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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.

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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
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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: