Facebook iconTwitter iconInstagram icon

Where To See The Northern Lights In Norway: 2020 Guide

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
/
Last Updated:
December 18, 2019
Travel stories
Hoping to see the Northern Light in Norway? They are amazing! Well my guide on where to see the northern lights in Norway if the perfect place to start...
northern lights in norway
Note: Some posts may contain affiliate links. Read more here

Seeing the Northern Lights (also known as the aurora borealis) is often an experience at the top of everyone's bucket list, and it was on mine. I’ve always wanted to see the natural phenomenon that is the Northern lights, and since I was on a road trip that was heading to Norway, a destination famous for seeing the northern lights, I knew I was in for a good chance…

I’ve been to high and low in Norway and I’ve seen the northern lights more than once, so below I will tell you all you need to know about seeing the northern lights and where to see the northern lights in Norway…

And I warn you now...it is as amazing as you think! 

TAP TO INTERACT

Can you see the Northern lights in Norway? 

Yes, and very well at that. So, basically the further north you are in the world, the higher the chance you have of seeing the northern lights in Norway. This is why places in the north of Norway, such as Tromso, the North Cape and the Lofoten islands are all famous for seeing the Northern lights. 

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Norway?

The best time is during the months of October to March where the days are darker. But if you are wondering what month is best to see the northern lights in Norway in specific, I would say October. November on wards brings greater chance of snow, and you can’t see them with snow. 

The summer months in the north of Norway bring the midnight sun, which basically means it doesn’t go dark, so you have a 0% chance of seeing the northern lights. 

Some information about seeing the northern lights in Norway 

So there are some things you need to know about the northern lights in general, that will help make your northern light hunting adventures a little bit easier…

  • The KP index matters. So in basic terms, the KP index is basically a number that indicates if you can see the Northern lights in your area. The lower down the country, the higher the KP index needed to see the northern lights. For example, in Lapland, Finland you need a KP strength of 3, and in Northern Norway, you need a 1. 
  • This means in the north of Norway you can pretty much have a shot at seeing the northern lights every night...IF the weather plays good with you…
  • So another factor you need to remember when seeing the northern lights, is cloud coverage. If there are clouds in the sky, you won’t see the northern lights. If there are bits of clouds, but you can still see stars then you’re still in for a shot! 
  • It needs to be DARK! So there are certain months during the year when you have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Norway, and this is October to March because you have more hours of darkness (you’ve even got the polar night). 
  • When the days are short in Norway, you can easily see the northern lights from like 5-6 o'clock which is great. 
  • You can’t see the northern lights as well with light pollution, so head away from city lights and you’ll increase your chances. 
  • You need to let your eyes adjust to the dark. So don’t look at phone light outside. 
  • Download an aurora alert app. So these apps aren’t 100% accurate, but sometimes waiting out for the northern lights can be a bit of a wait game, and it can be cold, so if you get an app, you can see the chances of the lights coming out. Basically if the KP index is high enough, then it’s worth your time waiting outside. 

Something else to note about where to see the Northern Lights in Norway, you’ll have a high chance of seeing the “colours”. 

What I mean by this, is that sometimes if you’re looking at the northern lights further down the world, so say from Finland, or even Latvia, Estonia, then you’ll see the “white” of the northern lights, and you’ll only see the colours (predominantly green) when you put a camera too it. 

Well, when you are in north Norway, you will see that green with your own eyes, it's amazing. We actually seen pink and purple too...it’s unbelievable.

I actually think the north of Norway is possibly the best place in the world to see the Northern lights…

So with that being said, let’s look at where to see the northern lights in Norway! 

7 great places to see the Northern Lights in Norway

1. The North Cape 

The North Cape is the most northern point in all of Europe, so when it comes to seeing the northern lights in Norway, well you can’t go any further! This is without a doubt one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Norway and when we seen the lights here, it was an amazing show.

We saw pinks, greens, purples, all with the naked eye. I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

Since we had our own campervan, we parked up in an isolated area and had clear skies all night long. 

I think you can do Northern lights tours to the north cape, but your best bet is hiring a car and finding a spot of darkness yourself away from the crowds. 

2. Hamningberg

This was actually the first place Brad and I saw the Northern lights in Norway. Hamningberg is a fishing village in the north east of Norway and it’s super remote. It actually closes in the winter, but we visited in October so managed to visit.

We were the only people in the village, and we parked up in what I think was a field by the water (everything was covered in snow) and we were greeted to a show from the northern lights.

So if you’re wondering where to see the northern lights in Norway in October this is the spot! 

This is a great spot, and if you don’t want to go as far as Hamningberg, the port town of Vardo is close and it’s another great spot to see the northern lights thanks to its northerly location. 

3. Lakselv, Norway 

We pulled over by the huge fjord here whilst on our way to the North Cape. We weren’t actually planning on searching for the northern lights that night, but as soon as we parked up (around 5 o'clock), the lights were already starting to show. 

Before we knew it, a full northern lights dance was out with the most powerful of greens! The stars were sparkling and it was magical. We ended up having a BBQ and enjoying the epicness of the northern lights in Norway. 

4. Alta 

We didn’t see the Northern Lights in Alta, but it is one of the most popular places for where to see the northern lights in Norway. They actually have a Northern lights cathedral which is pretty darn cool, and there are plenty of companies who offer northern lights tours in Alta.

