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When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, there are several destinations to choose from. Here’s why the Lofoten Islands should be a serious contender – and how to make it happen.

Seeing the Northern Lights dance above me in Norway was one of the most magical travel moments I’ve had. For a few minutes, I forgot about the cold, the rest of the world disappeared and I felt the presence of the sky above me like never before.

Set to a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and starry skies, seeing the Northern Lights in Lofoten was one of those moments I wish I could freeze and keep forever. It was – quite simply – magical.

 

 

A Northern Lights trip should be on every traveller’s bucket list. The problem, of course, is that you can never guarantee it. A bit like going on safari to search for the Big 5, there’s no guarantee that the Northern Lights will show up.

To make sure the trip is one worth remembering for all the right reasons, it’s best to plan more than the Northern Lights. You can plan your trip around seeing the Northern Lights, sure, but don’t make it the one big goal. Instead, choose a destination where there’s a good chance you’ll see the Northern Lights, but will also have plenty more to look forward to. Somewhere like Lofoten.

 

 


Why visit Lofoten

Lofoten isn’t the only place in the world where you can see the Northern Lights, but it sure gives other destination a run for their money when it comes to other things to do.

Lofoten, in Northern Norway, is the full package. There are so many things to do in the Lofoten Islands that you could plan an exciting trip there with no hopes of even seeing the Northern Lights.

In fact, many people do! June is one of the most – if not the most – popular months for visiting Lofoten. But, with 24 hours of sunlight every day, there’s zero chance of any light displays. 

The Northern Lights are just one of many reasons to visit the Lofoten Islands, meaning you won’t be totally disappointed if they don’t appear.


The Northern Lights in the Lofoten Islands


Tips for planning your Lofoten Northern Lights trip

Okay, the Northern Lights might not be the only reason to visit Lofoten. But, if you’ve found your way to this post, there’s a good choice they’re your main reason. Here’s how to maximise your chancing of having that very magical experience in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

Stay longer than you think you need to

Many people only plan a few days in the Lofoten Islands. Whether it’s a weekend trip or part of a larger Norway tour, they simply don’t allow themselves enough time.

If you want to maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Lofoten – or anywhere – you need to stay as long as possible.

 

 

Avoid the middle of winter

While it might seem logical that the longest nights would be the best time for aurora spotting, it might not be. During the winter months, it gets VERY cold in Lofoten (and Norway in general). Not only that, but the weather is at its most unpredictable and being out in it is nothing short of miserable. 

For that reason, the best time to visit the Lofoten Islands is at the very beginning or end of winter.

The months of October, November, February and March are ideal. During this time, the skies are still dark enough to spot the Northern Lights but they’re also clearer than they would be in the middle of winter. 

You’ll also be able to enjoy all of the beautiful scenes and other wonders the Lofoten Islands have to offer during this time. 

Check the aurora forecast

You may not have the luxury to change your trip, but try to monitor the forecast if you can. Metcheck’s aurora forecast shows predictions for around three weeks in advance, and can be a great tool in planning your Lofoten trip.

If you have any flexibility in your travel plans, try to time your visit when the KPI levels are at 3 or above – the higher, the better.
 

 

Know there’s no guarantee 

I’m sure you already know this by now (especially if you’ve read this far) but you can never guarantee a sighting. And, for that reason, you can’t depend on it.

I’ve heard too many people complain about the lack of aurora during their trip, especially when it’s their sole reason for visiting Lofoten. 

As frustrating as it can be, nature will do whatever nature is supposed to do. As long you go with an understanding of this – and plenty of other plans – you will still have a great time.

Pack the right clothing

While the weather might be milder in March than it would be in, say, January, you’ll want to be prepared. 

If you’re lucky enough to see the Northern Lights in the Lofoten Islands, you won’t want the weather to ruin the experience. 

Make sure you pack plenty of warm layers, including gloves, thermal socks and a cosy hat. Being prepared for the weather will mean you can enjoy the Northern Lights without worrying about how cold it is!

 

 

Know your camera settings

If you’re going to look for the Northern Lights in Lofoten, there’s a good chance you want to photograph them. After all, they look even better in photos than they do in real life. 

Before you arrive, make sure you familiarise yourself with your camera’s settings. You may only have a few moments to capture the Northern Lights when they appear. This guide includes the best settings to use as well as some other tips and information for photographing the Northern Lights.


RELATED READ: All of the photography gear I travel with.


Have other plans

One of the best things about choosing Lofoten for your Northern Lights trip is that there are plenty of other things to do. You’ll have no problem filling your days with other activities. And that means the Northern Lights won’t be the sole focus of your trip. 

From snowy hikes and beach bonfires to the viking museum, there’s loads to explore on the Lofoten Islands.

If you’re brave enough to face the cold, the Lofoten Islands are home some incredible surfing spots. Check out Unstad Beach for one of the best Arctic surfing spots in the world. And if you’re not brave enough to hit the waters, head to Unstad Arctic Surf for some of the best cinnamon rolls you’ll ever taste.

With a Michelin starred restaurant and plenty of fine dining, the cinnamon rolls aren’t the only treats to indulge in. Foodies will love the Lofoten Islands’ modest yet buzzing food scene – something that is worth the trip alone.

 

 

Book a car in advance

If you’re planning on driving in the Lofoten Islands, you’ll want to book your car as early as possible.

Lofoten is quickly sliding onto more and more travel radars, yet still has very limited resources for visitors. Make sure you book your rental car as early as possible to avoid missing out (or paying over the odds!).


Consider a Northern Lights tour

While nobody can make the Northern Lights appear on cue (now wouldn’t that be amazing?), a tour guide will do everything they can to get you that all-important sighting.

Northern Lights guides monitor conditions so they can predict where the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights will be. Every day, they decide on where you’re most likely to catch a glimpse of green. Then they do everything they can to take you there.

Booking a tour to see something that can’t be guaranteed comes with its risks. A bit like whale-watching or an organised game drive, you’re putting your money down in the hope of seeing something.

But , if you want to spin it more positively, you’re also spending a little bit of money to maximise your chances of success. And when you’ve already travelled all the way to the Arctic Circle, it can be a very worthwhile investment.

 


Uttakliev Beach on Lofoten Islands during the daytime

Uttakliev is one of many amazing beaches in Lofoten.


Lofoten Northern Lights Tours

Whatever your travel style, there are several tours that will help you find the Northern Lights. Whether you want to photograph the Northern Lights or have them all to yourself, these tours will maximise your chances.

  • If you’re a budding photographer, you can choose to chase the Northern Lights with a professional photographer. Their photography skills combined with their local knowledge and experience of photographing the Northern Lights will give you the best chance of getting a great shot to take home.

BOOK YOUR TOUR

 

  • If you’re not so worried about photography, choose a tour that focuses more on the experience. If you just want to see the Northern Lights, a dedicated tour will give you the best chance. This one includes a hot drink and cake at a traditional Norwegian pub, as well as the Northern Lights experience. Group sizes are limited to 8.

BOOK YOUR TOUR

 

  • For the ultimate Northern Lights experience, you can also book a private tour. The price is per group, so it could work out pricey if you’re travelling solo or as a couple. But if you’re travelling as a larger group, it could be a really intimate way to see the Northern Lights in Lofoten. 

BOOK YOUR TOUR


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