The best places to see the northern lights
To experience the unbelievable colours that moves across the Arctic sky is on many travellers’ bucket list. Few places on earth offer more ways to witness the aurora borealis than Norway.
Our bold claim is that Northern Norway is amongst the most comfortable and interesting places to see the northern lights, as hundreds of thousands of people live in this huge geographical area. The region offers a vast selection of activities, tours, cruises, restaurants and hotels, which all play an important part in the Arctic experience. Check out the northern lights campaign offers.
To the locals in Northern Norway, the northern lights are a part of life and a fertile source for art, mythology, and legends. To others, like celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the phenomenon is an example of just how beautiful science can be.
Some media have reported that scientists expect the aurora lights to fade and appear less frequently over the next ten years. This is not true for Northern Norway, though, as scientist Truls Lynne Hansen at the Tromsø Geophysical Observatory explains: “It is true that we are past the northern lights climax which means there will be fewer observations around Oslo and further south. But under the auroral oval in Northern Norway we will not see any difference”.
What are the northern lights? On a very basic level the northern lights are quite simple to explain. The lights come at night when the sky is dark. It’s like a celestial ballet of light dancing across the night sky, with a colour palette (green, pink, violet) reminiscent of a really cool fashion show from the 1980s.
Between late September and late March, it is dark from early afternoon until late morning. This is the best time to see the northern lights. It is easy to get to Northern Norway and around.
Install the NorwayLights app for iPhone, Android or Windows – a forecast that helps you find the best time and place to see the northern lights.
Facts about the northern lights
Photo: Gaute Bruvik – visitnorway.com
The science and myths behind the northern lights
Perhaps not so surprisingly, the northern lights’ spectacle has given rise to several legends. Symbols linked to the northern lights are for instance found on the Sami shamanistic drum. The phenomenon has several different names in Sami, among them Guovssahas, which means “the light which can be heard”. Quite poetic, isn’t it?
And during the Viking Age, the northern lights were said to be the armour of the Valkyrie warrior virgins, shedding a strange flickering light. Oh, the vikings and their warrior virgins …
Explaining the northern lights
Interested in learning more about aurora’s origin? This video will explain the fascinating details behind the northern lights.
However, remember how we told you about her being a diva? Aurora borealis likes it best when the weather is cold and dry, usually from December. Some will tell you that the driest weather, giving clear skies, is found inland, but that isn’t always true.
With strong eastern winds the coast can be clearer than inland areas. In order to get the best value from the show you should try and avoid the full moon – not because of werewolves, but because a bright moon make the experience considerably paler.