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From Reykjavik to the North Pole, here are the best places to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are a bucket list destination for many travellers.
The Northern Lights are a bucket list destination for many travellers.   -   Copyright  basiczto/Shutterstock
By Lottie Limb

The Northern Lights are putting on a spectacular show in the northern hemisphere at this time of year.

This astral display is not a performance you can book with certainty - it would be far less magical if that were the case. But you can considerably increase your chances by heading north to the spots where they are most-commonly witnessed.

With Aurora Borealis season in full swing until April, there’s still plenty of time to plan a trip around the stunning phenomenon.

Star-gazers in Scotland were able to take some amazing photos of the lights on Saturday, but you typically need to travel much closer to the north pole to get a good look.

Why are the northern lights only seen near the north pole?

The reason for this is that the Northern Lights occur when electrically-charged particles from the sun are captured in the Earth’s magnetic field. These particles then collide with atoms and molecules in our planet’s atmosphere, heating them up into magnificent curtains of colour.

From electric green to bright purples and ribbons of scarlet red, the exact shades of the lights depend on what gases get the star treatment.

A trip to Scandinavia doesn’t seem quite so far when you think that the lights have travelled millions of miles to be there. So where are the most likely places to fulfil this bucket list trip?

The 10 most popular places to see the Northern Lights

Hundreds of holiday packages promise good views of the Aurora Borealis. Analysing TripAdvisor data, outdoors accessories retailer Sealskinz has whittled it down to 10 places where the lights are most frequently seen.

The study found that Finnish towns were listed the most overall, with three - Rovaniemi, Levi and Saariselkä - making the top 10.

Reykjavik in Iceland took the top spot however, offering around 125 different tours. Norwegian, Alaskan and Canadian locations also ranked highly - here they are in full:

10. Saariselkä, Lapland, Finland

Mihai Speteanu/Shutterstock
Saariselkä village in northern Lapland is also a great base for skiing adventures.Mihai Speteanu/Shutterstock

9. Abisko, Sweden

Conny Sjostrom/Shutterstock
Beautiful lavender and green lights cover Abisko village in the Arctic Circle.Conny Sjostrom/Shutterstock

8. North Pole, Alaska

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The small Alaskan city of North Pole is also known for it's year-round Christmas decorations.Burben/Shutterstock

7. Kiruna, Sweden

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Northern Lights shine over the jetty in the Swedish town of Lapland.AlbertoGonzalez/Shutterstock

6. Levi, Lapland, Finland

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Lights arc over Levi, a popular resort in Finnish Lapland.Magdanatka/Shutterstock

5. Yellowknife, Canada

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A breathtaking display above Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories.Ken Phung/Shutterstock

4. Fairbanks, Alaska

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Just up from North Pole, Fairbanks is another spellbinding spot to watch the lights in Alaska.SHailin Chen/Shutterstock

3. Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

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The Aurora Borealis in Rovaniemi - the capital of Lapland and "official" home town of Santa.Canva

2. Tromsø, Norway

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There are around 55 tours from the city of Tromsø in Norway alone.Sea Candy Media/Shutterstock

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

basiczto/Shutterstock.
The Icelandic city has proved to be the most popular place to see the lights.basiczto/Shutterstock.

Time and place are two major parts of the equation. But as clear nights offer the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, you’ll also want to check the weather to avoid clouds and heavy snowfall.

Light pollution can get in the way too, so if you do opt for a city then it’s worth wrapping up warm and heading to the outskirts for an uninhibited view of the natural wonder.