at the northern towns like Nurmes as you might be able to encounter the lights here too. Even if you didn’t manage to experience the auroras, you can also visit the Santa Claus Village in the Finnish Lapland and say hi to the jolly old man. 

Best time to visit: September – March
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Helsinki, Finland are available.


2. Abisko, Sweden



Image credit: Michelle P

Here’s a fun fact for you: the Abisko National Park in Abisko is actually next to the research site where space scientists conduct rocket tests. You can easily travel up to Abisko by train from any of the major Swedish towns such as Stockholm. 


Image credit: @circi.riccardo via Instagram

And rocket science aside, this park in Sweden is famed for its views of the northern lights from September to March. Thanks to the low pollution levels and cloud activity, it’s easy to spot the dancing green hues in the skies.

Best time to visit: September – March
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Stockholm, Sweden are available. Then take a local train to Abisko. 


3. Churchill, Canada



The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is 30 minutes from the city centre.
Image credit: @cliffberger1 via Instagram 

Maple syrup, Tim Hortons, and … northern lights? Yes, these are things you can find in Churchill, Canada. There’s an average of 300 aurora borealis active nights here, and the prime viewing spot is at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. You’ll want to drop by during the February to March period, as that’s when the skies are clearest and darkest. 


Image credit: @gloriaglass via Instagram

Previous northern lights sightings have also included places in the north like Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Yukon, and Nunavut. And if you’ve set camp in the wilderness, you’ll also be able to see wildlife like arctic foxes, belugas, and polar bears – completing your whole nature experience. 

Best time to visit: February – March
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Toronto, Canada are available. Then take a domestic flight to Churchill Airport.


4. Reykjavik, Iceland



Image credit: @picturesbyomar via Instagram

Our list wouldn’t be complete without Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. A quick search on Instagram and your screen will be filled with tonnes of stunning photos of the aurora borealis. 

Northern lights newbies can join tours that specialise in chasing the auroras. These usually happen between December and April as the skyline is clear of clouds. But for maximum visibility of the lights, go during November to February as that’s when the country experiences darker skies and longer evenings – though there are significantly more tourists during these months. 

Book tickets for the Reykjavik Northern Lights Bus Tour

Best time to visit: December – April
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Keflavík, Iceland are available. Then take a domestic flight to Reykjavik airport. 


5. Tromso, Norway



Image credit: @_viajuli via Instagram

If a city has a Northern Lights Festival, you know your chances of seeing the auroras are damn near high. Book a trip to Tromso in Norway between October to March, as locals have shared that winter is the best season to get top-tier views of the northern lights. 


Image credit: @juliehphuang via Instagram

You can board the Fjellheisen cable car up to Mount Storsteinen, or clock in some steps and take the Sherpa staircase up. You’ll be able to enjoy the lights with the cityscape in the background – a picture perfect scene.

Best time to visit: October – March
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Tromso, Norway are available. 


6. Kangerlussuaq, Greenland



Image credit: @salikgroenvold via Instagram

With a name as long as Kangerlussuaq, this city in Greenland is probably unfamiliar to most of us. But if you’re a native northern lights hunter, you’ll know that this place has a reputation for catching auroras.


Kayak along Disko Bay.
Image credit: @destinationdiskobay via Instagram

Greenland generally has ideal weather conditions thanks to its low levels of wind and rain, so you won’t have to battle nature’s unpredictability here. You can fly over during the March to April period where there are plenty of flights from Denmark. And since you’re already here, consider visiting other states like Ilulissat’s Disko Bay or Nuuk to admire the glaciers. 

Best time to visit: March – April
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland are available. 


7. Fairbanks, Alaska



Image credit: tourtrophy via Flickr

For those who are yearning to travel far, far, away – Fairbanks at Alaska is the perfect getaway for you. Book a flight to Fairbanks or Juneau International Airport anytime between late August to April, but be prepared for a long journey as it takes roughly 24 hours to get there. 

You’ll be right under the Aurora Oval, which is the location where the auroras are most visible from ground level. So as long as you’re blessed with clear skies, you’ll most likely be able to catch the phenomenon. 


You can drive to Coldfoot via the famous Dalton highway.
Image credit: @alexfalconrt on Instagram

If you’re up for some small town travelling, consider Coldfoot, Wiseman, Prudhoe Bay, or Utqiaġvik. These are uber small towns with very few city lights, so you’ll get the tranquillity and crystal clear views you seek. 

