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A Guide to Northern Lights
The autumn season is here and people have started planning their Norway trip already. People from different parts of the world visit Norway during this season to get a glimpse of the Norway Northern Lights tour. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the solar particles from the sun hit the earth’s atmosphere. It results in the emission of different coloured lights in the sky like green, red and purple. Northern lights can be seen clearly with bare eyes provided the sky is dark and clear.
What is the best time to see Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are best viewed during the autumn and winter seasons in Norway. The autumn season ranges from September to November and winter season ranges from December to March. After the autumn equinox in September, the nights tend to get longer which means the possibility of seeing Northern Lights also increases. The northern lights are generally best viewed between 65 degrees north and 75 degrees north of latitude between 8 PM to 2 AM. It is recommended to go out for the Northern Lights after checking the local forecasts, however, clear skies are a rare thing in Norway, so even the forecasts can disappoint you sometimes.
How to see the Northern Lights in the right way?
If you want to see the Northern Lights in the right way, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to make the experience much more favourable:
1. Plan your trip at the right time of the year. As described earlier, the best months to see northern lights are October, November, and February. It is best to avoid visiting Norway in December & January because it tends to get very cold and freezing
2. Check the forecast before you head out to watch the Northern Lights but do not completely rely on it. The weather tends to change frequently so look before you leap
3. Do not expect to see the Northern Lights on a single night. Plan your itinerary in such a way that you get at least 2-3 days to go check out the Northern Lights
4. Carry proper gear to sustain the harsh weather. The average temperature between autumn to winter ranges from -2 degree Celsius to -3 degree Celsius so ensure to carry winter boots, gloves, scarves, hats, jackets, sweaters and anything that will keep you warm and alive!
5. Carry your camera if you want to capture the beauty of the Northern Lights. You’ll need a high sensitivity lens (high ISO) to be able to capture the colours of the aurora. But before you start capturing, spare a moment to enjoy the natural beauty of the phenomenon with your bare eyes.
6. Have a little patience, well actually have a lot of patience, the Northern Lights will only appear if the sky is clear and the weather is favourable so cross your fingers and keep hoping for it to happen.
What are the best places to see Northern lights in Norway?
In case you aren’t aware, Norway has an overall land area of 385,203 km² which means it is quite a big country. Given the larger area, it is also difficult to catch the Norway Northern Lights tour. Also, the chances of seeing Northern Lights increases if you stay more in the northern part of Norway than in the south. So here are some cities where there are possibilities for viewing the Northern Lights are high:
The Svalbard islands lie in between Norway and the North Pole. From November to February, there is no sunlight in Longyearbyen which increases the chances of seeing the Norway Northern Lights between these months. The Longyearbyen area is located at around 1300 km from the North Pole which makes it ideal spot to view the Northern lights at night and sometimes even in the afternoon.
Tromso is easier to reach compared to other Norwegian cities. Due to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream, the area offers relatively mild temperatures which make it a perfect place to watch the Northern Lights without facing the harsh weather. If you are travelling with small kids, you can always go to Tromso to see the Northern Lights.
The Lofoten Islands
Lofoten is situated just beneath the aurora oval which increases the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in between September to February. The island is also famous for the cod winter fishing activity.
Despite Senja being Norway’s second largest island, the area is free from noise and pollution as compared to other Norwegian islands. The island is also home to many species of wildlife like moose, seals, reindeers, and eagles. Due to the natural, calm and pollution free environment, the chances of spotting the Northern Lights are also high here.
You can enjoy a picture-perfect view of Northern Lights from the top of a mountain in Narvik. The city is blessed with numerous mountains and many operators conduct special Northern Lights tour where they take people to a mountaintop to view them. One such famous tour is visiting the top of Narvikfjellet mountain in a gondola.
Is it worth visiting Norway only to see the Northern lights?
If you visit Norway for the sole purpose of seeing the Northern Lights, you can be disappointed, rather, add adventurous things to do in the country along with seeing Northern Lights and you’ll love the experience.
1. Sledging on a dog sledge or reindeer sledge at Tromso. The sledging activity takes place for 4-5 hours and depending on your skill level, the guides will provide you with a demo before starting the activity. Refreshments will be provided in between the activity and dinner will be served at the end of the activity
2. Spend a night at a Snow Hotel where you will be provided with a cosy room, well lit with beautiful lights and the room walls adorned with snow carvings. To keep you extra warm, thermal beds and extra warm clothing will be provided by the hotel authorities too.
3. Visit a bar and sip your drink out of a glass made of ice!
4. Dine at any local restaurant to enjoy the flavours of Norwegian cuisine. Don’t miss out on the Kjøttkaker, Kjøttboller, and Svinestek
5. Sail on the Arctic waters by availing a cruise. Cruise services are available all around the year. The cruises run from Kirkenes at the northern end of the route to the city of Bergen in the southern end
Northern Lights are only visible for a limited time so you need to plan your trip accordingly. If you are still doubtful about visiting Norway, here is an upcoming Facebook session dedicated to solving all queries related to seeing Northern Lights in Norway. We, at Pickyourtrail, try to help people customize their vacations for a hassle-free and comfortable experience. You can reach out to us for more details.