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When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?

When should you arrive in the Arctic Circle to increase your odds of catching the aurora borealis?

While there's no definite date for you to go out and gaze at the lights, there are a few key times in the year that are better than others for seeing this natural phenomenon.

Best time to see the Northern Lights

November to February.

Why?

While the aurora borealis can be active at any time, one of your major difficulties in capturing this beauty is visibility. Clear, dark skies provide better visibility for the naked eye so travelling during winter will increase your chances of catching the Northern Lights.


Overview

The Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon caused by collisions between electrically-charged particles from the sun as they enter our atmosphere. They are concentrated around the northern polar cap and you can frequently see them in the Arctic Circle on clear, dark nights.

The Northern Lights are a popular attraction for visitors worldwide and the best time to see them is during winter in isolated locations where there is little light pollution. As there are so many locations and countries one can visit to see the Northern Lights, there’s little fear of areas becoming overcrowded with light chasers. Flights and hotel prices however do increase around the holidays so for more appealing prices, avoid travelling during Christmas week.

To further increase your chances of catching the lights in all their glory, keep on top of aurora activity here. This site provides regular updates regarding activity and cloud cover to give you a better idea of where to head to try and see them.

Not sure where to go? Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are some of the top destinations to catch the Northern Lights. Here's our full list.


Weather and prices

Best time to see the Northern Lights, weather wise: Winter in the Arctic Circle often has precipitation in the form of rainfall or snowfall, depending on the temperature. The months that receive the heaviest precipitation vary for every country. For example, Iceland's highest precipitation occurs in December and January while the least amount of winter precipitation occurs in October and November. Finland, on the other hand, has high precipitation in October and November but low precipitation in December to March. As precipitation and cloud cover will affect visibility, decide on your location first then choose your month according to its average precipitation.

Cheapest time to visit the Northern Lights: Search for flight and hotel deals in October and November or February to avoid the Christmas holidaymakers. Though bear in mind you will need to be lucky to catch them in these months.


Hot Northern Lights tour deals

Gate1 Travel Gate1 Travel

$260 off Northern Lights package

Valid for travel between December 2018 - April 2019. Includes 4-nights accommodation in Reykjavik, daily breakfast, guide and more. T&Cs apply.

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TourRadar TourRadar

18% off 6-day Northern Lights exploration tour

Valid for travel on October 2018 - April 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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29% off 6-day Northern Lights discovery tour

Valid for travel on November 2018 - March 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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16% off 6-day Northern Lights tour

Valid for travel on October - November 2018 and January - March 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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17% off Iceland's Northern Lights package

Valid for travel on October 2018 - March 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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US$30 off 5-day Northern Lights package

Valid for travel on November 2018 - April 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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US$160 off Northern Lights of Finland

Valid for travel on October 2018 - April 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply

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US$335 off Greenland's Northern Lights experience

Valid for travel on September - October 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, guide, full-board meals, transfers and more. T&Cs apply

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US$120 off Northern Lights New Years special

Valid for travel on 28 December - 2 January 2019. Includes 5 nights hotel accommodation, tour leader, full-board meals, round-trip transfers and more. T&Cs apply

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US$633 off scenic Iceland + Northern Lights tour

Valid for travel on select dates between October 2018 - March 2019. Includes hotel accommodation, meals, luxury air-conditioned transfers, complimentary use of WiFi and more. T&Cs apply

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US$275 off 6-day Northern Lights + Blue Lagoon tour

Valid for travel on select dates between December 2018 - April 2019. Includes hotel accommodation and tour in Reykjavík, luxury air-conditioned coach, buffet breakfasts, dinner and more. T&Cs apply

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23% off Northern Lights winter escorted tour

Valid for travel on select dates between November 2018 - April 2019. Includes hotel accommodation in Reykjavík, 3 nights at countryside hotels, guided tour, meals, transfers and more. T&Cs apply

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Viator Viator

Northern Lights cruise from just $139.99

Valid for travel on select dates between October 2018. Includes warm coveralls, 10% discount ticket to Aurora Reykjavik Museum. T&Cs apply

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Viator Viator

Northern Lights tour from just $74.20

Valid for travel on select. Includes professional guide, transport by air-conditioned coach, hotel pickup and drop off. T&Cs apply.

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$116 off Iceland Northern Lights package

Valid for travel on select dates between November 2018 - March 2019. Includes 4-night hotel accommodation in Reykjavik, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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18% off Land of Northern Lights package

Valid for travel on select dates between October - November 2018. Includes 4-night hotel accommodation in Reykjavik, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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Helsinki: 7-day accommodation + Northern Lights package from US$442

Valid for travel on select dates between November 2018 - March 2019. Includes 4-night hotel accommodation in Helsinki, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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Helsinki: 4-night accommodation + Northern Lights adventure from US$452

Valid for travel on select dates between November 2018 - February 2019. Includes 4-night hotel accommodation in Helsinki, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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TourRadar TourRadar

14% off 8-day Northern Lights exploration package

Valid for travel on select dates between October 2018 - January 2019. Includes 7-night hotel accommodation at Northern Light Inn Hotel, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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19% off 6-day Northern Lights escape

Valid for travel on select dates between November 2018 - March 2019. Includes 3-night guesthouse and 2-night hotel accommodation, meals and transfers. T&Cs apply

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