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Norway is a part of the Scandinavia peninsula and often called the land of the midnight sun. However, its proximity to the Arctic North makes it magical in more than one ways. The wonderful play of the sun, night and day is just one of them. The dancing northern lights that light up the skies in hues and patterns that are rarely seen elsewhere in the world make Norway the darling amongst all other natural wonders. Besides, the staggering mountains, islands, ice sheets, cliffs and stunning landscape views give Norway some of the best naturally amazing sceneries on earth.
The northern lights or the aurora occur due to the ionization of atmospheric particles which emits light of different colors and variations. They occur at night when the sky is dark and during the winter months. Northern Norway due to its location is one of the best places to view this natural phenomenon. The lights are a way of living for the local inhabitants, a scientific fascination for thinkers and a canvas of artistic beauty for the artists. In Norway itself, two destinations stand out when it comes to viewing the northern lights.
Lofoten an archipelago in northern Norway is a land of dramatic scenic views with its mountains and snowcapped peaks, bays and beaches, open seas and pristine lands. Though it lies within the Arctic Circle the warm Gulf Stream current gives it a much milder climate. Also popular for skiing, hiking, fishing or scuba diving Lofoten also has a strong Viking connection and the Lofotr Viking Museum is one of its kind.
The islands are separated from the mainland by the Vestfjorden but connected through bridges and tunnels. However, it is the Arctic Lights that have been a large reason why tourists throng to this splendid group of islands. In fact, the northern lights have been captured by artists over the years and the various galleries bear proof of the mystical attraction that the lights have had over artistic minds.
Come winter and the night skies of Lofoten light up with myriad colors from the lights. Watching the ballet of the dancing lights against the towering peaks of stunning beauty – there is nothing much else that can beat this view. For the lights to occur, primarily one need, clear skies, extreme latitude, darkness and solar activity. Lofoten provides for the darkness and latitude, however, the clear skies and solar activity have to be left to chance as well as some detailed studies, for example, the chances of the appearance of the northern lights is more after several days of a solar storm.
And thus waiting for the lights can be rewarding but also frustrating, especially when the wait is too long or not as predicted. The coastal areas of Lofoten are more prone to the show of lights, with the beaches of Vestvagoy and Flakstadoy more popular to catch some wonderful views. Haukland, Utakleiv and Vik beaches are in different directions allowing one to move along with the lights and the Skagsanden beach with its open northern skies gives excellent views when the lights occur in more than one direction. Inland locations depend on various other ground factors, such as, snow on the ground; as well mountains can block the view of the lights.
Though one can see the northern lights from anywhere in Lofoten, some of the other better known places are, Reine, Hamnoy, Myrland beach, Storsand beach and Unstad beach.
Another fascinating city in North Norway Tromso is a cultural center that loves its various summer festivals. However, come winter and Tromso becomes a leading destination for viewing the northern lights.
Also, known as the starting point to start any adventures to the Arctic this area situated in the middle of the auroral oval has the highest probability to view the northern lights. With the surrounding landscapes mesmerizing with steep mountains and gorgeous fjords, Tromso is also popular for whale watching, sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
A settlement that is probably one of the largest than other so close to the Arctic Pole, Tromso is flooded in the magnificent northern lights during the winters from mid-September to mid-April. With its excellent flight connectivity as well as its warmer climate due to the Gulf Stream effect, makes Tromso a practical destination of travelers.
Though the northern lights can be seen from anywhere in Tromso, some locations that can absolutely make for a view worth dying for, is up on the mountains using the Fjellheisen cable car, Brosmetinden Mountain, Skulsfjord, Otertinden and Ersfjord.
Lofoten and Tromso are the best chances to view the splendor of the northern lights however; luck has a large role to play. On some days these are too elusive whereas on others, they are hard to miss even when seated in the middle of the town. Nonetheless the Arctic Lights are much more than just a tourist attraction or ‘once in a lifetime’ experience to tick off the bucket list. It is a spiritual, spell binding notion that will leave you touched and changed in many ways.