Best Places To See The Northern Lights: Finland, Alaska, Norway

Now you can finally check 'em off your bucket list

Northern lights are the red panda of the natural world. You'd also be hard-pressed to find an avid traveler whose wish list doesn't include witnessing this rare phenomenon, which is highly dependent on weather, time of year and solar activity.

Before you go mourning the end of summer, take solace in the fact that it's northern lights season. They're best seen from late August to April at latitudes that span across Norway, Sweden and northern Canada. Pack your sweaters and head north: These are five of the most magical places to view the elusive and colorful lights. 

Fairbanks, Alaska

Photo: clr_flickr via Flickr

It's only 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, meaning Fairbanks is within what's known as the auroral oval, an area in which the northern lights are most commonly seen. Book a stay at the Aurora Borealis Lodge, a seasonal vacation spot 20 miles north of the city with spectacular opportunities to see the lights. The lodge, in addition to many other tourism services, offers tours that will guide you to the best places to view the lights.

Saariselkä, Finland

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is famous for glass igloo hotel rooms in which you can see the northern lights from the comfort of your own bed. Staying warm and gazing up at the vibrant lights? Yes, please.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Photo: Javier Rodríguez via Flickr

Iceland is one of the hottest tourist destinations and for good reason. Not only are there abundant waterfalls, picturesque glaciers and inventive restaurants, but the northern lights are visible for eights months out of the year. Dip your toes in the geothermal tub at the Grótta lighthouse on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula to stay moderately warm while enjoying light pollution-free views of the lights.

Aroostook County, Maine

The Aroostook State Park is right near the Canadian border and is one of the northernmost points in the United States to catch a glimpse of the northern lights. On your way, drive up the coast for a complete Maine food tour of lobster, baked goods and craft beer.

Tromsø, Norway

Photo: Claudia Regina via Flickr

This Scandinavian city is halfway between Oslo and the North Pole, and proves that life above the Arctic Circle certainly has its perks. Not only are the views magical, but Tromsø's local cuisine and outdoor activities have you covered for whatever daylight hours remain as well.