Catching the Northern Lights19.12.18 | Nicola
The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, are one of the Earth’s most mesmerising phenomenon. With winter now upon us we are giving you our suggestions to make the most of this magical wonder and experience them for yourself.
Our top Northern Lights holidays
Ice Hotel, Sweden
We have operated the specialist website IceHotels.co.uk for nearly ten years and know this amazing, unique hotel inside out. We have some special packages that include a wonderful Northern Lights by snowmobile excursion, as well as a husky trip where you learn to mush the sleigh yourselves. We also upgrade our clients to the special Art Suite. Prices start from around £1,200 per person with flights, one night on ice, three nights’ warm accommodation, transfers, breakfast daily and two special excursions. You can visit all-year-round now with the special Ice Hotel 365, but the main winter season is from mid-December to March. Visit IceHotels.co.uk for more details.
Tree Hotel, Sweden
Another unique hotel in Sweden is the Tree Hotel. Each tree house room is completely different. Our favourite is the UFO (like something out of the 80s film Flight of the Navigator). The surroundings are picturesque, and Britta’s Guest House is a 1950s themed home where you take meals, and certainly adds a unique, quirky element to your stay. Activities include snowmobiling, ice fishing and more. Three-night packages from £1,445 per person. The Tree Hotel and Ice Hotel can be easily combined to make a twin-centre holiday, with a lovely train journey between the two hotels.
Land of the Northern Lights tour
Follow in Joanna Lumley’s footsteps on this special independent tour. This touring holiday using local transport begins in Trondheim, Norway’s former ancient capital. You then travel by rail across the Arctic Circle to the pretty little port of Bodø. Embark on a short flight to the great Vestfjord and the magical Lofted Islands. Continue on an overnight mini-cruise to the Arctic capital itself, Tromsø. Eight days costs from £1,985 per person.
One the best value for money places to see the Northern Lights is Iceland. A three-night break to Reykjavik with flights and accommodation starts from £695 per person. You can then pick and choose various excursions to add on – our top tip would be the Super Jeep Northern Lights trip.
Hurtigruten coastal cruises, Norway
Cruising along the Norwegian Coast is a great way to see the beautiful fjords and of course the Northern Lights. A popular option is a eight-day tour from the south of the Norwegian coast to the north. It offers great value for money with flight inclusive packages starting from £995 per person. This even includes a night staying at the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes too!
Abisko Sky Station, Sweden
Voted by National Geographic as the best place in the world to see the lights, The Aurora Sky Station at Abisko is a mountain top viewing lodge. Accessed by a chairlift, we arrange for our clients to have a traditional dinner earlier in the evening before the rest of the visitors arrive. This intimate experience adds something special to the night. You can stay at the station until 1am to ensure you get a lot of opportunities to see the lights. We often combine this with a stay at the Ice Hotel which is in the same area.
At a latitude of nearly 70 degrees north, Tromsø is the largest city in the Nordic countries north of the Arctic Circle. Surrounded by the Lyngen Alps, vast forests, blue fjords and an archipelago of hundreds of islands, this lively university city has much to offer the visitor whether summer or winter. The winter months, with its moderate arctic climate of c. -4°C, brings the natural phenomena of the Polar Nights (November 21 and January 21) and Northern Lights (September to April) as well as a host of activities to suit all interests from dog-sledding, glacial walking, snowmobile safaris and snow shoe excursions. Three-night short breaks with flights and private transfers cost from £530 per person.
Polar Express to Swedish Lapland
This truly wonderful holiday begins in Stockholm, before taking the overnight journey by rail northwards into Swedish Lapland. You’ll love exploring Sweden’s capital city which is beautifully situated over 14 islands connected together by 57 bridges. Your overnight train, or ‘norrlandståget’ (northern train), from Stockholm to Luleå is a romantic way of making your long journey northwards to Lapland. Your train leaves Stockholm during the early evening and arrives into Luleå the following morning. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sleep in your seat – we will reserved a comfortable two-berth sleeper compartment especially for you with shower and WC either in the compartment itself or available in the corridor.
Luleå is truly a place of contrasts. You will be surprised by the international atmosphere of the town which has a bustling centre with an excellent selection of quality restaurants, bars and cafes from which to sit and experience everyday Arctic life. The city’s Ice Road offers further opportunity to meet the locals as they ice skate, ski, walk, promenade with prams or simply walk the dog! The beautiful Luleå archipelago has a total of 1,300 islands and only 100 residents and is a unique wilderness environment where the sea around the island freezes up to a metre thick in winter and enormous ice statues, created by the build-up of pack ice, can be seen out in the furthermost parts of the archipelago.
This is a spectacular place to explore by snowmobile and dog-sled, experiencing a true Arctic wilderness during the day and returning to the city for the evening to mix with the locals and share their lifestyle. A Northern Lights hunt is included in your holiday as we know viewing these ethereal wonders is likely to be on your wish list. From £1,395 per person.
Adults-only Finland luxury lodges
This newly transformed adults-only wilderness hotel is just a total haven of peace and quiet and is tucked in the most incredible lakeside location in the depths of the wild. It is small scale and just oozes comfort and charm with its high-end décor and stunning log-built construction. With this as your base, we can assure you that every free moment you have can be savoured and enjoyed. The hotel’s proximity to Lake Inari means that, by night, there is a vast expanse of dark sky above you, ideal for Northern Lights hunting. The lake and surrounding area also offer a base for a myriad of activities during your time here. Despite the short length of this trip, we have included all the ‘must-dos’ when visiting northern Finland. You will visit the village of Nellim for an incredible day which combines reindeer encounters and dog sledding, you’ll explore the wilds on snowshoes and will have the chance to try snowmobiling. We have also included two Northern Lights hunts.
Three nights costs from £1,495 per person including flights, transfers, accommodation with full board basis, dog sledding, visiting a reindeer farm, snowshoeing, aurora camp, snowmobiling lesson and aurora snowshoeing, fully qualified guides and instructors during activities, cold weather clothing for the duration of your stay and aurora alert until approximately 1am!
Top Northern Lights tips
● Think ‘off-season’ – in far-north Scandinavia, the lights start to come out to play as early as the end of August with specific late summer/autumn excursions offered. Some locals near the Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland say October is, in fact, one of the best times to see them, as well as March when it is quieter and cheaper to visit, even though most expect it to be January and February.
● Join a photo tour – while modern phones and cameras are great at capturing day to day life, the illusive Northern Lights with their dancing pattern, dark night conditions and cold temperatures can make getting the perfect picture a challenge. Many trips offer a taster photo tour, suitable for all levels of experience.
● Maximise your opportunities – the lights can be illusive at times, and weather conditions could prevent sightings. Our advice is not to rely on just one opportunity to see them. For example, on the Super Jeep trip in Iceland, if you don’t see them on your first excursion, you can go again the next night for free. A longer trip, travelling around Scandinavia may also be a good idea giving you extra opportunities in different areas.
● Beyond the lights – there are so many fantastic places to visit and activities to enjoy on these kind of trips, we always manage our clients’ expectations by arranging other experiences to create more and more memories, and then if the worst happens and the lights don’t come out to play for you, it was still be a fantastic trip all round!
● Don’t cut corners – there are companies out there offering very cheap short trips, or even just one-off flights. In our experience, these can be in large groups and also give you limited opportunities to see the lights. For such a once-in-a-lifetime trip, do you really want to compromise and risk wasting your money? Investing a little more can take it from a mediocre experience to one which will stay with you forever.
To book, call RB Collection on 01543 258631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Nicola has visited Iceland and Oliver has visited Sweden for first hand knowledge and advice when booking.