Have you ever dreamt about seeing the Northern lights? Also known as aurora borealis, or simply aurora, these magical green or colorful lights dancing in the sky are a sight that you will never forget and will keep you nailed down, your eyes wide open in admiration, careless of the cold air of the night. Northern Norway is among the best places in the world to experience this amazing natural phenomenon. Not only because the aurora activity here is present, this can be said of many other places as well. Northern Norway is also an incredibly interesting and fascinating area, where you can make an amazing experience of the Arctic, and in a comfortable way too. This is an important aspect when planning a journey to see the Northern lights. As much as you can plan the journey, and know the right places where to go, you can never be hundred percent sure of seeing the lights. The solar activity and weather conditions determine the aurora activity and the possibility to see it. The forecasts for these conditions are quite reliable on the short term, but impossible on the long term. This is part of the charm of nature, still unpredictable and out of human control.
Though, it would be an incredible waste to travel so far North just to see the lights, and then be disappointed in not seeing them, wouldn’t it? That’s why we recommend that you get the most out of your journey by experiencing different aspects of the Arctic. The region offers so many activities and locations to visit that anyone can find their dimension. This is the paradise for outdoor winter activities on land or at sea, just to mention some, skiing, dog or reindeer sledding, snowmobile, boat tours and whale watching. Typical cultural activities include goose bumps concerts at the Arctic Cathedral, food experiences or an encounter with the fascinating Sami culture. Small dreamy fishing villages, charming and remote huts in the mountains, and Tromsø, the Arctic capital, with its vast offer of cafes, pubs and restaurants, all these locations are available in Northern Norway.
So, just chose your favorite frame and side activities and contact us to help you organize your perfect experience of the Arctic with Northern lights chase!
CHASING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Since the aim of your tour is to see the Northern lights, we want to give you some suggestions that you may consider when planning your tour. First of all, knowing what aurora is will help you to understand the following advice: Northern lights are an optical phenomenon caused by charged solar particles, which are attracted by the Earth’s magnetic field around the poles. Here they interact with the atmosphere and release flashes of light, whose color depends on various factors such as the composition of the atmosphere, the altitude and the energy at which the interaction occurs. Green is the most common color, but pink, red, blue and purple may also be possible, although these colors are more difficult to see by naked eye. Also the intensity of the aurora varies over time, and this depends on the solar activity. Although the phenomenon occurs also during the day, the darkness of the night is needed to see the lights by naked eye. Moreover, the presence of clouds can interfere with the sight.
As you understand, the possibility of seeing the aurora depends on natural phenomena that are beyond human control. Thus, it takes a little luck and strategy. To maximize your possibilities, we recommend that you extend your stay as much as possible, and anyway not less than 4 nights. The right period is from September to March. January and February are usually the coldest months, so you may decide to avoid these months, according to your sensitivity to cold. Anyway, the weather might play a joke on you and give you very cold conditions in other periods as well, so you need to be prepared and have very good equipment in any period. Full moon might make it more difficult to see the Northern lights in case of weak activity, but moonlight might also make the view more magical, highlighting elements of the landscape like the mountains, so some photographers actually prefer this condition. When the aurora is strong, it might be possible to see it even from the city, but when the radiation is weak you will have to move to some darker areas, away from light pollution, so a vehicle at disposal is recommended. A good camera, tripod, and some photo skills will not only give you everlasting memories of your experience, but might also allow you to see, in the pictures, amazing images impossible to be appreciated by naked eye. Little consolation, or not so little, in the unlucky event of low signal. But the most important factor will be clear sky, with no clouds. This condition of course cannot be booked or forseen in advance. The way to deal with this is to go looking for a spot that is not so cloudy, moving innland if the clouds are along the coast or viceversa. That’s why the activity of going looking for the Northern lights is often called “chasing”.
Thus you also have to consider if you would like to join a guided tour or not. In a guided tour you will be escorted by experienced guides who will check for weather forecasts and aurora forecasts to select the best spots and will drive you there. You may also have some extra services that can include warm clothes, drinks and even the possibility to rent a professional camera and tripod, or have a photografer with you (you will have to bring your own memory card). If you prefer to chase the lights by your own, we can provide you with a rental car and suggestions of possible viewpoints. You can try and check for the forecasts by yourself, and we can indicate possible applications or websites to be used. Then you will just have to leave and… go chasing!
