Northern Lights in Lapland

One of the darkest skies in the world blankets Lapland, making it one of the best hunting grounds for the Northern Lights. Long Arctic nights and near-zero light pollution make for a perfect storm of viewing conditions. Look up, and you’ll encounter a mind-bendingly huge bowl of stars and – if you’re lucky – the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights are shape shifters. They’re different every time you see them. You might catch a foggy smoke that billows spookily across the sky, or you might be treated to a lightshow of neon colours. They might move slowly like a curtain or they might whip from horizon to stars. Sometimes, they might not turn up at all.

Ali McLean, from our Lapland vacation specialist Activities Abroad & the Aurora Zone:
“I joined everybody else outside and witnessed the best auroral display I have ever seen. There were stair rods of blue, green, red, pink and yellow light, an absolutely amazing sight which had even the locals staring open mouthed at the night sky.”

The perks of seeing the Northern Lights in Lapland? They perform above a stage of frozen lakes and silent forests sunk under snow. You might have to snowshoe out of town to see them, or you might catch them as you’re sledding through taiga forests. These are remote, cathedral-quiet landscapes. The only sounds will be you, your companions, and the rustle of moose avoiding you. Curiosity peaked? Read on to find how to see the Northern Lights in Lapland.

What are the Northern Lights?

Dancing maidens, said the Vikings. Sparks from the tail of a running Arctic fox, according to Finnish legend. Mist from huffing and puffing whales, reckon coastal Sámi communities. Good luck, says Sweden; harbingers of doom, said medieval clerics. Scientists have another contribution: they’re charged particles from the sun crashing into gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere.
Whichever version you decide to go with, a great guide will be as good (and as entertaining) at explaining the science as the legends. In fact, traveling with an experienced tour operator is as essential as your long johns and camera in this white wilderness. Lapland Northern Lights vacations have all the cliffhanger excitement of a safari – including the guarantee that sightings are never guaranteed. But just like a safari, it’ll still be one of the most exciting vacations you’ll take.

The Northern Lights do their thing all year round in Lapland, but you’re much more likely to spot them between September and March. That’s when the nights are at their longest and darkest, serving up just three hours of daylight in December. Who needs fireworks when you could see the Northern Lights on New Year’s Eve?

Our top Lapland Vacation

Northern lights family vacation, tailor made

Northern lights family vacation, tailor made

A mix of Lapland family activities and a relaxing Spa hotel

From £1225 to £2250 4 days inc UK flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Lapland or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

What do Northern Lights vacations
in Lapland entail?

Go, go, go

Some vacations include a Northern Lights viewing trip on an itinerary; others are designed to maximise your opportunities of seeing the Northern Lights. If you’ve got your heart set on seeing the elusive lights, then you want the latter.

There’s no rest for aurora borealis chasers, so you’ll be out every night – whether that’s setting out to a dedicated Aurora Camp for a three-hour skygazing session or going for a sleigh ride at midnight. In Swedish Lapland, you can ride a snowmobile-pulled sled to an amazing Aurora Hideaway, a cabin on skis which can be moved around within the frozen landscape to find the best spot for watching the skies. You might also chase the lights on snowshoes or be wrestling with a husky sled, so a certain level of fitness is often required.

A Northern Lights vacation is never just a Northern Lights vacation, either. It’ll be packed with other optional activities, such as mushing huskies over frozen rivers, ice fishing on a lake, snowshoeing through cotton-white forests, or cross country skiing. As they tend to be all-out activity vacations, you won’t need much more than a week.

Sweden or Finland?

Northern Lights trips zoom in on Swedish Lapland and Finnish Lapland. Sweden is a great pick for high-design hotels like the Treehotel and Icehotel. Meanwhile, Finland is especially family-friendly, largely because Santa’s HQ is here. That also means that most of Lapland’s visitors land here, resulting in a huge range of activities that include amethyst mine trips and Sámi museums. Wherever you go, vacations tend to choose a city or forest lodge as a base and day trip out from there.
Depending on which Northern Lights vacation you choose, you might stay in a wilderness log cabin, a spa hotel in the ski village of Luosto, a family-run hotel on Lake Inari, with a Sámi reindeer herding community in Menesjärvi, or at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland. Often, the reception staff will offer you a buzzer that’ll wake you up if there’s auroral activity in the night.

You’ll also get the chance to learn about the life and culture of the local Sámi communities. Visit a reindeer herder at a Sámi camp in Sweden or celebrate New Year with them. Who knows – you might catch the Northern Lights as you’re barbecuing reindeer over an open fire.

Small group & tailor made

Most vacations are small group trips that get you traveling in a group of 4-24 people. Prefer to go your own way? Tailor made vacations tweak everything from activities to timings to the preferences of your party. That way, you can sneak in as much sauna time as you please.
Photo credits: [Page banner: adege] [Intro: Pexels] [What are the Northern Lights?: Vincent Guth] [Sweden or Finland?: Giuseppe Milo]