Northern Norway: Home of the northern lights
Witnessing the aurora borealis is an unforgettable experience. Visit Northern Norway and combine nature's light show with the trip of a lifetime.
Out of this world
Like tulle curtains caught by the breeze, like rolling smoke or like ribbons across the sky, in an unearthly, electric green, often with hints of pink and violet; the northern lights, the aurora borealis, are faint, translucent and illusive. Occasionally, the whole sky explodes in a corona of green, pink, violet and white, like firework, organ pipes or opening flowers. Spectators pinch their arm in disbelief, and photographs can in no way do the lights justice. And then it is all gone.
The northern lights are created by loaded particles from the sun hitting the outer layers of the atmosphere some 60mi/100km above us. This is common in the so-called aurora belt around the planet. Northern Norway is situated in the middle of this belt, but whereas most areas in the aurora belt consist of freezing tundra and ice shelves, Northern Norway is easily accessible and has moderate winter temperatures. Hence the conditions to spot the best northern lights are excellent.
Aurora is a diva – you never know when she is in the mood for an appearance. In Northern Norway, northern lights occur in up to 90% of every clear night in the period from early September to early April. Most northern lights occur in the time span from 6pm to slightly after midnight, with an absolute peak at around 10-11pm.
How to see the lights
It is important to be out under the open sky between 6pm and midnight. Adventurous people go skiing, hiking or driving at night to keep warm and find a good lookout position. However, a safe and warm organised tour is more accessible to most people. There is a multitude of tours, notably:
- Hunt the northern lights by bus or mini-van: you are taken to the place with the most favourable weather conditions in the moment
- Visits to vantage points of particular beauty and frequency
- Dog sledding
- Snowmobile safari
- Reindeer sledding
- Cross-country skiing
- Boat trips
Where to go in Northern Norway
Basically, the area north of the Arctic Circle is prime aurora territory. The various destinations in the High North have a distinct personality, and are well worth exploring.