5 Cheapest Places to See The Northern Lights

For many, seeing the Northern Lights is the ultimate bucket list item but is it possible to do on a budget?

The great new is yes – it is possible! And so here’s our top 5 cheapest places to see the Northern Lights with all the costs you can expect for travel, accommodation and activities. 

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2024 is the Year to See the Northern Lights

Before we get stuck in, it’s worth knowing that if you have always wanted to see the Northern Lights, it’s a great year for it.

You see, they’re mainly sparked by activity happening on the surface of the sun and guess what… The sun is going to be super active this year!

If you’re interested in the science, the Northern Lights (also known as aurora borealis) are a stunning natural light display caused by particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. This phenomenon creates vibrant colours in the sky, which you can see mainly see in polar regions like the Arctic Circle.

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The sun operates on 11-year cycles of activity, with 2024 marking the ‘solar maximum’ or the peak of activity within this cycle. During the solar maximum, the sun emits more particles than usual, so it’s when the Northern Lights are at their brightest and there are more opportunities to catch sight of them.

In normal people speak: 2024 is gonna be a fantastic year for Northern Lights.

The Cheapest Places to See The Northern Lights

As much as we’d all love to lay out in £600 a night glass cabins as we gaze up at the Northern Lights, it’s not a reality for most of us!

But the good news is there are still plenty of options for those of us who want to see the Northern Lights on a budget.

1. Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland 🇫🇮

Cheapest Places to See The Northern Lights

Is Rovaniemi a Good Place To See the Northern Lights?

Northern Finland is all about snow, reindeer, and you guessed it – seeing the Northern Lights! Rovaniemi, the Finnish Lapland capital, is where the Northern Lights tours kick off. The best time to hit up this part of the world for the aurora is between Autumn and Spring, from August to April. Just keep your eyes on those clear night skies between 9pm and 2am for the best show.

Add the location on the My Aurora Forecast & Alerts app to receive Northern Lights visibility alerts and insight on the best places to see them.

Is Rovaniemi a Cheap Place To See the Northern Lights?

Out of all the Nordic countries and popular Northern Lights destinations, Finland is one of the cheapest places to see the Northern Lights for both cost of living and travel.

As well as finding the lights, you could also give snowshoeing a shot or maybe try your hand at ice fishing for £73. If you decide to go in December for a festive jaunt, you could swing by Santa Claus Village for a husky sleigh ride for £43. There’s plenty of cool stuff to do!

In Rovaniemi, you’ll find affordable accommodations like cosy cabins and guesthouses, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious travellers. Hostel dorm beds start at £30 per night, while hotel rooms start at £50 per night.

How Much Does It Cost To Travel to Rovaniemi from the UK?

The massive win for this Northern Lights destination is that you can fly direct to Rovaniemi from Liverpool and London – we found flights in February for just £30 return.

Otherwise, you’d need to fly to Helsinki first before catching another flight. That, or you can take the 9 hour 40 mins Santa Claus Express train from the capital from £50pp one way. We bet the views are epic!

2. Abisko, Swedish Lapland 🇸🇪

Is Abisko a Good Place To See the Northern Lights?

Abisko is situated in the north of Sweden in an area known as Swedish Lapland. It also happens to be in the centre of the ‘aurora oval’ – a ring-shaped area around the magnetic North Pole which is where the Northern Lights manifest.

Thanks to its central position, it’s actually often more about how clear the skies are as to whether you’ll spot the lights for yourself. In fact, it’s been said that if you spend three nights in the area, you have an 80% chance of spotting them.

You can easily test the theory out for yourself by checking the online webcam during the Northern Lights season. 

In fact, I just checked and this was from the webcam in the last 24 hours!


When Chelsea, our Cheap Holiday Expert founder, did her own trip there last March she struck gold on the second night. Whilst the best views are often away from any other lights, she was even able to see them from the window of her hostel.

Is Abisko a Cheap Place To See the Northern Lights?

Before you baulk at the idea of heading to spendy Scandinavia, let us set your mind at ease. Of all the Nordic countries, Sweden is one of the cheapest places to see the Northern Lights. Plus, the town of Abisko is incredibly affordable.

With one local supermarket, you may expect the prices to be mind blowing but they’re surprisingly fair. At the supermarket a local beer cost £1.01, a packet of tortellini was £2.10, a jar of pesto was £2.47 and a flapjack was £2.50!

In terms of accommodation, there are lots of hostels to choose from and you can easily find a shared room for around £30 a night. Chelsea first stayed at Abisko net Hostel & Huskies which cost her £32.70 a night. That includes linen hire and a towel which are a one off charge, so it works out cheaper if you stay longer. Whilst basic, it was clean, had an amazing community vibe and an epic sauna.

