Best Places to Stay: Northern Lights

If you’ve never seen the northern lights, there’s still time to catch the spectacular display this year. The aurora borealis–named, aptly, after the Roman goddess of dawn and the Greek word for the north wind–can appear on a clear night from September through April, and is often at its most intense in February and March.

Here are three stand-out lodges that will get you up close and personal:

 Lyngen LodgeDjupvik, Norway (from $322 per person, including meals)

Sandwiched between fjord and mountain, this cozy grass-roofed lodge overlooks Norwegian tundra, through which guests can mush a team of sled dogs. Evening photography tutorials demonstrate how to capture the surest shots of the aurora borealis, and nighttime wake-up calls guarantee guests will be out of bed and camera ready when the northern lights put on their show.

■ Forest Hotel: Tärendö, Sweden (from $241)

The vast, light-pollution-free skies capping this family-run wilderness retreat on the banks of the frozen Tärendö River, in Swedish Lapland, offer an IMAX-worthy screen for the aurora borealis. Guests can chase it on snowshoes, cross-country skis, or nocturnal snowmobile safaris. For warmer cultural immersions, choose a reindeer barbecue in a native Sami tepee or a birchwood-fire sauna.

 Ion Hotel: Nesjavellir, Iceland (from $276, including breakfast)

Surrounded by hot springs, lava fields, and glaciers, this Icelandic hotel features glass walls, recycled wood, and guest rooms adorned with photographs of the famous Icelandic horses, some of which are nearby, ready for riding. Glacier walks offer another eco-adventure. Back in the hotel bar, guests can toast picture-window views of the shimmering spectacle with local microbrews.

This piece, reported by Raphael Kadushin, appeared in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.


  1. Nass Osmandatter
    February 1, 2014, 10:53 pm

    Would love to see this amazing phenomenon one day!

  2. Clara Dowgialo
    February 1, 2014, 1:33 pm

    I never saw nice Auroras in Sweden or Norway – they were always weak and monochromatic (green only, no reds or purples). You can see better ones in Canada at a lower latitude (even in the cities) than what’s being suggested here.

  3. Ben
    Ann Arbor, MI
    February 1, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Where are the best places to view the northern lights in the lower 48 States? I want to consider driving somewhere over Spring break to watch them

  4. Ross
    Las Vegas, Nevada USA
    February 1, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Thanks to Alex and Steve for hammering home the old stereotypes of the frugal Scots. ;-)

  5. Betty
    February 1, 2014, 11:13 am

    I paddled under them in the Boundary Waters once. Absolutly incredible!

  6. Antonio Fernandez
    Florida, USA
    February 1, 2014, 5:23 am

    Few years ago we saw the Northern Lights in Denali NP, Alaska in September and it was incredible next to a total solar eclipse experienced in Costa Rica the best experiences of our life. Go for it!

  7. Stefan Senft
    February 1, 2014, 4:25 am

    GO to FT, Smith – North West Territorien , have a Look in my f Account or

  8. Jessika Fairbarn
    Costa Mesa, CA
    February 1, 2014, 2:49 am

    I like the way you think Steven Burke.

  9. vladka bobić
    February 1, 2014, 2:23 am

    Ovo bih voljela vidjeti,ali novac je veliki prob lem.

  10. Alan Duff Paudarco
    Ullabator, Mangolia
    February 1, 2014, 12:39 am

    Best View was at Kathmandu,Nepal when I visited.

  11. Walker Harrison
    Comox Canada
    February 1, 2014, 12:35 am

    Northern Canada has awesome displays of the northern lights and I am certain you can find many nice lodges that cater to light seekers. Was on the outskirts of Edmonton, out of the city lights, 2 years ago and saw an awesome display and Edmonton is a little south for the lights.

  12. Antonio Luis E. Kilayko
    January 28, 2014, 3:56 pm

    Spectacular photos, never seen here in the Philippines.
    I explore the rest of the world through National Geographic.

  13. Alex
    January 25, 2014, 1:20 am

    It says ‘best’ places to stay not cheapest.

    Trust a Scotsman to point this out!

  14. kay
    January 24, 2014, 8:51 pm

    Saw amazing northern lights in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

  15. steven burke
    nairn scotland
    January 23, 2014, 5:21 pm

    hire a camper van and go on the ferry for 10 days, you will save on average $2000,