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The Most Epic (and Luxurious) Ways to See the Northern Lights

Chasing the Aurora Borealis, from Iceland to Alaska and the ends of the earth.

Northern Lights Aurora Borealis Tromsø, Norway dog snow sled Photo: Thomas Lipke
Mother Nature is quite the artist, as is evident in her natural creations found throughout the world. Perhaps most fascinating of all her talents, though, is when she paints the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, in the winter night sky.
According to the Library of Congress, the lights have been spotted since ancient times, and some of the earliest known sightings were recorded on a Babylonian tablet in the 6th century B.C. by the official astronomers of King Nebuchadnezzar II. The term Aurora Borealis, or “northern dawn,” was coined in the 1600s when Pierre Gassendi and Galileo Galilei watched the lights on September 12, 1621, according to Neil Bone, author of The Aurora: Sun-Earth Interactions.
Hundreds of years later, the phenomenon continues to fascinate us—so much so that travelers trek thousands of miles across the world to seek them out for even the briefest of glimpse. We found eight luxurious ways and places to (fingers crossed!) spot the majestic lights in all their glory. Let the light show begin…

 

Denali National Park, Alaska

Perhaps one of the most exclusive spots to view the Northern Lights is Sheldon Chalet, a five-bedroom luxury mountain retreat set upon five private acres within Alaska’s Denali National Park. Fronted by the Alaska Range and within 10 miles of Denali’s summit, the family-run chalet is accessible only by air or helicopter service from Anchorage and nearby Talkeetna. That’s not to say you’re on your own upon arrival: An on-site concierge and guide ensure you stay active (or not), and the resident chef prepares mouth-watering meals featuring flavors of Alaska’s bounty. (Available year-round; pricing from $2,300 per person, per night.)

aurora borealis northern lights Denali national park Alaska

Denali National Park’s Sheldon Chalet  Photo: Chris Burkard

 

Southern Iceland

When it comes to viewing the Northern Lights, the area of Southern Iceland in which Hotel Ranga is located is considered one of the best places in the world. Fortunately, a stay at the hotel is part of the four-night Northern Lights in Iceland fully-customizable itinerary offered by Scott Dunn. In addition to watching the lights dance overhead, your time in Iceland may be spent exploring Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, as well as hiking on glaciers. (Available through March 2019, and October 2019 through March 2020; pricing begins at $4,600 per person in low season, and $5,600 per person in high season.)

waterfall northern lights Iceland aurora borealis

The Aurora Borealis at Iceland’s Skógafoss Waterfall  Photo: Courtesy of Scott Dunn

 

Tromsø, Norway

Spend time touring Tromsø, Norway and the neighboring islands of Kvaløya, Breivikeidet, and the South Lyngen region by chauffeured Tesla, available to you 24/7, when you book the three-night Aurora in Bed itinerary with Off the Map Travel. When you’ve finished for the day, return to Villa Telegrafbukta for meals prepared by your own private chef. Afterward, bundle up and snuggle in for a night of viewing the Aurora Borealis on your private rooftop balcony, complete with a king-size bed outfitted with layers of sheep’s wool, pillows, and goose-down duvets. The adjoining master bedroom features floor-to-ceiling sliding windows for indoor viewings, too. (Available through March 2019, and September 2019 through March 2020; pricing begins at $3,089 per person, based on a group of six adults.)

Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Norway bed view

Off the Map Travel’s Aurora in Bed Experience  Photo: Ole Mortensen

 

Lofoten Islands

Set sail aboard a private yacht in search of the Aurora Borealis when you customize a Lofoten Islands: Ski and Sail Beneath the Northern Lights itinerary with Black Tomato. Not only will you enjoy time cruising Norway’s picturesque fjords, but carving its world-class powder slopes, too. On this trip, you’ll want to get your sea and ski legs ready. (Available through May 2019, and February through May 2020; pricing from $7,467 per person.)

northern lights lofoten islands Norway aurora borealis

The Aurora Borealis at Lofoten Islands  Photo: Steve King

 

Lapland

It was a small expedition hosted by Geoffrey Kent, co-founder of Abercrombie & Kent, in March 2018 that inspired the outfitter’s nine-day Northern Lights of Lapland journey. Over the course of the trip, guests travel above the Arctic Circle in search of the lights in Finnish and Swedish Lapland, as well as cruise aboard an icebreaker, try their hands at ice fishing, and enjoy dogsledding and snowshoeing en route. (Available December 2019, and January through March 2020; pricing from $8,395 per person.)

Dogsledding in Lapland with Abercrombie & Kent  Photo: Courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent

 

Scandinavia

Butterfield & Robinson invites you to strap on a pair of snowshoes and seek out the Northern Lights in the Scandinavian countryside as part of its fully-customizable six-night Scandinavia Winter Journey. For more relaxed viewing experiences, you’ll also enjoy overnight stays at inspired hotels, including glass-domed igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland, and Arctic view rooms at Santa’s Hotel Aurora in Luosto Village. (Available through March 2019, and December 2019 through March 2020; pricing begins at $9,995 per person.)

northern lights aurora borealis Scandinavia arctic

The Northern Lights at Santa’s Hotel Aurora  Photo: Courtesy of Butterfield & Robinson

 

Northern Finland

If you’d rather sit and stay awhile to watch the lights dance overhead, make reservations at the 13-room Jávri Lodge in the far north of Finland. Though its location is 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, you’ll enjoy personalized concierge service to ensure your stay meets every expectation. When it comes to meals, local and organic ingredients, like fish from Lake Inari and cloudberries, are thoughtfully prepared and represent the flavors of Lapland. (Available through April 2019, and August 2019 through April 2020; pricing from $1,920 per room, per night, based on double occupancy.)

northern lights aurora borealis Finland Finnish Lapland

The Northern Lights at Jávri Lodge  Photo: Courtesy of Jávri Lodge

 

Tromsø, Norway

Take the reins and guide your team of reindeer through the night in search of the Northern Lights. Or watch the show surrounded by 350 huskies. You can even sail under the lights aboard a 12-passenger polar catamaran. These are all options available on Kensington Tours’ five-day In Search of the Northern Lights voyage through Tromsø, Norway. According to the outfitter, “Tromsø is right in the middle of the planet’s Northern Lights belt, and any flare of solar storms on the surface of the sun will be spotted here.” (Available through March 2019, and December 2019 through March 2020; pricing from $2,180 per person.)

Northern Lights Aurora Borealis Tromsø, Norway

The Aurora Borealis in Tromsø, Norway  Photo: Marcelo Quinan

 

 

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