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Planning a trip to see Northern Lights with kids? Confused as to where to see Northern Lights and when to see Northern Lights? We have worked out a list of the best places to see Northern Lights with kids for you to choose the right place for your Northern Lights Vacation.
Catching the sight of the celestial Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis dancing in the clear, dark, and moonless sky as it paints the sky with different strokes of green, purple, and fuchsia colors is an experience that tops the bucket list of almost all the travelers.
You might feel super-charged and excited to show this dancing show of lights to your kids but remember, kids might not be interested in enduring the harsh Arctic weather conditions to see Northern Lights. They’d want to run inside rather than staying up late, patiently waiting around for the lights to display. You plan well, really well, if you want your kids to soak in the magic.
Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon triggered by the charged particles discharged by the sun as it collides with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere near the magnetic poles. The same phenomenon when takes place in the southern hemisphere, it’s known as the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.
Tips to Experience Northern Lights with Kids
There are a few pointers that you need to take note of before you plan a trip to see the Northern Lights with kids.
- Firstly, plan a couple of kid-friendly day time outdoor winter activities like snow fighting, digging snow caves, making a snowman, reindeer or husky sledding, hiking, and more to keep them happy and busy.
- Secondly, make sure to dress them warmly (layer up heavily), like super warmly.
- And most importantly, they should be well-rested and well-fed before you embark on the Northern Lights hunt. Basically, don’t give them a reason to complain or whine.
Best Places to See Northern Lights with Kids
Remember that seeing the lights isn’t guaranteed as it depends upon several elements like clear sky, solar activity, moonless night, and others. Though, choosing the right place and the right season can increase your odds dramatically. We have rounded up the best places to see Northern Lights with kids for you to plan an unforgettable trip.
#1 Tromso, Norway
Fondly known as the Arctic Capital, Tromso at about 70° north, is the best place to see Northern Lights in Norway or rather Europe. Tromso promises higher chances of spotting the Northern Lights as it’s located right in the center of the aurora oval.
Plus, warm waters of the Gulf Stream, Tromso enjoys milder temperatures even in the winter making it a perfect destination to see Northern Lights with kids.
When to go: September to April
Best Spots: Fjellheisen, Ersfjordbotn
Where to Stay: Tromsø Ice Domes
Best/Recommended Tour: Northern Lights Adventure with Greenlander
Getting There: Almost all the international flights to Tromso involve a transfer at Gardermoen, Oslo.
Forecast Resources: NorwayLights
Expert Tip: If you happen to visit in January, you must attend the annual Northern Lights Festival
Other Kid-Friendly Day Activities: dog sledding, reindeer sledding, whale watching, see the seals at Polaria, experience the Sami Culture
#2 Reyjkavik, Iceland
Iceland is magical, with or without Northern Lights! Of course, the dancing lights in the sky make it other-worldly. With a little luck, you can even witness this natural phenomenon in the capital city of Reykjavik. But, there are many amazing locations near Reykjavik that promise better chances of Aurora viewing.
Apart from Reyjkavik, Þingvellir National Park, Kirkjufell, Jökulsárlón, Vík, Reynisfjara, and Ásbyrgi Canyon are some of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.
You can rent a car (if you’re used to driving in winter conditions) and chase the Northern Lights on your own or join an organized tour to have a worry-free Northern Lights hunting.
When to go: August to April
Best Spots: Grótta lighthouse, Öskjuhlið, Lake Kleifarvatn
Best/Recommended Tour: Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik by Gray Line Iceland
Getting There: Fly into Reykjavik and rent a car
Forecast Resources: Icelandic Met Office
Expert Tip: Plan to stay for at least a week and try to get away from the city to maximize your chances to catch the Northern Lights.
Other Kid-Friendly Day Activities: Enjoy the Icelandic horse riding family tour with Ishestar, take a Golden Circle Tour, swim in a geothermal pool or blue lagoon
#3 Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
Kay of The Awkward Traveller
If you’re wondering where to see the Northern Lights in the USA, Alaska is your answer! It’s the Aurora capital of the United States of America. Fairbanks, in particular, is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights because of its close proximity to the Arctic Circle. The city itself has small-town charm, but hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the winter season, the perfect daytime activity to entertain yourself until the Northern Lights come out.
