If you’ve never experienced the northern lights, close up is the best way to do it. Away from light pollution and the hustle and bustle of daily life, you’ll find several ice hotels that show aurora borealis at its best.
Courtesy of Asaf Kliger, ICEHOTEL
1/9 Sweden: Icehotel
It’s the world’s original ice hotel, and Icehotel Sweden is an unbeatable place to view aurora borealis. It’s 70 miles from Abisko National Park, known for being a top viewing spot for the northern lights. The hotel has both warm and cold rooms for accommodations – yes, you can stay in a room surrounded by ice. They recommend you do at least one night in each room type. But if you’re there only for the lights, consider their Northern Light photography package or view the lights from snowmobile – both adventures you can book from the hotel’s website.
2/9 Finland: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Northern Light season is a thing here, and it lasts all the way from August through April. The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort gives guests the perfect viewing spot – glass igloos so you can fall asleep with the lights and the stars dancing overhead. There are also snow igloos and log chalets if sleeping in a glass dome isn’t appealing. The kids will love that they can live Santa’s home, just a short drive from the resort.
3/9 Iceland: ION Adventure Hotel
A relatively quick drive from trendy Reykjavik is the ION Adventure Hotel, located in the beautiful Icelandic countryside and just waiting for you to come, relax, and take in the breathtaking views of the northern lights. The hotel capitalizes on the area’s main attraction with a northern lights bar, but the big draw here is the adventure choices: a glacier hike, helicopter rides, volcano exploration, snorkeling and kayaking – just to name a few! You’re also close to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4/9 Canada: Blachford Lake Lodge and Wilderness Resort
Yellowknife is one of the most popular places in Canada to view the northern lights. The best season to go is either mid-August through mid-October, or late December through mid-April. If you’d rather have a rustic feel on your stay, the Blachford Lake Lodge and Wilderness Resort has cabin-themed accommodations and homey comfort. There is absolutely no light pollution to hinder your view here — there are no roads to the lodge; it’s accessible only by floats in the summer and bush planes in the winter. You can check out the incredible views from your room, the dining room, lounge, tipis, the hot tub, and two viewing decks.
5/9 Norway: Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
If you want to experience the lights from the northernmost ice hotel, the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Norway is your best bet. It’s built entirely of ice and snow and has 30 rooms. The hotel caters to people chasing the aurora borealis, offering several winter walking routes and viewing spots. They also have a guided tour available for guests. One of the nicest features of any vacation this far north – there serenity and silence.
6/9 Greenland: Hotel Arctic
You can’t get much further north than 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Well, at least not comfortably. In Greenland, you’ll find stellar views of the northern lights and the northernmost four star hotel in the world – Hotel Arctic. You can stay in an igloo and get the full aurora borealis treatment, or opt for one of their luxurious (and warm) suites.
7/9 Alaska: Alyeska Resort
About 30 miles from the city of Anchorage is Alaska’s Alyeska Resort, one of the highest rated hotel and resorts in the state of Alaska. Surrounded by breathtaking mountains, the northern lights are far from the only appeal here. This place is popular with mountain bikers, so bring your gear if you want to indulge in one of their many trails.
8/9 Alaska: Borealis Basecamp
Just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, is the new Borealis Basecamp, which opened in December 2017. Providing individual dome accommodations with clear view of the skies above, Basecamp rests across 100 acres of land. The domes provide 16 feet of roof views from your warm rooms that include kitchenettes, private bathrooms and elegant interiors. A yurt serves as communal space for visitors, where dining includes three meals daily.
9/9 Scotland: Skywalker Hostel
To see the aurora here, travelers should get as far away from any city or street light as possible, and the further north the better! The Isle of Skye—aka Cloud Island—is a charming destination in Scotland with a charming hostel to match. Skyewalker Hostel allows travelers to lose themselves in a world of stars with its stargazing dome. A clear view of the Northern horizon will give you a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Nearby, the coast of Caithness, Loch Lochmond and the Cairngorms National Park are worthy aurora stops, too.
By Anna Schaefer