Where and when to see the Norwegian northern lights
Of all the geographical marvels to put on your bucket list, the Norwegian northern lights probably rank close to the top. Countless people from across the globe travel into Scandinavia each year in search of an opportunity to see lights dancing across the night sky. As a completely natural, yet undeniably magical sight, the polar lights are some of the most highly sought-after views in the world.
Of course, as with most natural phenomena, the Aurora Borealis in Norway can be just as elusive as it is stunning. If you want to make sure that you don’t miss your chance of seeing this incredible event, then you need to start planning as early as possible.
Norway is one of the most amazing places in which to see the northern lights. While other parts of Scandinavia suffer from limited exposure due to changes in the polar climax, Norway continues to provide plenty of consistent sightings, with a peak predicted just a few years from now.
To help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime, we’re going to tell you the best time to see the northern lights in Norway, where you need to go to get the perfect view, and more.
Join us as we illuminate the possibilities.
What are the northern lights in Norway?
If you’re wondering about the best time to visit Norway for the northern lights, it might help to learn a bit more about what this experience entails. One of the things that makes the polar lights so unique is how mysterious they are.
Although they may seem miraculous at first glance, the Norway northern lights are a very scientific phenomena. On a basic level, the illumination is created by collisions between electrically charged particles produced by the sun. When these particles enter the atmosphere on earth, they develop a range of colourful chemical reactions which send a celestial range of shades dancing across the sky.
The solar particles responsible for the northern lights in Norway are known as “solar winds,” and they’re expelled continuously by the sun. The immense power behind the reactions is why we can see them so clearly, around 100 kilometers overhead — and in the darkest and most naturally sustained parts of the world.
When it comes to figuring out where is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway, it’s worth noting that these reactions occur in an oval shape above the earth. The lights are visible only at a particular time, in certain places, because they’re controlled by the location and activity of the sun.
Norway and other Scandinavian countries are close enough to the poles of the earth that they make it possible to see the polar lights on certain days. Unfortunately, you can’t see the same phenomenal sights just anywhere in the world. That’s one of the reasons why Norway is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the world.
Interestingly, the Norwegian northern lights are such a deep-seated feature of the night sky, that they’ve had a significant impact on folk heritage and indigenous culture over the years. Many people believe that the polar lights in Norway are part of the Bifrost — a pathway leading Vikings to Valhalla.
Where is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway?
So, where can you see the northern lights in Norway?
The good news is that there are quite a lot of options. Generally, your best bet is to visit places that are close to the poles. You’ll also need to find a natural stretch of land that has minimal light pollution, which means that there can’t be a lot of hotels, buildings, and other human-made structures nearby.
Here are some of the best places to see the northern lights in Norway.
Lofoten in Norway is a picturesque series of islands, defined by stunning natural mountains and fjords. This location looks as though it was plucked straight out of a Viking folktale, with its colourful wooden cabins, charming fishing towns, and a backdrop of incredible craggy peaks. Because it’s just above the Arctic Circle, Lofoten is excellent for viewing the Northern Lights in Norway, often between September and April.
You can visit Lofoten from Stockholm and other Swedish destinations if you’re exploring multiple Scandinavian countries at once. Additionally, there are boats and cruises available from Sweden too. When you’re not searching the night sky, make sure you check out the Lofotr Viking Museum.
Situated just to the north of Lofoten, Vesteralen has its own unique sense of charm to offer. Here, you’ll be able to spot a range of whales, including orcas in the water when you’re not gazing up at the stars. Additionally, it’s easy to visit this destination with ferries and flights taking you almost to the doorstep from all over the world. There are also bus trips available to Sortland — the largest town in Vesteralen.
You can find the ultimate Scandi experience here, complete with rural cottages and cabins to stay in. Additionally, there are plenty of businesses that offer the option to take place in Arctic safaris, where you can go spotting seabirds, seals, whales, and more.
