Categories
Guide

Lapland Northern Lights Chasing: Tips & Tricks

It was our dream to see the northern lights one day. Moving to Northern Europe made this desire happen very quickly. A decade passed, and we cannot anymore count how many times we adored lady Aurora in Lapland. Although you definitely need some luck, as the solar activity cannot be controlled, there are a lot of other things you can actually choose to increase the possibility of watching the Lapland northern lights whether you head to Norway, Sweden, or Finland.

In this post, we would like to share our best tips on how to see the Northern Lights in Lapland. This will include general guidelines, our insider tips, and a couple of cool places actually to travel to to maximize your chances.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

What Does Aurora Mean?

Aurora Borealis meaning is Northern Lights

The meaning of Aurora is dawn, and it comes from Latin. However, when you hear Aurora Borealis, it refers to the Northern Lights (Polar Lights). Aurora Australis is the southern lights, a.k.a. the light phenomenon in the southern hemisphere.

What Color Are the Northern Lights?

The northern lights are usually green.

Green is the most common color you will see, alongside white ones, when the activity is not so strong. A couple of times a year, the northern lights’ color is pink or violet and even more rarely yellowish.

So the color you may see are green, violet (and similar hues), yellow and blue. We have never seen anything blue during the last decade, though, so it really is rare.

Where to See the Northern Lights?

What are the best places to see the northern lights? There are plenty of. Everywhere in the Arctic, you have pretty good chances, and luckily, Lapland is mostly in the Arctic. You can see the aurora borealis in all three (or four) countries of Lapland: Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Besides these Eurasian countries, other places above the Arctic circle are suitable destinations, so Alaska and the northern territories of Canada are great options. But let’s get into more details.

How to See the Northern Lights?

What do you need in order to successfully spot this amazing light phenomena? Let’s check it out!

Solar Activity

The Northern Lights are shaped from solar particles hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, so to see the light phenomena, the solar activity needs to be suitable for it.

There are several forecast sites as physicists predict the sun’s activity in advance. Of course, they aren’t 100% correct but gives good prediction at least 3-4 day ahead.

Clear Sky

Even though the solar activity is top notch, the sky can be covered by thick clouds and you won’t see anything. So another important factor is the clear sky, which can vary a lot even locally.

Darkness

Last but not least, you need darkness. It means that you need night time – or at least close to sunset or sunrise – to be able to physically see them. They are dancing during the day too, but the sunlight makes the sky too bright to notice them.

Which is the best month to see the northern lights?

The best months to see the northern lights are from September to April.

When is it dark enough to see the northern lights? – you wonder. One of the specialties of the Arctic is the nigthless nights in summer. This means, there is no night time throughout the summer months, so there is zero chance to see the Aurora.

The first, very short nights start around August, but depending on how north you are, it is still usually too bright to see the polar lights. You should plan your northern lights trip between September and March. April is again getting too bright and the nights are getting very short.

If I were you, I would choose either late September, when the weather is still pleasantly warm (understood not yet freezing) or January and February, when the landscape is covered with snow.

Don’t worry if you are tied to the holidays, that is another great time to spot them as basically there is darkness all ‘day’. The only downside of that period is the higher accommodation prices.

Can You See the Northern Light on Your Own?

Of course, it is possible to go on a northern lights hunt individually, without a tour. However, we often recommend to take part in a tour to maximize your chances (unless the activity is really huge, then you will see them from the street as well).

Guides as well as locals know the best places to go as you need clear view towards to northern horizon as majority of the lights appear there. The local guide can also help to go to a location which is not covered by clouds. And last but not least, they can drive in wintery, snowy, icy roads, and watch out for wildlife like reindeer and moose with much bigger confidence than you.

Another option is to stay in a cozy glass cabin and watch the sky from there. Here are some of our favorite northern lights igloos and cabins across Lapland.

Where to See the Northern Lights?

Finland Northern Lights

Finnish Lapland is a vast area. The most popular places to go for northern lights chasing are Rovaniemi, Levi and Ylläs region, and Saariselkä and Inari. However, any destination in Lapland is a good place to see them. We would recommend choosing the location based on other activities (like skiing in Levi or Yllas, or meeting with the real Santa in Rovaniemi) you want to do.

Sweden Northern Lights

In Swedish Lapland the most popular locations are Kiruna and Lulea.

Norway Northern Lights

Norway has also numerous spectacular spots to see the northern lights. This list is not full, but just to have an idea where you may head to: Lofoten, Senja, Alta, Bodo, Hammerfest, Nordkapp, Kirkenes.