- TROMSØ, THE ARCTIC CAPITAL
This charming city is located on a small hilly island surrounded by the fjords and by towering mountains. Easy to get to, served by its own airport, it offers all city attractions and comforts and at the same time it is closed enough to amazing natural environments. Landmark of the town is the Arctic Cathedral, modern church with typical form inspired by Arctic nature. A concert at the Arctic Cathedral is an exciting experience that will allow you to listen to beautiful Norwegian folk songs, as well as classical and sacred selections. A cable car tour to enjoy Tromsø’s best view from hill top is another experience you should add to your visit. If you take the tour at night you may have a chance to see the Northern lights from another perspective! Typical museums and attractions are available for cultural and food experiences, just to mention some, the Polar Park, the northernmost animal park in the world, and the Magic Ice, ice bar and art gallery with ice carvings. Many additional outdoor activities are also available in the surroundings, including the possibility to join boat tours and do whale watching, dog or reindeer sledding, Sami experiences, skiing or snowshoe tours.
- SENJA ISLAND
Enchanting island South from Tromsø, this is the perfect place for those who prefer a small fishing village to the big city, or want to spend a few days relaxing in this enchanting frame after having enjoyed the thriving city life. Not far from Tromsø, Senja island is still not well known as a touristic destination, but it is an amazing and authentic place, providing all the comforts. A real hidden pearl! You can reach the place by road or with a boat tour from Tromsø, and you can stay in a charming apartment or room by the sea. There will be plenty of possibilities to chase the lights in different sceneries, over the sea, in the innland, in a light house with a 360 degree view over the fjord, or even from your accommodation by the sea, if you are lucky. Other available activities include a Northern lights photo course, food experiences, sauna, fjord sightseeing tours, whale watching and snorkeling with whales, dog sledding and husky safari, skiing or snowshoe tours, lavvo (Sami tent) camp, and fishing tours.
- LOFOTEN ISLANDS
At the edge of the auroral area, these islands are famous for their beauty and charm, with the numerous fishing villages, the typical fish drying racks, and the fishermen’s cabins, the traditional rorbuer, embedded between the sea and the steep mountains. Lofoten Islands are a main touristic destination in Norway expecially during summer, but they have a lot to offer in winter time as well. You can reach the islands by plane, road or sea from Norway’s main cities. Besides the chance to see the aurora, here you will find plenty of possibilities to visit charming villages and towns, enjoy your time in typical restaurants and bars, and discover a fascinating culture, art and history dating back to the Viking era. Other possible outdoor activities include skiing and snowshoeing, boat tours and whale watching, aurora photo tours and horseback riding tours in the daytime on the amazing white beaches of Lofoten, or during the night to go chasing the lights.
OTHER POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES:
- BOAT TOURS, WHALE SAFARI AND FISHING – all destinations
If you hear the call of the sea, don’t miss a boat tour for an experience of the Arctic from a different perspective! Cruise off Tromsø in the evening to chase the aurora over the sea for an unforgettable experience. Join a whale safari to spot killer whales and humpback whales, or a wildlife safari to see sea eagles, seals and birds. Are you into fishing? Winter is the perfect time to catch the biggest and most valuable arctic cod, the skrei, migrating along the northern coast early in the year. In any case, beautiful views of the coast, mountains and fjords are included.
- EXPERIENCE SAMI CULTURE – Tromsø
Sami are the northernmost indigenous people of Europe and a community with a strong identity in Norway. Discover their fascinating culture and the long reindeer herding tradition. Join authentic Sami guides and try reindeer sledding, enjoy a traditional Sami meal, learn about Sami artifacts and hear stories and joik (traditional Sami chanting). Stay late in the evening at the lavvo (traditional tent) camp and look out for the northern lights.
- SKIING AND SNOWSHOES – all destinations
Combine a skiing holiday with Northern light chasing. The Lyngen Alps, near Tromsø, are an amazing destination for ski lovers. People come from all over the world to ski down these mountains to the shores of the fjord. Freeride, off-piste, and cross-country skiing are also possible on Senja island. Certified mountain guides are available. If you are looking for a more relaxing activity in the white, snowshoeing might be for you. Take it easy and walk slowly, take stops to enjoy the view… or combine snowshoeing by night with Northern lights chasing.
- DOG SLEDDING AND HUSKY SAFARI – all destinations
Experience dog sledding in the daytime or at night, for a different way to chase the Northern lights. Get carried by a guide and enjoy the ride, or learn yourself how to drive a sled to experience the life of a musher in the Arctic. And if you are really into it, join a two- or more-day expedition with camping. In any case, you will get involved in the passion for these gentle, strong and furry friends.
- PHOTO TOURS AND PHOTO COURSES
The aurora in Northern Norway creates opportunities for fantastic subjects with magical backgrounds, with the steep mountains surrounding the fjords, slopes covered in immaculate snow, and the sea reflecting the magic of the sky. Either pushing the button on your phone is all you know about pictures, or you have a real passion for photography, join a tour with a professional photographer to learn how to get amazing pictures of the Northern lights from your camera, or just to bring home everlasting memories of your experience.