northern lights

Old Mar 16th, 2024, 01:02 PM
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northern lights

We're planning a trip for the beginning of March 2025 in search of the Northern Lights. From our research, it looks like Tromso, Norway may offer the best chances of success. (We've tried Iceland a few years ago; but we failed to see them). We're thinking of flying to Oslo, (from NJ), and then onward to Tromso. Our thought is a 4 to 5 day stay there; we would also like to try dogsledding there. We would appreciate any advice. Has anyone had any experience with Fjord Travel Norway? They make the arrangements; but we would travel independently. Thank you very much for your advice.
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 11:10 PM
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Tromso is indeed renowned for its Northern Lights sightings. Despite my two visits to Norway, the auroras have eluded me, but a colleague recently had the good fortune of witnessing them on a first-time visit. It seems there’s an element of chance with this natural wonder. He mentioned opting for a cruise, which might be a worthwhile consideration for your adventure as you will have more chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:03 AM
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In 2022 we were on a Norway fjords cruise when folks saw a magnificent display of the northern lights at 3am. Unfortunately most of us on the ship were fast asleep, we heard about it from the lucky few at breakfast the next morning. This was rather unusual, as it was only the third week of August.

Some years previously my brother went to Iceland and saw a some aurora. The same night others from his hotel had an excellent experience, so its really a question of being at the right place at the right time. Good luck!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 02:31 AM
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You can see the aurora in Canada, or Alaska, and even in northern US states with probably a better chance of seeing them there due to the auroral circle, but yes you can see them in Troms, or anywhere in northern Norway, Sweden or Finland too.

They are fickle so I wouldn't plan a trip solely to see them - you need other things to do as well, and as geetika says luck plays a huge role in seeing them. I have been lucky each trip to Norway, others can go back year after year and never see them.

March is a good time in principle as they tend to be more active near the equinox, but any time there is darkness works. Check the moon phase for the dates you are planning. A new moon is ideal, a full moon not so good.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:26 AM
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I was in Tromso last week. I took a Hurtigruten cruise from Bergen to Tromso, then I spent 3 days in Tromso. Hurtigruten will notify you at any hour of the night if the lights appear (this is optional). The lights never appeared on the cruise but I saw them 2 of the 3 nights I was in Tromso.

Please keep in mind you're not likely to see them in the city due to light pollution so I highly recommend a northern lights tour. I used Northern Shots. I enjoyed my tour so much, I signed up again the next night. On both nights we had fantastic lights, even with an almost full moon. These tours sell out fast so you might book in advance. Do not sign up for a tour that involves a camp, because it's important to move around to find clear skies.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the lights or about Tromso.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:30 AM
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My phone was in night mode so it looks like daytime but it was very dark.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:31 AM
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:36 AM
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One more thought, Northern Shots also does dog sledding and reindeer sledding rides, but the dog sledding books very fast. When I was there last week, there was a sign saying the dog sledding tours were booked for the rest of the season. I think they also fo fjord tours.

Once again, for any Tromso questions, I'm your gal. 😀
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 04:38 PM
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Thank you to everyone for your replies and advice. We've decided that Tromso will be our destination for the very beginning of March 2025. We are thinking of using a company called Fjord Travel Norway to arrange our flight from Oslo to Tromso, our hotels in Oslo and Tromso, Northern Lights tours, and dog sledding. (We will need to stay 1 night in Oslo upon arriving from NJ, and 1 night in Oslo prior to our return flight home). Has anyone used or heard of this company (Fjord Travel Norway)? We're thinking of 3 or possibly 4 nights in Tromso. We would appreciate any input or suggestions.

PM, we love your beautiful photos of the Lights! Thanks for including them.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:18 PM
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I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.

I've never heard of that company but I see no reason why you can't make all of those arrangements yourself. I mentioned the Hurtigruten cruise, but they made no arrangements for me. I did all of the Tromso stuff on my own.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 06:18 PM
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We usually plan and arrange our trips ourselves. Were just a little hesitant because we think that next winter will be a popular time for hunting the Lights. The excursions for March 2025 are not listed yet. Were concerned that we wont be able to reserve the various excursions that we would want. But well seriously consider making our own arrangements. Thanks so much.
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Old Mar 28th, 2024, 03:57 AM
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I can see that the Northern Lights are a priority for you and I completely understand that. That's why I went to Tromso. Please let me state again that you should not let them book you on a tour involving a camp. When they use a camp, you're less likely to see the lights on a cloudy night because you're stuck in one place. The tours that move around will find clear skies. Of course it's never a guarantee you will see the lights, but you want to maximize your chances. You might consider booking a tour for 2 nights, to make it twice as nice.

Have a great trip.
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Old Mar 29th, 2024, 09:15 AM
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Thanks again, PM! That is a very good tip to book tours that do not take people to a camp, but rather to chase the lights. Do you have a hotel in Tromso that you recommend? Also, did you book your airfare from home before you booked the various tours for N. Lights and dog sledding? Not sure if we should secure our flights from NJ first, or N. Lights tours first. (We went to Iceland about 6 years ago, in winter, in search of the N. Lights; but due to low visibility and cloud cover, we failed).

