Greenland - probably the best place to see northern lights

View larger gallery full arrow

Greenland - probably the best place to see Northern lights 

Not everybody in the world is fortunate enough to get to witness the northern lights. Lucky for you, our northern lights excursions have a very high success rate. The northern lights can be experienced in several places in Greenland, and the spectacular lightshow is best viewed on a dark and clear night sky in the period from September to the beginning of April.

Watch the breathtaking Northern Lights Video from Greenland



Greenlanders know northern lights as ’Arsarnerit’, which translates to 'those playing ball'. According to old Inuit myths, the northern lights appear on the sky when the souls of the dead are playing ball with walrus skulls. That explanation is not likely to satisfy your curiosity, however. Instead, we will take on a more scientific approach.

The scientific explanation for the northern lights is that the electrically charged particles of the sun collide with molecules and atoms in the Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of approx. 100 kilometres. This collision results in an incredible phenomenon where 'curtains' of all colours flicker across the sky. Yellow, green, red, white – the colour of the curtains depend on your location. Regardless, the sight is spectacular.

Most people no longer believe the skull-playing theory, but that does not prevent people from whistling at the sky in an attempt to make the northern lights more vivid – which is promised by another myth. The strange thing is how often it actually works, but you must be careful that the northern lights do not reach down and grab you while you whistle at it. But give it a try – if you dare!

In other cultures, it is believed that children conceived beneath the northern lights are more intelligent, which makes viewing the northern lights particularly wonderful for visitors belonging to these cultures. 

Northern lights in Sisimiut in Greenland
Northern lights in Sisimiut in Greenland - Photo: Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland


Aurora Borealis - Northern Lights

In 1619, before he became a widely known scientist, Galileo Galilei invented the expression ’Aurora Borealis’, which roughly translates to 'the northern dawn'. But a similar phenomenon can actually be seen in the southern hemisphere. It is known as ’Aurora Australis’, or southern lights. Remarkably, it moves simultaneously with the northern lights.

Northern lights in Ilulissat in Greenland
Northern lights in Ilulissat in Greenland - Photo: Colourbox


The belt of light

Even Greenlanders are often surprised by the fact that northern lights cannot be witnessed all over Greenland. The most densely populated regions have northern lights, causing people to just assume that it exists in the entire northern part of the globe. But that is actually not the case. The further north you get, the weaker the lights become, and finally they disappear altogether.

Fortunately, Kangerlussuaq – where most tourists arrive to Greenland – is placed right in the middle of the northern lights belt where the phenomenon is best experienced. Northern lights can only be viewed on dark and clear nights, and we highly recommend that you move away from any artificial lighting in order to get the most out of the flickering lights.

Northern lights in Greenland
Northern lights in Greenland - Photo: Stefan Gimpl - Visit Greenland


Playing games

We arrange several excursions taking you to see the northern lights. Some of these include a hot drink to keep you warm. However, there is another way to keep warm beneath the northern lights: Playing games. It is fun to play beneath the northern lights. Many look at the lights with great awe. For a good reason too, as the sight of the natural phenomenon is awe-inspiring. But we would still invite you to attempt imitating the lights' dancing across the sky. Lie down on your back, make a snow angel or slide across the snow on your bum, a sled or a plastic bag. Not everyone wants to do it, but the moment you let go and play with nature is a magical one. You are not merely playing in nature but truly with nature. Whether you are aged 5, 30 or 70; try it!

Experiences and season

(Based on a stay in Disko Bay)

When to see what in Greenland

Download Guide: The Big Arctic Five in Greenland

This guide is an introduction to “The Big Arctic Five” in Greenland, the most popular experiences in Greenland. Find out when and how to experience them.

image description

By signing up you agree to get more great stuff from Greenland Travel. You can unsubscribe anytime. We respect your privacy.



Do you need any help?

We are here for you to give you best possible advice and service. Please do not hesitate to contact us.