The northern lights are an awe-inspiring sight, one that can’t be adequately done any justice by words, a photo or a video. It’s on many a traveller’s bucket list and for good reason.
Here’s the downside – getting nature to put on its full show doesn’t come easy. While in London, it was all too common to hear of friends returning from trips centered around chasing the lights, whose only memories were those of long cold nights spent driving around aimlessly on backcountry roads, staring up in vain at an unyielding night sky.
My first piece of advice would be to choose a destination with activities other than the northern lights. That way if you aren’t successful, the trip won’t feel like a waste of time and money. Iceland is an amazing destination in itself during the winter months, and a popular choice for that reason.
If your heart is set on seeing the lights, anecdotally Tromso would be your best bet (and my personal recommendation). Located above the Arctic Circle, it’s a magnet for aurora borealis chasers.
The downside? It’s in Norway, where everything is expensive and during the winter months there isn’t as much to do. That’s why a trip here would be better styled as one with a small group of friends on a long weekend break centered around a holiday lodge. We stayed at this converted fisherman’s cabin which was spectacular for 2 reasons: you could wait for the lights from the warmth and comfort of the cabin thanks to its floor to ceiling windows…
…or better yet, stroll down to the lake shore to build a fire around which many a marshmallow can be eaten, drinks drunk, stories told and lasting travel memories made.