The aurora borealis, or northern lights as they’re commonly known, are a beacon for many global travelers. They are visible from more than ten countries, almost all located in the Arctic, and can often be observed simply by being in the right place at the right time. In an effort to lure tourists, some tour operators are getting creative in their offerings. Guests can sleep in glass hotels, soak in hot springs, and even stay in hexagonal chalets on rugged mountain peaks. But if you’re looking for the ultimate way to swoon your partner on your next trip up north, these are the five most unique ways to see the northern lights.
1. By towed sled in Iceland
How frustrating it can be to spend hours waiting for the northern lights, only to learn that your location is a bit off for the day’s best viewing. Travel company Off The Map decided to ease the pain by offering two mobile methods for the enthusiastic aurora seeker. One method is a moving sled with a cabin on the back underneath the stars of Iceland. Guests can lie down and watch the show from their comfortable, enclosed porch with the ability to move on if it appears the viewing is better further down trail.
2. By traditional rowboat in Sweden
Off The Map’s second unique option takes travelers off-land and onto a traditional rowboat on Sweden’s Torne River, for the ultimate Little Mermaid vibes. Local beverage and snack options on board add to the ambiance.
3. By reindeer-drawn sleigh in Finland
Another equally mobile (and strikingly romantic) option is to take a seven-night sleigh ride through the snow-capped hills outside of Harriniva, Finland. Over the course of a week, you’ll snowshoe, eat local cuisine, and spend the evenings chasing down the northern lights. With a full week to spare, you’re bound to catch the perfect view of the lights at least one night.
4. Hang out with whales in Norway
How about a bit of whale watching to go with those swirling colors? Discover The World runs four-night trips in both Norway and Iceland that pair adventurous outings of whale watching during the day with evenings spent under the stars and the dancing northern lights.
5. Or with polar bears in Canada
The town of Churchill in Manitoba’s Northeast Corner abuts the massive Hudson Bay. The area is home to polar bears, 300 nights per year of Aurora Borealis displays, and the wisely trademarked TundraBuggy — perhaps the most unique vehicle ever built for adventures in the wilderness. This contraption looks like a tour bus mated with a life-size Tonka truck. Despite the awkward appearance, the vehicle comes fully equipped for voyages out into polar bear country that offer incredible views of the northern lights.