Why Abisko is the Best Place to Experience Northern Lights

Experiencing the spectacular Northern Lights is probably everyone’s dream, although standing in freezing cold weather for hours in the darkness waiting and hoping for the lights to appear might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Abisko: 200km north of the Arctic Circle

In January, I visited Abisko in (very) northern Sweden, one of the best known places in Lapland. My trip included standing for up to four hours in -40°F in complete darkness, but the spectacular northern lights phenomenon was worth the wait and the pain.

Abisko is also where “Kungsleden” starts, the country’s biggest and most famous trail which measures over 400km and attracts thousands of hardcore nature-lovers every year.

In the winter, though, people travel there to see fluorescent green lights dancing in the sky and experience the arctic circle’s dark winter days. As a matter of fact, the sun almost never rises during the season. However, as many of you imagine it being completely dark, note that it is more close to “dawn” for a few hours per day, with the snow playing a big role in brighting up the atmosphere.

Lonely Planet’s best spot for Auroras

The UN has named 2015 the International “Year of Light” and Lonely Planet chose Abisko as the number one place (in a top 10 released last year) to experience the Northern Lights. What makes this location a great spot is the likelihood of clear skies due to its geographical position. Abisko is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, which often help in keeping clouds away and increasing the number of clear nights.

A cloudless sky is essential for you to experience the Northern Lights and so is complete darkness. So, being anywhere in Lapland is not enough. You ought to find the right spot far from any kind of light pollution and hope that no clouds get in the way.

As we are talking about nature and not fiction, Northern Lights might take time to appear. They start by being weak and fade with the sky, which is the main reason why, at first, they are often confused with clouds. However, experts told me there that the way to differentiate a could from an “aurora” at its early stage, is to check if stars are still visible behind it. Clouds would impede the view of anything they cover, while northern lights don’t.

Never go without a good camera

One great piece of advice is not to travel all the way to Lapland without a very good camera and a tripod. If you rely on your iPhone, you will end up with a number of pitch black shots which could be quite disappointing. So, make sure you have a high quality device with you which is able to shoot pictures with high exposure.

If you don’t have a good camera (like in my case), you can rent one there through organised expeditions. I took all the photos below in Abisko this winter:

Why Abisko is the Best Place to Experience Northern Lights -- Why Abisko is the Best Place to Experience Northern Lights - Why Abisko is the Best Place to Experience Northern Lights



Sometimes you just want to capture the spectacle that is natural phenomena. Atmoph may help you do that!: