We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Best location to view northern lights.

Haifa, Israel
Level Contributor
141 posts
64 reviews
Save Topic
Best location to view northern lights.

We are planing to go to Lapland in March. Our main thing is to see the Aurora Borealis - the northern lights.

I saw on the Internet there are programs for Aurora hunting in Ivalo/Inari area, as well as around Kittila, in muonio, for example, but also as south as Kemi.

Where is the best location to watch this phenomena, and what would be a good length of time to spend there to maximize our chances.

Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Tallinn, Finland, Helsinki
Level Contributor
8,835 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

You can stay in Lapland for weeks without a sighting, so you need luck. Any of the places you mention are good starting points, but which of them is the best depends on cloud cover, which naturally can't be predicted much in advance.

My advice to you is to have some other things to do while waiting for heaven to start the light show. Kemi has icebreaker cruises and a snow castle with an ice hotel and ice restaurant, so that may be a good base if you're not into skiing.

Finland
Level Contributor
896 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Your question had a good timing, I was just about to post this!

I hope this list of ideas answers some questions that are asked lots of times on this forum. All these may not be feasible in general, but hopefully help to build the right picture what seeing the Northern Lights may require.

1. Latitude, latitude, latitude! Travel as far North as possible. You can see the Auroras sometimes in the whole country, but the chances get much better in higher latitudes. In Rovaniemi the phenomenon appears on every third night as an average. Inari, Kilpisjärvi and Utsjoki are the areas of the best opportunity with 4 nights out of 5 lighted with Auroras. Latitudes of the major ski resorts such as Levi, Saariselkä and Ylläs also offer a fairly good likelihood, having a display approx every second night.

2. Make your stay long enough. When you look up to the sky at night, the most common sight is solid cloud cover. When staying 4-5 nights, there will be a decent chance. One week is good, two even better. Statistically about 3 nights out of 4 are cloudy.

3. Travel in the right time of the year. Above the Arctic Circle the Northern Lights are most common in mid winter. The other slightly lower annual peaks are in September and March (above the AC). The light show is not visible in the summertime because it is not dark at night.

4. Travel in the right year. The next solar activity peak is in May 2013, which means good possibilities for the years 2012 - 2014 at least. The next peak after this one will not come until 2024!

5. Observe in the right time of the night. The Northern Lights can appear any time, but are most common just before midnight. The display can start and end whenever the Mother Nature decides, so keep looking at the sky as often as possible.

6. Have mobility. You may find a patch of clear sky if you drive a short distance.

7. Look to the Northern sky. The Auroras can fill the whole sky but if they are faint, they are seen near the Northern horizon.

8. Avoid areas with street lights and other light pollution.

9. Avoid nights with full Moon. The Moon does not necessarily ruin the sighting, but moonlight combined with sodium glare and clouds is not good at all.

10. Follow not only terrestrial weather but also Solar weather. When the GOES 3-day Geophysical Activity Forecast contains words 'unsettled' or 'active' there will be a higher chance for the Northern Lights. See http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/today.html

11. Finland has 4 geomagnetic observatories around the country. Follow their readings on aurora.fmi.fi/public_service/index.html When the graphs are high and red, there is a higher chance but, however, they do not guarantee what will happen during the next hour.

12. Subscribe Northern Lights alert from aurora.fmi.fi/public_service/suomi/Revontuli…

The statistical information was gathered from the reports of The Finnish Meteorological Institute, which keeps records of both weather and the Northern Lights. Please correct if there are any mistakes or if I forgot something. Enjoy the Finnish Lapland and hunting of the Northern Lights!

Haifa, Israel
Level Contributor
141 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Thank you John and Yuke.

I read it's better to look for it in March then in January for example, as most lakes are frozen, and there is less chance for clouds. Don't know how true that is.

If the peak is in May 2013, I guess March 2013 will not be bad.

I still can't decide between Mounio and inari

I cross my fingers and hope for good

Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Tallinn, Finland, Helsinki
Level Contributor
8,835 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Hours of daylight are MUCH longer at the end of March, so going early in the month will give you a longer window of opportunity. The length of the day changes fast in the land of the midnight sun/noon moon.

Oulu, Finland
Destination Expert
for Helsinki, Oulu, Lapland
Level Contributor
4,121 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Go to Inari - in case the sky would be constantly overcast, you'll have more things to do in Inari - Saariselkä area than in Muonio.

Haifa, Israel
Level Contributor
141 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Thank you all.

Seems like the general opinion is in favor of Ivalo area (Inari, Saariselka), then Kittila area(Muonio) .

It norther, more things to do, etc.

So here we come, I book our flights to Ivalo :-)

Oulu, Finland
Destination Expert
for Helsinki, Oulu, Lapland
Level Contributor
4,121 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

This winter Ylläs may be switching off the street lights 22:00 - 06:00 to enable better viewing of the auroras. However, it has not been decided yet, the municipal board will decide on the matter on 5 November.

southampton
Level Contributor
65 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

There are just no ways of telling, so far december, jan and march haven't seen lights yet!! Gives an excuse to go again. Trying feb this time. There is so much more to this country than just lights, try it all. Have enjoyed every time, the aurora will be icing on cake when we see them. Sounds like you are giving yourself best chances.

Bandar Seri...
Level Contributor
28 posts
569 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

Hi, I'm planning a trip of about 5 days in one of the scandinavian countries, and I'm tossing up between Norway or Finland at end of October this year; specifically to catch (if possible) a glimpse of the Northern Lights. I'm not into skiing> which country/town would you recommend, where I might have a reasonable chance at sighting, while offering other sights/activities to occupy myself with, in event the NL are not sighted. Hotel Comforts/Facilities and Scenery are important factors. Thanks

Oulu, Finland
Destination Expert
for Helsinki, Oulu, Lapland
Level Contributor
4,121 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Best location to view northern lights.

I would go to Saariselkä. Far north enough, and not directly by the sea (to cause humidity and build up more clouds) + activieties and programme services for any taste available.