3. North Cape
Another excellent destination for those wondering “Where can you see the northern lights in Norway?”, North Cape is the northern-most point in Norway and Scandinavia. Besides giving you some excellent bragging rights when it comes to sharing your travel journeys with friends, THE North Cape is also an excellent place to go if you love winter activities like ice fishing, dog-sledding, hiking and more.
If you’re going to the North Cape specifically to see the Norwegian northern lights, it’s worth setting some time aside to visit the quaint churn in Honningsvag as well. This will help you to stock up on stunning pictures to share with the family.
When it comes to answering the question: “Where is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway?” it’s hard to ignore Alta. This city claims to be the city of the northern lights — and it’s easy to see why. The remote location and clear skies make it the perfect destination for those who can’t wait to see the Aurora Borealis in Norway. Scientists have been building observatories in this location for over 100 years.
There are plenty of ways to get to Alta by train, bus, and boat. You can also take a drive to this destination yourself. Remember, once you’re finished soaking up the polar lights, stop by the Alta Museum where you can see some amazing rock carvings that are up to 6,200 years old. The northern lights cathedral is worth a visit too.
Tromso is probably the best-known place to see the Norway northern lights in, as one of the most famous cities in Scandinavia. As the largest city in Northern Norway, Tromso has a very unique experience to offer travelers, feeling more like a bustling metropolis than a remote outpost. Tromso will make sure that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding something to do outside of watching the Aurora Borealis.
Through the day, you’ll be able to enjoy whale watching, snow-shoeing, dog sledding, and more. Plus, there are plenty of cultural and night-life events to discover too. Tromso also provides plenty of accommodation options, including those to suit anyone in search of luxury hotels, small guest houses, and serviced apartments too.
If you want to check out the majestic fjords of the region while you’re soaking up the Norway northern lights, then Lyngenfjord could be the go-to destination for you. This unique environment has plenty of amazing experiences to offer in any season. However, it’s fair to say that seeing the fjords illuminated by the polar lights in Norway provides a view unlike any other.
There are plenty of buses running to Lyngenfjord from Tromso airport, and you can also travel to this destination over the water too. Some of the best ways to check out the Norway northern lights in this location is to create a custom tour with a trip planner from the area. This will mean you can add some delicious meals and skiing sessions into your sight-seeing events.
Finally, if you’re ticking an item off your bucket list by seeing the northern lights in Norway, then you might as well commit yourself to do things in style. Malangen provides visitors with one of the most stunning northern lights resorts in the region, built to accommodate guests who specifically want to make the most of the midnight sun and the polar nights.
Here you’ll find cabins built directly on the water, where you can watch the lights reflected below and above at the same time. If you want to feel as though you’re floating in the night sky among the Aurora Borealis, there’s no place quite like the Malangen resort.
When can you see the northern lights in Norway?
“Where can you see the northern lights in Norway” is just one of the questions that avid travelers need to ask when they’re pursuing arctic activity. You’ll also need to figure out the best time to see the northern lights in Norway too, based on the placement of the sun.
As mentioned above, the Norwegian northern lights are created by electrically charged particles from the sun interacting with the earth’s magnetic field. The charges are funneled down towards the magnetic poles of the southern and northern hemispheres, creating a variety of red, green, and pink particles. The process is far more intense during the solar maximum — the period when the sun is at its most active. However, this won’t happen again until 2024.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until 2024 if you’re wondering when to see the northern lights in Norway. Though intense storms are less frequent, they can happen more frequently than you think, and the polar lights in Norway are very common in the skies above the Arctic circle.
If you’re wondering what month is best to see the northern lights, the peak season in Norway is typically between September and March. That tends to be down to the darker and longer nights that are common during this part of the year. Figuring out when to see the northern lights in Norway based on solar activity isn’t as easy as it seems. However, we do know that displays typically intensify around the equinox months, because the magnetic fields of the earth and the solar wind from the sun are more likely to be in sync.
