Northern Lights holiday ideas please
Hi all, my other half has always wanted to do a Northern Lights type break, and it’s our anniversary coming up.Posted 2 months ago
I wonder if anyone else has looked into this, as I really have no idea about when and where gives us most likely chance to see them.
Would also like dramatic scenery and an interesting town. Not really fussed about ice hotels or any of that schiz but love a city break.
Another one that would be interested.Posted 2 months ago
I did a 2-week Norwegian cruise some years ago (although not sure how I feel about cruises at the moment! 😬) It was great, especially as a lot of the places we went to were quite small, and could be mostly explored in a day. It also started/ended at Tilbury, which living in the SE was very convenient!Posted 2 months ago
We got REALLY lucky with the lights, and saw them virtually every night. Amazing. The captain would wake everyone up with an announcement, and rate them out of 10. It got so, by the end, we didn’t bother getting out of bed for anything less than an 8 😂. (By contrast, a couple I know who went the week after us, didn’t see them at all – so very much a lottery!)
Best thing about the cruise was you ate on the boat, otherwise a 2-week holiday eating out in Norway would’ve been crippling! 😀
Did a lot of “stuff” which was optional (and fairly expensive) but pretty cool – dog sledding, snow-mobiling, trip to the ice-hotel (to visit, not stay overnight, although you could). If I’d been a bit more on-the-ball could’ve fitted in a morning’s skiing too!
Reykjavik / Iceland has the scenery and interesting town for the day times. But it does get cloudy which makes the likelihood of seeing the aurora in any of the European places lower than say North America. There was a recent thread, for a short break Reykjavik plus day tours, for 10 days do a loop of the island, or something in between. https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/help-planning-a-week-in-iceland/
Finnish lapland. If you have frequent flyer miles like Avios you may be able to get Finnair flights to the ‘interior’ cheaply. if you want something the size of a town then Rovaniemi is the place advertised by the tourist brochures. Never been, but really fancy doing a canoe trip in the lakes in Finland; there is proper wildlife too. September could be a good time, so you get plenty hours of dark but also plenty hours of daylight and reasonably mild weather.
Tromso, Norway, is one of the highest-latitude cities so you have a better chance of seeing visible aurora. But it can be cloudy so on a short break you might be lucky or unlucky with the weather. And being above the Arctic Circle the lack of daylight hours has a real impact, so I would avoid winter.Posted 2 months ago
Depending where you are, and maybe not as exciting, but northern Scotland is beautful and can get some amazing views of the lights over the North Sea / East coast. Alternatively, I’ve seen them from Trondheim in Norway, nice city and by the coast so a fairly clear view to be able to see them. Lots of great scenery round about too. I went Mid February in 2015 and seemed like a ratio of light / dark.Posted 2 months ago
Kielder.Posted 2 months ago
Seen then a few times. Best was Tromsø in January. Went out of the city (light pollution really can spoil pictures). Was -25 so a little cold but a fantastic vivid display. There is a reasonable Scandic hotel at the harbour and flights were not too bad (pre covid). Beer was silly price in the hotel at about €12 a pint but not as much in some of the restaurants. Spent a nice long weekend celebrating our anniversary there.
Seen them in Iceland as well but were not as vivid and had to use a 30sec exposure to get a decent picture (another anniversary!). Trip was actually to New York but best way to get there was via Iceland. Hated New York, loved Reykjavik. Wife loved New York and we spent way too long in Tiffany’s.
Oh and Trondheim mentioned above is a great place (used to work there a lot).Posted 2 months ago
Okay that’s some great info, I’ll look at Trondheim for starters.
So is time of year just long nights vd cloud cover?Posted 2 months ago
Many Food tips have been already mentioned, here is few more:Posted 2 months ago
– check the websites (there are few of them, I’ll link them later) to see whether there is any Northern Light activity when at location (€€€ for notification service at hotel)
– Northern lights are happening year round but they are not easily seen during white summer nights. Last winter there were couple of sightings in Helsinki are
– It is quite possible that you won’t see them during your trip, cloud cover etc may block the sightings
These guys specialise in it. Not actually used them but I know the owner as he’s a local rider.Posted 2 months ago
Yes, you need properly long dark winter nights and obviously clear skys.
The further north you are, the higher up in the sky you might experience it. And it needs to be dark, so if you are based in a town/city you’ll need a way to get away to somewhere drker.