Were going to book this trip ourselves, hopefully. Upon our return, Ill post a trip report.
Ive posted several TRs some years ago.
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Old Mar 29th, 2024, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by wkwb42a
Thanks again, PM! That is a very good tip to book tours that do not take people to a camp, but rather to chase the lights. Do you have a hotel in Tromso that you recommend? Also, did you book your airfare from home before you booked the various tours for N. Lights and dog sledding? Not sure if we should secure our flights from NJ first, or N. Lights tours first. (We went to Iceland about 6 years ago, in winter, in search of the N. Lights; but due to low visibility and cloud cover, we failed).

Were going to book this trip ourselves, hopefully. Upon our return, Ill post a trip report.
Ive posted several TRs some years ago.
I stayed at the Comfort Express which was clean and adequate, but VERY basic. Next time I'll probably go for the Radisson or the Clarion Edge. But if you want to save money, Comfort Express isn't bad.

I booked my airfare from home before booking anything, but I wasn't able to do dog sledding because it was already booked for the season when I arrived. I barely squeaked into the Northern Lights tours, so I would book those once you decide your dates, and of course, when booking opens up. I highly recommend Northern Shots but there are others. You can also visit a reindeer farm and do a boat ride to the fjords.

Another suggestion for the daytime is to take the cable car up the mountain. It's an easy bus ride from the city and I don't think that needs to be booked in advance.

For restaurants, I enjoyed Egon the most. I also liked Graffi Grill. Since my hotel didn't provide breakfast, I became a big fan of a bakery next to McDonald's. (I never set foot into McDonald's) I'm sure you'll find many more good restaurants.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 12:20 AM
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I heard there is a cruise line that offer free return trip if the Northern Lights do not appear while in your cruise. But I have not availed of this, so I cannot confirm if this is true or not. Has anyone here been to one and can provide the name of the cruise line?
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 05:26 AM
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We are also planning a similar trip for the same time period. My daughter graduates college next year and that is what she has requested for her "graduation trip" so we will be going during her spring break. We had considered going over winter break but since seeing the lights is not a given we decided to go later when there will be more daylight to enjoy other things. So thank you for posting, I will be following the recs!

P_M: how did the lights look to your naked eye? I've heard, that unless they are super strong, you can only see the greens/pinks through a camera.

I've seen a lot of different guides mentioned while researching but I haven't gotten as far as paying close attention to names yet. As PM said, you will want one who is willing to drive hours to find the lights. Tromso is a coastal town so it has more clouds than interior places. That is why many of the tours drive into Finland to see the lights. We plan to fly to Tromso, rent a car, and then drive into the interior for a few days. Probably Abisko Sweden. Then go to Senja for a few days and end up back in Tromso. We loved Lofoten on a previous trip and people say Senja is as spectacular.

We thought about the Hurtigruten. If you take an 11-day cruise and do not see the lights, they offer a 6-day cruise at a later date. But 11 days on a cruise was too long for our travel style.

You mention flying NJ to Oslo so I assume you are looking at SAS from Newark to Oslo. We are in Maryland and have considered this flight but we have one kid coming from Minneapolis and one coming from Orlando so we will all take flights to London and meet up there before flying to Norway. Keep in mind that SAS was in bankruptcy in the US and Air France/KLM won the bid to invest. Therefore, SAS is leaving the Star Alliance and joining Sky Team, projected to happen in the next few months. There is speculation that they will pull out of Newark, a United hub, and move to JFK, a Delta hub. Who knows if that is true or, if it is, how soon it will happen. But if JFK isn't a viable departure point, make sure you have a backup plan if in the slim chance they move your flight.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by fodavidors
I heard there is a cruise line that offer free return trip if the Northern Lights do not appear while in your cruise. But I have not availed of this, so I cannot confirm if this is true or not. Has anyone here been to one and can provide the name of the cruise line?
Hurtigruten is the cruise line, and that's the one I took. I didn't get the Northern Lights promise because I didn't take the full cruise. But for those who did, I'm told the lights never appeared so they will get another cruise. Keep in mind, there's still the expense of traveling to Norway so it's not entirely "free."
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 06:49 AM
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My experience is that tripod camera shots (still or video) is far more impressive than what you see with the naked eye. But if you must use the naked eye, you want to find a place to lie down and a beer.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 06:56 AM
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The Northern Lights look brighter in pictures than to the naked eye. Sometimes they looked white but we saw green too. The color comes and goes. On one of my tours we were looking at the lights when they were faint, then suddenly a green curtain dropped from the sky and the colors started dancing around. I doubled over and cried, it was so magical. The dancing only happened for about 10 seconds but it was the best 10 seconds of the trip. So yes, you can see color but it will be more vivid in your pictures.

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn't get the free cruise because I only took the 6 day cruise from Bergen to Tromso. I have no regrets because if I had taken the full cruise, I would not have had 3 days in Tromso to see the lights.

Last edited by P_M; Apr 1st, 2024 at 07:20 AM.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 03:21 PM
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UPDATE: I texted a lady I met on the Hurtigruten cruise. She had done the full 12 day cruise without seeing the lights, so she was offered a free cruise. The bad news is the free cruise is only a 6 night cruise. Of course she can pay for an upgrade if she chooses.
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