Your Guide To See The Northern Lights Is Here

Also known as the aurora borealis, the northern lights are a consequence of solar storms and solar flares ejecting charged particles towards Earth, producing mesmerising colours
For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

Planning a trip to witness the mesmerising phenomenon of the northern lights is an adventure that promises awe-inspiring natural beauty. The aurora borealis, with its vibrant colours in the night sky, is a sight that draws travellers from around the world. To make the most of your Northern Lights expedition, consider these tips to ensure your journey to witness the Northern Lights becomes a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Plan Your Trip In Winter 

A valuable tip for observing the northern lights is to plan your visit during the winter season in the northern hemisphere, spanning from October to March. During this period, Northern Europe encounters extended periods of darkness due to the shorter days, in contrast to the lengthy daylight hours of summer. This prolonged darkness offers ample opportunities to seek out the aurora borealis.

In the northernmost regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, you can encounter polar nights, especially around the winter solstice in late December, when the sun stays below the horizon for the entire day.

Go Towards The North Side

To witness the northern lights, it's advisable to travel towards the north. The primary molecular activity responsible for the phenomenon occurs near Earth's magnetic poles. Consequently, the Arctic region is the optimal spot for observing the aurora. Some of the most spectacular light displays materialise near or above the Arctic Circle. In the geographical range between 65 and 72 degrees of latitude, a region is identified by the straightforward names "northern lights belt" or "aurora zone."

For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

 Step Away From Big Cities

Light pollution presents a significant issue in the present day when appreciating the night sky. This concern applies equally to the observation of the aurora. To enhance your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon, it's crucial to distance yourself from large cities and towns, and opt for remote locations, instead. One option is to embark on a guided tour into the wilderness for the night. This arrangement permits you to reside in more densely populated areas to explore cultural attractions during daylight hours.

Aurora borealis over Hamnoy in Norway
Aurora borealis over Hamnoy in NorwayShutterstock

Try Fun Activities

The northern lights illuminate a cloudless sky regardless of your presence with a camera. Hence, consider maximising your Northern European stay.

Opt for activities like reserving a snowmobile tour, exploring the Ice or Snow Hotel, or going on a dog sledging adventure. These activities enable you to depart from urban areas and immerse yourself in the Nordic winter scenery while remaining vigilant for the auroras.

Weather Check 

The location alone holds little significance without the appropriate combination of solar activity and unclouded skies. Before finalising your travel plans, examine the winter weather conditions in the country of your choice. Opt for the month with the least rainfall, as a rainy and overcast sky is not ideal for northern lights viewing. In cases where you've booked your tour well in advance, precise daily weather information may not be available. However, once you arrive at your destination, regularly monitor the weather and aurora forecasts.

Don't Doze-Off

In select Northern European regions, winter brings about an early sunset, which extends the duration of nighttime for you to exploit the absence of light. Nevertheless, the aurora borealis is most likely to manifest during the darkest and chilliest hours of the night. The prime timeframe typically falls between 11 PM and 2 AM, and guided tours usually commence after 9 PM to maximise your prospects. While it's feasible to catch a glimpse of them earlier, the optimal viewing experiences often occur late.

Opt For A Winter Cruise

Embarking on a winter cruise is a well-received method for discovering Northern Norway during the winter season. By venturing onto the sea, you'll depart from the urban illuminations, enhancing your odds of encountering the aurora set against the striking Norwegian shoreline.

Wear The Right Clothes

Winter weather in Northern Europe can fluctuate depending on the location and time of year. Generally, the closer you get to the North Pole, the colder it becomes. Irrespective of your destination, it's important to note that it gets colder at night when you're outside waiting for the aurora. Your packing essentials should include an insulated jacket and trousers (windproof and waterproof), thermal underlayers (wool provides superior warmth), caps, gloves and scarf.

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