While they are extraordinary, the Northern Lights are often elusive. Experienced Swedish hiker Annelie Pompe rounds up the five best routes that will boost your chances of catching a glimpse
The Aurora Borealis phenomenon, better known as the Northern Lights, takes its name from Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn. In Samí legends, it was believed the lights were the souls of the dead. Vikings, on the other hand, thought the Northern Lights were the Valkyries taking fallen soldiers to meet Odin, their chief god. Since ancient times, the Lights have been steeped in mystery and wonderful folklore.
Annelie Pompe, an experienced Swedish hiker, professional adventurer and brand ambassador for Merrell Hiking Club, a women-centric community which aims to empower, inform and inspire female hikers, is well acquainted with the natural wonder that is the Northern Lights.
September brings the arrival of the best season for spotting the Lights, when nights are longest and skies are darkest throughout autumn and winter. According to Pompe, the best time to see the Northern Lights is between 6.00PM and 2.00AM, with the most spectacular displays usually on show between 10.00PM and 11.00PM.
Timing isn't everything though. Here, Pompe rounds up the five best geographical locations – by way of breathtaking hiking routes – for glimpsing the phenomenon with your own eyes.
Abisko National Park
"The key here is clear skies and minimal light pollution - the clearer the sky, the better the lights. There are numerous hiking trails within the park, including the famous Abisko-Nikkaluokta Trail, where you can hike through pristine wilderness and have a great chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Abisko is also the most Northern suggestion on this list and even though the Northern Lights can be seen all over Sweden, chances are much higher above the Arctic Circle."
Abisko National Park by daylight. Photo: Getty
"Kiruna is located in Swedish Lapland, a region that covers a quarter of the country and offers a range of hiking opportunities. Combine a hike in the surrounding wilderness with a visit to the famous Icehotel, where you might even catch the Northern Lights from the comfort of your ice room. I prefer something more rustic, and AirBnb has a plethora of options for cottages, cabins and domes."
This vast, frozen lake near Abisko is surrounded by hiking trails, making it an excellent spot for viewing the Northern Lights during the winter months. If you get to catch it, the reflections of the lights on the frozen lake is especially magical.
Torneträsk Lake on a clear night. Photo: @dani_frassica
"Explore the remote wilderness areas of Swedish Lapland, such as the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve or Sarek National Park. These regions offer stunning landscapes and low light pollution, increasing your chances of witnessing the Northern Lights while on a multi-day hiking adventure."
Jokkmokk and the Arctic Circle Trail
"The Arctic Circle Trail is a long-distance hiking trail that stretches through the Arctic wilderness of Swedish Lapland. It offers an unforgettable hiking experience with opportunities to see the Northern Lights along the way."
The Northern Lights over Jokkmokk. Photo: Getty