Northern Lights Tours

In the following link, you can browse among cheaper northern lights tours.

  • Norway Northern Lights Tours –> CLICK HERE
  • Sweden Northern Lights Tours –> CLICK HERE
  • Finland Northern Lights Tours –> CLICK HERE
Categories
Guide

Nordkapp Norway – What to Do in Nordkapp

The meaning of Nordkapp – The North Cape of Norway

Nordkapp is one of the most northern municipalities in Norway. It belongs to Tromso and Finnmark province.

Visiting Nordkapp

Although the place is very well-known among tourists, only 3000 habitants live in the municipality, mostly in settlement of Honningsvag. Speaking about tourist, yearly 200 thousand visitors set foot on the Mageroya Island where Nordkapp is. Most of these visitors either arrive during the winter months or around the summer solstice to enjoy the never-ending bring summer days.

What is in Nordkapp?

In short, northing. Nordkapp is the 307 meters (1,007 ft) high cliff in the middle of nowhere, but don’t worry, it is still worth visiting. We consider it one of the best places in Norway that we recently visited. Although it is mistakenly considered the most northern point of Norway, it’s nevertheless a unique tip on the Mageroya Island. In summer, you can enjoy the nightless nights while in winter you can chase the northern lights.

When is the Best Time to Visit Nordkapp?

The best time to visit Nordkapp is either between June and August, or December and March. The midnight sun is the summer attraction, while you can also go hiking. In winter, you can enjoy the snow, winter activities, and of course the northern lights.

Nordkapp midnight sun time: 12 May – 2 August (2021)

Nordkapp Weather Forecast

The Norwegian meteorological institue has very good short-term forecasts.

The Most Northern Point of Norway

As we mentioned before, Nordkapp is not the most northern point of Norway, not even the most northern part of the island. It is Cape Nordkinn or Kinnarodden in Norwegian ( 71° 08′ 02″ N).

And how about the most northern point of Europe? If you count Franz Jozed Land to Europe, then the Russian Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island at 81° 48′ 24″ N is the place you are looking for. If not, then the most northern point of Europe is on the Spitsbergen. Europe’s northernmost point is the northern point of the island of Rossøya is an islet in Svalbard, Norway at 80° 49′ 44.41″ N.

Nordkapp Coordinates

Nordkapp Latitude and Longitude: Latitude 71.164932 Longitude 25.786972

Nordkapp coordinates in other format:
71° 9′ 53.7552” N 25° 47′ 13.0992” E

How to Get to Nordkapp?

Travel to Nordkapp By Car

The best option is to have a car to explore the island. Unless you live in Norway, Sweden or Finland, most likely you don’t want to drive that much with your own car. Nevertheless, you have a couple of option to fly to Northern Norway, and rent a car there, for example, in Honningsvag, which is not that far from Nordkapp.

A good news to those who want to drive in Nordkapp and Northern Norway: unlike in the south, there are almost no paid roads (only paid ferries). Even the Nordkapp tunnel is free nowadays.

Nordkapp by Plane

Besides the main settlement of Mageroya, Honningvag, you can fly in and rent a car a bit further if you keen on traveling Northern Norway.

Bigger settlements with airport are:

  • Honningsvag
  • Hammerfest
  • Tromso
  • Alta
  • Bodo
  • Kirkenes

Nordkapp Visitor Center & What to Do on Nordkapp

When you visit Nordkapp, you will have a chance not only walk around the cliff, but explore the visitor center. It’s a perfect place to warm up – which you will appreciate even in the cold summer time.

Visitor Center Entrance Fee

The Nordkapp Visitor Center’s fee is 250 NOK per person for adults (2020).

The visitor center of course has a souvenir shop and a restaurant, and you will have a chance to watch the movies about Nordkapp too. The warm toilets are another plus. However, if you are not interested in these, you can skip the visitor center and the hefty entrance fees.

The visitor center opening hours changes with the seasons. In summer, it is open every day between 10 am and 1 am, while in winter only between 10 am and 2 pm, and may be closed on Saturdays or Sundays. Check it in advance.

Nordkapp Parking Fee

In 2020, the parking fee to Nordkapp was 350 NOK.

If you come with a motorized vehicle, it is compulsory to pay.

How to Visit Nordkapp for free?

Parking fees (as of 2020) were collected manually at the entrance of the huge parking lot. The booths are manned only during the opening hours of the visitor centre, so between 10 am and 1 am (in summer) and very limited hours in winter (10 am to 2 pm). If you arrive outside of this time, you don’t need to pay the parking fee.

Note: In winter, it is pitch dark there, so consider it wisely if you want to go there when the Visitor Center is closed.

How Long Time to Spend on Nordkapp?

On Nordkapp itself a couple of hours is more than enough. You can count it as a half-a-day program.

If you consider the whole island, 2-3 days are ideal, so you can explore other locations, go hiking, or take part in organized tours.

Watch the Northern Lights

Between October and March, you can chase the northern lights (a.k.a. Aurora Borealis). Whether you go on your own or enjoy an organized tour, it will be a blast (but dress warm!).

Go Hiking to the Real North Cape: Knivkjellodden

Hike to the Knivkjellodden is the real northern point of the Nordkapp island. It is a 19 km long hike with a 400 m of elevation gain. It takes 3-7 hours, depending on your fitness.

Walk to Kirkeporten in Skarsvåg

Kirkeporten is a large arch next to the sea. You can visit it with a rather short hike. It is about 3 km with the elevation gain of only 50 meters. Count an hour for the adventure.

Honningsvag

Honningsvåg is the main settlement on Mageroya. It has all the services you may need, and probably you will stay in some of its hotels or guest houses.

Accommodation in Nordkapp

Best hotels:

Best guest houses:

Categories
Hotels

The Best Hotels in Lapland – Northern Lights Hotels and Igloo Hotels

Lapland is a magical destination, and you can make your vacation more exciting by staying in one of the best hotels in Lapland where you can see northern lights from your own bed – if you are lucky.

There are numerous luxury hotels to stay in Lapland whether you head to Finland, Norway, or Sweden. To help you with the decision to pick the most stunning destination, let us show you which are the best hotels to stay in Lapland!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

The Best Hotels in Lapland – Including The Best Igloo Hotels in Lapland

While the igloo hotels and ice hotels are crazy popular, the latter ones are not really suitable hotels for families visiting Lapland.

The Best Hotels in Finnish Lapland

best hotels in Lapland in winter

The Finnish Lapland is one of the most visited places in the Nordics where you can spend an amazing winter holiday. The most popular locations are Rovaniemi, Levi, and Saariselka, but it is worth considering Levi or Yllas as well.

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel – Rovaniemi

The Arctic TreeHouse Hotel is located in Rovaniemi, near the home of Santa Claus in Finnish Lapland.

Arctic Treehouse Hotel Review

  • It is in close proximity to Rovaniemi and the anta Claus Village
  • It offers a wide range of winter activities
  • It features a jacuzzi and forest spa
  • It is family-friendly and the best hotel in Lapland for families who travel to Rovaniemi and would like a bit of luxury.
  • Won the World’s Luxury Restaurants Award 2018
  • Average price per night: 300-600€

 

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselka

glass igloo hotel in Lapland

Kakslauttanen the first and one of the best hotels in Lapland to see northern lights. The glass igloos offer an amazing view to the night sky, you only need a bit of luck to observe the mesmerizing green phenomena.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Review

  • You can choose between cozy log cabins and glass igloos.
  • Kasklauttanen has the world’s largest smoke sauna.
  • You can try ice swimming too
  • Tours and winter activities are offered by the hotel, so you don’t need to get anywhere to fulfill your bucket list.
  • You can go winter hiking or snowshoeing to the nearby Urho Kekkonen National Park.
  • guests are provided with a hat, sleeping bag, and pair of woolen socks for extra warmth and comfort. 

Average price per night: 500-1200€

Lapland Hotels Saaga, Yllas

Lapland Hotels Saaga is one of the best hotels in Yllas Lapland (there aren’t many luxury hotels there) that you can pick. Not only the hotel is luxurious and neatly designed, but the nearby ski resort also offers lots of slopes from beginner to advance levels, so you can explore the snowy fells from a different perspective.

This family-friendly hotel is a great option for those who travel with kids too, their big studios or one of their bigger rooms can accommodate more guests

Lapland Hotels Saaga Review

  • family-friendly
  • close to the skiing slopes
  • affordable prices

Golden Crown Levin Iglut, Levi

The Golden Crown Levin Iglut is one of the best hotels in Lapland Levi. Levi is a popular ski center among Finnish people too, so you can’t be wrong choosing them.

Levin Iglut Review

  • Golden Crown Levin Iglut offers one of the cheapest igloos in Finland as they are is an area where more locals holiday. For observing the northern light you only need to observe the sky!
  • You can go downhill skiing in the huge resort.
  • Levi offers a huge variety of winter activities: safaris, northern lights hunts, husky and reindeer farm visits, etc.

