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First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

In cooperation with: Visit Norway
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South Africa
posts: 217
reviews: 36
First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

I will possibly never be able to forgive myself for leaving Fairbanks on our trip to Alaska in 2011, after having received email notification from the University there that there had been activity on the sun, and an Aurora could be expected the following day. Because we had a reservation for the following night in Copper Centre, prior to our southbound cruise, we left Fairbanks. BIG mistake! On the cruise, fellow travelers showed us video footage of the magnificent Aurora they had experienced in Fairbanks that night! To almost deliberately miss an Aurora, (thinking we would be able to also see it in Copper Centre), was inexcusable!

So, now I have been reading up quite a bit about seeing the NL in Norway, especially Tromso area. Many persons have suggested that end March is the best time to see the NL. My planning will accordingly be around this date. I don't think I'd like to do the cruise thing, but rather have a firm hotel or apartment reservation in that area for about 14 days, and surely I should be able to see it on one of those nights? The cruise ships, I believe, just don't spend enough time in Tromso or surrounds.

My husband no longer wishes to travel abroad ('been there, done that!'), so I will probably travel alone, which means I will not have the confidence to hire a car as I find it daunting to travel on the other side of the road, as well as in snowy conditions. Accordingly, I will have to rely on public transport, taxis, etc. I would like to be near shopping facilities perhaps, so that I could do something during the day, other than sleep to be ready at night for the NL!!

I would be so grateful to receive any advice and information from persons who have knowledge about this region, the NL, excursions from Tromso area, even good accommodation. I have been trying to book some places on the Internet, but they already seem full for March 2014. How long in advance should one try to book hotels for end March? If March 2014 is too close, I don't mind starting my planning for March 2015. To me, planning is already part of the travel experience. I would like to do everything possible to see the NL, definitely an item on my bucket list!

Many thanks!

114 replies to this topic
Harstad, Norway
Destination Expert
for Bergen, Norway
posts: 11,424
reviews: 35
1. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

March is peak season but not necessarily because it is the best time for the NL. It is more that it coincides with the European half term holidays, there is snow for snow related activities and the sun and the daylight is back.

It can very well be that some accomodation is booked up, especially if you search for a 14 day period. And do your search directly with the hotel, the chain or establishment rather than booking engines.

Virtually all accomodation available in Tromsø is listed on the official web site. If all suitable accomodation is booked up, I am afraid nobody on the forum would be able to help you. Perhaps divide your time between accomodations or do a combination of Tromsø and Lofoten or Tromsø and Alta.

http://www.visittromso.no/en/Accommodation/

South Africa
posts: 217
reviews: 36
2. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

Thanks! Will look into this. I was hesitant to stay in two different places, mainly because I will be without a car. Will find out about places where rail or bus transport is available.

What do you know about day trips to the Northern Lights please? Someone mentioned having booked a NL tour with Gunnar. Have never heard of this, but will look into it also.

Finally, in your opinion, when is the best possible time to see the NL please? Not end March?

Oslo
posts: 7,448
reviews: 60
3. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

If there is lights activity you basically only need a clear sky (and a dark spot), a guide can help you find a good spot as well as other interesting info, but a guided tour is not really needed.

There is no railway in the north.

Harstad, Norway
Destination Expert
for Bergen, Norway
posts: 11,424
reviews: 35
4. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

The NL season runs from September till late March and there is really no time that is the best. Weather plays the biggest role as you need a clear sky and of course NL activity. And darkness, from early April it is too bright to observe them.

The trips are not day trips, they are evening/night outings as this is the time when the lights appear. There are many tour providers in Tromsø.

http://www.visittromso.no/en/Activities/

Getting around without a car is not easy - you can go to south Lofoten or north and east to Kirkenes on Hurtigruten (ship).

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,772
reviews: 8
5. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

The Aurora season goes from August to April, and nobody can whic time who will be best.

Simple because that we are dealing with the sun, so... if you like to follow what are happen up there, then http://www.spaceweather.com are one of the best places to check out.

Normally we something of Aurora close to every night, but there can also be nights with beautiful clear sky, billion of stars, and no Northern lights, so...

It`s a question about little gambling and good luck... plus you need to be where the best weather are... at least partly clear sky in north, west and straight up.

Last winter March was not funny, since we during the two last weeks of the month got most of the snow that winter, so... but, next March can be totally different with beautiful weather. That`s the fun with weather..;)

The best advice I can give, it`s to stay not to short time; We recommend at least 5 nights!

Welcome to Tromsø and Arctic Norway..;)

South Africa
posts: 217
reviews: 36
6. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

You have all been wonderfully helpful. At least now I have information from those who know, so that I can start enquiries and work around the information received. Really looking forward to the trip already. Would have loved though to see Norway in Spring or Summer, but first priority at present is the NL, which means cold weather!!

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,772
reviews: 8
7. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

Not necessary cold weather for the chase after Northern lights...

September can be a lovely time for see her dance and during these days now, we have around 15-20 plus degrees..;)

South Africa
posts: 217
reviews: 36
8. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

Is it dark enough then in September? (I would perhaps have more courage to drive a rental car if there was no snow, but on the other hand, coming from a country where we hardly ever see snow, that is always very special to me).

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,772
reviews: 8
9. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

Yes, the darkness begins to come back in the beginning of August, after the midnight sun ends the last week of July...

South Africa
posts: 217
reviews: 36
10. Re: First trip to Norway, especially to see the Northern Lights!

Are you perhaps the 'Gunnar' NL guide referred to by someone, or is this purely coincidence?

Is there by any chance a website where one could check out historical NL display dates, in order to try and ascertain best chances of seeing it.

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