According to NASA, 2013 and 2014 are going to be stellar years for seeing the Northern Lights as the sun is being unusually active and sending off the vital solar flares needed to trigger the polar light displays. You still need an awful lot of luck and some planning to see them. Here are five spots to chose from:
Old Post Office guesthouse is in this delightful small fishing town on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula in north-west Iceland. Book early and get a north-facing room to ensure maximum viewing potential. Then all you have to do is pray for a cloudless night and some aurora action.
2. Tromso (Norway)
Rumoured to be the best of the best, chiefly because of its latitude (at almost 70o North, it’s more than 350km north of the Arctic Circle). The place is well kitted out for visitors with modern hotels, small guesthouses, homestays and even fishermen’s cabins that are very cosy and romantic for winter stays.
3. Kiruna (Sweden)
Sweden’s most northerly town. Its major claim to fame used to be the world’s largest underground iron ore mine but increasingly now it is the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, about the perfect location to see the aurora.
4. Luosto (Finland)
Luosto is a low-key ski resort in Arctic Finland and a personal favourite of mine. Reserve a sleeping compartment in the overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi for added romance, then catch the bus from the station along the ice road. Some hotels have log cabins with roaring log fire and in-cabin saunas, which are about as romantic as it gets!
5. Fairbanks, Alaska (US)
Fairbanks is quite a bit further north than Anchorage so it gets well into the major zone of Northern Lights activity. It’s probably the least wild and most accessible of all five of these destinations but as it’s a larger city you’ll need to try to get out of town reduce the city lights interrupting your viewing. There are several lights tours that can take you to the best spots.