A 40-minute walk away is the STF Turistation which has a range of accommodation including hostel rooms, private rooms and cabins. Chelsea stayed in a shared room for £70.22 a night. This price includes a one off linen hire, towel and non-member fee. Whilst there, Chelsea enjoyed a three-course meal in the restaurant with bread, tea and coffee for £38. Plus, it came with the most amazing views!

How Much Does It Cost To Travel to Abisko from the UK?

The first step is to get yourself to the Swedish capital of Stockholm. You can actually reach it by train in 24 hours – though we’d only recommend this if you were using an interrail pass as it gets pricey! – but flying is the quicker and more affordable option.

You can fly direct to Stockholm from London, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh from £24 return – just make sure to check what airport you’re flying into as some options are quite far away from the city.

Then for getting to Abisko, you can fly to Kiruna from Sweden’s capital, Stockholm and then travel 1 hour 22 mins by car to Abisko. The cheapest round trip we found was £185 but it can easily reach over £300 return.

However, more affordable – and in our opinion, more fun! – is to get the overnight train from Stockholm Central Station up to Abisko. The cheapest seat we could find was £62 one way and the cheapest shared couchette starts around £89 one way.

Private compartments will cost significantly more but if you’d prefer to do that, I’d recommend getting an interrail pass as Chelsea scored a compartment all to herself by just paying £80.19 one way on top of her pass.

If you're desperate to try out a sleeper train, the UK has some brilliant options. Here's the best and cheapest UK sleeper trains to try out.

3. Tromsø, Norway

Cheapest Places to See The Northern Lights

Is Tromsø a Good Place To See the Northern Lights?

Tromsø is located in Northern Norway on the Island of Tromsøya, and offers one of the most dazzling Northern Lights displays in the world. Mainly because it’s smack in the middle of the aurora oval and just over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The place is also surrounded by killer fjords and epic mountains, giving you some incredible backdrops as you soak in the lights. The city even throws a Northern Lights Festival at the end of January.

The best times to see Tromsø’s celestial spectacles are from late September to mid-April – that’s when the days are shorter. Bear in mind that during the Polar Night season (from late November to mid-January), the sun doesn’t rise, so whilst there’s a hint of twilight from 9am to 2pm, otherwise, it’s pretty dark. Download the Norway Lights app for forecasts and the best spots to catch the lights.

Is Tromsø a Cheap Place To See the Northern Lights?

Whilst Norway is not a cheap destination, it is still possible to travel to Tromsø on a budget – you just have to be savvy! Plus, thanks to it being a student city, it’s definitely one of the more affordable cities in the country.

One of the best spots for panoramic views is from Mount Storsteinen which is 421 metres above sea level. Perfect for Northern Lights spotting! You can climb the 1200 stone steps for free, or pay £31.23 for a return ride in the Fjellheisen cable car.

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As well as chasing the Northern Lights, Tromsø has lots of affordable activities to try out too. You can spice up your trip with exciting activities like a food and drinks tasting tour for £51 or a whizz around the surrounding islands for £60. If you’re looking for a real treat and to support the local community, you could try a reindeer feeding experience with the Sámi people who are indigenous to the Sápmi region, an area which today covers northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This experience will cost you for £105pp.

You can find affordable accommodation starting at £29 for a shared dorm, and from £90 for hotel rooms for 2. Airbnb is also a good shout – we spotted rooms starting at £55 per night for 2. Our advice is to book somewhere that gives you access to a kitchen so that you can shop locally and save money on your food and drink!

How Much Does It Cost To Travel to Tromsø from the UK?

You can fly to Tromsø direct from London Luton with Wizz Air and we’ve found several return fares for under £100 return for this winter.

The other option is to fly to Oslo which often has cheap direct flights from London, Manchester and Edinburgh – often for as cheap as £17 return! Once in Oslo, you can connect to Tromsø with a direct onward flight, typically costing around £50 one way with Norwegian Airlines or Scandinavian Airlines. Just make sure you check which airports you’re flying to and from – Oslo has 4 options!

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4. The Shetland Islands, Scotland

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Are The Shetland Islands a Good Place To See the Northern Lights?

Due to its ‘southern’ location compared to the arctic circle, the UK is less reliable for spotting the aurora and so if you’re desperate to see the Northern Lights, you should opt for one of the three options above.

However, if you fancy an amazing UK trip where there’s a better chance than elsewhere to spot the aurora borealis, then the Shetland Islands are a great shout.