And once the sun goes down, there are countless vantage points and areas to view the Northern Lights, ranging from highly accessible to absolutely remote – and all still driving distance from the city. Plus, it’s in the perfect location for day trips to Denali National Park and the North Pole.
Fairbanks is a destination itself, with cute boutiques, unique restaurants, and incredible museums, all of which are just an added bonus on top of the strong Northern Lights activity.
When to go: Winter (November – February)
Best Spot: Chena Lake Recreation Area
Best Northern Lights Tour: Alaska Aurora Adventures (family-owned)
Getting There: Fly into Fairbanks and rent a car
Forecast Resources: Geophysical Institute
Expert Tip: Make sure to book tours and accommodations in advance!
Other Kid-Friendly Day Activities:
- You can go sledding at the Chena Hot Springs mushing center, a sanctuary for retired mushing huskies.
- If you visit before January, you can also visit the town of North Pole (20 minutes away) to explore Santa’s Workshop and potentially see Saint Nick himself!
- Definitely try to visit Fairbanks during the Festival of Native Arts to also learn about the area’s Indigenous people and enjoy music, dancing, and more!
- Another fun activity would be visiting during the World Ice Sculpting Championships!
#4 Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
Kat of Wandering Bird
If you’re looking for somewhere to take your kids (and possibly see the Northern lights) Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland, is a great option. It’s one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter. Well, a trip to Lapland is magical for kids, be it summer or winter.
Rovaniemi, being the official hometown of Santa, is also one of the most kid-friendly places in Europe, and if you plan to visit Rovaniemi during December, kids will be able to celebrate Christmas with Santa and see the Northern Lights too.
Best Time of the Year: November to March
Best Spots: Arktikum Park, the island of Koivusaari, Ounasvaara fell, Lake Norvajärvi, and If you can go further away from Rovaniemi center – Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park with huge skies and limited light noise is one of the best places to see the Northern lights in and around Rovaniemi.
Best/Recommended Tour: Northern Lights Tour Small Group – Including Photographs by Explore Lapland
Getting There: Fly into Helsinki and then take a flight or Santa Claus Express Night Train to Rovaniemi
Expert Tip: Don’t build your kids up ONLY to see the Northern lights because they’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities:
- Meeting Santa at his home – Santa’s village. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and it’s built with kids in mind. There are plenty of things for them to do (for all ages), from feeding reindeer, making toys with the elves, or enjoying outdoor snow activities.
- If you have time, visit the village of Hetta. You’ll find over 20,000 reindeer here- the kids will love taking selfies with them!
- And, of course, if you really want to wow your kids, visit the Arctic snow hotel and the glass igloos. Even if you just visit for a drink, it’s a sight worth seeing!
#5 Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper
Nunavut is a fantastic place to see the northern lights. Many communities in the territory provide excellent viewing, however, Iqaluit ( capital city) is the easiest as there are direct flights from Ottawa or Montreal.
Because the northern lights are most prevalent between latitudes 60 and 75 degrees N, Iqaluit is great because it sits in the middle of that at 64 degrees N. Second, the open tundra and lack of light pollution give you an expansive sky to see the northern lights.
There are also awesome activities to do in Iqaluit during the day when the northern lights aren’t out. My personal favorites are snowmobiling and dog sledding, but ice fishing, igloo building, and snowshoeing are other available activities.
If northern lights are your primary reason for visiting Iqaluit, I’d recommend going with a guide. They can bring you to the best locations and will run you through a northern lights workshop.
When to go: October and November / February and March
Best Spots: Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park or Road to Nowhere
Where to Stay: Accommodations by the Sea
Best/Recommended Tour: Northern Lights Getaway by the Arctic Kingdom
Getting There: Direct Flights from Ottawa and Montreal
Forecast Resources: Space Weather Prediction Center
Expert Tip: Bring a floodlight and find a frozen lake. Illuminating the
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities:
- In October and November, there is hiking on the tundra (relatively flat terrain makes it suitable for kids).
