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What's the Best Way to Explore Northern Lights in Sweden

Read on about nature’s ultimate light show and how to make the most out of your trip

|March 15, 2021
Ruta is a country-hopper, having lived in 6 different countries, but Vilnius is the city where she always returns. She enjoys chasing the latest travel trends and creating soul-filled content.

Sweden is one of the top destinations on Earth to see nature's most mesmerizing light show – the Northern Lights. From the Vikings to scientists, plenty of old tales and scientific research have surrounded this illuminative phenomenon. With such a unique palette of glittering colors painted over the sky, it's no surprise why it has spiked the curiosity of humankind for centuries.

If you wish to observe the polar lights, you can visit Stockholm and then head to Lapland or venture off to the final destination from the get-go. You can see all the colors from Stockholm, but the chances are slimmer and they won't be as bright. For those who come for a short visit, staying in the capital is a great option nonetheless.  

wooden cabin in sweden near northern lights

As a dedicated aurora chaser seeking to embrace the full experience, traveling to the northernmost part of Sweden is worth the effort. Let's dive into what you need to know before your trip to see this natural event, including where to stay and which season to travel.

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are nature's creation appearing in the sky, visible above both magnetic poles in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Both locations have distinct names: Aurora Borealis in the north and Aurora Australis in the south. In short, this phenomenon is the result of the interaction between the solar winds and the planet's magnetic fields. 

This dance of light is a naturally-induced occurrence stimulated by electrically-charged particles. When the protons and electrons originate from the solar wind and collide with the particles in the Earth's atmosphere, they discharge energy. The release of energy causes the appearance of the Northern Lights.

explanation on how do northern lights appear scheme

Why the different colors? In most instances, you get to see green, yellow, blue, yellow, purple, and rarely, white or orange. The color spectrum of the lights depends on the type of gas involved in the process. For example, if the colors are in the shades of blue, then nitrogen is dominating. If the prevalent color is green, it originates because of low-lying oxygen. The same principle applies to generating all colors. Everything depends on the elements involved, their speed, and their charge. 

Another contributing factor is from what distance you see the auroras. They appear the most vividly at a distance of approximately 62 miles (100 km) above the ground and stretch up to 18.5 miles (30 km). With that said, you can simply choose an observation spot anywhere in Lapland dedicated to stargazing. 

When’s the best time of year to see the Northern Lights?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Sweden depends on how dark it is at night. The peak season runs throughout the winter, from the end of September until mid-spring. Since the sun is always up during the summertime, you won't be able to spot the Aurora Borealis due to the brightness. 

As the aurora is much dimmer than sunlight, you can't see its rays from the ground during the day. Whereas in January or February in the northern parts of Sweden, everything is pitch black for 24 hours every day. The dark sky and snow-white surroundings create the perfect conditions to illuminate the polar lights' beauty.  

happy people posing for a picture near northern lights

Prepare to arm yourself with a bit of patience. Nature is unpredictable, so the spectacle is not guaranteed every night. There is no exact time when the lights will appear. But your best bet is to be ready from 8 pm to 3 am. So, make sure you're well-rested and you have a cup of coffee at hand if needed. 

Where can I watch the Aurora Borealis?

Sweden is one of the best places to watch the aurora in the Northern Hemisphere due to its variety of specifically-suited locations. You will undoubtedly come across the region of Lapland, which lies in the middle of the area, known as the Northern Lights Belt. 

While Swedish Lapland is the region to see the polar lights, you still get to choose from many settlements devoted to the purpose. Abisko National Park, Kiruna, Jokkmokk, and Jukkasjärvi are among the most popular locations to spot the Aurora Borealis.  

snowmobiles lined up in winter with northern lights above in sweden

If the majestic Northern Lights are the reason for your trip to Sweden, the Aurora Sky Station won’t leave you disappointed. The station is ideal for first-time visitors because it has an observation tower and the location’s climate offers clear skies. Having professionals ready to help or satisfy your curiosity about the phenomenon also comes as a bonus. 

Every place has its perks depending on your interests, whether you’re into photography, culture, or you just want to observe the Northern Lights with your own eyes. Whichever case it is, dedicate some time to weigh your options or simply consult with local travel experts for the best experience.  

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