The Northern Lights are simply magical. Broadly, we can say that the Northern Lights are created by the natural phenomenon where electrically charged particles from the Sun collides with the Earth’s atmosphere.
This occurrence of solar activity takes place close to the Earth’s magnetic poles in the night sky, leading to the creation of Aurora Borealis in the North Pole in the Arctic region and Aurora Australis in the South Pole in Antarctica.
That’s precisely why you should keep up with the calendar before planning a trip to see the Northern Lights.
The lights have a universal charm that looks out of the world. It appears in stunning shades of green and blue, mixing in the night, full of stars with random red, pink, and violet flares.
What is the weather like There?
The weather in Norway is bearably cold, but the more you move towards the Arctic Circle during the winter, the temperature is severe. The temperature ranges from an extreme of 6 degrees celsius to -5 degrees celsius. The lights are more evident when the weather is colder and dry.
How long should the trip be planned For?
A 3-4 days trip is sufficient to see the Northern Lights but if you’re planning a trip to explore the Arctic Circle, then a week or 10 days is enough.
The place is a perfect combo of fjords and northern islands. So, you’ll have many places to entertain you throughout the day as you look forward to watching the Northern lights at night.
What is the best time to Visit?
The best time to visit the Northern Lights of Norway is in the winters, i.e., from late September to early April. During a polar night, the duration of dark hours is longer, which makes the Aurora Borealis more prominent and distinct. However, The most popular time to see the Aurora Borealis is November to February.
People say that those with good luck can only see the Northern Lights, but it is as trivial as it sounds. You can see the lights if you do thorough research, follow the calendar, and plan a trip during the Northern Lights season. Hiring a guide will always increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
Summers are a no for seeing the Northern Lights as there are fewer dark hours, and the sky is bright in the lower latitudes. So, even if the lights show up, it is not visible to your eyes. The lights appear after 7 in the evening, but in the darker season, you have a chance to see them after 3 in the afternoon.
The nights should be pitch black, and there should be less light pollution to see the Northern Lights.
Where can you see the Northern lights?
‘Northern Lights Belt’ is the correct area geographically. It lies between 65 to 70 degrees latitudes in the North, which falls inside the Arctic Circle. This belt is better known as the ‘Aurora Zone’.
The countries that come under this zone are a part of Scandinavia and Nord, including Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, and Norway.
Best Places to See the Norway Northern Lights
Due to its location, northern Norway is considered one of the most popular places to visit to see the Northern lights. Besides that, Norway is rich in natural beauty, such as the number of beautiful islands, deep fjords, and steep mountains.
From September to March, the sky remains dark from early afternoon to late morning, which helps in the repeated appearance of the vibrant lights in the night sky.
Below are the best places to see the Northern Lights when you visit Norway-
The small city of Tromsø, also known as the ‘Arctic capital’, is one of the perfect places that offer a breathtaking view of the Northern Lights in Norway.
Tromsø is pretty in the daytime, too, which gives you yet another reason to visit the place apart from seeing the Northern Lights. You can go sightseeing in the beautiful fjords and coasts. The place provides an overview of contemporary Arctic culture, traditional cultures, various cuisines, and a pretty landscape.
One thing to pay attention to if you’re planning to see the Northern Lights from Tromsø is that the season to see the lights here is the shortest because it is located at 69 degrees latitude. You can hire local guides to go out for Northern Lights safaris to receive a better experience.
The city is better known as “Paris of the North”. The place always holds concerts or events throughout the year.
Lyngenfjord is a thinly populated city between Tromsø and Alta, tucked behind the Lyngen Alps and has one of the driest climates in Europe.
Hike up to Ovi Raishinn and then visit the Reisa National Park, located on the northernmost tripoint. Another interesting spot is the Three-country Cairn, where the borders of three countries- Norway, Sweden, and Finland meet.
You can also enjoy the breathtaking views of the Lynxes Alps range from the islands around Skjervøy or the Spakenes peninsula, along with seeing the Northern Lights.
This place is also popularly considered one of Norway’s premier destinations for ski tourists.
Bodø is a culturally rich city located in the southern part of Arctic Norway. The city is the absolute combination of charming natural beauty along with bustling city life.
You can experience the ecstatic Northern Lights and wonderful natural life from Salten, which has been recognized as a famous cultural centre over the last few years with a very sparse population of about 50,000 inhabitants. It is also famous for the new library and concert hall that won an award recently.
Take a guided tour and create beautiful memories relaxing on the remote beaches of Lopsstranden, Mjelle, or Sandhornøya and go glamping in the warm domes at Følvika. The world’s most substantial tidal current, Saltstraumen, is a place that is worth the visit.
The place is the main centre of Arctic adventures such as RIB boat trips, dog sledging, and fishing. Bodø is looking forward to becoming the glorious cultural capital of Europe by 2024.
4. Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands make a stunning archipelago located right under the auroral oval, which makes the chances of seeing the Northern Lights more certain from here. It is surrounded by the serene sea and stunning mountains at 67 degrees latitude. Due to its location, the sun is nowhere to be seen in this area in mid-winter for about a month.
Lofoten islands are rich historically and are full of quaint fishing villages, and the ports for cruises add more beauty to the island. The Northern Lights are ecstatic here, but it’s not just the colourful sky. The sea reflects the lights, which makes the view even more lovely.
Experience the ecstatic Aurora from the balcony of your Rorbu, which is a traditional fisherman’s cabin located right by the coast of the sea. This is one of the best places to experience the Northern lights.
The place offers several winter activities such as fishing, hiking, ski touring, horse riding, RIB boat safaris, alpine skiing, kayaking, and dog sledging for adventure buffs. Apart from that, you can relax in a steaming hot tub and enjoy the Northern Lights dancing in the sky.
Apart from this, if the weather is not too suitable, you can always visit the ancient museums and Viking sites, and enjoy unique cuisines from the restaurants.
5. Vesterålen Islands
Vesterålen is also known as the kingdom of whales located beneath the auroral oval and on the edge of the continental shelf. This place is the home of humpback whales, sperm whales, and killer whales.
Everything about this place is warmly inviting you to visit there and enjoy its rich natural beauty of unending white beaches, shoreline islets, open sea views, alpine mountains, and massive fjords.
See the Northern Lights from the modern Spaceship Aurora Visitor’s Centre and go on a whale safari in Andenes. A ski tour down the snow-covered mountains is a must to get a rush of adrenalin. You can also visit the beautiful fishing village of Nyksund.
Get an overview of the Sami culture and cuisine by joining a native Sami family. There is a farmhouse restaurant combined with living accommodation at Kvitnes Gård.
Enjoy the days in the place by participating in autumn and winter outdoor activities like dog sledging, cross-country skiing, and seal and whale safaris.
When the polar nights in Vesterålen light up the night sky with the enchanting Northern Lights, have your guide capture that memory for you.
Alta is the northernmost region to see the Northern Lights in Norway. The place is rich in culture and cuisines due to its multi-ethnic heritage from the Samis and Finns. It has been a meeting place for indigenous people from the old Stone Age.
Go out hiking and scale the top of the Halide mountain. On reaching the top, you can see the world’s first permanent northern lights observatory, whose creation dates back to 1899. The building still stands there even after its closing in 1926.
You can explore the best places in Finnmark and the Arctic coast with the guidance of experienced local northern lights hunters. You may see the orcas and humpback whales if you are lucky enough. They are often spotted from November to January. The locals also provide facilities for whale safaris.
Relax in the most iconic Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, where everything is uniquely made of ice, whether the rooms, beds, or even the glasses in the hotel bar. The hotel has a lodge with massive glass windows with a great view of the Alta River, and you can enjoy the Northern Lights from inside the warmth of your blankets.
Seeking adventures? Take part in the place’s winter activities, like dog sledging, skiing, snowmobiling, and fat bike riding.
On the way to the North Pole, Svalbard is another archipelago located 900 km on the northern outskirts of Norway’s mainland. This place is the home of polar bears, delightful huskies, snow-covered fjords, glaciers, ice caves, and beguiling wildlife.
The snow and the lively Northern Lights above the beautiful landscape of Svalbard makes the place so gorgeous and unique. Svalbard has one of the best wine cellars in Northern Europe at Husets Restaurant.
A worth visiting place in Svalbard is Longyearbyen, a cosmopolitan city of Norway with 2400 residents from 53 countries living together. The place has a lot of shops, restaurants, bars, breweries, and sites for holding concerts.
Spend an exciting day dog sledging, snowmobiling, glacial ice caving, snowshoeing, and then relax in the warm saunas.
Varanger is one of the best sites to experience the Northern Lights in Norway, which is also claimed as one of the world’s top 1oo areas for bird watching by the Top Birding Sites of the World. This place is best known for its exquisite architecture, bird watching, hiking, and Northern Lights hunting.
Spot the stunning Aurora by driving past the Norwegian Scenic Route Varanger. The drive will surely be one of the most memorable because the lights magnify the beauty of the snow-covered roads and the surrounding nature. You can go there with a guide to know exactly when to be ready for the lights to show up.
Take a short boat ride from Vardø to reach Hornøya, where you will be bared to the most elegant natural beauty and wildlife. You can also visit the several fishing villages in this area. The Steilneset Memorial, also known as Witch Memorial, is worth your visit because of its beautiful architecture.
The place offers combined Arctic activities along with watching the Northern Lights. Another best way to experience the beauty of Varanger is by going on a king crab safari or a fishing excursion. Want to make your sightseeing a little adventurous? Ride an ATV or a go on a snowmobile safari.
Narvik offers a great experience to see the stunning Northern Lights in Norway during winter and the midnight sun in summer on its clear skies from very close proximity. A guided tour would help you explore all the fun things of the city during the day as you wait for the lights to show up at night.
To reach the top of the Narvikfjellet mountains, go for a ski lift or a ride in the cable car. Relax by the Langstranda Beach. You can also stop by the Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Centre and enjoy the wildlife in its natural habitat. Narvik War Museum is another prominent place to provide you with all the historical knowledge from the Second World War.
Take a relaxing train journey with a background of the Norwegian fjords by the Ofotbanen railways, which run from Narvik to the Swedish borders. You can also take part in winter activities like skiing and dog sledging.
Nordkapp is the northernmost point to watch the Norway Northern Lights in Europe. It is a plateau on a sea cliff 307 meters above the sea. You can watch the Aurora lighting up the sky here as long as the sky is pristine and clear.
One of the most famous tourist attractions here, with the most amazing views of the Barents Sea, is the North Cape Plateau on Magerøya. The landscape is spotless white during the winters.
Another worth visiting place is the geological wonder of Kirkeporten, which is the best place to see the Northern Lights. Scale the mountain of Storfjellet in Honningsvåg to experience the fantastic views it has to offer. Also, stop by the northernmost fishing village in the world, Skarsvåg.
Explore the place in a snowmobile or an ATV, try ice fishing, go on a king crab safari, and try snowshoeing.
5 Other Things to Enjoy in Norway
1. Live a Day as a Native.
Visit the reindeer farm at Tromsø, take a dog sledging tour, and explore the ancient Sami settlements. Instead of being a tourist, soak in the beauty of the place like a native person. Learn all the quirky facts about the place. Treat your tastebuds by feasting on the local food. Stop to rest and warm yourself up with a hot drink in a lavvu, a traditional Sami tent used by the native people of Northern Scandinavia.
2. Try all the Adventure Sports and Excursions the Place Offers.
During the winter, the place is fully covered in layers of white snow, letting you experience all the winter activities. You can go cross-country skiing in the alpine forests. You can also try snowshoeing or dog sledging. Looking for a serene way to pass an afternoon? Go ice fishing.
3. Whale Watching is a Must.
The Arctic area is the residence of many marine animals. You can go out for whale safaris with professional guides.
4. Go Out on a Safari.
Go out on a snowmobile safari and explore the unique wildlife. Be mindful to notice the moose, Arctic fox, white-tailed eagles, and reindeer on your way.
Norway is also famous for its natural beauty. So, you can go out in the wild for sightseeing and maybe also capture a few snaps for yourself to look at when you get home.
5. Explore all the Beautiful Towns.
Norway is much more than the Northern lights only. Northern Norway’s towns are naturally quite beautiful, and some are also exceptionally rich culturally and historically. Therefore, you can spend the day walking around the towns and exploring them as you wait for the Arctic sky to light up.
5 Things to Avoid in Norway Northern Lights
1. Pack the Right Clothes.
The nights are freezing, and you would not want to freeze from the chills in the dark. So, pack all the warm clothes and be prepared to see the lights like a champ!
Thermal base wears to keep your body heat inside, woollen clothes to keep the cold outside, a scarf or a hat would keep your ears and head warm, a pair of gloves obviously, and a pair of warm winter boots are a must.
2. Settle in Northern Norway.
Although the population is relatively sparse here, the country is quite extensive. Therefore, if you plan a trip to see the Northern Lights in Norway, you must head to the Arctic Circle, i.e., northern Norway.
There are rare cases where you may spot the Aurora in the southern part, but that’s almost like losing your chances to see the Northern Lights. The best places in the north that will guarantee you a sight of the lights are Bodø, Alta, or Tromsø.
3. Plan a Trip with Sufficient Time.
The Arctic Circle is far from Oslo, so you need to plan the trip with sufficient duration. There are many cheap flights from Oslo to reach the Arctic Circle.
Also, once you are there, you would not want to leave without getting a glance at the Northern Lights. The weather is unpredictable, and so is the Northern Light.
4. Not Booking a Northern Lights Tour.
You can see the lights anyway if it appears in the night sky. But, signing up for a guided tour is also worth it.
It is said that if you hire a guide, they will try their best to make your experience of seeing the lights successful. The guides are very amiable and will help you capture your glorious moments with the lights and will even lend you their cameras to capture the lights yourself.
5. Plan the Trip at the Best Time.
You must have gathered by now that planning a trip in the summer is a no if your sole motive is to see the Aurora Borealis, but you must also know that the Northern Lights season can be quite cold. So, Norway has plenty of pretty places worth visiting at the other times of the year too.
Also, for those who want to see the lights but are not a fan of the extreme weather of November, December, and January, you can visit in September, October, February, and March.