Nature can amaze and terrify, from awe-inspiring sunsets to all manner of natural disasters. Other phenomena are the northern lights, which are best observed across North America and Europe. According to Royal Museums Greenwich, it’s called “the aurora borealis in the north and the aurora australis in the south.”

This spectacular occurrence looks like something created in Photoshop, but it’s 100% real. Royal Museums Greenwich states that “solar storms give out huge clouds of electrically charged particles. These particles can travel millions of miles, and some may eventually collide with the earth. Most of these particles are deflected away, but some become captured in the earth’s magnetic field, accelerating down towards the north and south poles into the atmosphere. What we see are atoms and molecules in our atmosphere colliding with particles from the sun. The aurora’s characteristic wavy patterns and ‘curtains’ of light are caused by the lines of force in the earth’s magnetic field.”

Yes, that’s a little science-heavy, but you get the idea. Here are five destinations offering superb views of the northern lights.

1. Norway


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mtgtour® (@mtgtour)

The city of Tromsø offers fabulous views of the Northern Lights. Moreover, Norway is one of the safest countries in the world.

The best time to see the views are between September to April. And once you’ve had your fill, be sure to check out the infinite amounts of pubs and bars that Tromsø is known for.

According to Best Served Scandinavia, “there are more pubs and bars per capita than anywhere else in Norway.”

2. Iceland


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by AURORA REYKJAVÍK (@aurorareykjavik)

The best viewing conditions is when the sky is dark and cloudless and the air is crisp. Enter Iceland.

Project Inspo notes that “Iceland is the only location where you can spot the Borealis from almost anywhere in the country, as long as you’re outside Reykjavik.”

Most flock to Pingvellir National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage site. The Eurasian and North American continental plates join here, “causing the formation of a beautiful and unique rift valley.”

3. Alaska

You don’t necessarily have to leave the US to see those magical ripples of light.

The Alaska website notes, “they’re not visible during the middle summer months, because it doesn’t get dark enough under the midnight sun.”

To make your trip extra special, you can book one of the many northern lights tours.

At Borealis Base Camp you can check them out through the top of your own, cozy igloo.

4. Canada


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Aurora Village (@auroravillageca)

One of the best areas of Canada to see the northern lights is in the Northwest Territories.

Going in the summer is fine and fall is even better. But winter offers the most dramatic sightings. 

Aurora Village in Yellowknife is equipped with everything you need to take in the views.  Take advantage of the tours and the numerous daytime activities as well. 

5. Sweden

If winter is your jam, you’ll love Sweden.

After you’ve exhausted yourself with skiing, sledding, and snowboarding, you’ll be dazzled by the light displays of the Swedish Lapland. Sip a hot chocolate or something stronger and enjoy.

Visit Sweden notes that “the Sami – the indigenous people of Sweden – believed the lights were the souls of the dead. You weren’t to dance, sing, or whistle at them for fear they would feel disrespected and the lights would dip down and carry you off to the afterlife. The Vikings on the other hand, thought that the northern lights were the Valkyries taking fallen soldiers to meet Odin, their chief god.”

Related: 10 Once-In-A-Lifetime Travel Experiences