Average price per night: 300-700€

 Wilderness Hotel & Igloos, Inari

Inari Lake and its surrounding is an authentic Sami area you can explore.

Wilderness Hotel Inari Review

  • The glass cabins have a unique, thermal glass roof that stays clear from ice and snow so you don’t need to worry about the clear view of the sky
  • Another relative cheap luxury hotel in Lapland
  • They offer a variety of winter activities and tours
  • You can learn A LOT about the indigenous Sami culture and visit Siida, the Sami museum in Ivalo.

Average price per night: 400-600€

The Best Hotels in Swedish Lapland

best snowhotel in Lapland

Aurora Mountain Lodge, Kiruna

Aurora Mountain Lodge is a resort featuring wooden cabins with glass walls and roofs in Lannavaara, about 80 kilometers from Kiruna airport in Swedish Lapland.

Aurora Mountain Lodge Review

  • Aurora Cabins, Guest Rooms, Aurora Suites with glass walls & roofs to observe the Northern Lights
  • Features a variety of winter activities and other attractions, such as husky camp, horse stable, restaurant, sauna, and spa facilities.
  • You can select guided northern lights tours and snowmobile safaris too

Arctic Bath Hotel Sweden, Lulea

This floating hotel complex is about 85 km away from the Swedish City, Lulea, where you can easily travel by plane.

Arctic Bath Hotel Review

  • Absolutely unique experience in Swedish Lapland.
  • Floating double rooms with 160 cm wide beds on the Lule river.
  • for those who prefer to stay ashore can chose from the wooden cabins that fits up to 5 people, so prefect for families.
  • Variety of winter activities and tours
  • On site restaurant with local specialties.

Icehotel Sweden, Jukkasjärvi

How about a hotel made form over 1000 tons of pure ice?

IceHotel Sweden Review

  • First-class igloo experience
  • Solar panels help to keep the hotel operating whole year-round
  • you can choose between deluxe suites with private bathroom and sauna or other simpler rooms.
  • Northern lights tours and snowmobiling are some of the most popular activities organised in the hotel.
  • The ice hotel room temperature is around 5°C or 23°F.

TreeHotel, Harads, near Lulea

The TreeHotel is one of the special hotels in Swedish Lapland in the biggest city of Lulea. Who wouldn’t like to sleep in these suspended tree rooms in a gorgeous pine forest?

TreeHotel Review

  • You can choose between 7 different types of tree rooms suspended 4-10 meters above the ground
  • It is only an hour of car ride from Lule Airport
  • The hotel sauna and hot tub can be used for an additional fee.
  • All of the tree-rooms are equipped with bio-toilet, electricity, underfloor heating, air conditioning, coffee maker and water kettle, fresh drinking water, refrigerators, WiFi, but you need to use the showers in the neighboring building.

The Best Hotels in Norwegian Lapland to Watch the Northern Lights

 Not only Finland and Sweden, but also Norway offers a variety of luxury hotels to watch the northern lights in Lapland.

Kirkenes Snowhotel, Kirkenes

Another unique snow hotel in the Norwegian Arctic. The Snowhotel Kirkenes features 20 rooms with good mattresses to ensure a night of comfortable sleep for you and your loved one.

Kirkenes Snowhotel Review

  • The warm restaurant serves the best of Norwegian dishes from local ingredients, including berries and cheese.
  • The sauna will make sure you won’t feel cold, ever.
  • Nearby reindeer park visit and other winter activities can be easily arranged from the hotel.
  • It is open from December to March.

Tromso Ice Dome, Tromso

One of the best luxury hotels in Lapland. Although from the hotel itself you can’t see the Northern Lights, Tromso is a perfect city to try your luck and hunt those mesmerizing lights.

  • Don’t forget to visit the ice bar and the ICE CINEMA. You read it correctly, they built a small cinema every year.
  • Perfect location to go on Northern Light Tours in Lapland
  • Winter Activities and tours can be book from several operators in the city.

 Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta

Alta is a bit more south than the other Norwegian cities, yet still a perfect location for winter holiday in Lapland. The hotel is at the Alta River and features 30 rooms, suites and an ice bar and ice chapel too.

Sorrisniva Igloo Review

  • It has a unique ice bar and ice chapel beautifully decorated with ice scupltures.
  • Amazing location for northern lights
  • the hotel rooms not only have cosy warm sleeping bags but reindeer hides also help keeping the guests warm.
  • the hotel has a sauna and jakkuzzi as well

The Best Hotel in Lapland to See Northern Lights

For observing aurora borealis, our recommendation is the igloos in Saariselka (Finland).

