Where to See the Northern Lights in 2016

Frost and Fire Hotel/Oyster

Frost and Fire Hotel/Oyster

If you’ve ever dreamt of sitting beneath the stars, bundled up with a cup of hot chocolate, watching the aurora borealis dance across the sky -- this next year may be your best chance to make this dream a reality for quite some time.

The northern lights rotate on an 11-year cycle, and after 2016, they’ll dim (but not disappear) for the next 10 years. So you know what that means: time to book your flight to Iceland, Finland, Greenland, or Norway to see the natural wonder ASAP.

Hotels in this story

First, Secure Your Sighting

Chris Combe/Flickr

Chris Combe/Flickr

Statistically the most active months for aurora are those between September and March, and your best chances to see the lights are within the arctic circle in spots like Iceland, Finland,
Norway, Greenland, Alaska or the Canadian Yukon. The further away you are
from the lights of big cities, the better.

There are plenty of cruises, tours and excursions you can book
that will get you in prime viewing of the lights, but if you’d like to travel
independently, here’s a rundown on where to stay.  

Viewing in: Iceland

Frost and Fire Hotel/Oyster

Frost and Fire Hotel/Oyster

Traveling to Iceland in winter presents its own sets of
issues — the weather is predictably unpredictable — but in this gorgeous country, there are a host of things to see and do, even if the northern lights don’t make an
appearance.

Maximize your chances of seeing them by staying at the ION
Luxury Adventure Hotel
, far removed from the lights of nearby cities. The glass
bar here offers guests a perfect view of the night sky. 

Another great option is Frost and Fire Hotel in Hveragerdi,
which has an outdoor hot tub you can soak in while the lights twinkle over you.

Viewing in: Norway

Skybar - Astrum Grill & Raw Bar at the Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim/Oyster

Skybar – Astrum Grill & Raw Bar at the Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim/Oyster

The aurora is more frequently seen in the north of the
country, so plan to head up to Tromso, Trondelag or the Lofoten Islands, which
are all active areas for sightings. If you’re heading north from Oslo, stop
over in Trondheim and spend the night at the Clarion Hotel & Congress
Trondheim
. Should the lights make their way a little south that night, you’ll
see the spectacle through the property’s glass atrium.

Viewing in: Greenland

Markus Trienke/Flickr

Markus Trienke/Flickr

A
well-known legend in Greenland says that when the northern lights are in the
sky, it means that the dead are playing football with a walrus skull. See the show for yourself by staying at Hotel Arctic in
Greenland, set on the mouth of an ice fjord.

Viewing in: Finland

Timo Newton-Syms/Flickr

Timo Newton-Syms/Flickr

It’s no wonder Finland is consistently one of the world’s
happiest countries
 — its geographic location makes it one of the best places to view the northern lights!

Get a front-row seat of the lights at Hotel Kakslauttanen,
which is made up of 20 thermal glass igloos.

Just Keep in Mind

Giuseppe Milo/Flickr

Giuseppe Milo/Flickr

The aurora does have a reputation for being a bit of a diva, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the lights even if you’re in the perfect location under perfect conditions. Never fear! If they don’t come out on your next winter vacation, try out these other great winter activities.

Have you seen the northern lights? Where were you? 

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