These Are the Most Popular Destinations to See Northern Lights This Year, According to Expedia

Remote locations with little light pollution are key for peak colors, Expedia said.

<p>Milamai/Getty Images</p>

Milamai/Getty Images

Catching the glorious colors of the northern lights in the night sky takes planning, patience, and a dose of luck. But the one factor that can best elevate your chances for a spectacular spotting is going to the right place. So as part of Expedia’s Northern Lights Guide, the travel booking site has revealed its top 10 trending northern lights destinations.

Based on annual growth of searches, the top destination expected to be the most popular for lights-chasing travelers is Lapland, Finland, which saw a staggering 370 percent growth.

In fact, the entire Scandinavian country was a top choice for Americans with a 215 percent growth from 2022 to 2023, especially for popular aurora-hunting sites, Rovaniemi and Inari. Those looking to save should hone in on October. Not only is it the beginning of the late September to late March peak period, but Lapland hotels average $216 per night, which is $250 less a night than in December.

In second place was Churchill, Canada, which had a 110 percent growth in searches. But it wasn’t the nation’s only city on the list. Banff claimed the fifth spot with an 80 percent growth, and Jasper in the seventh spot with a 70 percent growth.

The third and fourth spots went to a pair of Norwegian cities, Alta — the world’s northernmost city — with 100 percent growth, and Narvik with 90 percent. With the aurora season running from fall to spring here, the most strategic times tend to be March, April, September, and October, Expedia said.

Kalfafell, Iceland, tied Banff for the fifth place spot, also with 80 percent growth, while the United Kingdom’s Isle of Skye came in eighth with 75 percent growth.

Finally, two Swedish cities rounded out the list, with Abisko with 65 percent growth and Kiruna with 55 percent.

While no U.S. destinations made the top 10, several did also see more interest. Searches for Michigan, where peak months are April, October, and November went up 20 percent, as did Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, near the Canadian border, which shows its best lights in fall and winter. And of course popular northern lights-chasing state, Alaska, with a lengthy season from late August through mid-April saw a 15 percent growth.

Expedia's all-encompassing guide also includes the best places to stay, key times to go, and tips for getting the best northern lights photos to capture the experience.

“Patience is key and experimenting with your camera settings is the secret sauce to capturing the Northern Lights,” nature photographer Dave Sandford said in the Expedia release, shared with Travel + Leisure. “That said, don’t forget to savor the moment. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been fortunate to see them in person, I always make a point to put the camera down and lose myself in the extraordinary experience of the Northern Lights.”  

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