Best Family Hotel in Lapland: Santa Claus Holiday Village, Rovaniemi

Even if you decide to stay in traditional accommodation or one of the best family hotels in Lapland, you can still book amazing northern lights hunt experience as an additional program. The northern lights tours are offered from September till late March.

Categories
Hiking

Hetta-Pallas: Hiking in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, one of the biggest national parks in Finland offers a huge variety of outdoor activities to nature-lovers. There are more than 300 kilometers of hiking trails in summer and over 500 kilometers of winter trails for hiking and cross country skiing worth exploring. Our first visits to Lapland were over ten years ago, and this national park was our destination when we went hiking the first time together.

Why Is It Special?

Isn’t hiking in Lapland enough reason to complete this hike? If not, let us tell you that the summer is unique in the Arctic.

The midnight sun shines over the fells and mires, while you can be totally confused about what time of the day it is. In a long hike, you can easily lose your time estimation if you try to guess by the brightness (you need to observe the position of the sun).

You see a variety of animals, especially birds and reindeer, flowers in this vast nature. It is peaceful and stunning at the same time.

Hetta – Pallas Trail

We had ambitious plans to walk along the 55-kilometer long trail in the middle of the park, carrying all our water and food for the hike, as we would not pass any settlement or shops. Actually, we walked a day more after Pallas and our total distance was 70ish kilometers.

Trailhead in Hetta

crossing Ounasjarvi

The northern trailhead is just on the other side of the Ounasjärvi lake. We paid a local fisherman a couple of euros to take us across the water so we could start our first but not last Lappish hiking adventure.

Hiking Trail

maked hiking trail in Finland

The trail is well marked but you are advised to carry a map for orientation or just to know what places are around. Needless to stay you can’t really navigate using your phone for a week or so.

Free Wilderness Huts to Sleep

wilderness hut in Lapland

Luckily the way is full of wilderness huts where you can hide from the mosquitoes and sleep for free, sharing the accommodation with others who trek in the park. In theory.

In practice, we didn’t share the huts as we barely saw other people. in 7 days we met with altogether 6 people who were all hiking in pairs. It is recommended not to go alone if possible, in case something happens. There isn’t much mobile reception or hiking traffic, despite the fact, we were there during the best time of the summer in July.

The best huts on the way are the following

  • Siuskuru
  • Tappuri
  • Pahakuru
  • Hannukuru (paid one)
  • Montelinmaja

Lappish Hut in Finalnd

Lappish Huts

There are a couple of Lappish huts too, we only slept in one near the Pallas National Park headquarter before continuing our route to the south.

Sauna

There is one paid sauna at Hannukuru. It costs only a couple of euros and you need to pay it by text message and heat it up yourself.

When To Hike in Pallas-Yllästunturi Naional Park

Summer is a great season to explore the park, you only have to deal with the little buzzing insects. We wore half of the time mosquito nets over our heads. Yeah, that’s Lapland too.

Wildlife

Reindeers

reindeer in Lapland

Despite the fact we barely met with other humans, we met with hundreds of reindeer. They were grazing, walking, running, or just looking around in millions of locations.

reindeer grazing in Lapland

One night we woke up for them grazing just right under the windows of the cabin, while another day one of them blocked the entrance to the wood storage and toilet and didn’t really want to move.

Insects

The extremely annoying mosquitoes were the worst part of the trip. In every valley between the beautiful fell they swarmed us. Of course, they loved the colder and humid places.

Lemmings and mice

Especially during ‘night’ time, we saw dozens of them running across the wooden planks or the trail to the forest when we disturbed their peace by our steps.

Birds

Of course, you will see plenty of birds as well.forest chicken birds

Midnight sun

midnight sun

From the end of May till the end of July the sun doesn’t set in Lapland and brings a magical view to the fells, tires, and forests.  It is bright all day long. If you have never experienced this, make sure you bring eye-shades, as the cabins don’t have blackout (and in some case any) curtains.

What to Bring for the Hike

  • good hiking shoes
  • backpack
  • sleeping bag
  • sunscreen and mosquito repellent
  • towel (if you want to jump into some of the lakes)
  • food for the whole hike plus a day
  • water (at least for a day, and you can refill in certain locations) We carried about 3 liters per person at all times.
  • Clothing for all types of weather. It can be anything between 0 and 35 degrees. Sunny, rainy, but it can even snow!

No need to carry a tent, unless you prefer sleeping in it.