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Top Tips for Seeing the Northern Lights

11 August 2023

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (also known as the aurora borealis) are simply magical. A natural phenomenon that is caused by sun flares and solar storms, the glowing green, blue and red colours they produce are out of this world and will make you feel like you’ve been transported into a painting.

Seeing them is often on people’s bucket lists. But it’s no secret that the northern lights are tricky to see. You need the right weather conditions, need to be in the right destination and need to choose the time of year wisely. As there are so many different factors that need to come together in order for the northern lights to appear, it’s clear that sightings aren’t guaranteed and a lot of luck comes with it. But if you are lucky enough to see this natural spectacle, it will be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Read on to find out some useful tips to see the northern lights, which cruise lines offer northern lights cruises and whether you’re able to see them from a cruise ship.

Top Tips to see the Northern Lights

The northern lights in Iceland
The northern lights in Iceland

As mentioned above, the northern lights are a mystical, yet difficult sight to see. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible. There are things you can do that will increase your chance of seeing them.

Venture to the North

The first top tip for seeing the northern lights is to head north. Destinations such as Iceland (Reykjavik), Norway (Svalbard) and Finland (Rovaniemi) are frequently voted as the top places to see the northern lights. Northern European countries are known for being molecular activity hotspots for the northern lights due to their proximity to the magnetic poles and arctic circle.

Cruise Between October and March

Between October and March is known as the northern hemisphere's winter; which is said to be the best time to see the northern lights. The sun sets early, meaning there are long hours of darkness and these polar nights give you lots of time to be able to see the northern lights (as long as there are no clouds in the sky).

Head Away From the City

This might seem obvious, but for the best chance to see the northern lights it’s worth heading away from the city. With less light pollution, it’s more likely that you’ll see the northern lights. And if you’re on a cruise, it’s likely that you’ll be sailing away from the city - or are even heading to destinations that are more remote.

Which Cruise Lines offer Northern Lights Cruises?

Hurtigruten ship
Hurtigruten ship

When people think about northern lights cruises, the first cruise line that will often come to mind is Hurtigruten. However, there are several other cruise lines that offer cruises that visit destinations that are known as hotspots to see this natural phenomenon. These include:

Can You See the Northern Lights on a Cruise?

northern lights
northern lights 

As previously mentioned, one of the best ways to see the northern lights is by opting for a cruise. As there’s less light pollution at sea, if you go at the right time of year and to the right destination, there’s a higher chance of seeing them. And with so many different cruise lines offering cruises that visit northern lights hotspots, you’ll be able to find the best cruise getaway for you.

Can You See the Northern Lights from the UK?

Northern lights in Scotland
Northern lights in Scotland

Although Northern Europe is said to be the best destination for seeing the northern lights, it is possible to see the northern lights from the UK. When the sky is clear of clouds, more remote locations throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern Wales are the best places to witness the northern lights in the UK. Visible around the same months as Northern Europe (October to March), if you’re cruising around the UK around the winter season, you’re in for a chance of seeing them closer to home.

Book a Northern Lights Getaway with Iglu Cruise

Whether you’re looking to cruise to Iceland, Finland or another destination to see the northern lights, Iglu Cruise has a wide selection of extraordinary northern lights cruises on offer. With an array of different cruise lines to choose from, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time!

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