The Aurora Borealis is one of the most magnificent, awe-inspiring natural sights explorers can seek out. Multi-coloured streams of fluorescent light dance and wave across the inky sky like glow sticks at a full moon party. But the still, silent night and frigid outdoor temperatures make it an uncanny experience all of its own.

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While we are blessed to witness the Northern Lights in Canada, there are several places around the world known for the spectacular light show. If you’re planning an international adventure, consider one of these locations and get in some aurora hunting:

 

1. Iceland

One of the most popular destinations for travellers lately, Iceland is renowned for its easy access to incredible nature and affordable flights to get there. Iceland is also one of the best places in the world to catch the Aurora. From September to March, dark night skies yield a strong potential for solar activity on cloud-free evenings.

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2. Norway

You’ll have to go north—really far north—in Norway for the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Don’t just stop in Oslo! If you’re willing to go the distance, go at the right time, too: November to March is prime viewing season. Cold, dry December is best—just remember to bundle up.

Although you can explore Tromsø and Atla on your own, it may be worthwhile to invest in a tour and have a local guide help you track the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle.

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3. Alaska

I grew up on Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, but haven’t made it to the northern state myself. Although I’d probably prefer to visit in hiking season to experience the midnight sun, Aurora chasers should head to Fairbanks when the sun barely rises at all.

The Northern Lights often appear from November to March, but in my own experience from my hometown in northern Alberta, the best times to catch the lights are on cloudless nights at 3 a.m. in the month of February.

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4. Russia

You might not initially think of heading to the largest country in the world to watch the Aurora Borealis, but it makes sense. Siberia spans the Arctic Circle and delights visitors with green, red and purple lights dancing in star-filled skies.

The Arctic city of Murmansk, remote outpost Naryan-Mar and nearly North Pole-touching Taimyr Peninsula are three frigid, isolated places that sit in quiet darkness for much of the year—ideal for polar lights viewing and photography.

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5. Australia

Wait, you can see the Northern Lights in Australia?! Not exactly, but sometimes, rays do ignite the sky over the Land Down Under.

The Aurora Australis—the Southern Lights—ignite the dark skies in fiery strands of purple and green. For the best viewing possibilities, head south to Tasmania in winter, from May to August. However, these solar flares are very rare, so don’t have your hopes too high.

Luckily, there are a ton of surrounding adventure opportunities: hike to a viewpoint overlooking Wineglass Bay, swim in the ocean near the Bay of Fires and camp on the many beaches that perimeter Australia’s often forgotten southern island.

 

Have you seen an aurora on your adventures abroad?

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