All photos of the northern lights on this site are from: Lights over Lapland
The best place in the world to see the northern lights
Abisko is one of the best places in the world to experience the northern lights. The fact is that it is not enough simply to be far north on a winter evening to have a good chance of seeing the lights. There are many factors that influence not only the likelihood of seeing the northern lights but also how clearly visible the light phenomenon will be.
The best chance to experience the Northern Lights is from mid-November to mid-March. Please check STF Abisko Turiststation´s webpage for their opening hours.
For the greatest possible likelihood of seeing the northern lights, in addition to being far north on a winter evening, you should be in a place that is free from light pollution, is high up and rarely has overcast weather or clouds. Abisko is therefore a unique place as all of these criteria are met and exceeded. Abisko is called “the blue hole” by locals as the place often has beautiful weather when surrounding areas are overcast. That is why Abisko has become a popular destination that many people have on their bucket list.
In addition to the northern lights, Abisko also offers plenty of winter activities for those who want to be active during their stay. For example, you can discover the surroundings on touring skis or cross-country skis, do an alpine ski tour up to the mountain Nuolja and also try ice climbing and snowshoeing. You can also take the chairlift up the mountain Nuolja during the day during a certain period of the year, either to go off-piste skiing or simply to enjoy the beautiful view. You can go up and down with the lift either with or without skis. Find out the opening hours for the chairlift here.
For those who want a more relaxing stay, the beautiful winter landscape, north of the Arctic Circle in an Arctic mountain environment, will be more than sufficient for an unforgettable holiday.
Stay right underneath the northern lights
STF Abisko Tourist Station is the perfect base if you want to see the northern lights or visit Abisko. Here you can stay right underneath the northern lights with a view over the Abisko Alps, the mountain Nuolja, Lapporten and the large lake Torneträsk. You choose what form of accommodation suits you best – hotel, hostel or your own cabin. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the popular KRAV-labelled restaurant which is licensed to serve alcohol. Locally grown food and organic produce are served here with an unbeatable panoramic view over the mountains.
Northern lights from STF Aurora Sky Station
Just next to Abisko Tourist Station, at the top of the mountain Nuolja in Abisko National Park is the viewpoint STF Aurora Sky Station. You can get here smoothly with a chairlift to either ski during the day (please check opening dates and hours here), or to experience the northern lights in the evening. At the Aurora Sky Station there is a viewing tower and a large outdoor terrace where you can view the northern lights and enjoy a magical view of Lapporten and the Abisko mountains. There is also a warming fire and a cosy café where you can buy coffee and cakes.
In order to go up with the chairlift in the evening in winter you need to book a guided northern lights activity. These take place in groups and the price includes the lift ticket, a guide, warm clothes and access to the Aurora Sky Station. In addition to this, we promise exciting stories and facts about the northern lights, as well as help with camera settings for those who want to try to capture images of the light phenomenon. Read more about the activity “Visit Aurora Sky Station at night”.
The likelihood of seeing the northern lights is as high up on Nuolja as it is down by the tourist station. However, up on Nuolja you have a magnificent view and even less light pollution than down at the tourist station. Having said that, you will not be disappointed if you choose to view the light phenomenon from the tourist station.
Read more about STF Aurora Sky Station
Northern lights webcam
There are two webcams below STF Aurora Sky Station where you can view the northern lights in real time at home. You can also rewind to previous nights to see what the northern lights looked like then. See the northern lights in real time.
The probability of experiencing the northern lights as well as determine how powerful it will appear on the sky, can be calculated in advance. One of the metrics used is called the “KP-index”. You can read more about it at Spaceweatherlive.com, where you are also able to read the latest aurora forecast.
Take the train to Abisko
Abisko Tourist Station has its own train station which makes the train journey very smooth. If you are travelling from the south of Sweden, the night train is an easy and sustainable option and you get off the train just outside the tourist station. The Norwegian company “Vy” is operating trains on this route, but tickets can be purchased through SJ.se. As an STF member you can book your discounted train tickets easily via our website. Read more about our discounted train tickets.
What are the northern lights?
The northern lights, or “aurora borealis” in Latin, is a light phenomenon that is visible in the most northerly latitudes during the winter months. The mythical light phenomenon is caused by the interaction of solar radiation with the earth’s magnetic field. Electrically charged particles radiate out from the sun straight towards the earth and are captured by the earth’s magnetic field. The northern lights appear when the sun’s particles collide with atoms and molecules in the earth’s atmosphere. The particles are then caught by the magnetic field and travel towards the poles of the earth, thus creating this beautiful spectacle in the sky.
Tips for photographing the northern lights
Photographing the northern lights is not easy but if you succeed you will get fantastic images with a high wow factor. In order to photograph the northern lights you need patience, a charged camera battery and warm clothes (wear gloves that allow you to operate your camera).
Use a tripod, a remote release and a long shutter (4–12 seconds) – but do not forget to try out different settings as the vividness of the northern lights varies. A wide-angle lens allows you to include more of the sky in the photo. Also, do not forget to check that you have set your focus to infinity.
If you want to learn how to photograph the northern lights together with a professional photographer, we can recommend the Lights over Lapland tours that start from STF Abisko Tourist Station. You will be provided with a system camera and lens that have the correct settings for photographing the northern lights and you get to learn the basics of finding and photographing the magical northern lights in Abisko National Park.
Read more and book a photo tour with Lights over Lapland.
Dress right for the northern lights
- Dress in layers in order to stay warm and be prepared to stand still for a long time out in the cold night. It is also possible to rent warm clothes at the Abisko Tourist Station if you do not have all the clothes you need.
- Closest to the body you wear a synthetic or wool base layer and a sweater and trousers made from wool or fleece as a middle layer.
- Wear a warm jacket and preferably a pair of overtrousers.
- Wear spacious shoes with room for extra socks – it is important that your toes can move around.
- Put on a warm hat, scarf and warm gloves – preferably mittens with finger gloves underneath.
- Avoid taking a bath or shower before going out and do not use water-based moisturiser as it may cause frostbite.