15 Bucket List Hot Spots To See the Northern Lights Starting in September

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis

One of the most enchanting natural phenomena in the Northern Hemisphere is the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. On the proper night, with perfect weather conditions and peak solar activity, you can see the stunning lights that paint the night sky. Here are some of the best places to view the Northern Lights. 

1. Yellowknife, Canada

yellowknife canada northern lights

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About 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Yellowknife is part of Canada’s northwest territories. Yellowknife is also the Northern Lights Capital of the North American continent, making it a great destination. Visitors may start to see the lights anywhere from September through the end of March. 

2. Westfjords, Iceland

Iceland, Gullfoss waterfall. Captivating scene with rainbow of Gullfoss waterfall that is most powerful waterfall in Iceland and Europe. Picturesque summer scene with amazing Icelandic waterfall.

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Long hours in Westfjords and North Iceland make them ideal locations to see the Northern Lights. As a popular viewing destination, there are many tours you can join throughout the area. Plan your trip to Iceland anywhere from September through April for the best chance of spotting the Lights. 

3. Lower and Upper Peninsula, Michigan, U.S.

northern lights michigan

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Find a spot along the Great Lakes of Michigan for the best viewing, preferably somewhere dark without ambient light. The best time to see the Aurora Borealis in Michigan is April, October, and November–though the lights tend to flare throughout the winter into spring.

4. Ilulissat, Greenland

ilulissat greenland

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Inuit people of Greenland hold to their belief that the lights were spirits of the dead playing games in the sky with–get this–a walrus skull. Most of the country is uninhabited, which makes it a great place to see the lights without city light pollution. Ilulissat is one of the most popular areas in Greenland for viewing during the autumn months. 

5. Tromso, Norway

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One traveler shares, “Tromso has the best combination of darkness and good weather that’s conducive to seeing the lights.” Book your trip to Tromso in late January or early February to glimpse the Northern Lights. You can even see them from the cable car on Storsteinen Mountain. 

6. Lapland, Finland

lapland finland northern lights

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Native Sami people of Finnish Lapland believe the lights occur because of fire foxes running so fast across the sky that their tails brush against the mountains and create sparks in the sky. With an average of 200 nights per year of Aurora Borealis (which means arctic dawn) from September to March, the best time to catch the light show is right before midnight. 

7. Oymyakon, Siberia

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The story goes that God looked down on what he created and dropped diamonds that fell across the Yakutia region, which are the Northern Lights often seen in Siberia. Oymyakon is a remote location, but the trip and time spent with locals in their homes (there are no hotels in the area) will make the journey worth it. 

8. Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.

fairbanks alaska

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Fairbanks is a popular spot for tourists to stop on their trip to Alaska, with the upside of possibly seeing the Northern Lights during their stay. Many local hotels also offer complimentary wake-up calls to let you know when the lights are out. Talk about full service!

9. Churchill, Canada

churchill canada northern lights

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Rumor has it that Churchill in Manitoba boasts a whopping 300 nights of visibility of the Northern Lights. You’ll have a good chance of seeing the lights for most of the year. However, visitors should plan their trip to northwestern Canada from January to March for the best time for viewing. 

10. Isle of Skye, Scotland

isle of skye scotland

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In Scotland, the Northern Lights are known by locals as the “merry dancers,” thought to be fallen angels and warriors. Autumn and winter see a decrease in visitors, making it the perfect time to travel to one of the most iconic destinations in the country to view the Northern Lights. 

11. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

jokulsarlon glacier lagoon iceland

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If you’re visiting south Iceland, you can still view the Northern Lights by traveling to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. A drive from a neighboring village, Vik, will take you to the lagoon, or you can find a nearby black sand beach to enjoy the show. 

12. Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

kangerlussuaq greenland

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Another ideal location in Greenland–one of the best in the world–is in the small village of Kangerlussuaq. With less than 1,000 people with limited artificial lights and clear skies, you can experience the Aurora Borealis from October through April. 

13. Svalbard, Norway

svalbad norway nothern lights

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Adventure seekers get the most out of their trip to Svalbard. Aside from joining a tour to see the Northern Lights, you can also go on a cruise or join a dog-sledding and hiking trip to make the experience even better. It’s best to travel between October and February, during the darkest months, for the best viewing. 

14. Shetland Islands, Scotland

northern lights scotland

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As the northernmost area of Scotland, the Shetland Islands puts you closest to the Arctic Circle, meaning you’ll have a better chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis here. This relatively remote destination offers excellent viewing of the lights from the end of autumn through early spring. 

15. Whitehorse, Canada

whitehorse canada

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The Yukon capital, Whitehorse, is a reasonably accessible area to see the Northern Lights, with lodging and tours for the whole family to enjoy. Winter months will be the best time to spend in Whitehorse. It’s also when many tours are in operation. 

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Zaida Marston

Zaida Marston is a freelance content writer for B2C and B2B SaaS brands and organizations. With more than 10 years of creative writing experience and a background in theatre arts, she combines compelling storytelling with value-based content for audiences of all kinds. Aside from writing she's an avid reader, scrapbooker, and TV/movie junkie. You can find her professional work in her portfolio for her latest writing pieces.

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