One thing worth noting is that the Aurora Borealis in Norway is always there; you just can’t see it during the day. The arctic circle’s midnight sun makes it impossible to see these lights during certain months of the summer, but the long nights of the winter are a good bet. Since there’s no specific hour or day when the northern lights are likely to be most common, it’s best to set the alarm every hour or so after dusk so you can check on the sky. Since the best time to visit Norway for the northern lights is so variable, some hotels also offer Aurora wake-up services, just in case.
When are the northern lights in Norway? Planning your trip
The best time to visit Norway to see the northern lights can vary. That’s why it’s often a good idea to plan your trip with a tour company, so you can soak up some of the other incredible experiences that Norway has to offer while you’re waiting for the lights to adorn the sky.
One thing to keep in mind is that just because you book a Norwegian northern lights tour, doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed that you’re going to see anything. Most of these tours will run during the times of year when it’s more likely for the polar lights to appear. However, you will need to be prepared to accept defeat if the solar activity just isn’t right for your visit. Like any natural phenomenon, it’s impossible to schedule your polar lights experience.
If you’re planning on using your trip to Norway to learn about the northern lights; however, we do have a few tips that you can keep in mind.
Remember: It’s always a good idea to plan your trip between September and March when the winter nights begin to get longer, and you’ll have more opportunities to check the sky.
Watch the forecast: Although the polar lights in Norway happen all year long, and all day, you need a combination of cloudless skies and solar activity to see it.
Get away from towns: If you want to see the Norwegian northern lights in their full glory, then you’ll need to be willing to get away from the city. The glare of the city lights can dull your view of the sky.
Stay up late: Although we can’t definitively answer the question: “When are the northern lights in Norway,” we can tell you that they generally peak between 11 pm and 2 am.
Be patient: Most tours that specialise in showing off the northern lights will offer beverages, entertainment, and other forms of fun to keep you entertained while you wait for the sky to light up.
Additionally, remember that viewing the northern lights in Norway will mean bundling up against the cold. You’ll be deliberately scheduling your visit during the winter months, so insulated outerwear and thermal layers are essential.
Viewing the Norway northern lights: A quick FAQ
The northern lights in Norway are some of the most incredible natural sights in the world. However, they’re also highly mysterious. It’s difficult to know for sure where you’re going to see this phenomena taking place, or when you need to visit to get the best view.
If you’re keen to learn more about seeing the Norwegian northern lights, here are a few things you might want to know.
Q: Are there southern lights too?
A: Just as there are northern lights created by the charged ions from the sun drawn down to the north pole — there are also southern lights. This show is called the Aurora Australis, and it’s not as well-known as the Aurora Borealis because fewer people have a chance to see it. Antarctica is the only real place you can reliably see the southern lights.
Q: Where can you see the northern lights in Norway with the most colours?
A: The polar lights in Norway can feature a range of colours, including green, pink, blue, yellow, red and more. There’s no guarantee as to what colours you will see, as it all depends on the kind of chemicals entering the earth’s atmosphere at the time.
Q: What are the northern lights in Norway?
A: If you want a full insight into the northern lights and how they’re created, you can get a useful overview from the Lonely Planet science team.
Q: Where is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway?
A: Anywhere close to the northern pole is a good bet when it comes to viewing the Aurora Borealis. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re as far away from any towns and cities as possible. There are also other destinations throughout the world, aside from Norway, that you can visit to see the northern lights.
Q: What month is best to see the northern lights?
A: Experts recommend planning a trip to see the Aurora Borealis in the winter months in Norway, that means visiting between September and March. The longer the nights are when you visit, the better your chances are. It’s also worth signing up with a website that allows you to track solar activity in the region too.
Q: When are the northern lights in Norway?
A: As mentioned above, it’s difficult to know for certain when the polar lights will appear in Norway, and how long the phenomena will last. However, most experts suggest that the best times to stay awake during your trip are between 11 pm and 2 am. Additionally, it’s worth asking whether your hotel has an Aurora wake up service — just in case.
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