15 Spectacular Places To Stay if You Want To See the Northern Lights

Escape to accommodations where each night is a dance with the northern lights.

an enjoying aurora lights at night
Updated May 28, 2024
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Witnessing the northern lights — or aurora borealis — isn't just a sight, it's a life-changing experience that leaves you wondering how nature can put on such a show.

But this celestial ballet plays in a narrow window: only during specific months in the far north, from September to April.

To maximize your chances of catching the show, you’ll have to step up your travel game and head to a location known for its vibrant auroral displays.

Here are 15 unique destinations where you can chase the dancing lights.

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Aurora Safari Camp: Lapland, Sweden

Mr. Bolota/Adobe hikers exploring lapland's snowy wonderland aurora

Get a rustic northern lights experience by glamping in the Swedish Lapland.

You’ll take a snowmobile to get to your tent and gather around bonfires in the evening with other guests before going on nightly adventures into the wilderness to catch a view of aurora borealis.

Harriniva Adventure Resort: Muonio, Finland

inspiretta/Adobe northern lights in muonio finland

If you’re up for an adventure, book a 7-night trip to Muonio, Finland.

You’ll go off into the frozen night with adventure activities, including reindeer sleighing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Each journey is all in the hopes of spotting the northern lights dancing across the snow-covered landscape.

Tundra Buggy Lodge: Manitoba, Canada

Tobias/Adobe northern light in canada churchill manitoba

Polar bears and the northern lights? This is a true winter experience.

Stay at the Tundra Buggy Lodge and go on excursions on their fleet of signature all-terrain vehicles designed to take you into the depths of the tundra.

You won’t leave your cozy tundra buggy or lodge while you’re here, but there’s no need when the northern lights are flashing above you.

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Borealis Basecamp: Fairbanks, Alaska

Ricardo Serpa/Adobe snowy road with aurora lights

Nestled near Fairbanks, Alaska, Borealis Basecamp sits squarely under the auroral oval, a zone where the northern lights put on their most spectacular displays.

But Borealis Basecamp isn't just about the aurora. This winter wonderland offers a plethora of activities to awaken your inner explorer.

Go dog sledding across pristine snow, snowmobiling through breathtaking landscapes, or snowshoeing amidst towering spruce trees.

Icehotel: Abisko, Sweden

Claudio Quacquarelli/Adobe aurora boreale in lapponia

Nothing is more quintessentially winter than staying in a hotel made of ice where temperatures hover around 20 degrees.

It’s an experience for the brave of heart, but there’s also a more insulated hotel for those who run cold.

And, of course, this hotel offers tours into the night to see the northern lights from Abisko, one of the best places to view the colors.

Cantilever Hotel + Distillery: Ranier, Minnesota

Patrick/Adobe minnesota voyageurs national park northern lights

A certified International Dark Sky Park, Voyageurs National Park in Ranier, Minnesota, is one of the best spots in the United States to catch a glimpse of the colors in the night sky.

Stay at the warm and cozy Cantilever Hotel and Distillery, where you can sip on hot drinks and retreat to your comfy bed after a long night, hoping for a sighting of the northern lights.

Tromsø Ice Domes: Øverbygd, Norway

muratart/Adobe northern lights over tromso norway

Stay in an igloo during your trip to see the northern lights at the Tromsø Ice Domes in Øverbygd, Norway.

The hotel has both cold and hot elements, so you can adventure throughout depending on your comfort level — or how long you’ve been outside shivering.

Book an excursion, like snowshoeing, to see the northern lights under the night sky.

ION Adventure Hotel: Reykjavik, Iceland

Javen/Adobe northern light from reykjavik city center

If you’re not quite up for venturing into the depths of the wilderness to see the northern lights, then ION Adventure Hotel near Reykjavik, Iceland, will be a happy medium.

You can book excursions like trekking across glaciers or sit in the hotel’s Northern Lights Bar, watching for the aurora borealis in the night sky through the dramatic windows surrounding the building.

Sumburgh Head: Lerwick, Scotland

Oliver Taylor/Adobe northern lights in scotland

You might not expect to see the northern lights when planning a trip to the United Kingdom, but there are areas of northern Scotland where you can spot these dazzling lights.

One of the most unique places to see the northern lights is from the simple and rustic Keeper’s Cottage at Sumburgh Head. And not only are there northern lights, there are puffins.

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Hotel Arctic: Ilulissat, Greenland

Michal/Adobe greenland coast village with aurora borealis

Stay on the Ilulissat Icefjord at a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the northernmost hotel in the world, which is an experience even without spying the northern lights.

Hotel Arctic puts you right in the sightline of aurora borealis, plus gives you views of icebergs, fjords, and incredible once-in-a-lifetime landscapes.

Viking Cruise, Arctic Circle

Tae-Wan/Adobe longship sailing under the northern lights

Set sail on chilly waters on a Viking Cruise that will go through the Arctic Circle, catching views of the northern lights throughout its nearly two-week venture.

You’ll experience the best of the Nordic life, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, and, of course, taking in aurora borealis at night.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort: Saariselkä, Finland

davidmarx/Adobe igloo and aurora borealis

Cozy igloos with just enough room for a bed make the perfect place for a jaw-dropping view of the northern lights at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.

Just look up through your glass ceiling to see the dazzling colors above. There are also plenty of winter activities to keep you busy during the daytime, including skiing and sleigh rides.

Lyngen Experience Lodge: Nord-Lenangen, Norway

den-belitsky/Adobe northern lights in lofoten islands norway

While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of incredible places to stay to see the northern lights, many will cost you a pretty penny.

But not the Lyngen Experience Lodge in Norway. This modern and affordable hotel is located above the Arctic Circle on Norway’s Lyngen Peninsula, making it a prime spot to see the aurora.

Pinetree Lodge: Kangos, Sweden

Formoney/Adobe northern lights over bonfire in forest

Next to stunning Lake Saarijärvi amid the boreal forest, Pinetree Lodge offers a dramatic and wintery place to catch the northern lights.

This is somewhere you’ll get into the routine of bundling up to explore before hitting the sauna to warm up.

They boast they have 20 times more dogs than people in their village, which is reason enough for some people to visit.

The 5 Million Star Hotel: Iceland (Two locations)

tawatchai1990/Adobe aurora borealis at kirkjufell in iceland

What could Iceland’s 5 Million Star Hotel be named after? Only the millions of stars floating above your head as you sleep in a transparent bubble.

This innovative hotel allows guests to view the northern lights overhead, just as if they were outside, but from the comfort of a heated pod.

Bottom line

เลิศลักษณ์ ทิพชัย/Adobe couple under northern lights in norway

The northern lights are a bucket-list experience, a chance to witness nature's most captivating light show.

While the skies may not always cooperate, the possibility of seeing those emerald ribbons dance across the canvas of the night is enough to set your heart racing.

So, don't wait any longer. Start planning your Arctic adventure, grab your best travel credit cards, and prepare to be mesmerized by the magic of the aurora borealis.

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Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.