Viewing the magnificent Aurora Borealis is one of life’s bucket list experiences and there is an incredible choice of different ways to see the Northern Lights, from mountain biking to ice flotation, or from the comfort of a luxurious glass igloo.
For those looking for inspiration, here’s top ten ways to see the Northern Lights…
1. Ice Floating in Finnish Lapland
For the more adventurous, and new for 2017/18, is an innovative Aurora Ice Floating experience which offers the chance to see the Northern Lights overhead whilst floating in an icy lake. Protected by a high-quality drysuit, lie back and float under the starry sky in sub-zero temperatures while remaining toasty warm and dry underneath.
The Finnish town of Rovaniemi just south of the Arctic Circle is the location for this unique flotation adventure and can be experienced on a four-day break showcasing the very best in outdoor adventure staying in the superb Arctic Light Hotel in the heart of Rovaniemi, as well as a night at the new Arctic TreeHouse Hotel.
2. Polar Bear Spotting in Philip Pullman’s Svalbard
From snowy peaks to polar bears, the Svalbard wilderness is probably the most memorable setting for Philip Pullman’s trilogy – His Dark Materials. This new itinerary for Pullman aficionados showcases the best of it all with husky sledding trips, a walk through a secret glacier cave and a visit to a wilderness camp in search of the Northern Lights. The dogsledding adventure is along 12km of icy trails onto a glacier where there is a hidden ice cave reflecting the fantasy world of Pullman’s vivid imagination. The itinerary includes a real wilderness experience at the cabins of Camp Barentz in the remote Advent Valley where tales of the island and its polar bears are told around a crackling campfire. There’s an authentic reindeer dinner washed down with cake and fire-brewed coffee is served to ensure guests are alert to keep a lookout for the Northern Lights.
3. Glamping in the Arctic Circle
Aurora Safari Camp in Lulea has been described as African style in the Arctic. Surrounded by trees, and at the foot of a forested mountain, five comfortable lavvu rooms each have a firewood heater and the campfire outside has a magnificent view over a frozen lake. There is no artificial light at all from the camp and on clear nights the stargazing is amazing. The mountain behind the camp is home to moose, red fox, reindeer, roe deer and bears (hibernating in winter), and animal tracks are often seen close to the rooms.
Set well inside the Arctic Circle in the heart of Swedish Lapland, the camp is an ideal place to see the Northern Lights. Explore Swedish forests and lakes as well as ice fishing, ice sculpting, dog sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoe walks.
4. Board the Polar Express
One of the most spectacular and romantic ways to see the Northern Lights is from the charm and comfort of a train that sweeps up into the Arctic Circle. In Norway, the journey from Bodo to Trondheim offers views across fjords and lochs against a stunning backdrop of magnificent mountains.
5. Dining in an Ice Dome
The Norwegian city of Tromso in the centre of the northern aurora zone offers superb value Northern Lights viewing with direct flights from Gatwick. With a lively street scene, some great museums and art galleries as well as more pubs per capita than anywhere else in Norway, Tromso has become a favourite among Northern Lights hunters. New this winter are the Tromso Ice Domes carved in the ice by expert artists. Their shimmering sculptures and friezes are lit up and are themed on everything from the Northern Lights to the local Samí culture. Head out to the Domes for a unique gourmet meal served in an ice restaurant where warm clothes, entrance and a guided tour of the ice domes are included.
6. Hunt the Aurora by Mountain Bike
Many people don’t know that the Northern Lights come out from late August onwards – with the glorious kaleidoscope of season’s change coupled with milder weather, chasing the Northern Lights in autumn is a truly enticing proposition. New this year, Best Served Scandinavia has an itinerary which offers guests the chance to take in the Autumn Aurora on mountain bike rides, small-group tours and nights spent around a campfire whilst staying in charming, timber-clad accommodation as well as a night in an Aurora Dome – a luxury igloo tent.
7. Sleeping in a Glass Igloo
What more romantic way to see the Northern Lights than snuggled under warm blankets from an igloo complete with anti-fog glass domes. Stay in the magical Levin Iglut, set deep in the snowy wilderness, and you’ll be in with a chance of glimpsing the elusive aurora. This five-day holiday includes one night in the Levin Iglut and three nights at Hotel Harriniva, a wilderness hotel with cosy pine cabins, tucked away in the forest, complete with saunas, outdoor Jacuzzis and spa treatments as well as a farm of 400 friendly huskies. Activities range from cross country skiing or husky sledding to wilderness cookery lessons.
8. Sitting on Santa’s Knee
Combine the Northern Lights with a festive trip to see Santa in Finnish Lapland. Travel to the Hotel Jeris in Harriniva which offers cosy wilderness-style rooms and back-to-nature cabins in a wonderful setting overlooking Lake Jerisjärvi. There’s plenty to keep the kids busy entertained including a visit to a local reindeer farm, a guided tour of a husky farm, a husky safari and a 20km long snowmobile safari. Free entrance to the Arctic Spa is also included with its heated pools overlooking the lake and traditional Finnish smoke sauna. Naturally there’s a visit to the great man himself in his log cabin one evening following a sled ride through the forest and keen an eye out for a sight of the aurora borealis.
9. Cruising at Sea
Head out to sea on a cruise with Hurtigruten from Tromso to Kirkenes in search of the magical Aurora. Spend three nights onboard starting in Tromso and navigating through Norway’s northern fjordlands to Kirkenes keeping an eye on the night sky before heading back to Tromso for a final night’s stay in a hotel and a day to explore northern Norway’s largest city.
10. Flying Past in a Plane
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can see the Northern Lights from the comfort of a window seat on board a flight. If you are heading to Iceland make sure you book a seat on the right-hand side on the way out and on the left side for the way back from Iceland and keep a careful watch in case your luck is in.
From specialist Scandinavia tour operator Best Served Scandinavia.