Best time to visit: Late August – April
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Fairbanks, Alaska are available. 


– Southern lights –


If you didn’t already know, there are 2 types of auroras – the northern and the southern lights. As their names suggest, one is found nearer to the north pole while the other’s at the south. Both are pretty similar, with the locations being the only major difference. For those planning trips near the south pole, we’ve included some places for your consideration. 


1. Stewart Island, New Zealand



Image credit: @rowan_holt_artist via Instagram

LOTR fans, here’s another reason why you should plan a vacay to New Zealand – especially Stewart Island. The place is crowned as one of the top locations to catch the aurora australis as it’s sparsely populated, meaning there’s not many city lights that’ll drown the southern lights. It’s also easy to find a quiet spot away from civilisation to enjoy the view.  


Campsites at the Rakiura National Park.
Image credit: @neco_wieringa via Instagram

You can head to Rakiura National Park and Lake Tekapo, or hike up Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park for a lil fitness challenge. Recommended months to view the lights are from March to September, so remember to chope some of your ALs for then. 

Best time to visit: March – September
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to New Zealand are available. Then take a domestic flight from Invercargill Airport or ferry from Bluff to Stewart Island.


2. Tasmania, Australia



Image credit: Robert Downie via Flickr

Tasmania, or more specifically Hobart, is home to a tonne of unique attractions like the Salamanca Market and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Adding to the list would be the many opportunities to catch the southern lights, during late March to September. 


Aurora australis at the Mount Wellington summit.
Image credit: Mountain Snaps via Flickr

You can get to Hobart by taking a domestic flight from any major Australian city such as Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. There are also ferries available from Port Melbourne which will take 11 hours. Once you’re here, embark on a Mount Wellington Tour or go to the Seven Mile Beach – these places have minimal light pollution so you’ll get clear views of the iconic lights. 

Best time to visit: Late March – September
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Melbourne, Australia are available. Then take a domestic flight to Hobart Airport or ferry from Port Melbourne.


3. Victoria, Australia



Image credit: JJM Photography via Flickr

One of Victoria’s best secret is the clear view of the southern lights here. The state is a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, and you can head to Wilsons Promontory National Park to catch the auroras. You can also drop by Angelsea or Aireys Inlet, and it’s best to visit between May and August as that’s when the nights are longer and skies are darker. 

Best time to visit: May – August
How to get there: Direct flights from Singapore to Victoria, Australia are available. 


Tips for catching the Northern & Southern lights


We know, these lights can be tricky to see. And after flying halfway across the globe, the last thing you’ll want is to stare at a blank night sky. To help make your trip an eventful one, we’ve gathered some tips to increase the likelihood of spotting the auroras.

Patience pays off. Most aurora active periods happen for ~30 minutes and will happen intermittently every 2 hours so don’t give up immediately if you don’t spot any lights, just wait for the next occurance.

Also, check the local weather constantly. Clear skies equal a clear view, so head out during a cloudless night. And while the moon doesn’t really affect the northern lights, a bright full moon can damper the surrounding stars and make them appear dimmer.

You can monitor the aurora activities via free sites like the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute website or the Space Weather Prediction Centre website which provides 30-minute forecasts.  


DIY tripod idea for those who are desperate – might be stinky but it’ll be worth it. 

Always bring a tripod and remote control, if possible, for photo taking. Since you’ll be in the dark, you’ll need long exposure time and the clarity of your pictures will be affected by the slightest movement. Yes, even pressing the shutter button can cause some shaking – so using a remote control to snap your photos will be most ideal. 

A final tip is to shoot your photos in RAW mode for easier post-photoshoot editing. Newer iPhone models such as the iPhone 14 Plus have this mode too so you don’t have to bring a DSLR if that’s inconvenient.


Feast your eyes on the northern lights & southern lights


Let’s be real – nature is pretty dang cool. Add chasing the northern lights and southern lights to your next holiday itinerary and you’ll definitely satisfy your wanderlust. Plus, you can brag about your experience to friends and family who’ve yet to catch them – score.  

More travel content: 


Cover image adapted from: @neco_wieringa, @picturesbyomar

Joycelyn Yeow

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