Northern Lights the top five places to see them this winter

The Aurora Borealis, are more commonly known as the Northern Lights. They are beautiful displays of dancing light that have inspired awe, captivation and even fear throughout history.

It’s therefore unsurprising that viewing this natural phenomenon is on many people’s travel bucket list.

The Northern Lights are a natural occurrence.  Hues of green, red and purple light dance across the sky.   Caused by solar storms on the surface of the sun, they are forcefully expelled clouds of electrically charged particles.   These then collide with the Earth’s magnetic field. When these particles collide with atoms and molecules already present in the atmosphere, it causes them to glow.  This results in a magical light Northern Lights show.

Great time to book

As the sun becomes more active and auroral activity increases due to the current solar cycle, which is expected to peak in 2024 and 2025, it’s a great time to book that bucket list trip to see the Aurora Borealis. Travellers will have a much greater chance of spotting the lights than they’ve had in 11 years due to the ‘solar maximum,’ where the sun is at its most active.

Hire a campervan

One really good way of seeing the lights close up is to hire a campervan and tour to the best observation points.

The best place to spot the spectacle is as near to the north pole as possible, where the pull of the Earth’s magnetic field is the strongest.  But there are a number of spots across the Northern Hemisphere that can provide awe-inspiring views of the Northern Lights throughout the winter months. Wherever you plan on viewing this spectacle, just remember that research and thorough planning is vital.

CamperDays is a camper tour operator that launched in Germany during 2013.  Today with 150 partners in over 700 locations globally they facilitate access to over 35,500 vehicles available for rent worldwide.

Since it was launched, CamperDays customers have booked over 1,000,000 nights in vehicles rented through the site. CamperDays provides access to a broad selection of campervans and motorhomes catering to every type of traveller, with transparent pricing and no hidden costs. All vehicles come with insurance, with excess, as standard, to allow renters a truly carefree holiday. 

Below, Camperdays share their top spots to enjoy the Northern Lights this winter… 

1.         Norway

Well-positioned within the Arctic circle, Norway benefits from extremely long nights during the winter months (18 hours in December) – perfect for spotting the Aurora Borealis. 

With higher chances of a dark, clear sky and high solar activity, September through to March is the best time of year to travel, with Tromsø, known as the Arctic Capital, regarded as one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. Plan to spend at least five days there in the winter season in order to be in with the best chance of spotting them. 

2.         Canada

A large portion of Northern Canada falls into the Aurora Zone, so it’s a great place to head to witness the natural spectacle. For the highest chances of catching a glimpse, travel between October and March, when the hours of darkness are highest in the region. 

Due to its latitude and location one of the best spots to witness the spectacle is in Whitehorse, Yukon. Fondly named the “Aurora capital” of Yukon, Whitehorse is a 30 hour drive from Vancouver. Hire a campervan and experience one of the most scenic road trips on earth through the Canadian wilderness. You will enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains and Muncho Lake on your way.

3.         Iceland

The extreme dark of the Icelandic winter between September and April offers fantastic views of the Northern Lights, with it being one of the best places in the world for your chance to witness the magnificent natural display. 

Reykjavik, is an extremely popular destination amongst aurora-spotters, offers views of the Northern Lights from the town. But viewing them from inside the Oskjuhlid Forest is a truly magical experience. 

For your best chances of spotting the spectacle however, embark on a road trip to the more rural Westfjords and northern Iceland.  Here you will experience longer hours of darkness and less frequent cloud cover. What could be more magical than spending night’s under the stars and being rewarded with the best light show on earth?

4.         Greenland 

More than two thirds of this country lies within the Arctic Circle. With minimal light pollution and an incredibly low population density, your chances of spotting the Northern Lights here are high. The further north you travel the more you increase your chances of seeing this spectacular light show, 

While its location allows for views of the Northern Lights all year round, the best time to visit is between November to mid-March.   Then you will enjoy some of the best light displays while avoiding the coldest of the winter months. 

Fly into Greenland via Copenhagen before hiring a campervan and setting off on your journey to Kangerlussuaq on the island’s west coast, which boasts almost 300 clear nights per year, making it the perfect place to enjoy the spectacle.

5.         Scotland

You don’t have to head to a far-flung location to experience the Northern Lights! If you’re looking for somewhere closer to home, embark on a road trip to Scotland. Here you can enjoy the dancing lights in the more remote northern islands of Shetland, Orkney, Harris, Lewis and Skye. 

With long, cold nights and clear skies providing perfect conditions, you will have plenty of opportunity to witness the beautiful spectacle throughout the winter months.

CamperDays is currently offering an €100 discount on all camper trips to be taken from January 2024. Use the discount code EARLYBIRD24. The code is valid until 15 September 2023 for all trips starting 1 January 2024 with latest vehicle pick up date of 31 December.