The interest in northern lights trips to Norway has soared in recent years. Now the best ‘solar weather’ for a decade is expected to attract a record number of visitors this winter.
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing the northern lights or ‘aurora borealis’, as they are also known. The interest in trips to Northern Norway to watch this spectacular natural lightshow has soared in recent years. And visitor numbers are expected to receive a further boost this winter, as the forthcoming season is set to offer one of the best opportunities to see the Northern Lights in a decade or more. This is due to a natural phenomenon where the sun’s polarity flips, which happens approximately every 11 years.
The current period of solar maximum activity has already had one peak – towards the end of 2011 and early 2012. With the second peak at the end of 2013, strong sightings are set to continue in this winter.
“Seeing the northern lights in Norway are on many travellers’ bucket list. We hope to fulfil and exceed people’s dreams about seeing the northern lights this coming season”, says director of tourism in Norway, Per-Arne Tuftin.
Surge in demand
The Aurora belt hits Northern Norway in the Lofoten islands and follows the coast all the way to Nordkapp, Europe’snorthernmost point. There is no other place on earth that offers a better chance of spotting the lights, than in Northern Norway.
Norway is the best place in the world to spot the natural phenomenon for several reasons.
Large areas of the aurora zone are inaccessible for travellers – and winter temperatures in the majority of inland areas within the zone are very low.
However, thanks to the Gulf Stream, the coastal areas of Norway have a milder climate than other locations at the same latitudes. These areas are also much easier to access by several flight connections from all over the world.
Due to its position as a ‘northern lights hub’, Northern Norway is seeing a surge in demand. In the last five years there has been a 130 per cent rise in commercial bed nights in the three most northerly counties in Norway – creating a growth value of around NOK 143 million.
Arctic Adventures beneath the Northern Lights
Watching the eerily beautiful glow unfold and the sky coming alive with an other-worldly display of blue-green flickering lights is a truly soul-stirring encounter. The chance to observe the Aurora is an important draw to visit Northern Norway for people from all over the world and there are numerous exciting Arctic Adventures on offer. They all present a unique chance of catching the elusive lights while trying out exciting and inspiring activities simultaneously.
Choices range from dog sledding or snowmobiling through the frozen plains, sleep in an ice hotel, to whale watching, ice fishing, photography tuition, cross country skiing and coach tours. Or, you can go hunting the lights on board the traditional Norwegian coastal steamer, Hurtigruten, calling at 34 ports of call along the beautiful frozen coastline of Norway.
- The aurora zone is a ring-shaped band where the chances of seeing the northern lights are highest. The aurora zone stretches across the northern part of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Finland), over to Siberia in northern Russia, and then across Alaska and the northernmost parts of Canada, and further across southern Greenland and Iceland (see map). It is in these places that you have the best chances of seeing auroras.