And you can stay in igloo style accommodation (with glass/clear windows) to see the northern lights from your bed...pretty cool! 

5. Tromso 

Tromso is one of the most well known destinations in Norway to see the northern lights...and actually I seen them a little bit, but it wasn’t very strong and I was literally just popping my head outside the window to check.

This is a popular tourist city in Northern Norway, and there are a lot of tours that go northern lights hunting from here. But I suggest you rent a car and drive out of the city. 

Lakes are always a good place to go, as you can get a reflection of the northern lights on the water!

6. Birtavarre, Norway

This was actually the location of the campsite we stayed in before we went hiking to a frozen waterfall (which is awesome btw!).

We parked up, and it was a fairly cloudy day, but with some breaks in the cloud, so I set my tripod up, left it on stargazing mode and waited inside (it was freezing) and the northern lights showed again!

This time with the backdrop of a mountain which looked pretty darn cool.

7. The Lofoten Islands 

This is another famous location in Norway that is known as one of the best places to see the northern lights in Norway. We actually camped 2 nights there and on both nights, the weather was not on our side.

So we did not see the northern lights...but I’ve seen some of the cool pictures and one of the cool places to spot them in Reine or the town of A. 

If you head to Lofoten, then check those locations out…

Read: Ultimate Guide To Visiting the Lofoten Islands 

So those are my favourite and best locations of where to see northern lights in Norway. Basically the further north you go, the higher the chance. You’ll also need to dedicate some time to the experience too. 

Give yourself at least 5 days and the chances are you’re going to get a clear night on one of those days.

And since you’re in Northern Norway where the KP doesn't need to be high, then if the solar winds and solar activity are on your side, then you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Norway. 

Tips for photographing the Northern lights in Norway 

I am not a professional photographer and I basically learn by doing, but here are some tips I picked up about taking photos of the northern lights 

  • I have both a DSLR and a Canon G7X mark ii camera and I found the latter had some great settings for catching the lights. They have a star gazing mode which is basically going to do all the work for you and not require you to adjust any settings. 
  • Otherwise, you need a very slow shutter speed, the slowest you can do. Follow these settings: 
  • A long shutter speed (up to 20 seconds if you wish)
  • A high ISO (up to 1600)
  • Lowest aperture you can get (around 2.8)
  • On the Canon G7x mark ii, there is also a star trailing mode, which you can set your camera on and it will record the “dancing” of the northern lights over a period of time. So for example, setting it up for 30 minutes will get you about 15 seconds of footage….
  • You NEED a tripod. 

Should I take a northern lights tour in Norway? 

So the big question is, should you pay to take a northern lights tour in Norway? Basically, the way I look at it is, you either pay for northern lights tour, or you spend the money on a car rental and go aurora hunting yourself. 

We did a northern lights tour when in Finland, and I do have to say it was awesome, we learnt a lot and the advantage a tour guide has is knowledge. 

They know the best spots to catch the northern lights, so can take you to some “secret” locations. If you do opt for a tour, I suggest you research and pick a tour guide that does small group tours (or even private) so that you can really have the experience all to yourself. 

Mass tourism style tours don’t really care if you see the lights or not, whereas a small group tour are eager for you to see them and will keep driving to locations to hunt for them! 

Just be aware that if you pay for a tour, it is NEVER a guarantee to see the northern lights in Norway. Unfortunately we can’t control nature, and you can’t ask for a refund if you don’t see the northern lights. Just bare that in mind. 

Your other option is to rent out a car and head to some of the locations I have listed above as where to see the northern lights in Norway.

You can check car rental prices for Norway here. But if there are a couple of you, then it will probably work out better financially to rent a car, plus you can control your itinerary then. 

Other tips for seeing the Northern lights in Norway 

  • Wrap up warm. Unless you’re in an igloo or accommodation with a glass window all around, you’ll be outside hunting for the northern lights. You’ll need to wrap up warm to withstand the cold and stay comfortable. 
  • It’s good to go somewhere where you can build a small fire. Perhaps enjoy some fire roasted sausages. 
  • Remember if it’s snowing, there is no chance of seeing the Northern Lights, so don’t bother waiting out in the cold 

Can I see the northern lights in Oslo? 

A lot of people visit the south of Norway too and to see the northern lights that far down, you’re going to need a KP of 5. If you can see them in deep south Norway, then you’ll see them in Scotland and possibly northern Ireland too.

But, it does happen! When we were in the north, the KP hit 8 and people in my country (northern Ireland) where seeing them strong, so it’s totally possible, just a lot less likely. 

So if you’re wondering where to see the northern lights in Norway Oslo, then I suggest you head out of the city, away from light pollution to a lake, or even a forest for the best chance. 

As a rule of thumb, the further north you are, the higher the chance. 

So there you go, I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide on where to see the Northern Lights in Norway.

I hope you’ve got some good tips on how to see the Northern lights as well as specific locations on where to see the northern lights in beautiful Norway. If you’ve got any other tips to add to this Northern lights guide, then drop me a comment below. 

Click here to follow us on Instagram and stay up to date with our latest adventures!

Leave a comment

Let us know what you think!