Northern Lights Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Chase the Northern Lights sleeping under the stars © Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

There is no Winter holiday more thrilling than taking a trip deep into the Arctic Circle to chase the elusive Northern Lights. In our Winter issue, on shelves now, DECO explores the very best places to seek out the Aurora Borealis across three different continents.

Where you choose to travel on your hunt for the Northern Lights will not only depend on time and budget, but also what else you might want to do while you’re there. As one of nature’s most luminescent, magical displays, the Aurora is as captivating as it is tantalizingly tricky to track down, so just in case the Lights prove elusive on your trip, we’ve hunted down the very best destinations that will give you much more than just a starry-eyed surprise.


FINLAND: best for… The Romantic

DECO travelled to the magical Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselkä in Finland. 250km into the Arctic Circle, visitors have ample Aurora viewing opportunities – right from the comfort of their own beds. A wintry stay in Kakslauttanen’s igloos is about as close as you can get without joining a Sami family for a night or two; the more adventurous can opt for a night’s stay in a traditional snow igloo – in temperatures of -5°C, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

FINLAND hotel-kakslauttanen-igloo-village4
The Northern Lights swirl above Saariselkä, Finland © Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Experience the Aurora in thermal igloos © Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort


NORWAY: best for… The Recluse

Tromsø is known as the Gateway to the Arctic. At a latitude of nearly 70° north, the small town nestled in the picturesque Norwegian fjords is a haven for Northern Lights chasers throughout the winter. DECO’s recommendation for a Tromsø bolt-hole is The Writer’s Home – one of two reasonably priced bed & breakfasts from Tromsø Bed & Books, owned by friendly locals Silge & Marte. As a home away from home in the Arctic Circle you couldn’t do much better.

NORWAY Tromsø bed & books
The Writer’s Home is any bookworm’s dream holiday house | Image © LeanneDowns/January Girl
Husky Dog sledding, (c) Bård Løken, Visit Tromsø
Nearby Husky dog sledding is a must-do | Image © Bård Løken, Visit Tromsø
Northern Lights above Tromsø (c) Visit Tromsø
Tromsø’s Northern Lights | Image © YNGVE OLSEN SÆBBE / NORDLYS / Visit Tromsø


SWEDEN: best for… The Artist

At 200km into the Arctic Circle under the Aurora oval, Jukkasjärvi’s iconic ICEHOTEL in Sweden is the ideal destination for spotting the Northern Lights. Part art symposium, part hotel, the ICEHOTEL is a phenomenal destination. Situated on the Torne River in Northern Sweden, it’s constructed entirely from frozen river water and thanks to an annual art invitational, every guest room has its own unique, ephemeral artistic identity.

42 artists from 11 countries across all disciplines – from architects and sculptors to graphic designers and industrial engineers – are now invited to take part in the hotel’s design each season. Astoundingly, this organic concept means that come spring each year, the hotel’s very structure melts back into the river, only to be re-built again the following season.

Sweden’s ICEHOTEL is much more than your average hotel | Image © ICEHOTEL
SWEDEN small_Northern_Lights_-_Photo_Markus_Alatalo
Jukkasjärvi is the ideal destination for spotting the Northern Lights – visible on almost every clear night during the peak of northern hemisphere winter | Image © Markus Alatalo


NORTH AMERICA: best for… The Naturalist

Across the Atlantic, the northernmost tip of the United States also plays host to the Aurora Borealis. With bubbling hot springs that stay open until midnight, guests to Chena Hot Springs in the Alaskan resort town of Fairbanks can enjoy the auroral spectacle in a variety of breath-taking natural environments: indulging in a therapeutic soak in the open-air boulder-ringed hot springs, peeking through the north-facing windows of the resort’s hilltop log cabin “aurorium” or taking a more active approach on late-night snow coach tours.

winter rock lake (c) Chena Hot Springs Resort
The rejuvenating mineral waters at Rock Lake | Image © Chena Hot Springs Resort
chandalar stacked time lapse - Aurora near Fairbanks (c) Sherman Hogue, Explore Fairbanks
Time lapse photography of the Northern Lights above Fairbanks | Image © Sherman Hogue, Explore Fairbanks


RUSSIA: best for… The Luxury Traveller

This 12-day luxury train tour aboard The Golden Eagle transports guests on a magical mystery tour through the wintry wonderlands of Russia’s northernmost borders. Starting in the historic city of St. Petersburg, the journey extends deep into the Russian and Norwegian Arctic Circle in pursuit of the awe-inspiring Aurora before returning to the magnificent capital of Moscow.

RUSSIA St Petersberg - Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Experience the wintry mystery of magical St Petersburg | Image © Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Northern Lights train tour - Golden Eagle in Russia
Dine and travel in five star luxury aboard the Golden Eagle | Image © Golden Eagle Luxury Trains


To read the full feature on our Northern Lights adventures, with full travel and accommodation details plus local sightseeing tips in every destination, pick up your Winter edition of ELLE Decoration, out now.

TELLE Decoration Winter 102 June 2015he Winter edition of ELLE Decoration South Africa is on shelves at your nearest magazine retailer now. Packed with stylish ways to hibernate this winter, it’s full of all your favourite features, décor tips and tricks plus brand new pages, including DECO Read, DECO Kid and DECO Grow. Pick up your copy today for the most stylish winter yet and tell us what you think on Twitter @ELLE_Deco. #winteriscoming #Winter102