This is because it’s the northernmost archipelago, and closer to the Arctic Circle than other parts of the UK. Plus, thanks to the Shetland Islands’ killer location and the lack of light pollution, finding a dark spot to soak in the show will be much easier than other areas of the UK. The lights have even been visible from the main town in Lerwick before!

The northern hemisphere’s winter months are the best time to see the northern lights. So, mark your calendar from October to March – this when the nights are the darkest.

Are The Shetland Islands a Cheap Place To See the Northern Lights?

The Shetland Islands offer a unique opportunity to witness the Northern Lights without leaving the UK, which can help keep costs down especially if you take your own car. Having a car is helpful as it means you can drive out away from the lights to hunt out those possible sky shows!

Whether you get lucky or not, there’s lots to see and do in Shetland in the winter! You can go otter spotting, orca watching and there’s also 1,697 miles of spectacular coastline to traverse.

As for accommodation, you’ll find most options are guesthouses or B&Bs. Prices for a no-frills room start at around £50 per night for 2 people, and go up to around £147 per night for something a hotel.

The Best Shetland Accommodation

How Much Does It Cost To Travel to Shetland Islands?

Located to the north of Scotland, the islands are easily accessible from major Scottish cities like Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Excellent flight and train connections, including the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Scotland, make getting to Scotland convenient. You can then reach The Shetland Islands via flight or ferry. An overnight ferry to Lerwick can be booked for as low as £17.90 one way.

If you’d prefer to fly, direct flights from Aberdeen or Edinburgh to Sumburgh Airport on the Shetland Islands start from around £180 return.

The best accommodation to stop off and stay in during your North Coast 500 road trip around the top of Scotland.

5. Northumberland, England

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Is Northumberland a Good Place To See the Northern Lights?

Yes, it is possible to catch the Northern Lights on the UK mainland. In fact, they made headlines last year, showing up all over the place, even as far south as Stonehenge in Wiltshire!

However, surprise appearances aside, one of the best places to catch them is in Northumberland.

In a bid to tackle light pollution, the Northumberland National Park and most of Kielder Water & Forest Park became England’s first ever Dark Sky Park – a preserved area that restricts artificial light pollution. The area has even bragged the ‘most pristine dark skies’ in England in the past. These make for great conditions for spotting the Northern Lights.

Although it’s a bit rarer to spot the aurora here, and it’s not as flashy as a Nordic adventure, catching the Northern Lights practically in your own backyard is a pretty sweet deal.

To up your chances of spotting the display, keep tabs on when the Northern Lights might show up. The Space and Planetary Physics group at Lancaster University have a whole website dedicated to this and you can even download their AuroraWatch UK App. They have loads of ways to alert you for free as and when the signal looks strong!

Is Northumberland a Cheap Place To See the Northern Lights?

The fun thing about spotting the Northern Lights in Northumberland is that you could wait until you’re alerted that activity is strong and then book a last minute trip. Talk about an adventure! This means that unlike trips where you have to book travel in advance and hope that luck is on your side, you can instead use stats to plan when to go.

Plus, Northumberland is gorgeous and so if you see them or not, you’ll have an amazing time. Go for a walk, visit a stately home or even book yourself into a spa.

Saba's Hut

There’s plenty of hostels and guest houses scattered around Northumberland National Park on the usual booking sites, starting from £27pp for a shared dorm, and £75 for a room for 2.

How Much Does It Cost To Travel to Northumberland?

For many in the UK, it’s simply a case of hopping in the car and making sure you’ve covered your fuel costs. This calculator is helpful for budgeting how much this may cost.

As for public transport, Northumberland has excellent train links to the rest of the country. The main station is Berwick-upon-Tweed, which offers direct trains to and from London, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. There’s even an epic 8 hour direct train from Plymouth! One-way advance train tickets from London Kings Cross to Berwick-upon-Tweed start at £37.50, whilst the 44 minute train from Edinburgh can be as cheap as £5.80.

You could also travel by coach to Alnwick or Berwick Upon Tweed. We found a 7 hour 55 minute one way trip between London and Alnwick for just £9.90 with National Express.

Save a fortune on your next train with Avanti Superfare. This little known travel hack means cheap train tickets from £9 but there's a twist!

Start Your Adventure With These Cheapest Places to See The Northern Lights

You can now pop seeing this phenomenon back on your bucket list, thanks to our rundown of the cheapest places to see the Northern Lights. Whether it’s the national parks and northern isles of the UK or the epic, mountainous backdrops of the Nordics, you too can witness the magic without burning a hole in your pocket.

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5 Cheapest Places To See The Northern Lights

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