It is at the top of my bucket list to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), and I want to start planning my trip. Where are the best spots to view Mother Earth's light show and when is the best time to go?
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Tromso, Norway is considered the "Capital of Northern Lights" and for a good reason.
The Aurora belt is located between 65° and 72° North. Tromsø is located 69° North, almost right in the middle of the belt. This means that on a day with a low KP-index of 0, 1 or 2, your chances of seeing the Northern Lights are far higher in the vicinity of Tromsø than anywhere else further North or South. It also means that on a night with KP-index of 1 or 2, someone in Tromsø will have the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights right above their heads, while someone standing further North or South will only see it on the horizon. The difference is huge.
Tromsø suffers from the volatile coastal conditions resulting in many cloudy nights. But as it is connected to the mainland, with roads leading to the rest of Scandinavia, you can on most nights drive somewhere to find a good spot for the Northern Lights if you know how to read the weather map for cloud cover and wind directions.
I run a Northern Lights tours in Tromsø, and on most nights, with between 1 to 3 hours of driving, it is possible to see the Northern Lights simply by finding an area with clear skies around Tromsø.
Hey! Go for the coast of Finnmark in the far north of Norway. I handle Communications in The Nordics for the company Hurtigruten ASA. We travel the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes with 11 ships on a daily basis. Fly to Tromsø. See the city. Hop on one of our ships in the evening. Travel the coast of Finnmark on your way to Kirkenes (just by the russian border). Two nights. There are no light pollution out at sea, so... The best way to fill up your bucket list :-) (Check out www.hurtigruten.us)