- In February and March, there is dog sledding and snowmobiling.
#6 Yellowknife, Canada
Jyoti of Story at Every Corner
Yellowknife is located right under the aurora borealis ring, so the dancing lights in the sky are present all year long. Since winter nights are long, the opportunity to see northern lights are many, especially in the middle of winter when it’s dark nearly 24 hours a day.
August nights are shorter, but it’s a great time to visit because it’s not too cold and one can spend more time outside. Also, in August, one can go wildlife viewing, which is not possible in winter.
Best Time of the Year: August to March
Best Spot: Anywhere! We saw northern lights from the living room. But it’s visible pretty much everywhere where’s there’s ambient light at night.
Where to Stay: Hacho House
Best/Recommended Tour: North Star Adventures
Getting There: Almost all the airline carriers from Air Canada, WestJet, Air North, First Air, to Northwestern Air have direct flights to Yellowknife from the major Canadian cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, and Alberta.
Forecast Resources: Astronomy North
- Plan to stay a few nights in Yellowknife because the northern lights are not visible every day because of clouds and other atmospheric phenomena. Any clothes you possess will likely not keep you warm in -40ish deg C/F temperature. You need to rent local Canadian parkas, pants, and boots. We carried thermal underclothes and borrowed our friends’ outerwear but I saw tour operators provide outerwear for rent.
- Take an excellent camera and tripod to take amazing pictures of aurora borealis in Yellowknife.
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities:
- Visit the museum which has a lot of history and cultural information. Dress up in local costumes.
- Visit ice sculptures after the annual festival.
- Drive on the ice road.
- Visit the beautiful city hall and learn about the local government.
- Ride a sky plane.
- Visit a diamond factory office with mining exhibits.
#7 Swedish Lapland
Bradley of Dream Big Travel, Far Blog
Swedish Lapland is a magical place filled with beautiful scenery everywhere you go, amazing people, delicious food, and memorable activities. Because Swedish Lapland is located in the Arctic part of Sweden and home to Abisko, Kiruna, and other magical places, it’s in the perfect position to catch the Northern Lights.
Naturally the further north you are, the higher the chance of seeing the Northern Lights because the Aurora activity is stronger. The reason Abisko is such a popular place to see the lights is due to its unique climate that keeps the skies almost clear, and the light pollution is pretty much non-existent.
Best Time of the Year: September to March
Best Spot: Abisko National Park is one of the most popular places in Swedish Lapland to see the Northern Lights but essentially any great lake or forest area with no light pollution will make a good spot!
Where to Stay: We recommend wild camping either via campervan or tent to give yourself an awesome chance to see the Northern Lights or a stay at the famous Ice Hotel in Sweden is not only great fun but located in a brilliant place to see the Northern Lights!
Best/Recommended Tour: You can create your own itinerary if you’ve got your own vehicle, or a popular tour is the Great Aurora Chase by Visit Abisko which is held in the Abisko National Park.
Getting There: Fly into Stockholm and then take a train, bus, or flight to Kiruna.
Forecast Resources: We used My Aurora Forecast as it gives you an indication of how likely the chances are the Northern Lights will be out and gives you an alarm if they’re around and you haven’t checked!
Expert Tip: If you want to get a cool family picture of you and the Northern Lights, then don’t forget to bring a tripod with you!
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities: Swedish Lapland isn’t just an awesome place to see the Northern Lights, there are so many other brilliant things to do with kids. You can visit a moose farm and feed them carrots whilst learning all about their lives, or you can go dog-sledding for an adrenaline adventure, or why not learn more about the Sami Culture on a tour with the local Sami people.
#8 Murmansk, Russia
Ellis of Backpack Adventures
Murmansk in Russia is one of the best places to see the northern lights with kids. With a long and cold winter, the aurora borealis is visible from August till April, but the best chances are during the polar nights in winter from 8 PM till 2 AM. Chasing the northern lights in Murmansk is still relatively cheap, especially compared to the neighboring Scandinavian countries.