How do I put this without sounding a party pooper – but don’t base your whole holiday around them. Go somewhere you might enjoy doing other stuff too. Are you a city break/ culture person or is cross country skiing more your thing? The lights might be….possibly…a bit of a let down. You might be straight unlucky and either have cloudy skies or they might not be playing. But even if they do, they might be a bit underwhelming to the naked eye. The difference between what they look like viewed live and what they look like from a long exposure photo that has then be ‘tweaked’ can be startling. I’ve got a few photos I’ve taken which are spectacular but at the timing it was very much ‘I think they are going off over there and that’s definitely a glow’. If you are expecting to see what you have seen in photos or heavily manipulated video, you might be a bit disappointed unless you are exceptionally lucky. The more north you go, the more lucky you might be.Posted 2 months ago
I’ve done 3 weeks skiing in Finland and not managed to see them; cloud cover, timings, etc have all combined to get in the way.Posted 2 months ago
But even if they do, they might be a bit underwhelming to the naked eye. The difference between what they look like viewed live and what they look like from a long exposure photo that has then be ‘tweaked’ can be startling.
I’d actually say the opposite is true. Photos of them look like computer special effects. As you say, that’s not what they really look like, at all. It really is one of the only things I can think of where you have to see it in person. They move/shift constantly, quite mesmerising.Posted 2 months ago
A few years back we went fatbiking in Finland in march & saw the lights on 2 or 3 nights.Posted 2 months ago
We went with Exodus,they don’t do the Fatbike holiday now but they still do this one
There’s no guarantee that you’ll see the lights,maybe we got lucky.
Dare I say it, there are not that many interesting towns in the north of the Nordic Region. Most are functional but not much there to keep you interested.
Scenery would put Norway or Iceland on top, but both have crappy weather so perhaps less chance of seeing the lights.
Despite that, as above, I’d go with either of Tromsø or Reykjavik as my starting points, unless you fancy an anniversary surrounded by itinerant mining/forestry/fishing industry workers on the loose.. me included!Posted 2 months ago
Check out Levi in Finland, nice little town. We have been skiing there many times but only seen the lights twice, but that is because we usually go in December.Posted 2 months ago
Depending where you are, and maybe not as exciting, but northern Scotland is beautful and can get some amazing views of the lights over the North Sea / East coast.
I lived there for 3 years and saw them twice so there’s a pretty high chance of disappointment if that’s the aim of your trip. One of those times they were really quite faint to the extent I wasn’t all that sure I was seeing them at all. They typically appear pretty low in the sky in Scotland so unless you’re on high ground or by the sea facing north – and its cloudless all the way to the horizon when they appear the chances are you’ll not see them.Posted 2 months ago
I’ve been to Rovaniemi in Finland in mid-February three times and seen it on all trips, however the best success was night flights over northern Sweden. I would suggest you go as far north as you can as the displays are more colourful and intense. Also, having seen it dozens of times, mostly it appears as a faint greenish glow to the naked eye in the northern sky – long exposures and photoshop are used extensively to modify photos. There is something about being out in the middle of nowhere at night just enjoying the serenity and the Milky Way. Whilst Iceland and Norway might have the scenery, the weather isn’t the best. I would go somewhere where there are extra sights and activities to enjoy if you don’t see the aurora.Posted 2 months ago
Went there earlier this year, think we were in the south west. Saw the northern lights each night on the first 4 nights there, got some unbelievable pictures. Didn’t go there just for that and by all accounts we were bloody lucky.
I did have to be quite determined though, minus 20 at 1 am in howling icy winds was no picnic.
Edit, there were loads of other things to see and do whilst there. Magical time had by all. Damn cold though.Posted 2 months ago
Also, having seen it dozens of times, mostly it appears as a faint greenish glow to the naked eye in the northern sky – long exposures
This is spot on, take an SLR and tripod if you want to have some stunning pics as memoriesPosted 2 months ago
This is spot on, take an SLR and tripod if you want to have some stunning pics as memories
they won’t be memories though, because you won’t have seen that 😂 Might as well just go on Google images if you want some spectacular pics of what the NL don’t actually look like 😀Posted 2 months ago
But you were therePosted 2 months ago
Yup, and this is where the memories are 😃Posted 2 months ago
Thanks for the reality check, so scenery andPosted 2 months ago
A nice town would be the first things with NL a bonus if we see them.
We are planning to go Finland fatbiking with these folks sometime.
I think apart from Tromso, Trondheim and Rekjavik you are going to be lacking in the city break department (the latter isn’t very far north for NL but otherwise a fascinating country and easy to get to)Posted 2 months ago
North East Iceland;Husavik, Akureyri, Myvatn or Asbergi. As late in the year as you can make. I once sat in the doorway of the tent with my son by my side as the most unbelievable light show cavorted across the sky.Posted 2 months ago
We did a city break in Stockholm, either side of the overnight sleeper train to Abisko. Originally planned to do Husky dog tour, but weather forecast wasn’t quite cold enough to make that happen so opted for a couple of other tours with a guide.
One of the tours was a NL ‘hunt’ type thing. Saw sod all, until we got dropped off at our accommodation at the end, and they made an appearance. It was my 40th that day so a nice memory.
Love sleeper trains though – best way to travel!Posted 2 months ago
I’d go to Tromso. You need to be able to get away from the town tho’ , so either a hire car (parking p.i.t.a.) or with someone who runs tours. They’ll also know how to get you above cloud cover.
The scenery there is great, and you’re very close to Kvaløya and Senja, but it will be dark all the time. A couple of clear winter nights on Senja could be amazing.Posted 2 months ago
I’ve been to Reykjavik twice and never seen the Northern Lights.
I’ve visited the Ice Hotel once(Sweden) and saw them a couple of times.
I’ve visited Northern Finland (Yyllas and Saariselka) approx’ 6-8 times and I saw the Northern Lights a lot.
That said it’s a bit of a lottery and requires clear skies, EM activity and a late night. We saw the best Northern Lights between 12am and 2am.Posted 2 months ago
I think maybe we should look at an interesting city to visit, that might have some NL possibility.Posted 2 months ago
Anniversary is Wednesday so need to sort something.
I work in Tromsø. I’ve seen them about 5 times in the last year (I’m onsite about once a month). You’ll not catch them now: the sun’s up. It’ll set in September (yes seriously).
Best time to see them is jan to March from about 10pm to 3am.
If I were you I’d fly to Tromso or Harstad (beautiful little town about 50k south with the most amazing scenery), play doing arctic things for a few days (dog sledding etc) and then jump on the hurtigruten cruise ferry for another couple of days heading north to Hammerfest.
Because it’s so frikkin dark for so much of the year they really go in for street lighting. Electricity is dirt cheap as it’s all Hydro and they pay a different rate depending on source. As a result light pollution is a real issue. There’s a beautiful lake at the top of the hill in town with a 3k walk around it’s perimeter. You can read a book all the way around at night in the winter. So you have to get out of town to see them properly & a ferry trip would be the best way to do that.Posted 2 months ago
I got back from the Finnish arctic circle yesterday. hot_fiat is correct, there’s no actual darkness at the moment. Even at 1 am the clear sky is just a bit dimmer than daytime (equivalent light conditions to a very thick cloud cover in the UK). Even if there is an aurora, it would be very hard to spot.
Plus, the biting insects are in abundance until late August/September. If you go, be prepared. They can make outdoor activities a complete misery otherwise.Posted 2 months ago
If you actually want to go this week, it’s going to be a trip to the Antarctic to see southern lights.
Every time I go to Harstad it’s grey and raining. I’ve been all four seasons, always the same. Saw the northern lights thro’ some murk anywayPosted 2 months ago
Sorry, only aiming to book by Wednesday, thinking Sept/Oct.Posted 2 months ago
She really hates the mudges so will avoid any earlier, but thanks I hadn’t thought of that.
THe midgies all died out in Norway. What we have now is flies. A enough flies to make taking panoramic shots impossible as the camera can’t process all the movement.
Oh Jesus, when do the flies bugger off?Posted 2 months ago
I reckon late August. When the temp starts to go randomly cold again.Posted 2 months ago
Go to the Ice Hotel. It’s aces.Posted 2 months ago
I would go further north than Trondheim for NL…
…Tromso, Senja, Abisko.
Avoid a week either side of full moon, it does make a difference.
Aurora are twice as common around the autumn and spring equinox periods. So, late September/October or February/late March.
Might not be snowy in autumn…Posted 2 months ago
…hope you have a lovely trip!
I haven’t really had any problems with midges in Tromso, or Senja, but you don’t need to go far inland. But by September, non issue I suspect.
Sunset and dark just before 8 and expect to be up at 2 or 3 to see something.Posted 2 months ago
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