During the winter I'm thinking of going to Scandanavia for the primary reason of seeing the Aurora...becuase I have wanted to for ages and I now have enough money saved up to do so.
I was thinking Norway and journeying up to Alta, because there are petroglyphs there, which I'd like to see as well. I don't have enough money to make it to Iceland/Greenland/Alaska.
Has anyone seen them? I've been on VisitNorway.com and they reckon that it is best to visit late autumn and early spring...but other websites say that although to Aurora is stronger then, the sun "outshines" it, and thus its best to visit during winter...who is right?
Plus, been on the NSB website and trains don't seem to run during December...and Alta doesn't have a train station...according to the map. Busses must take hours and hours to get up north, and I probably only have enough money for a week so I'm not sure it would be worth it.
What is the best way to travel up to the far north in Norway (or Sweden or Finland)? During winter that is...on a (tight) budget. What is the best time to visit to see the Aurora?
Hi Sam - you have to check out Bill Bryson's "Neither Here nor There". He spent about a month in the north of Norway during the winter waiting to catch a glimpse of the aurora - apparently it is completely unreliable and shows up when it wants to. When it did show up he said it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen but this of course is a rather well to do travel author who can afford to stay in a hotel for months on end!
I've never been disappointed in Northern Finland, but I've been told that I've been really lucky.
Presently I'm reading Bill Bryson's; "Notes From a Small Island", its great to read a sort-of foreigners perspective on Britain...bringing to light some weird British traits which I'd never before realised!
Anyway - I've nearly finished so I'll make; "Neither Here Nor There" my next purchase...sounds good.
The main problem, I'm finding, is merely getting there. I couldn't check the train timetables on the website for December. Busses I imagine would take too long and planes are probably too expensive, though that's what I need to look into next.
Plus I have a job now so I can't afford to spend too long out there, a week, perhaps two, depending on the accomodation costs...getting to Scandanavia itself is pretty cheap because of RyanAir...but getting around isn't, apparently.
Apparently in the far north during the winter at the right time (night time), providing its cloudless, the Aurora is almost certain to show herself...according to the Northern Lights website...however, as you say, it seems to be quite a thing of luck...
I'd love to see them though, even if it means postponing it another year. There is always the possibility of going to Scotland, I have a friend who lives in Inverness...perhaps I could visit him and venture up the A9 to John O' Groats...have no idea what the likihood of seeing it there is...
Just came across this post. I would definitely recommend going in Sep/Oct because that is definitely the better time to see the aurora. The sky is still clear so if you are away from a city area then you are more likely to catch sight of the aurora than if you were to travel in December.
I visited Kiruna one December after I had been regularly checking forecasts that stated the likelihood of an aurora occurence and spent an entire Christmas weekend (when it was predicted that there would be a 95% chance) out in the cold freezing air waiting for the aurora but never got to see the aurora but happened to just glance out of my window one night in Stockholm the following winter and saw a beautiful greenish auroral display. There is a lot of luck, patience and time required for sighting the aurora.
And if you want to get to the north of Norway by train, the only way to do it is through Sweden. It goes through Kiruna and onward to Narvik passing the famous fjords.
Good luck! It is definitely an experience of a lifetime...
[ Edit: Edited on Sep 14, 2008, at 8:20 AM by Ahila ]
Thank you for informing me about going through Sweden! I'll remember that for next time because I really want to go to the far north of Norway!
I am actually going! I've teamed up with a couple of friends...we're going to Scotland first - staying with my mate's grandparents, who live in Perth. Then on to Norway and getting the train up north, we're going in November, it makes more practical sense, and conveniently we all have a few day's off work (the company I work for has down time). We're not going quite as far north as Alta, so hopefully we'll see it, if not, it doesn't matter because we'll do the day time things as well!