Murmansk is the northernmost city in Russia and one of the largest cities, above the Arctic circle. The city has some interesting attractions such as a nuclear icebreaker as well as all the facilities you need, including kid-friendly accommodation and restaurants.
Visit Murmansk organizes tours in the evening to bring you out of town away from the light pollution. The guides use the latest forecasts to predict where exactly they have the biggest chance of seeing the northern lights and where there are clear skies. If you want to go on your own, you could contact the Polar Geophysical Institute (PGI) in the Kola Peninsula.
Best Time of the Year: August – April
Best Spot: Teriberka
Where to Stay: Aurora Village (glass igloos outside of Murmansk where you can spend the night for a chance to see the northern lights from your bed.)
Best/Recommended Tour: Visit Murmansk
Getting There: To reach Murmansk, you can either fly from Moscow or take the scenic Arktika express from St Petersburg.
Forecast Resources: North For You
Expert Tip: Make sure you wear enough warm clothes, including thermal underwear and, woolen socks as it gets very cold.
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities: Besides chasing the northern lights, there are other kid-friendly activities in the area such as visiting a Sami village, feeding reindeers, snowmobiling, and husky sledding.
#9 Ilulissat, Greenland
Why Greenland? It is sparsely populated and thus, has minimal pollution and artificial light which makes it a perfect destination to witness elusive lights. During the season, you can see them everywhere, literally everywhere, even in the center of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city.
Home to the UNESCO World Heritage Ilulissat icefjord and Disco Bay (massive icebergs), Ilulissat is among the best places to see Northern Lights in Greenland.
Besides Northern Lights, Ilulissat has plenty of other activities for kids to enjoy in winter. Blanketed in the snow with gigantic clear blue icebergs wherever you see, the town looks like stuff dreams are made of.
When to go: September to April
Best Spot: Disco Bay
Where to Stay: Hotel Icefiord
Best Northern Lights Tour: Ilulissat Adventure
Getting There: Fly into Iceland (Reykjavik) or Denmark (Copenhagen) and arrive in Ilulissat via Air Greenland from Keflavik International Airport or Air Iceland Connect from Reykjavik Domestic Airport; via Air Greenland from Kastrup International Airport.
Forecast Resources: Northern Light Aurora Forecast
Expert Tip: If you are coming from Copenhagen, Kangerlussuaq is your best bet to see Northern Lights.
Other Kid-Friendly Day Activities: dog sledding, reindeer sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling, whale watching, see the seals at Polaria, experience the Sami Culture
#10 Malin Head, County Donegal, Ireland
Emer and Nils of Let’s Go Ireland
Northern lights in Ireland are a rare, but unbelievably special sight to behold. Unlike the northern countries, where the northern lights are often seen overhead, the northern lights in Ireland are usually seen on or slightly above the horizon.
This interaction of color, light, and water reflections is particularly phenomenal. The remote location of Malin Head and the surrounding headlands along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route drive are great places to observe the northern lights when the right weather and solar conditions coincide.
These stunning headlands are located far away from major towns and receive very limited light interference resulting in very dark skies. Other areas along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal drive route such as the International Dark Skies Reserve in County Mayo and County Kerry are renowned for their lack of light pollution and are superb locations for stargazing.
Best Time of the Year: November – March
Best Spot: Malin Head
Where to Stay: Barney’s Cottage (a cozy cottage, complete with stove)
Best/Recommended Tour: Self-guided tour
Getting There: Personal or rental car
Expert Tip: Even with the right conditions, you may still need a lot of patience. As the weather is likely to be cold, don’t forget to wrap up warm. Wear an extra pair of socks or even bring a hot water bottle in the car to warm up afterward.
Other Kid-friendly Day Activities: Bundoran in County Donegal is the surfing hotspot in Ireland and a highly suitable place for kids to learn to surf. There are surfing lessons all year round for different surfing abilities. Donegal is also a good place to go whale watching. View the famous Slieve League cliffs by boat as well to get a completely different perspective of one of Ireland’s best highlights.
Hope our list of the best places to see Northern Lights with kids helps you plan a perfect Northern Lights vacation with family. Which one of these places would you like to go to for Northern Lights viewing?
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